32 Degrees in Zürich


I have arrived safe and sound in Zürich and am writing to you after spending a very hot day wandering around the city looking in my favourite bookshops.

My scheduled arrival time was 12.00 noon exactly. What can you say except when it comes to punctuality, nobody beats the Swiss, as the plane touched ground at exactly twelve noon. I got my luggage and a ticket to the main train station, stored my luggage in a locker and left to hunt down my favourite bookstores. I did not get to sleep on the plane at all and I remained awake during my London Heathrow stopover. In spite of this, I did not feel tired and headed outside in the windless heat and managed to visit all the bookstores I wanted to see. There will be no need to go on a book run tomorrow, and I will focus my attention on Zürich’s other attractions.

Among my purchases, I got a large map of the canton of Ticino, where I will be spending three nights at the end of my course, as well as a unidirectional German-Sursilvan Romansch dictionary [1], a Grammatica Sursilvana, and the first-ever edition of Il Pitschen Prinzi, Le Petit Prince translated into the lingua franca literary idiom Rumantsch Grischun. Heretofore it had only been available in the Surmiran idiom.

Although my two suitcases are brand new and with wheels (unlike last year), lugging them around the train station and then outside exhausted me. This could be for a few reasons: I was tired after not getting any sleep during the flight; it was sweltering out; and I was wearing a black T-shirt and black jeans. Thus the front and back of my shirt were spotted or totally damp (the back). I was worn out and my body knew it.

Once 17.30 rolled around I was feeling this exhaustion set in like a convulsing wave and I left to find the home of my Zürich host, André Oberholzer, a language teacher whom I met last year.

Andi lives just north of downtown Zürich in the area called Oerlikon. He rehydrated me and kept me stuffed with a huge dinner of salad, rice and chicken, with Swiss chocolate for dessert.

Andi loves birds and he has a room devoted to several large cages wherein he houses a dozen budgies and a dozen finches. Some of the budgies are nesting and incubating eggs. It was adorable to see the budgies especially, as they reminded me of my own pair, Caatinga and Martha.

Tomorrow I will explore Zürich, see the flagship Sprüngli chocolate store, go to the post office (but of course), walk around and use up my 24-hour transit pass on as many different means of transportation as I can: trams, buses and the ferries that make regular stops along the Zürcher See (Lake Zürich).

[1] Up till now the only Sursilvan dictionaries I had were the unidirectional Sursilvan-German and
Sursilvan-French. Needless to say it made composing in Romansch extremely difficult when your only
dictionaries were unilingual–and in the language you don’t know.

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