Tag Archives: Rich

Friendhopping – Part IV: Ein suuberes Züri

The holidays are nearing and it seems that there is some hitchhiking in store for me. In memory of past trips, I decided to work through my old travellers’ blogs, take the mistakes out, change the names where necessary and post them here piece by piece, on Wednesdays. I’m starting with the final trip I took so far, written just after I finished my studies. The series contains a storyline about love and friendship. It has six parts. This is part four.

August 17th, 2011
Zürich is nice but too rich. High tech hand dryers, automatically moving plastic foils under the toilet seats… Let me sketch a toilet in a funky bar. You get downstairs and it looks messy. Ugly tags on the grey wall. Yet the distances between the tags are regular. Instead of urine, you smell the synthetic scent of a flower which is just too pink and fluffy for the grim ambience they try to set. Zürich is full of such examples. The streets are to tidy, the trams too shiny, the old buildings are cleaned to recently. Even the river is crystal clear. What’s fun to do there is price checking. Supermarkets, show windows, restaurants… I recommend you visit a train station and ask for the price for a trip to the nearest village. Hilarious experience. Or you can just go drink a coffee and pretend you’re a millionaire.

I am here to visit R. Of all my study mates I have known her longest and from most different sides. Seven years of partying, cooking and talking together. Irregular at first, but our friendship grew into a set of rituals: fixed daily and weekly meetings which could be cancelled only with a very good excuse. For how I know her, R. has two main behavioural ways. On the one hand she highly appreciates the known, where she likes to stick to the same regular and overseeable pattern as much as possible. I recognize that side of her in myself. But at the same time she continuously looks for new worlds to explore, new daring activities and new thrills. A loneliness in her accentuates a need for deep recognition by friends and family. It is a need to be carried away by a love to which she feels revolt. I have that same revolt. Yet we slowly learned to rely on this friendship.

R. has lived in her new house for a week. In a posh neighbourhood. I find it equally sterile as the city. Slightly uncomfortable in its contrast to the outside life I lived in the previous weeks. The housemates here are disconnected from each other. I can tell by R.’s confusion that she is not yet entirely settled. Yet she wants stay here for now. Her room looks good. Spacious and light and filled with her items. I presume it just takes time before her spirit occupies this place.

While she works during daytime, I explore the city and find myself drawing and writing along the glowing turquoise river. I drink a good old non-light Rivella. A girl from Romania gives me company. She is sad, because her boyfriend broke up with her yesterday. Beautiful meeting between the two sides of a coin.

At night we celebrate old and new meetings with diamond beers. France awaits.


To jail with the state!

The Dutch state was sued for not investing enough energy in the avoidance of climate change. The summon is now being translated into different languages, meaning more states will follow. The case is unlikely to win, but the news is nonetheless interesting.

Who can we blame for climate change? It is well established by now that it is happening, and that rich humans’ role is massive. To whom can we point our fingers on this potentially disastrous turn of events? There are so many of them.

The consumers perhaps, who grow fatter and fatter with products that tingle their big, sloppy tongues with ever more exquisite taste? Can we blame them for driving the expansion of product availability by their constant curiosity for more? Can you really blame a fish for biting a worm on a hook? Should rationality have prevented man from going for the bait over and over again? Or was it this very rationality that caused the trouble? Where have our ethics abandoned us?

Maybe we should blame the producers for not caring about their product cycles? Could they, after all, not have thought the business through? It has been clear for quite a while that the earth’s surface is limited. Did that ever hit them? Are they honestly aware of the problems that they cause? I think many of them are operating under a narrowed vision, caused by the fear of being outcompeted. Or perhaps it with blinding greed. Who chooses his greed in full understanding?

Suing a state for climate change clearly is an act of desperation. I don’t disagree with the act: politicians could indeed make far greater effort to avoid the mass hunger and suffering expected to come hand in hand with this disruption. So why not address the independent keepers of ethics, rights and law to force that upon them? Let them, at last, speak the truth! Let the state pay! Then again, who really pays when the state pays?

It’s too late for blame. The problem has outgrown us. What we can do, is to hold ourselves and each other responsible for the moves we make. I just wrote this down, knowing it is far from enough. What have you been doing?