"I've lived near Zurich since I was eight and I love it: it's so clean and safe."
Ask any Swiss person (or most people, for that matter) to describe Switzerland, and chances are that the words "clean and safe" will pop up somewhere during the sentence. Whenever I hear or read this description, I add (in my head, of course) "...and boring!" But hey, that's just me, and I'm entitled to my opinion. Don't get me wrong. Saftey is important, and cleanliness is next to godliness (as "they" say), but I'm thinking that a few more adjectives could be thrown into the mix and peacefully coexist with the big, Swiss "C" & "S".
To me, the best thing about living in Basel is...that a lot of really interesting (less clean and more dangerous) places are only a short flight or train ride away. Basel itself? It's OK, but it's not exactly the most exciting city in the world. Again...just my opinion. But, I digress (Wow! That's the first time I've ever used those words in my blog!).
Once, at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, I somehow ended up talking with a Welsh man in the British Airways lounge (long story), and he probably summed it up better than anybody else. He said:
"Yeah...Switzerland is nice. I've been there several times. It's clean and safe [See? I told ya!] and all that, but it...it...lacks soul!"
I think he's absolutely right. To name one thing, Switzerland (well, at least the Basel area) does not exactly have what I'd describe as a thriving music or art scene. Name a world famous Swiss artist, musician, actor, writer, comedian (I've heard the Swiss described as "famously unfunny")... You can't do it without Googling it, can you? I once asked a Swiss person to name the most world famous Swiss "rock star" they could think of, and she came up with Andreas Vollenweider. Who???? I guess a lot of Swiss just don't value pursuing careers in things like the arts that, in my opinion, are the spice of life. No! Instead, the Swiss seem to value...following rules, being on time, peace and quiet, conserving energy, etc.
What do people outside of Switzerland think of when they think of Switzerland? Let's see...chocolate, banking, mountains, cheese, fondue, Ricola, engineering, neutrality, Roger Federer - clean and safe (...and boring)!
So, sometime last week, there was a shooting close to the Basel train station. Two days ago, I read an article in Swiss Info about "...a series of brutal acts in recent weeks..." in Zurich. Today, on the tram, I saw signs warning women about pickpockets. The signs (translated) read: Keep your purses closed and your eyes open!
Danger and crime in Switzerland? Is Switzerland becoming a bit more...dangerous?
Well, at least it's still clean.