Friday, 26 February 2010

Well, this is embarassing.

A few hours ago, I was a man with a plan. Granted, the plan was quite simple, and one that an infant without much supervision could successfully pull off. The plan was thus : I was supposed to get into a plane, fly for two and a half hours between Switzerland and Portugal, get there, get out of the airport and into a bus, and go home. Shortly thereafter, I would draw a very long and very hot bath, and soak in it for the better part of an hour. Then, I'd shave. The rest of whatever would be left of the evening would depend on how tired and/or willing to do something I was.
Alas, the best laid plans of mice and men, and all that.
So, taking my cue from this latest season of 'Lost', via some Terry Pratchett, let's consider that my actual plans were part of the 'happened somewhere else' bit, and not the real 'does not happen' bit*. Or 'did not happen', as it were...
What did happen, was that as soon as I got to the airport, I noticed that my flight, along with a number of others, had been canceled. Not delayed, CANCELED.
Shite, thinks I. What to do? Ah, I'll just pop down to the Easyjet desk, and ask the nice people there just what the dickens is going on. Unhappily, I wend my way to the desk, but am stopped ere long : a beast of titanic proportions, entirely comprised of people, americans, assorted immigrants, and other rare and strange creatures of the Last Days. This beast was enormous, but my mettle was unyielding, my resolve strong. So I waited. And I waited. And I waited. And, guess what? I waited some more. After all this waiting, and when there's only maybe some twenty-something - thirty people in front of me, I am wakened from a state of trance I was falling into that came from staring at the worst hair I have ever seen on a person. But then again, she might've been a Yeti. A rather ugly one at that, but even so. What woke me was the shrill voice of a little woman saying that we could go to another desk, they were there to help us. Good, now we're getting somewhere. But where I was getting was getting behind all the smart alec people who thought that being behind me entitled them to just jump ahead of the queue, and take my rightfully earned place. So, a nice long stare as well as a biting comment, and I had old ladies who, even though they were grudgingly, but profusely, apologizing, were also quite adept of making a show of just how offended they truly were.
Ok, to the desk I go. In the, what? maybe four or five steps that took me go to where I was to the the new desk, a number of scenarios ran through my mind, and let me tell you, most of them included an apology, and a ticket for a flight to Lisbon from, say, another company or somesuch thing.
But no. Instead, I get a very helpful, 'Hmmm... the morning flight's full, I'll have to put you on the same flight tomorrow.'
I stood staring in absolute horror at this. I wanted to go home immediately, not the day after. So I ask, 'How can this be? I need to be on a plane as soon as possible!', and again, all I get is, 'I can put you in a flight tomorrow. So what'll it be?'
My mouth opened, then shut, then opened again. I wasn't sure what to say, so I said 'Fine. If that's the way it's gotta be. Fine. So... huh... do I just sleep here in the airport, or what?'
The girl sort of smiled a broad, but not very beautiful, smile, and said 'Oh no, sir! We will give you a Hotel voucher, so you can stay there for the night, and dinner as well as tomorrow's breakfast are included! Just take this paper with you, go downstairs to the Special Assistance desk, (Ooooh! 'Special Assistance'!), and we'll have everything sorted out for you.
So, yeah, I do all that, and what do you know? Soon enough I'm at the Hotel, and I get handed a key to the room, a very nice double room, (and by double I mean there's two beds there), a well stocked mini-fridge, but prohibitively expensive, and free internet.
I toss my stuff to a corner, get undressed and start to think about what to do. I could go totally Rock-Star on the hotel, and thrash the room, but that's not me.
In the end, I decided I'd wait a few hours 'til it was dinner time, then come back up, watch some more Seinfeld episodes, and get an early sleep, or whatever. And it went according to plan 'til dinner time, when I had a beer to go with my Cordon Bleu and grazed potatoes, (at least I think that's how they're called, anyways), and I'll be damned if I didn't get a hankering for some more beer. So I went to the reception, and asked the girl there where could I find some sort of supermarket. She tells me I could either to the gas station right next to us, or walk for some ten minutes or so, and I'd find a big shopping centre. I decide on the latter, and after a few minute's walking to and from the place, I find myself with a nice six-pack of beer to make me company through the night. Oh yeah, and crisps as well.
I'll confess that the booze didn't do the intended effect, i.e., knocking me out until tomorrow. I'm still awake, and think I might still be for a while.
Ah, Geneva. Just when I thought I was leaving, you had to keep me here for one more night, eh? Ah, well. It's nearly two in the a.m., and guess who's gonna have that bath right now?

* "He told me that there were more worlds than there are numbers. There is no such thing as 'does not happen.' But there is always 'happened somewhere else'--"
From the incomparable 'Nation', by Terry Pratchett. Go out and buy the damn book and read it.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Genève, or : Farewell to the fairground

Genève is a city that I got to know somewhat well in the past few months. Since last September, I have been spending some days every month or so here, and I now know my way around the city quite well. That is to say, I know my way about a part of the city, the one that led down from where I used to stay to the downtown. You could go about it a couple of different ways : sometimes, when I felt like walking a bit, I could go down from Le Grand-Saconnex, and past Le Palais des Nations, and then it would be a nice walk by the lakeside until you reach the centre of the city. On one side of the Rhone, just where it exits the beautiful Lake Geneva, you find the city's main transport hublink, where you can travel to and from all kinds of places inside the country and elsewhere, as well as a handful of interesting places to shop, including one of my favourite comics stores ever, Au Paradoxe Perdu. On the other side of the river, and just past Bel-Air, which, surprisingly - or maybe not - was strangely bereft of Will Smith..., there you'll find all the nice (and expensively so!) places to shop, and also the best vistas the city has to offer. Walk up L'escalade, and at the top you will find a verdant little park that leads directly to La Place Neuve, the centre of cultural life in the city : Museums, The Conservatory and the Theatres. Walking past that, we reach what I believe is called Le Plaine of Plainpalais, but I might be wrong. Near there, I found one of my favourite Video Games store ever, as well. It's called Virtual Dreams, and it's well worth a visit, if you're into Video Games. Be prepared, though, to want to spend thousands and thousands of swiss francs there... the amount of stuff they have on offer is astounding.
Naturally, the other way of doing this would be to just catch one of the regular buses that take you downtown in about 15 minutes. It is by far the quickest and easiest way for you go do this, although I highly recommend strolling through the city as much as you can - it has a certain undescribable quality that soothes you so, and seems to take your cares away.

I can safely say that, had I been to this city, and gotten to know it, say, some ten, fifteen years ago, that I would not have liked it a lot. On the surface, it seems to be way too laid-back, whilst being paradoxically no-nonsense and business-like. If I had been here when I was younger, I'd've thought this city dead, or near lifeless. I would have craved something that, while the city may have on offer, it would be in limited supplies only. And so I would have left, disappointed and bitter, mayhaps never to return. Thank God for getting older, and maybe wiser. As I sit here typing this, I look at a view that my younger self may have scoffed at back in the day. The Alps, snow-peaked and mighty in the distance stare at me, almost daring me to do something. Probably, and ever since I started to make my way around the city, and got to know it; since I started listening to her beat, and to fell her rhythm beneath my feet; since I could close my eyes and then just walk, and know here I'd be just because of the feel of the different cobbles in the pavement... she let me walk around in her streets at ease. It was like there was a proprietary swagger to me, as I walked around the place. It spoke to me, in a way, and I understood what I could not have understood all those years ago, if Destiny had conspired to bring me here.
And now, now comes the time for me so say farewell : not forever, but for a while. Maybe, one day, I'll find my way here again.

Maintenant au revoir, tend tes mains vers le ciel
Laisse cet hymne au courage s'élever dans la nuit

Friday, 19 February 2010

Who are they? Which one? Who the fuck are you talking to? Fuck them!, you know.

Do you have any comments about that? Fuck that. Yeah, I have a comment! Fuck you! And on this really nice note, I hope you welcome back United States of Mind.