Michaela Merz

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Lajla and her brother Dan

Lajla’s father believed that investing in the education of girls was not worth it, because in any case they marry and stay at home. Boys should learn a trade, because that is always needed everywhere.

Dan was not a hero at school, but that didn’t worry the father at all. The main thing was that he could knuckle down and help around the house. Lajla was a model student and brought home only the best marks, but that was also all the same to the father. The main thing was that she helped her mother and was a master cook, baker, seamstress and of all household tasks.

In the final school year the teacher had invited the father. The father went to the school. The suggestion that Lajla be sent to high school, was absolute nonsense for the father. He then would have to finance Lajla for the next 8 to 10 years and why make such a fuss, when she would in any case no longer need it. The suggestion that Dan should repeat the last year made the father even more angry.

Finally the teacher and the father agreed that Lajla would find a commercial apprenticeship (the father thought that that would be something useful, if she were to marry into a family business) and Dan started an apprenticeship as a mechanic.

Today Lajla manages a business with almost 120 employees and that for years and extremely successfully. Despite completing his apprenticeship, Dan has somehow not quite made it. The father is proud of Lajla, but deep in his heart he feels sad that it is not Dan, rather than Lajla, who is successful. After all Lajla has married and no longer bears his surname.

Lajla puts in even more effort and is still a bit more successful. She also does it to gain recognition from her father, which never happens. And Dan is frustrated, because it seems to him that for his sister everything is effortless and, regardless of his efforts (but he doesn’t really try), in any case he has no chance in a world, where the women now take precedence.

Image source: Rainer Sturm / pixelio.de


The most difficult speech of my life

My step-father Jan has passed away. He was 84 years old and the last 5 1/2 years he had suffered from a fatal illness. We all knew that he was dying. With his disease one can survive 1 up to a maximum of 10 years. And although I knew that, I realised you cannot prepare for death. His death struck me like lightning from a clear sky. The ground was swept from under my feet and I felt more helpless than I had ever felt in my life. I am a person of action, I am used to solving problems. I am the one, who searches for and finds successful ways out of hopeless situations and suddenly there was nothing I could have done. I was overcome by an infinite sadness. I functioned and helped my mother in everything such a situation requires, but somehow it was all mechanical.

For the funeral, which took place 7 daysafter his death, my mother wanted me to give the parting speech. And I couldn’tsay NO. From the time I made her the promise, I began to prepare myself intensively.I recall all the things he had ever told me about himself and his parents and Ibegan to assemble the small stories into a picture. I imagined a collage ofstories, which best described his character. And the more I worked on the speech,the worse I felt. He was a kind-hearted person, always in a good mood. He hadliked people and they repaid him with their love. He couldn’t harm a fly. Hewas undemanding and cheerful, hard-working and very skilful. He was a gifted craftsmanand a wonderful pianist. He was a sensational husband for my mother. The more Ibecame aware of this, the greater became my already infinitely great sadness. Thefeeling of having lost forever someone who was so immensely valuable, felt likea lead weight fastened to my leg.

I practised the speech when I wasjogging, because while moving, at best early in the morning, I could relax alittle. I practised the speech, just as I have practised my speeches in thepast, but almost always the tears flowed. I became increasingly anxious that onthe day of the funeral I will not be able to finish my speech, because the tearswill stifle my words. I didn’t know how to protect myself against such sadness.

The funeral was terrible. Obviously so many people knew him and respected him that there were not enough chairs in the funeral hall. Many, who wanted to take leave of him for the last time, had to stand. There was not much space and all the flowers that people had brought with them were laid around the coffin, like a colourful meadow. When the first piece of music, after which I should make my speech, began, I had to bite my lips together till they bled in the hope that the pain would conquer the sadness and the tears which were starting to arise in me. Without much success. Never in my life has a speech been so difficult. If my mother, who wanted me to give the speech, had not been there, I would have run away like a coward. The pain was intolerable. Somehow, I succeeded in standing up, making my way to the front and holding my speech. Jan would certainly not have wanted me to give a sad speech. So I told some of the stories he had told me himself, like the one here about a forgotten wedding anniversary.

I talked about his relationship with his mother and his unique relationship between him and my mother. At first, I didn’t even see the many guests in front of me, I saw only him, at the time he told me the stories. Only later was I aware that, although none of his stories were sad, many of those present were crying as I spoke. I didn’t cry and was able to finish the speech. I have fulfilled my task. But, afterwards, I was tired, dog-tired, as if I had run a marathon in record time. My body and my spirit had been taken hostage by sadness and weariness.

Thank you!
Thank you for everything and farewell!

Image source: berggeist007/ pixelio.de

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London from a different perspective

There are cities, which are alive, inspirational, pulsating and time and again surprising, so that you can’t see them too often and where a lifetime is too short to discover everything worth seeing. London is certainly one of them. Where to begin and what to see? I’ll leave the classic sights unmentioned, all you have to do is google.  If you’ve ticked them all off, what about Covent Garden Market? Not only because of its many small shops, which offer astonishing things, and the inexpensive flea market, which has even more surprising things on offer, but above all for the artists performing there. There is always something on: street comedians, singers, jugglers, living statues. It’s never boring.

Or what about a “Bond in Motion” exhibition not far from the market? All the cars, with which James Bond had spectacularly raced and chased all the rogues in the world, are exhibited there in the original version. They are accompanied by the appropriate film excerpts and some requisites are also there. A must for every James Bond fan.

A visit to London should also include an evening at the theatre. Musicals, dramas, comedies or Shakespeare for those, who like it classic. The tickets are not cheap and you shouldn’t be naïve and think that one can pick up tickets at the box office. If you don’t book in advance, you’ll probably have to miss the culture.

Even with a small budget, quite a lot can be seen. For example, all the museums in London can be visited free of charge. The Tate Museum of Modern Art for example. Even if one can’t get on with modern art, from the 10th floor there is an excellent view, almost as good as from the London Eye, only one can enjoy it FREE as long as one wants. In addition, there is a wonderful corner, where small children can play. And also worth mentioning is that a modern residential block has been built so close to the Tate building that one can see not only city, but also the interior decoration of 14 floors, because the English don’t believe in curtains and therefore don’t have any. Quasi a “live ” course on interior decoration by the upper class at the beginning of the 21st century.

And if you’re travelling on a restricted budget, then close to the Tate Museum there is an old food market with many delicacies, but also opportunities for attending courses in baking or learning how to butcher. You can try much of the food free of charge and an inexpensive, wonderfully smelling lunch can be bought at one of the stands.

Food in London is a world of its own and one should find the courage to eat things one doesn’t yet know. Everything is there and in all price ranges, you can eat Chinese, Indian, French, Lebanese, Japanese, Mexican and so on for 7, but also for 120 pounds. It’s worthwhile. For breakfast try porridge, it fills the stomach and lasts until the evening.

What surprised me was the number of homeless people, who could be seen everywhere in the centre and gave the impression that they had taken root where they slept. It wasn’t simply people in sleeping bags, which one knows from other cities, but real tented camps with household equipment and only the stench of urine reminded one of the limitations of living in a tent.

You can live very well with a lot of money in London, but I think that, as a visitor, you can live well and also see a lot on a small budget. The courage to enjoy unusual experiences is certainly rewarded in this city.

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Bodyexchange in 2112

My youngest couldn’t get to sleep. He asked for a story.

As she did every month Maria had registered for a body exchange on Saturday.   It was 8 October 2112. That meant that her soul would spend the day in the body of another person. It started at 7 in the morning and lasted until 7 in the evening. When registering, Maria checked age, sex and the health profile. As always, she elected for a woman between 90 and 100. This time she chose a woman, who was blind in one eye, with simple physical complaints. Continue reading

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Open-air racetrack Oerlikon – holiday extension

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Summer is coming to an end. We are back from the holidays and the daily routine has re-started. But because outside it is still high summer, we try to come to terms with the inevitable. After work and school, we undertake things with my youngest, which extend the holiday spirit. Continue reading

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We have found a purse – who’s lost it? Please help to find the owner

We have found this purse. Someone is now miserably sad and depressed. We need your help to find the owner. Please spread this news, because I have maintained that we are more likely to find the owner through the Internet than if we simply hand the purse into the lost property office. Continue reading

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The world’s scariest swing!

Everyone goes abroad for a vacation. I feel almost guilty because I want to remain in Switzerland. There is so much to discover and best of all one can avoid a lot of unpleasant surprises. You know what you’re getting.

Part of the vacation took us to Grindelwald. I have been there on numerous occasions, but mainly in winter. But at mid-summer never. You can discover the village, like all the Arab and Asian tourists: the 10 places you have to visit or you can decide for the quiet discovery away from the great streams of tourists. We chose the middle route. By foot to Pfingstegg to toboggan. The blood freezes in one’s veins, when you see how the Arab women tourists, veiled from head to foot sit in the toboggans and their various layers of material drift behind them. I once read that Josephine Baker was strangled by her scarf in a moving car. Maybe this story is not true but since then I have to think of this horrible way of death, when I see such flying clothes. I understood that the staff, because there are so many Arab tourists, even speak Arabic. Now they only have to explain to the tourists that such flying material can be fatal when tobogganing.

We then travelled to a marble quarry, to see where the doorframe, which stands in the parliament building, comes from and then on to the glacier gorge. 1 kilometre of bridges and tunnel, rock faces up to 300 metres high, a roaring, refreshingly cold experience. If there is anywhere clear evidence that the climate is warming, this is where it is. Years ago the bridges ended by the glacier, quasi a glacier to touch. In the meantime the glacier has retreated 2.5 km. The forecast is that in 2050 there will no longer be a glacier there. In the gorge it is about 14 degrees, because the water that flows with deafening noise, comes from the glacier itself. And that at a temperature of 35 degrees in the shade outside the gorge. The first highlight is the 170 m2 large walkable net, which is spanned 7 metres above the wild stream in the gorge. One needs courage and skill to climb on to it. It is worthwhile. An invigorating experience.

The next highlight is the canyon swing. One lets oneself fall from 300 m high and first flies down like a stone and then swings on the rope in the gorge to and fro like a pendulum. An indescribable feeling of joy, because the body has shaken out so many stress hormones.

You can bathe in the glacier water, but the fun doesn’t last long, because the water is painfully cold, as we ourselves experienced with my youngest.

Every Wednesday evening there is a street party in the village with drinks, music and a lot of fun. It was a wonderful end to a fantastic day. We had enjoyed a super vacation day. Caused no CO2 emissions at all, because we did everything by foot, supported the local economy and so contributed to preserving jobs in the area. Finally, by paying VAT, we increased the Confederation’s tax revenues. A WIN/WIN situation all round.

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