Between dusk and dawn

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Running to the bus stop this morning, I couldn’t prevent myself from taking a picture in front of our neighbor’s house.

Today’s dawn touched a string in my mind because it reflects my inner world.

There is light at the horizon.

But I don’t fully trust that it will lighten up as the dawn promises it.

Trust needs time.

A lot of time.

Missing passports

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It didn’t start well this time. The Indian Embassy in Berne didn’t approve our photos although we used the same as last year.

We had to retake these burglar photos without smiling and looking straight to the camera and sending them again to Berne. And I was so glad when I saw the envelope from the Embassy with my handwriting in my post.

Oh, dear! But I only got my passport back. The ones of my boys were missing.

I wrote in German. I sent the same mail several times. I didn’t get any answer.

Another weekend passed.

I wrote in English. I wrote in big letters and in red: Missing passports. I got the answer that I could fetch them at the Embassy in Berne.

Oh, my god! No time to travel. I wrote again. I told them to send them. They told me they couldn’t because they didn’t have any pre-addressed and pre-stamped envelopes. I wrote that I was upset.

No chance, I had to send them the envelopes. Another three days without a sign.

I had to call. And finally today, I had them in my mailbox.

I know what it means when passports aren’t valid anymore. I stood at the airport with my two boys, and the airplane would leave in less than an hour.

Or I remember how it felt in Paris to get a working permit but not having a passport. It meant lining up for hours, calling, writing, talking to the Swiss Embassy and so on.

But I didn’t know how it feels when visas and passports are still missing three days before taking off.

Together

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Spending time with friends is very important. Feeling connected brings warmth into life.

Sometimes, you don’t feel very close to certain friends, but you still like them.

Sometimes, your friend’s life changes so much that you don’t have much in common. This feels strange and it bothers me.

Sometimes, it feels okay that you are gliding away from each other because you don’t have anything to share with.

Friendship is a very delicate thing.

It pushes me to enjoy every beautiful moment to the full extent because nothing stays the same.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Smiling

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There aren’t so many colors in Switzerland at the moment. It’s rather gloomy. But suddenly, you discover something, which pops up from the grey.

Someone had this wonderful idea to put more colors to a simple railway underpass.

It is as if someone smiles at me.

We all need an unexpected smile from time to time, which brings a short moment of warmth.

It takes nothing. But it gives a lot. It brings color into life.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Deep-rooted

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Planting a tree is something special. It is like taking the decision to build a house or finishing the studies at university. It feels exciting.

The new tree is a sweetgum and shall mark the beginning of a new period, hopefully a sweet one.

Our sweetgum will be watching us every day through the kitchen and living room windows. It will be hearing us laughing or crying, joking or shouting.

It will be going with us during happy days and sad moments. It will see the boys getting adults in eight or ten years.

I’d wish to be this tree, seeing everything from a certain distance. It would make things easier.

Yes, I should more often change to be a tree, deep-rooted, and watching from outside.

 
 
 
 

Extremes

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Sometimes, you know exactly where you’re going. You see the light just in front of you.

Sometimes, you don’t know where it shall be going. It feels uncomfortable. You wish to change but you do not succeed.

Sometimes, you know it must be changing the sooner or later because it doesn’t feel the right way.

Sometimes, everything feels grey but you like the extremes: either totally dark or totally light.

Sometimes, you have to listen to your breath, touch your face and imagine you are alive.

 
 
 
 

Stolen postcard

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It was fun writing postcards two years ago in Italy.

Every postcard had been personalized: for grandmother Mémé, for auntie Raymonde and uncle Didi, for godfather Jean-Pierre and godmother Katja.

At the end, every postcard was a little piece of art that wanted to be stored for eternity before going on the big journey to Switzerland.

That’s why I started taking pictures of every one.

Fortunately, because none of the postcards got to the addressees.

Did their journey end in an Italian dust bin or in the collection of a Swiss postcard thief?

If I were a postwoman, I would have started collecting postcards, too, because who still will be writing postcards in ten years?

So, I would become rich selling my stolen postcards to the museum.

 
 
 
 

From ancient times

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I saw her at the Navratri Festival in Bangalore and was fascinated by the expression on her face. It seemed to me as if she doesn’t have any age or even as if her mind comes from ancient times.

Sometimes, people don’t look like their age.

I met children who had a look like an old man or an old woman, and I listened to an old woman who spoke to me with a brilliant glance of a 14-year-old girl.

Why is this? I don’t believe in reincarnation but it might be an interesting explanation.

 
 

Like magic

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Sometimes it seems to appear out of the nowhere.

I am at the right time on the right spot and I suddenly catch a moment in life, which won’t come back.

This happened yesterday. Wandering around in the middle of Zurich, I discovered these magic bubbles.

I would have liked to shout at them: “Just stand still. I want to take the perfect picture.”

But the wind took them away as quickly as they started existing.

These bubbles are like every moment in our lives.

Moments come and go, the happy as well as the sad ones. It is good for the sad ones and it is sad for the happy ones.

 
 
 

Rare species

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Sunday afternoon in the South Indian zoo of Trivandrum: there are hundreds of Indian families with their children and two Swiss boys with their mother.

We want to have a look at the lions, crocodiles, zebras, monkeys and their friends. All the local people have the same purpose.

But, as soon as they discover the two blond boys, the zoo animals completely lose their interest.

“Can we take a picture, please”, they keep on asking.

“Oh, I am glad”, says my small boy at the end of our visit, “that we won’t live in India all the time. It slightly gets on my nerves to pose and smile every five minutes.”

 

 

Precious

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Our favorite village in South India at five o’clock in the morning: before flying home to Switzerland we left our rests of shampoos, creams and shower gels in front of our friend’s door.

This was the occasion for my boy, still in his pajama, to sit down, to enjoy the empty main road on the cliffs and to wait until his mother has caught these special moments by her camera.

The moments of transition are always very powerful; and I remember them all: when I left New York, Paris, Istanbul, Marsa Alam, Fuerta Ventura and so on. I remember how I felt: sad, excited, happy, dreamful, anxious, angry, hopeful and so on.

And in Varkala, I remember as well the rough smell of the sea and I hear the aggressive ravens’ shouting.

Memories by all senses are the most precious and everlasting ones in life.

Hit puberty

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He’s got this bright smile on his face. It is promising.

Two years passed that I took this picture. So many things have changed. Now, my ten-year-old is discussing with me why I dare punish him by shutting down his iPod for a day; he is arguing with me because I push him to go to the Wing Chung classes on Tuesday and Thursday he wanted to sign on half an year ago or he doesn’t understand why I ask him to help me in the kitchen when he has so many more important things to do.

He is only ten years old but his hormones must do many somersaults per day. He starts crying when I treat him “unjustly” as he says. Three seconds later, he is looking at me as if I were a total stranger. Mum, he goes, you look awful, take off your glasses.

We will be having so many discussions in the future until he will reach majority. He has to strengthen his personality by finding out in which way he is different than me.

When we will get there, we will certainly laugh about these discussions we are having now and I wish he would still have his charming smile on his face.
 
 
 
 

Perfect reflection

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Beauty comes from the heart.

This doesn’t work with a peacock. It is perfect by nature.

Human beings need more to reach this beauty. They are struggling with themselves, by aiming at being perfect. They get frustrated because it doesn’t work. You can see it in their faces and in their movements.

The more they are working on this, the less it works.

But suddenly, it happens that there are moments in life when everything seems perfect. It feels amazing. You’d like to freeze these moments for being eternal. This state of consciousness is written on your face and on your body.

There are sometimes other moments when you try hard to remember these amazing moments wishing them back, but you feel awful. You are even convinced that everybody recognizes it in your face.

You’d wish someone could stand in front of you telling you: you are beautiful; you are perfect. Believe it, feel it in your heart.

And it would come true, just like this peacock turned into this beautiful being.

 
 

Same same

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A cat is a cat, and a cat is eating, sleeping, walking and again eating, sleeping, walking. Nothing else. Right.

But a cat is more than that. A cat starts being in a relationship with the human being, which is taking care of it. At the beginning, the two, the cat and the human being, are connected on a low level. The more time they spend together the more they get involved.

Now, the one comes home, the other is standing behind the door and saying hello. Now, the one is making a tea, the other is coming to the kitchen to have a bite.

Isn’t it the same thing with a relationship between two human beings? Just a little bit more complicated?

In fact, the principle is exactly the same. The two beings are connected to each other and acting most of the time in correlation to each other. Right?

 
 

Walk a parrot

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I met Sri Swamiji in Mysore. Before I met him personally, everybody told me his or her own story about Swamiji. What I gathered was that ten or fifteen years ago, he was a good friend for a small group of people, Europeans and Indians as well. His ashram was a tiny place where everyone quickly felt at home.

Since then, things changed. Now, Sri Swamiji is being followed by hundreds of people, Indians as well as Europeans. Everybody wants to have a personal talk to him who prefers to talk to his parrots. That’s why he is walking around in public with a parrot on his shoulder. It is some way like other people walk a dog; interesting thing about a guru.

The elephant joke

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One morning, a waiter told us that there would be fifty elephants in Varkala. Okay, nice dream but we didn’t believe him. Later during the day, another India man said: “You will see fifty elephants tomorrow. What a lucky thing!” Must have been a joke in India to tell the tourists about upcoming crowds of elephants. We laughed. The next day, there were the elephants, not fifty but about thirty-five and I was rather scared. I was even more scared when I saw the animal police with their injection guns ready to shoot at any moment of panic alert. But nothing happened and this parade became one of the most unforgettable moments in India.

A heart of gold

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I don’t know his name but I know his heart being wide open when boys start crying. He is a Nepalese waiter who left his family to earn some money in India. He saw Little-boy slipping, falling down and breaking into pieces his small, freshly finished soap stone artwork. He saw Little-boys’ tears running down his face. He had a look at the broken artwork and disappeared. Ten minutes later, he came back with a small shopping bag, sat down at the restaurant table and fixed the stone with glue without words.

The 50+ thin-skinned elephant

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Looking for a job at the age of fifty plus, this is something for thick-skinned creatures. I thought to be one of them, but I was totally wrong. The longer it lasted, the more I lost self-confidence. Everybody told me to believe in myself; everybody was convinced that I would find again a good job. I believed them and I believed in me. I wrote hundreds of applications. I had to study tons of job requirements and figure out which details of my Curriculum Vitae I should place on the top of my applications. I got so desperate during the last weeks. I started writing emails to my friends that began with “help”. This week, there seems to be a tiny light at the back of the tunnel. I let you know if hope becomes reality.

Swiss-Tibetan friendship

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She became our best friend in India; Karma was different than the other shopkeepers in Varkala. At the first time, we dropped into her shop, she didn’t tell us to buy this or that. The Tibetan woman just let us have a look around, and there were so many things to discover. The boys started passing by more often. While she was doing bracelets or earrings, they were sitting in front of her and getting interested in her art craft and her culture. She also told them about Dalai Lama and the Tibet. We got invited for tea, later for delicious momo. Last year, her business did not go well and she was talking about moving somewhere else in India. We would have followed her. But fortunately, she is still in Varkala, and our next visit to South India at Christmas will be like coming home – thanks to Karma.

Welcome to the rainbow loom zoo

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Who doesn’t have kids, doesn’t know the paradise of rainbow loom bands.

You’d say: must be something for girls. You’re wrong.

He is an eight-year-old boy and spent all his pocket money of the last months, nearly 100 Swiss Francs, on rainbow loom bands. He spends hours on checking the Internet about new models: spiders, owls, mice, frogs, swans, penguins and so on; he spends even more hours on trying, failing, retrying these animals.

Wherever I go, I see now tons of rainbow loom bands boxes waiting for clients. It had become a worldwide mania.

Already in Italy this summer, the sellers on the beach tried to get my boy. Today, he got into it by heart and soul. I’m wandering what will be the next global boom we are heading at.

 
 

Having breakfast in pans

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Being a good friend to children means doing things you never wished to do.

One thing was camping at 50+.

Financial reasons brought us three to the camping site in Italy for two weeks.

While all our friends of the past years were living comfortably in their apartments on the seaside, we had to bring up all our stuff to the hill under the big tree; we cooked spaghetti or fish with the small gas cooker and we ate sitting on the floor with a lot of ants and other insects.

It wasn’t always fun but most of the time. Discussions about washing strongly smelling feet at midnight with my teenager or organizing help for a leg with a sticky fishing-hook had been annoying situations.

We won’t forget them as well as the easy-going life like having breakfast with cornflakes and milk in big pans because the cleaning-up of the dishes had been forgotten the day before.

We will go back camping next year. Our dear old tree on the hill is definitely looking forward seeing us.

 

Fifty plus

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Fifty plus starts being a tough age, not for private reasons but for professional ones. One becomes too expensive to get employed. I met Antoinette in a course for unemployed people. She had the idea to start her own business by consulting laundries and cleaning stores and needed some help creating her corporate identity and marketing. She liked my self-designed visit card, and we got into business. First, she wanted to have a good picture. We had fun choosing new glasses, new cloths and a new haircut. The photographer and I had fun doing the photo shooting. She a little bit less and I understand. With this friendly and convincing photo we created her business card. Antoinette already got compliments for her nice picture at the copy shop. We put lively colors, texts and pictures on her website, we produced a flyer and a brochure. All this was very new to me. I learnt a lot about graphic systems, website tools and low cost printing. Now, her corporate identity is completed. And I am quite a bit sad to let her go because we had such a good time together – thanks to fifty plus.

You can have a look at Antoinette’s website in German.

Of birds and boys

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Sometimes children have got strange ideas.

It was springtime when my elder son came home telling me: “I found these four birds on the floor in the forest. They must have been thrown out of their nest”.

Everybody in the family felt sorry for these naked and hungry creatures. My son was convinced that he should take care of them as their mother.

Nobody could stop him with his ideas. He organized a lamp to keep them warm; he started feeding them with worms every two hours and feeling totally responsible for their well-being.

After a day, my boy realized what it meant to be a mother. He confessed that he had taken them out of the nest because he wanted to have something to take care of. “I know now”, he said, “that this means a lot of work and responsibility. I am not ready for it”.

PS. Nice ending of the story: the bird couple accepted their four children although they had spent an overnight elsewhere, and we could observe how the little birds started leaving their nest and exploring their surroundings.

 
 

Of cats and guys

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Whoever has got cats or has had in the past, can tell a lot of stories. Cats are like kids; they bring a lot of joy into our lives as well as sorrows. Our first two cats, brother and sister, had spent all their cat life in a small apartment with two nice young guys. The two cats didn’t know how much noise two boys could make. The only place they felt safe were the top of the cupboard in the kitchen. They even discovered a hole behind the fridge where they could easily hide for a day without being found. When they got the chance to explore our garden, they disappeared for weeks. Coming back the male got used to the noisy boys and our sofa; the female decided to live elsewhere and found a quiet place at an elderly woman’s house. Cats’ decisions are straight.

Different stories

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It was last year in Mysore in India. First, we were two Swiss ladies having a rest in the huge park of the Palace. Then, two Indian ladies asked us if we mind being taken with them in one picture. Then, we were four ladies smiling, half Indian, half Swiss. Then, all their Indian girlfriends joined us. Finally, we were 21 women standing in front of this old tree.

Image the same story in Switzerland: there are two Indian ladies sitting in front of the beautiful scenery of Lake of Zurich. Two Swiss ladies pass by and ask for a picture with the two Indian ladies. At the end, there are 19 Swiss ladies surrounding the two Indian ladies. But the story does not work this way around because of the different mentalities. I’d like I had sometimes a little bit more of this getting together spirit.

Money with dog biscuits

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Some people bring their money to the bank, to a Swiss bank hopefully. Some only keep money in their drawers; some others always fill and refill dog biscuits in one compartment. They are definitely Swiss people as you may notice. There are a few pieces of five Swiss francs with the Swiss cross. The Swiss dog belonging to this Swiss drawer knows that the tinkle of the cashpoint always means money and food. What a simple equation!

Convicted

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Joy is her name but also her motto. While other 15-year-old girls in India are studying at school, she is learning math, biology, geography and all the other school subjects at home and going from time to time to a special center to pass her exams. Meanwhile she is practicing her violin and piano around five hours a day – with a lot of pleasure and discipline. She lives with her parents and her older brother in a little house in Bangalore where she’s got her small room of a bed size under the roof. The ceiling is full of her fabulous drawings, another thing where she has great talent. This tiny universe under the roof and her amazing eager are touching. There aren’t many people who impressively follow their convictions as she does.

Connected

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It started fifteen year ago in India, with a very old yoga teacher in Kerala.

I got to the huge, open yoga hall where the birds were sitting on the roof and making a lot of noise; it was difficult to concentrate on the exercises. The yoga teacher took my hand and crossed my fingers mumbling an introduction ritual.

Day by day, it became my own ritual to get up at 6 o’clock, wandering to the yoga class, saying hello to the birds on the roof. And I started my journey to my inner self, a journey I am following since then.

Of one of these quiet moments with myself was taken this picture in Egypt. By a nine year old boy who felt exactly the connection between the sun, the sea and me.

Travelling alone in India at 92

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I won’t forget her, the Swiss lady, I met in India, 92 years old, after heart operations travelling totally on her own in India. I certainly won’t forget what she told me about death and dying. She should not be in India considering her heart problems. But if she were at home in her apartment in Berne having a stroke, she would be so much alone. In India, up to twenty people would run to take care of her. So, she prefers doing what she loved to do during all her life: travelling in India.

 
 
 
 

Happy childhood

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Remembering happy moments of childhood… a hard thing when you get older and when you aren’t born as a digital native. Fortunately, there are some pictures like this one from my two boys fooling around in the bath tube.

Jules and Léonard

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Kids need a lot of love and care. Parents do their best. But nothing can be so powerful than a stuffed animal. Before Léonard was born, we bought Jules at the Christmas market in Zurich. And Jules became his best friend. Who got to know Léonard, met Jules. It became old and ugly. Some wanted to replace it by a more colorful, fresh animal. What adults forget: Kids stick to their best friends. They are real and irreplaceable.

A very special moment in Switzerland

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There is a lake, a boy and an evening in summer. It has been the perfect moment and I was so happy that the picture expresses all this. My best picture from last year…