Discover Challenge: Chance Encounter

Where shall I begin? It was the day when we had to change the tyres on our car. You know, from Winter to Summer style. Perhaps you do not know, does not matter, but in countries like Switzerland you cannot drive on icy roads in Winter with slicks, weak profiles on the Dunlop, you have to have something more snow resistant so the Swiss decided to pass a law, as they usually do, to have suitable tyres. It is an expensive law because you have to have two sets of tyres. If you do not have room in the garage, you pay a garage to store the other 4 tyres.

So it was the day of tyre change. Our garage had moved to an industrial area out on the bare plains of the motorway entrance roads. It is a landscape of car handlers, repair shops and anything mechanical which needs attention, not the most beautiful area you can imagine. It was a hot day, one of the first sunny days. We arrived at the garage, found it to be the wrong garage and so we had to turn the car . Unfortunately the road was being repaired, another obstacle on our way.

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After uttering a few profanities to bless the roadworks, we arrive – at the wrong end of the garage. Luckily we were guided on our five minute walk to the right end by a garage person and so we left our car to the hands of the capable tyre changers, being told it would take an hour. From here we walked to the next restaurant which was in the neighbouring village. The nearest restaurant had now become a sort of one day hotel for young lady’s and men, so we decided to move on. After finding a suitable restaurant we ordered something to drink. Mr. Swiss noticed in the meanwhile that I was no longer walking, but sort of dragging my feet and made a wonderful suggestion. I will fetch the car and you can stay here and I will pick you up afterwards. He waved goodbye and left me.

I decided to accept his offer and after sitting under the shades of the restaurent moved to the opposite side of the road where I saw a bench which looked quite comfortable.

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As I had my camera with me I took a few photos. I did not know that this would become an epic of chance encounter at the time. I was sitting on the bench, relaxing and thinking about taking a walk. It was then that a gentleman appeared. He was walking along the road, cast his eyes on me as probably the ideal victim and began to talk to me. I noticed this gentleman was not Swiss, but definitely from the Indian sub continent. I made the mistake of answering him in english. He was happy, just what he needed for a discussion.

“May I sit down?” he asked politely. I decided a conversation between two cultures could be very interesting. We spoke of where he came from and where I came from and then he proudly showed me a photo.

“These are my children” he said. There must have been at least 40-50 smiling faces of children on the photo. I was astonished, he was definitely 30-40 years younger than me and I found his potence astonishing. He continued to tell me they were part of an orphanage in his home country, and he was hoping to raise funds for them.

I am not a miser, and contribute now and again to a worthwhile charity, but here I was a little sceptical. I asked him how he came to arrive in Switzerland. He told me with pride he had been sent by his organisation. I still did not know what organisation it was. Soon came the big question “would you be interested in a donation” etc. etc. I remained hard and was now hoping for the telephone call from Mr. Swiss that he was on his way with the car, but no such luck. I decided to be hard and resolute. People passing by were already looking to see what an elderly lady was doing talking to a foreign gentleman who was wearing a sort of scarf on his head. I told him firmly I had no interest in donating. It is amazing how quick these chance encounters can end when you say no. He departed and then came No. 2 chance encounter.

This time it was a young man who was sitting on the next bench. He rose and approached me.

Was that gentleman bothering you?” he asked. I was now confused, he was not really bothering me, until No. 2 chance encounter asked this question. Were they partners sizing me up for a worthwhile kidnapping. Where was Mr. Swiss?

The second gentleman put his hand in his pocket and withdrew ….. a card encased in plastic. It was the proof that he was a Swiss policeman in plain clothes and was keeping an eye on things. He explained that he would follow the Indian gentleman and ask him a few questions. I noticed that a lady was standing on one side, also belonging to the policeman, it was a complete squad. I watched as the plain clothes man approached the Indian gentleman and spoke a few words with him. I felt quite sorry for my first chance encouter, as he was only doing his job, collecting money from the wealthy swiss for his 40-50 children. Enclouter No. 2 returned and I asked him what the result was.

“No problem” he said, “he is OK” and that was my excitemet for the day. In the meanwhile Mr. Swiss phoned to say it took longer than he expected but would pick me up in half an hour. I explained to Mr. Swiss of my exciting moments and he muttered something about these things always happening to me when left on my own.

It was not a romantic encounter, nor was I kidnapped, robbed or anything else exciting. Just a talk with an Indian gentleman and a plain clothes police officer. Our car now has summer tyres.

Discover Challenge: Chance Encounter

Daily Prompt: Survival


I was sitting outside on the porch with the computer and this little bug decidedto take a walk. I had a choice, shall I squash him flat with something heavy (my iPad?) or let him live and take a photo?. I decided to spare his life. Perhaps he had a wife and kids at home waiting for is return with some fresh food, perhaps it was his first day on earth, freshly developped into what he was after being something else first – worm, maggot, who knows? I decided he had earned a chance to become famous on my WordPress page. It was a pursuit with my camera, but he paused, surfaced between the slats of the wooden table and I got him. He was only wanting to survive in this world and who am I to spoil his chances.

We all have our fights of survival. It might be in the supermarket on a quest for food. Our ancestors in the prehistoric days did not have supermarkets. They did I suppose, but they had to take their stones, bows and arrows and other implements and do-it-theirself: no trolley to pile in a mammoth leg, or a piece of sabre tooth tiger, although even those animals had a right to survive. Where are the dinosaurs today, gone, either poisoned by their own recycling matter, methane gas, or just simply their time had come. Perhaps a space ship landed and took them back home to planet saurus.

I am still surviving at the golden oldie age of 69, almost 70. I still have things I want to do, places to go and to see, but realise this is no longer so self evident. Even walking has to be thought about. It is not as easy as it used to be.

Lately this whole picture of survival has become more a part of life for me. My father, who is 100 years old and 8 months is suviving. He was in hospital and I had given up hope. He had survived the second world war as a common soldier, not an officer or something special. He was not invited to join in, he received a command, an order. Did he want to go and risk his life for his country? Not really, he was a young man and had his life in front of him, but the only other alternative was prison as a consciencious objecter and he was not really made of the hero stuff. I remember asking him once if that had been a choice, and he answered there were a few that had such funny ideas, but there wasn’t a point in it. My dad was not a hero, but he was.

He landed in some sort of marine vessel on the beaches in Salerno, Italy and was ordered to march. He noticed that on the edge of the meadow where he was marching there was a noise “ping” and earth was being disturbed on the ground.He asked the  officer what it was, receiveing the answer “enemy fire”. Dad said he had never seen the fellow soldiers move so fast into the bushes, him being one of them. Dad was not a hero, he just wanted to survive.

He told me of the Christmas celebrations in the army camp. It was then the last days of the war when he was stationed in Germany. It was custom that the officers would bring the men their breakfast in the morning, but there were no men to bring the breakfast to. As it happens, all being fair in war, many of the soldiers had met some ladies in the local town and …. yes. I asked dad “was you there for the breakfast?”. He began the sentence “if you really want to know ……” the answer remains his answer.

No, dad was not a hero, just wanted to survive. He returned from the war, married mum, who he had only met once in a pub at the beginning of the war and eventually I was born. Their relationship was based on numerous letters written, which no longer exist.

I had a shock at the beginning of the year hearing that dad was now transported to a nursing home. I was frank an the doctor in the hospital said it was difficult to say how it would go, maybe days or weeks. He was in palliative care, meaning medicine could not do anyhting more for him, but good honest care could. this is a few months now and everytimg I have news from my friend who visits him reguglarly and even see him on her iPad camera via the facebook messenger, I see a dad that I no longer knew as the joker, the dancer, the dad that you could never take seriously It is now a dad who sleeps a lot, but seems to be at peace with the world. Every week there is  surprise. He is now eating regularly, enjoying his food Often sits up in his bed, might even be in a chair and he seems to be dealing with his health problems better.

Yeserday my friend had a few words with the caring team and they said he was doing well. They give him cranberry juice to drink, which is excellent for urinary problems. He likes eating yogurt, and as one of the two nursing homes with CCTV they have now installed it in his room, with my permission. They asked me if it would be OK, and I found it could not be better. His main problem before entering the hospital in his old home was walking. He had a so-called zimmer frame for support, but even that was no sure, and he was afraid of falling, which he did.

Dad has proved us all wrong. Who knows what the future holds? I usually visit dad in Autumn and have held back with panic flights to London up to now. My own health is no so good at the moment. I said to Mr. Swiss today “if things continue in this way, I will probably be off to London in Autumn to visit dad”.

I have learnt a lot with this experience, to be patient, to take things as they come, and not to give up. Survival is a big question mark for all of us.

Wedding mum and dad 11.07.1945

Mum and dad on their wedding day. Mum’s brother on the left, just returned from the war after 4-5 years as a POW. On the extreme right grandad, the proud father of the bride. Next to mum on the right her best school friend, who eventually married the brother on the left. The lady next to dad also one of mum’s friends. Yes wedding photos in those days were something completlely different. There were so many uniforms as the men had only just returned from the war and had no other clothes to wear.

Daily Prompt: Survival

Good Morning

back garden 12.05.2016

This is the view from my kitchen window today, also the living room as it is next to the kitchen. At the front you can see the borage from my garden, then some lawn and afterwards the peony stalks are growing tall and have buds. We call them “Pfingstrosen” in german, which translated means Whit roses. As next Monday is Whit Monday it looks like they will be following the calendar plan and should be open by then. Afterwards there is something resembling a mixture. It is our wild meadow. The seeds are a mixture of wild plants and we let them grow every year. There is a date, I think around 15th June when you allowe to mow it. As said, the Swiss are organised. If you want a wild meadow you have to have seeds, and the plants deliver the seeds, but only if you let them develop.

Last year we had a new neighbour who had seen this event for the first time, and decided to mow it down as he found it was weeds. I manage to stop him before he destroyed everything, although our part was already laying on the ground. He was full of apologies and did not realise this, as the person renting the appartment did not tell him. He now only mows his part, as apparently he has hay fever as his son. Our appartment is our own so I told him what he does on his side is his business, but otherwise to let it grow.

I seem to be joining the nature police, but I love this wild part. Basically it is nomansland, and the estate people look after it with their gardeners. The lilac tree also belongs to this part.

And now it is Thursday, big deal. Actually it is. This morning was again day of removing sheets and replacing them, but no rush. On Thursday I have nothing special to deal with. That is when I get itchy fingers looking for something to do. Last week I replanted my grape hyacinths in the garden from a bowl and they are now feeling comfortable in their new flower bed. I have a couple of telephone calls to make to England again. I cancelled my dad’s telephone and electricity where he was living, but his telephone No. is still ringing and we have not received notification from the electric company with the final bill. I had a check and it seems the telephone has to have 30 days notice, but am not sure about the electric. I wish these english companies also had Facebook messenger, it would be a lot cheaper that calling on the land line and waiting for them to recite their “press button” verses before I arrive where I should be, with a waiting time.

Yesterday good news from my dad. My friend visited and had a word with the nurses. Apparently he is doing fine, eating well and was even sitting up in bed yesterday. Now and again he sits in a chair. Not bad for 100 years and 8 months. I had my hair operation yesterday at the hairdressers and now feel reborn except for the odd aches and pains that we golden oldies seem to have in the joints.

I always sit down to write a few words and the words become sentences, the sentences paragraphs and afterwards I write a thesis on Life with Angloswiss. Now I really must go, despite the fact that I have nothing to do. It seems my vaccum cleaner is bored, wants to go places and absorb stuff.

See you around, have fun, and don’t forget finger exercise No. 1 on the keyboard of your computer.