Monday, March 13, 2006

Beat and Yehudit

Lawrence, Felix, Marianne and Urs sipping Hot Chocolate

Here is a photo of the ganse mischpache. At the center are Bride, Tirza (age 19) and the Groom Yankie (age 20). In the first row are Tirza's six siblings (the groom has nine siblings -- not shown). Last row includes all of Szonyi's cousins, from left to write Beat (lawyer and writer, Urs (translator), Moishe (the father of the bride), Manuela (the mother of the bride), Felix (works in the Swiss governemnt), and Lawrence (Cardozo LLM, NY Lawyer).

Here we are walking in the wet snow to Fondue and the Kunshaus (Museum of Modern Art).

Our Trip to Zurich

At the end of February, Szone and I went to Zurich for his cousin's daughter's wedding. It started off with a fabulous cab ride (tube station was closed, so we had to cab it to Paddington) with a Nigerian cab driver, who was a font of wisdom. Szone asked him if there were a lot of Nigerians in London, and the driver replied "There are a lot of Nigerians everywhere. If you find a place without Nigerians, you'd best get out!" Our cabbie also railed against the rushing nature of Western Culture (he was scandalized by how early we had left for the airport) and the focus on the future. "It's give us this day our daily bread, not bread for the next three years." he explained. As crazy, nervous, future oriented Westerners, we arrived in plenty of time at the airport.

The Central Railway Station was a nighmare of drunken teens, but our hotel, an easy walk, was spare but clean. The next day, we were greeted in the city by beautiful large sloppy snowflakes. We went out for fondue and then to an absolutely fabulous show at the Kunshaus, Zurich's mondern art museum. The show was all about the use of color in modern art. Although Szone and I disagreed about some of the paintings -- he likes ugly ones so long as they are "interesting," we both really enjoyed it. On the wall were quotes about color. My favorite:

When we overcome matter, denying it any serious quality, the primordial belief
in color with increase in ecstatic fervor and ardor, just as faith in God
increased when images were rejected.
Very interesting Mr. Franz Marc, even for an atheist such as myself with few visual artistic sensibilities.

That evening we went to Uster, a city about 20 minute train ride from Zurich to see Ilsa and Max Wyler. Ilsa is Lilly's late sister-in-law's sister. Although the relationship seems attenuated, Lilly's mother stayed with Ilsa and Max for years and the families are very close. Max, who is 90, is one of the last Jewish Cattle-traders in Switzerland. We had a wonderful meal and a great time. Max speaks very little English so the evening involved a lot of translation and my muddling through in almost non-existent German. Thank goodness for my translator, David Szonyi, cognates, and Learn German with Michel Thomas.

Our Main reason for our being in Zurich was the wedding -- very traditional. Men and women sat separately in the ceremony and the dinner and I wore long sleeves, long skirt and a ridiculous scarf that kept on sliding off my head. Every other woman there had a hat or a wig or both. I was really looked preposterous. During the break between the ceremony and the dinner (about 4 hours) we went with all of Szonyi's cousins (except the mother of the bride) to a famous chocolate shop for hot chocolate. It was a great experience meeting them and having time to talk with Szone's only cousins and their partners. The low point was during the long wedding speeches when the women, who couldn't hear or see the speakers were shushed by an overweight, obnoxious tummler with a whistle, who kept on shouting "Laaaaaaaaadies!" I did enjoy hanging out with Yeudit (Beat's girlfirend) and Talia, (Lawrence's wife) and Marianne (Felix's wife) at the reception and meeting Felix's kids (though Oliver, the boy, was banished to the men's section).

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Onions and Orchids

Those of you familiar with the Herald Telephone, I mean Herald Times, will recognize the phrase as our Hoosier hometown moniker for likes and dislikes. Well, we've been in London long enough to make such facile awards ourselves.

  • Public Transportation, especially the Tube. Fast, and efficient, if not cheap. Ben is half price. Easy access to airports via public transportation. Some Onions for the tube stops that have no escalator and only large elevators where the wait can be long and the smell and feel of a sardine can is evoked.
  • Food from the grocery store. There are much fewer additives in the food here. The fruit is better and everything is fresher than one finds in the supermarkets in the States. All eggs are free range. Coke is always made with sugar and not high fructose corn syrup (explaining my current addiction). There are lots of little "off license" Mom and Pop stores, and one can place big orders over the internet and the warehouse will provide an hour's window for delivery to our doorstep.
  • Great restaurants: Thai, Indiana, falafel, Vegetarian, Italian
  • Random guys who call me "love" or "darling" (as in "'eer ye go-o luv", or the guy when I explained that I was allergic to strawberries, exclaimed with alarm, "then you cahnt av that darlin!")
  • BBC radio. Great interviews with public officials who are actually expected to answer the questions.
  • London A-Z. With this book, one can find anything in London. It is rough on us middleaged folks because the print is so small.
  • Serious concern about the environment. Global warming is a regular topic of news and concern. My borough of Islington has paper, glass, can, plastic recycling and mandatory composting. (Though our upstairs neighbors don't seem to be with the program, and I am constantly fishing recyclables from their trash).
  • Cadbury chocolate with hazelnuts. Puts Hershey to shame.


  • Public drunkenness.
  • Tabloids, such as The Sun or The Mirror with the naked woman of the day, make the NY Post and Daily News look like a serious efforts in journalism.
  • English "cuisine." Recently Szonyi ordered an appetizer called "bait" and though deep fried, the little fisheys still had their beady little eyes in tact and visible. (why I am married to, or ever consider kissing, someone who ate the bait must be the subject of another posting). The beef is inedible.
  • Absence of sun.
  • The damp that gets in your bones.
  • Arcane banking rules. A check made out to Ben on an HSBC account could not be cashed by him at an HSBC branch unless he himself had an account, no could he sign it over to me (I do have such an account -- a coup!). Long lines at ATM's.