First and foremost :
it is very likely that all of my posts from now on will be in English.
During the last year or so, I’ve felt that during conversations, both face-to-face and online, I needed to point to one of the posts on this blog. I think this is very natural, as I’ve kept adding bits of reasoning to this blog for many years now and, even though my views change and shift, I do happen to repeat myself (far more frequently than anyone would like).
This is all good and nice, except that my Italian-based conversations are just a share of the whole and, while I might expect for an Italian fellow to be able to read English, I can’t really confide for the opposite to be true.
Hence, from now on, I’ll stick to English.
Curiously, this post is something I’ll hardly refer to in a technical context, but I’ll nonetheless write it in English.
It is now 14:45. I’m sitting on a bench in Lausanne’s Riponne plaza.
I’ve been out and about since this morning, 8:30 am.
I hardly ever quit my routine : work, go home and code/watch movies/talk with gentle wife/stay put. I rarely spend more than a couple hours outdoors and when I do it is usually in the mountains or other very secluded places.
I was astonished at the number of things which happened around me by spending a significant amount of time in a town like this.
First I looked for a parking near the city centre. The concept of a centre in Lausanne is murky. The town stands on multiple hills (pretty steep hills if I may say) on the north shore of Lake Geneva. The morphology has not helped and it took me a while to sort out which was the real city centre.
Anyway, I finally decided that the Riponne parking lot was fine enough for my goals.
First of all, I break my fast with a tea and a croissant. Fascinating how a mediocre tea is 3.50 CHF and an excellent croissant is just 1.20.
Then I continued my quest for a pair of good clip-on headphones. Since I’ll be living in Lausanne from now on, while my wife will stay back at home, I’ll have to spend long hours in a train heading back home in the week-ends. This is why I sorely need headphones, you wouldn’t expect me to bother the whole train with a TechQ presentation on domain driven design.
The problem is I hate intra-aural earbuds and almost any full headset which I cared to test would cause long-lasting pain in my ears after a few minutes of use. It is related to the ears being pinched between the two phones. I thought I had found an headset which was gentle enough, but after buying it and using it for more than half-an-hour my ears started aching badly and it lasted for hours after I removed it. So I gifted it to my wife’s brother.
So now I’m looking for clip-on headphones, much like these.
I left the patisserie where I had my breakfast and begun by entering a Sony shop. No luck, the Sony guy was astonished I was looking for such a bizarre apparel and mentioned that while he had seen some in the -past- (with the tone you would expect of an elder grandpa talking about the war) he was pretty sure they did not exist anymore, in Switzerland at least.
Then I spotted Fnac, which was cozy and well-appointed as usual, with a vast choice of headsets and earbuds, but no clip-ons.
Anyways, from the top of Fnac I had a commanding view of Flon, it is a former industrial area which sits in between two of Lausanne’s steep hills. It has now been restructured and a number of shops have opened down there.
Most importantly I spotted a Pathé! I love the pathé theatres.
After Fnac I tried three different InterDiscounts, MediaMarkt, Bang and Olufssen (yes, they do have 245 CHF earbuds and a 1250 CHF cordless phone, but no clip-ons), the Audio-Center, and the Auditory Area, which turned out to be a clinic specialized in hard of hearing old fellows with a large budget, think Amplifon for rich guys. In there they -did- have clip on headsets, just not the kind which you can jack to a computer.
Finally I went to a nokia shop, where the guy looked at me with an hint of irony and said : “you know, you should look in shops where they sell computer stuff, did you check Fnac?”
I answered positively and fell back out in good order.
Thanks to the above-mentioned morphology this search was tantamount to hiking.
Then I visited Lausanne’s Cathedral. Which, of course, stands on the peak of the tallest hill. In there I found a little presentation on John Calvin, who appears to be the local super-hero when it comes to religion.
There’s also a medieval building hosting a lycée in the Cathedral Citadel. Full of teenagers of course. The turds did not deserve such a fascinating school building.
I climbed down the citadel just to the bottom, heaven to hell, in Flon, where I bought a couple of ham-filled croissants for five francs.
As I was sitting on a bench eating my croissants a lady approached me and told me she was from Yugoslavia and without a work permit. I gave her ten francs. So she sat beside me and told me about her husband back in Belgium who beat her, and how she was in Switzerland since three weeks, with her little sister and two daughters.
Good lord. I gave her 20 more francs before I could finish my lunch. She was good conversation, except for the repeated petitions for more money, or for work. I very much wished to have a need for an house-cleaner, as she claimed to be quite good at it, having worked in hotels in Belgium.
One of the best moments was when she told me that she earned 1000 euros per month in Belgium, working as a room-cleaner in hotels. I chuckled and I suggested her to not try her luck in Italy, as 1000 euros is standard fare for young developers.
She looked surprised.
After leaving her I asked a nice grandma where was the train station, she told me to take the Metro and showed me to it, just to be sure I would not get lost.
She told me I did not sound like an Italian. I was not surprised, for some reason I don’t have an Italian accent when I speak French. Years ago I was told I sound Canadian, so I asked her how I did sound to her, and she said she was sure I was from the UK. I thought that, since Canadians can be defined as a mix of french and englishmen, she was not far from the spot, so I told her I agreed with her interpretation and we parted in friendship.
And yes, Lausanne has got two Metro lines. Fascinating. Since the tickets are time-based and allow you to use the metro for half an hour, no matter how many rides you take, it is perfectly wasteful to buy two tickets if you can get to the train station, buy a ticket back to Lugano for your wife and return in less than thirty minutes.
Thus, when I arrived at the train station I was looking for a reason to waste some time and justify my second ticket for the metro.
In the train station there was a pretty complex queue system and a dark-colored fellow asked me how it did work. I told him that I presumed he had picked the wrong queue and that he should be in mine. Then I suggested him to take my place in the queue, since he had arrived before me and, were it not for his mistake, he would be before me.
I stepped back at the beginning of the queue.
But it was of no use, a Swiss queue is often a quick queue, and I had to wait just three more minutes before being able to buy the ticket.
Stupid efficient Swiss cashiers.
I found out that the metro would bring me just where I had parked the car, so I was spared yet another climb up the hill.
So now I’m back here, I went to the car, took the laptop and the umts key and came to sit on this bench.
Of course it took me some time to write this post, it took even longer than expected because a little pest decided to come by and type all over my keyboard, the mother is still explaining him he should not do that :
It took so long that I had the time to notice a peculiar phenomenon. Over the hours (it is now 4 pm) that I’ve been sitting on this bench in Riponne plaza a lot of people with laptops have come to sit beside me on this same bench or the next one.
We are now at my third computer-assisted guest, and I could not spare to take a photo, as sitting by a Tibetan monk with an HP laptop on a bench in Lausanne is something that is worth a photo. See the azure area? That’s me, and that’s the monk.
Most notable is also that the monk was the only one who talked to me :
It seems he could not find Lausanne’s Wifi. I told him I doubt there is one, as I don’t get any reading on my Wifi and I’m connected through umts instead.
He was disappointed and left a few minutes after.
This might explain why many people chose to sit next to me and each one left after a while.
I must look like I’m sitting in a hotspot.
Time to leave and go collect my wife, she must be almost to the end, where they hang the company owners because they caused the death of a dozen miners.