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Neuchâtel — Thoughts and Observations #3

  • I’ve been wondering why people look at me funny when I walk around town. I’ve isolated the following possible contributing factors, and feel that any or all of them could be playing a role:
    • A man pushing a baby stroller by himself. (The Swiss are entertainingly sexist about these things. Many people have commented on how “modern” our family arrangement is.)
    • The above stroller being black and very large compared to most.
    • My big black coat.
    • My black New Era cap. (Few besides the young riffraff seem to wear ball caps here.)
    • My tendency to whistle and talk to Sammy in English while walking.
  • The Ville de Neuchâtel police cruisers are silver with large cartoonish pictures of owls on the sides. I have a photo of one that will be uploaded with the next batch, if you don’t believe me.
  • In addition to the tram lines, trolleybuses and autobuses that cover every part of the city and canton, Transports Publics du Littoral Neuchâtelois includes two funicular lines for getting up and down the mountain with ease. These may be the key to us living anywhere besides the immediate city centre and the lake shore. I spent yesterday afternoon going up and down the mountainside with Sammy, and it doesn’t make for pleasant walking.
  • Having a baby here seems to provoke less uninvited questions and gratuitous advice that it does in North America (or the factors listed above could be playing a role here, too), but it still happens. Yesterday, I had an old woman in a store start talking to me about Sammy. I was able to answer her question about how old he is, but little else. When I told her, “Pardon, mais je suis nouveau ici et je ne parle pas francais très bien,” she smiled, nodded and started telling me how she speaks German and Italian but not English. She nonetheless then said some more stuff about Sammy that I didn’t understand at all, but seemed pleased when I smiled and chuckled when she smiled and chuckled.
  • In Toronto, it would only be me and the local derelicts who’d be in the liquor store buying booze first thing in the morning. Here, I was one person in a line of six (including the above-mentioned old woman), all buying booze from the grocery store at 09:30.