I have an awesome brother

The past two years, I’ve been living in the town just South of Zürich on the East side of the lake, Zollikon. Two weekends ago, I moved to Wollishofen, a part of the city of Zürich. When moving from one community to another in Switzerland, it is necessary to let the authorities know about your move within about a week of the move. So last Wednesday, I took a few hours in the afternoon to take care of the necessary paperwork. I went to the Zollikon Gemeindehaus and unregistered from the community. With the required stamp in my B-permit, I went to the corresponding office for the Kreis 2 district of the city of Zürich and registered as a resident in my new home city, Zürich. To register in Zürich cost me eighty Swiss francs—considerably more than it cost for me to register in Zollikon two years ago.

On Friday when I returned home from work, I found a letter in my mailbox, from a local restaurant. Restaurant Seerose (German for Water Lily) is located on the lake just a few minutes’ walk from my new home. I often pass by the restaurant when rowing on the lake. It’s nice, and quite fancy. “Wow,” I thought upon seeing the envelope addressed to me, “that was fast.” I assumed that the City of Zürich had shared my name and address with local businesses, and that the restaurant had sent me a note letting me know about their establishment. When I opened the envelope, I found an even nicer surprise waiting inside:
“A message from Ethan Lowry of Santa Clara, California, welcoming you to your new neighborhood.”

The letter was accompanied by a gift certificate for dinner for two at the restaurant. Isn’t that wonderful? In a Skype call later, Ethan explained how he accomplished this clever and generous gesture. He looked in Google Maps for restaurants close to my new address; and finding a nice one, called and spoke with the manager to arrange the letter and gift. I plan to use the gift certificate soon.

Thanks, brother. You’re the best!


Bike to work

The past two mornings, I have bicycled to work. It’s a fifteen-minute ride up the gentle slope of Alte Landstrasse. When the road passes through the southern part of Kilchberg, it offers a stunning vista of the Lake of Zürich. This morning the sun was shining brightly and there was a thin veil of haze upon the lake to the south.


IKEA “Skogaby” sofas

When I saw these black leather sofas at the IKEA showroom in Dietlikon, I was immediately drawn to them. Their elegant, understated design appealed to me and I was happy to find that they are also very comfortable, and quite reasonably priced. With these sofas, IKEA has once more done what it does best—pared down a piece of furniture to its bare essentials. If you look underneath the sofas, you’ll see that they’re actually hollow! Even the cushions are partially hollow. It’s a clever design that saves material and reduces weight. For my purposes, they’re perfect. The “Rasken” bench is serving as a makeshift coffee table until I find one I like.

I want the style of my furniture to be modern, to balance the somewhat rustic feel given by the thick stone walls, arched doorways, and terra cotta tile. I think these sofas are a good start!


Life in Wollishofen

Okay, maybe it’s a bit premature to opine on life in Wollishofen in general; but at least I can give you an idea of my first few days here. Friday night I put in several hours more of packing, after having believed that I was done. Yeah, it always takes a lot longer than you expect; and I’m glad I started packing early. Saturday I took the tram to Hardturm and picked up a big Mercedes truck at Hertz. I arrived back home in Zollikon just before the hour of 10, when I had asked my helpers to arrive. I served coffee to the first few to arrive, and once the stragglers had appeared, we began loading the truck.

It went quite quickly. I’d say we were done with the majority of the packing by 11:30. Paul kindly opened his downstairs office so that we could move my bed through his ground-floor door. This eliminated the need to carry the bed up a spiral flight of stairs and then back down again once outside the house. Three bikes were also packed in, after 40 or so boxes. I had time to snap a photo before saying good-bye to my friends. Another group was going to meet me at my new place in Wollishofen.

At the new place, the unloading went equally quickly. José, Nathalie, and Nicole helped me move all the boxes down two flights of stairs and into my new apartment. Toward the end of the unloading I asked Nicole to do us the favor of fetching some pizzas. She had ordered pizzas from a restaurant near Post Wollishofen for her party a couple of weeks ago, and I remembered their having been pretty tasty. These were just as good. Despite a weather forecast calling for cool weather and clouds, we were treated to a lovely sunny afternoon. So we all sat outside on the grassy lawn behind the house, sitting on an IKEA bag and pieces of the pizza boxes to protect our clothes from the wet and somewhat muddy autumn ground. Maren joined us toward the end, and helped us finish the pizza. It was really a beautiful afternoon, and as the wind blew, I captured a short video of the leaves failing like giant snowflakes from the tall trees encircling the garden.

Just as I was saying goodbye to my helpers, my two houseguests arrived. Martina and Vicky from Austria were planning to go to the same Halloween party as I, and had asked if they could spend the night at my place. “Sure,” I told them, “as long as you don’t mind helping me unpack!” So the two of them set to work on my kitchen. In a couple of hours they had turned a barren kitchen into a quite usable and well-organized one.

Martina and Vicky then decided to paint my face green.

We were going to a Halloween party, you see, and I didn’t have a costume. What with the move and all, I hadn’t given much thought to what costume I might wear. Well, I’m not sure what I was—but I was definitely green. The party was at Eva and Bastian’s flat, just a few hundred meters down the road from my new home. I had a good time at the party but I left not too long after midnight. I was exhausted and needed sleep.

Sunday morning after a quick breakfast on the bench overlooking the lake, my guests returned home to Austria. Then two more friends, Daniela and Nathalie, joined me for a trip to IKEA. I had not planned on buying much at IKEA, but once there, I found some things I rather like. I picked up a couple of “Skogaby” black leather sofas and a matching chair, as well as a desk, a bench, and a quite nice guest bed for the spare room. With all of these heavy items, I knew that I would need more unloading help. I called Simon and he was a real angel, agreeing to come down and lend a hand. With a few places to sit, the apartment feels much more livable now. Daniela helped me assemble my desk, and I was then able to connect my computer. I still don’t have internet at the new place though; so I’m relying on my iPhone’s 3G connection for the time being.

This morning I woke up early and returned the truck to Hertz. It took a while to drive through Zürich during rush hour, but I wasn’t in a hurry. The trip from Hertz to IBM took a while too, and I arrived at the office a bit later than usual. Tomorrow my commute will be about 15 minutes. I am really looking forward to that!

Tonight I unpacked some clothes and hung them up in my wardrobes. I also fixed my first meal at the new place—a simple rice dish with green peas. I caught a cold during the weekend, and it persists tonight. I think I’ll fix a tall glass of herbal tea before going to bed.