8 June 2008

Switzerland explained

I think some time away from Switzerland has helped me finally figure out the deal with the place. But first, a few important facts:

1. People are generally afraid of rules, laws and authorities. For example, I spent some time in an area that has one policeman between three towns and my friend was still morbidly afraid to illicit an infraction on the law by speeding more than 5km/h over the limit.

2. Lausanne has the best recycling effort I have seen in the world! Every household has 3-4 separate bags for waste: plastic, aluminium & tin, paper and organic waste. And food packaging is labelled, directing you into which refuse bag it belongs. This meticulous system extends to the streets, shops, schools, etc. Some packaging, eg that on yoghurt, even have easy-peel labels so that after you've finished eating you can peel off the paper label and place it in paper recycling and dispose of the plastic container in the plastic recycling.

3. As I've already mentioned, everything is SO expensive here. I believe this is why people are generally paid more here - simply to keep up with the cost of living. Unfortunately the billions of dollars of unclaimed Nazi wealth in the numbered Swiss bank accounts doesn't extend to the populous.

4. Public transport is horrendously expensive, though everyone is on the "honour" system with regards to their bus and train tickets. People frantically buy their tickets, and would never dare travel without one, as they are terribly afraid they may encounter a ticket inspector and incur their wrath - or at least a fine. I was in Switzerland for almost four weeks, using public transport many times each day, and didn't encounter one ticket inspector!

5. Also mentioned in a previous post, the Swiss - well known for being neutral in the World Wars, and most other wars for that matter - have compulsory military service for all males (unless proven unhealthy OR unless they are willing to sacrifice a noticeable percentage of their salary for the otherwise entire duration of their would-be military service). During the second World War, the Swiss had war bunkers, protective barriers - the toblerone - and meticulous strategy to keep their country protected.

6. Finally, and most importantly, there is A LOT of marijuana in Switzerland - allow me reiterate the words A LOT! It is almost strange for the youth not to smoke pot here. Somebody told me, "You'll never go to jail for having weed - no matter how much you have." I believe you're actually allowed to possess and grow marijuana here as long you're not planning to sell it. And I've heard stories of people who have been caught growing vast amounts who then merely profess that they were growing so much in order to share with friends - which apparently is allowed - and hence have been released with a tender slap on the wrist Apparently marijuana is tolerated here and has been for some time now. And it's this fact that brings everything together. Here is my analysis...

The Swiss have been smoking freely and excessively for so long that the associated marijuana-induced paranoia is no longer a temporary altered state of mind, it's a permanent alteration in their genetic make up. They are afraid that Global Warming is going to melt the planet, so they are frantically recycling (but rightly so). They are afraid of any figure of authority: ticket inspectors, police, etc. Hence the Swiss follow orders, rules and regulations. All but those rules against smoking weed - but then, I don't think there are any rules against that.
They are afraid to come under military attack. Landlocked by five countries, I think the claustrophobia has gotten to them - either that or it's a vast attempt to protect their stash of weed. This paranoia has extended to their economy and their paranoid believe that they will run out of supplies - and that demand already exceeds supply - and hence the high cost of living. As with all the cheese and chocolate? Well, if I have to spell it out I will... the munchies!!! Need I say more?

I came to Switzerland expecting to get a lung-full of fresh, mountain air and instead I've found a country within a basin of mountains, trembling with fear under a massive, permeable cloud of ganja smoke. It's still pretty fresh though :)

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