A pink taxi

A pink taxi

June 25, 2010

Geneva, My Love

My mother had packed for me her hand -me -down winter clothes from the 1960s. It was 1985 and I had never experienced a winter in my life. I didn't own any coats or sweaters. I was heading for my first year at boarding school in Geneva.

I had seen Desperatly Seeking Susan a dozen times the summer before school. I was a total Madonna wannabe, with my black rubber bracelets and my fluoresent nail polish.  I wish I had timed it better and started boarding school when I had been in my Lady Diana phase instead! I was thrust into a boarding school that was preppy to the max, all Ralph Lauren and Faconnable, and my only snow boots were Moon boots!! Seriously, what were my parents thinking?

I was homesick, culture shocked and determined not to give in to peer pressure. I didn't smoke or drink. I read all the time and since my mom thougt walkmans were bad for my ears, I used to walk with a boom box,  blaring Depeche Mode. I tried chanelling all my energy into studying, making up for my many years of daydreaming in Dubai. I was lucky to be seated next to a handsome guy, Alex, in Premiere, or 11th grade, and gradually, my popularity ratings went up in proportion to my grade improvements and I was buddies with the some of the coolest guys (Mark, Tobias). My girlfriends (Dalia, Nawal, Karima) were quite cute too!

But when I graduated three years later with a "bac en poche", I slammed the door, excited for my escape to the USA for college. I never thought I would live in Geneva again. Twelve years later, my husband had a great job offer there and it became my newlywed home. It took me a long time to disassociate Geneva with my boarding school days. I would get on the public bus and my heart would squeeze anxiously remembering the homesickness and stress of preparing for major exams.

However, no sooner did I realize that I had no curfew hours, bad cafeteria food or lonely sundays (Geneva is notoriously quiet on Sundays), I fell in love with the little city. In Switzerland, we lived our own nuclear life, with no family and only a handful of friends. We bonded as a couple and started a family.

Five years later, when my husband made a career move that would take us further back into my own personal trajectory, to Dubai, I held on tight to our island of privacy in Geneva. We made it our secondary home. We spend vacation time there. I drop all my social activities (and even trade my pilates training for walking and swimming) and dedicate 99% of my time to the kids (the other 1% of the time I am catching artsy films, reading French classics and taking a train to an artistic destination).

Geneva, my love. An oasis of Swiss tranquility.


  1. On my first summer day by the pool,I gathered my gadgets and paraphonelia:my new iPad given to me as a birthday present powered by Orange 3G;my Dubai BB,my new long range wireless phone,my old French mobile phone,my paper IHT and LeMonde etc...What else are we supposed to have around us to ,and at the same time stay connected.In the good old days,when we moved to our summer place a quarter of a century ago,we barely had a newspaper or a book,plus the noisey four kids to keep us company.
    A long intro to a blog commentary!It was the first time I used my iPad
    outdoors!I got my blog alert,and saw this posting,and I couldn't stop laughing !The blogger at 15,delivered to a girl's boarding school in austere Geneva,in a new environment ,was tough for both parties.A cousin of mine once picked her up on a Sunday morning,felt so bad about her surroundings,that he called me in Dubai,complaining how heartless we were!
    She went on to start a tradition in our family,where her three siblings followed in her footsteps,before they all eneded up in Liberal US universities!
    The pied de terre of her family in Geneva,facing the jet d'eau,is the most beautiful and convenient refuge for us to enjoy as a transit station between trips from East to west,north to south!Geneva spews tranquility and relaxation,and the blogger's children look forward to its parks,lake side and magnificent mountain weather!

  2. Yas...all I can say is that to get me to be a good girl my mom would THREATEN me with boarding school. I can only imagine what you went through! I remember getting letters from you when you were there in your pefectly schooled penmanship on those criss cross papers with your fountain pen. How many hours I used to sit and try to emmulate your penmanship!I always imagined how lonely you must have felt so far away from everything you know. And I remember you tell me about Tobie (it was during the time of Le Grand Bleu) and all your friends there and then I didn't feel so sorry for you anymore. Enjoy your summer off!



  3. Apart from the homesickness, anxiety and stress you did make lifelong friends, and that for me is worth all the stress in the world, because now in real life your friends are there to help
    you with stress and hard times. Although you probably won't cry on anyone's shoulder. You are one of the strongest person I know.