City of Dark Suits

“The first
time I passed through the country [Switzerland] I had the impression it was
swept down with a broom from one end to the other every morning by housewives
who dumped all the dirt in Italy.”
Ernesto Sàbado (Argentinian
journalist and novelist, b. 1911)
My most vivid memories from each place where I’ve lived are my first impressions: the new images, the smells, the tastes, the
people; all those elements that left an imprint on me before I became part of the
picture. Perfectly subjective, mostly driven by chance and tainted by what
was going on in my mind at the time.
When I think of my time in Boston, I think of the openness and
friendliness of the people I met; the novelty of my first immersion in American
culture; but also being heartbroken from having left my loved ones behind for
the first time ever. My first impressions of Paris were the sumptuous food; elegance
combined with astonishing rudeness; and another first – consciously choosing a place to
live. In Los Angeles, the openness of the ocean gave
me a feeling of extreme freedom; but I also remember spending my first days intimidated
by the expectations I had to live up to by being there. Leiden meant getting
used to European dimensions again – a huge contrast of scale; the endless fields
of parked bicycles at the train station; and surviving the greyness of my first
September there. Finally, Vienna was the magnificent architecture; being reunited
with family; the bliss of being pregnant with my first son.
What will Zurich be?
There are certain standard things most people think of when they think of Switzerland – cleanliness,
order, natural beauty – but for me Zurich is
the City of Dark Suits. My first day there (as a resident) reminded me of New
York City hotel bars during Happy Hour. Going to Starbucks for my coffee every
morning, I thought I was on the set of “Men in Black:” I’ve never seen that
many suits in a Starbucks before. Then, sometime between five and six in the
afternoon, the streets filled up with men and women, sharply dressed, stylish,
sophisticated. Zurich, as I first saw it, is a city of elegant people, dressed
in black.
Then there is the other Zurich – the one that revolves
around our new home. All my adult life, I have lived in places that were practically
part of a city. This is the first time that I find myself in my own little
“hub” – apart. When I will think back to those first days in our new place, I
will remember how it slowly filled up with our stuff and started becoming a home. I will picture
us putting our books on the bookshelves, arranging our clothes in the wardrobes, hanging up our paintings. I will think of how the kids went crazy with their new garden,
spending most of their awake hours outside. I will recall our first meal in our new dining room with our first visitors, dear friends from Vienna, who came to help us unpack.
A lot will change with time, including what I think of
most of these first impressions, but I cherish them nevertheless. They are part
of my history. They are part of me.

Would love to hear about your own first impressions.


  1. Anonymous

    First impressions are always hard to reverse no matter how open people are.. This is unfortunate.. I often hear the saying that Zurich is like wine: it gets better as the wine ages… Time will tell!

  2. When shopping for Men's suits, the color is a very important factor to consider. You need to choose which one will help you look good.

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