Sunday, January 22, 2006

A busy weekend

Time to blog again. We've had a pretty busy week(end).

OrangeX was in Germany for the launch of a new product this week, we went to see a musical on Thursday evening (see previous post), then Orange had a meeting at 7 am (!!!) on Friday morning and I came home from work short after 7 pm on that same day. We sat down for a drink, chatted for a while and then around 9 pm, the phone rang and a male voice said: "What are you doing home on a Friday night?!". I scratched my head thinking: "I know that voice." Ahh, yes The Big Finn! We started chatting away and finally ended up taking a taxi to Mr. and Mrs. TBF's for a drink. When Mrs. TBF heard that we hadn't had dinner yet - which was what we were discussing when they called - she made her way to the kitchen while Mr. TBF got started on drinks. I felt a bit bad about Mrs. TBF standing in the kitchen for us, but she soon came back with a Finnish specialty of smoked fish and toast. I think it was a kind of herring, but Mr. TBF gave us the Finnish name that I can't remember. Shortly after that, Mrs. TBF appeared again with two big plates of delicious fettucine "al aglio e olio" (garlic and olive oil - and hot peppers!) that we gorged with the greatest of pleasure.

Then around 1am, I started feeling the strain of the week and all of a sudden had trouble keeping my eyes open. Of course that yummy Pinot Gris didn't help me stay awake. We had great fun at this unplanned get together but the need for sleep got too strong, so we called a cab, and I went straight to bed. Once more: Thanks for a delicious pasta and a great desert Mrs. TBF!!

It was difficult to get out of bed on Saturday. Not that much because of the evening before, but I had not slept very well the whole week and I had an appointment at the hairdresser's at 8.00 am. I kept asking myself: "Now why on earth did I do that?" After 2-3 cups of strong coffee, I felt half-alive and made my way to Markus' shop. I came back home around 10 am, checked my e-mails, read a couple of blogs - I was too tired to comment - and decided to go take a nap.

Around 3 pm, we left for Lucerne where we had been invited to a benefit concert given by the Symphony Orchestra "Nota Bene" and a special appearance by Christian Wenk, a pianist in a wheelchair. This concert took place in the KKL (Kultur- und Kongresszentrum Luzern = Culture and Congress Center Lucerne), a magnificent modern building situated directly on the Lake Lucerne and known for it's incredible acoustics.

We took a nice walk over the Chapel Bridge (Kappelbrücke), Lucerne's landmark, into the old town to do a bit of window shopping - the stores were closed already - and back to have an early dinner at the "Au Premier", a very nice restaurant directly in the Lucerne Train Station, offering on one side a magnificent view of the old town, and on the other, overlooking the train platforms.

We walked over to the KKL and took our seats in the VIP area. We've both never been to a classical concert and didn't really know what to expect. I like classical music, but I prefer to be able to choose when I can switch it on and off, and who I'm listening to. The first part consisted of a piece from Anatol Ljadow (never heard of him) and the music was light and very pleasing to the ear. The second part was von Edvard Krieg starring Christain Wenk as solist on the piano.

Now, one would think "So what's so spectacular about that? He's got hands so he can play, right?". There's more to that than one thinks. We tend to forget that you have pedals on a piano. Aha. Right. No leg function. Ha! So how does he do it? Christian plays with a specially developped system consisting of a plastic tube that reacts to pressure - by clenching it with his teeth - via a probe that is linked to a pressure sensor giving an electronic impulse that regulates the position of the pedal. Okay, enough technical know-how. Furthermore, his high level of paralysis lead to a loss of belly and back muscles, therefore weakening his stability to sit. I don't know if you've ever seen a concert pianist play, but let me tell you that it must take a heck of a lot of energy to play for an hour. I was totally gobsmacked when I heard him play. He was fantastic. I couldn't withhold my fascination and when he finished, I was so emotionally taken by his incredible willpower and love for life that I could feel a lump in my throat and my eyes stinging with tears. This excellent performance was rewarded with a ten minute standing ovation which called Christian back on stage three times. Unfortunately, we forgot our camera at home. Really sorry that I can't post any pictures.

Note to self: "Stop bitching around about your little problems and find a solution instead."

The last bit was the Symphony Orchestra only playing Antonin Dvorak (never heard of him either). It was very nice, but I think that we had both had enough classical music for one evening and were looking forward to got home.

PS: After his accident, Christian Wenk also finished his medical studies and has been working as assistant MD for the past three years.


christina said...

Wow, he sounds like an amazing man and I'm sure it was a very moving experience.

CanadianSwiss said...

It really was Christina. I work with wheelchair users daily, so I know what I'm talking about.

Expat Traveler said...

Wow - your time on friday night sounds like fun. I'm totally looking forward to doing stuff like that now that we will be finally settling into a place where I have friends near by.

And the pianist, he sounds incredible. Anyone who can play well is amazing but that is beyond. Lucky you. And yes I know where you are speaking of, so the description was enough.

Maybe I can send ya a few photos for that area... but I must look a bit...

pinki said...

hi canadian-swiss, next time when you come to austria, i will give you a little "lesson" in classical music ... i´ve a few records from antonin dvorak, my favorite is the symphony no.9 in e minor,op.95 "from new world"! we were at the "jamie cullum" concert in vienna last night and it was amazing (for your information, it was jazz mixed with funk and pop).
and imagine, we ´ve still the snow and very cold temperatures: last night we had -16°, and now it´s getting "warmer" to -12° (at 12 am). i tell you, i hate the winter!!! i think i have to moove to california ...

CanadianSwiss said...

Expat - I'll try to find a few picts myself so that the folks can see a bit more. We'll be returning to Lucerne in March when OrangeX's sister and bro-in-law come over. I promise to take picts!

Pinki - Believe it or not, that's what they played! By the way, I do like classical music ;). I'll check the web for Jamie Cullum. His nme does ring a bell. The mix sounds great! As for California, I wouldn't mind a bit of warmth either.

Ginnie said...

Sometimes it is the totally unplanned, serendipitous moments in life that are the best. Sounds like that's what happened on Friday night.

And what a motivational story about Christian Wenk! Omigod! My mom was a classical pianist (among other things), so I really followed your description with rapt interest. Is he the same man as from this article, I wonder (partway down the page). If so, he's so young. What a Life he's making for himself!

Thank you, btw, for welcoming me to the Pack! :)

CanadianSwiss said...

Ahhh, Ginnie - A new and welcome blogger friend! Yes, he's the same man, athough the article seems to have been written shortly after his accident that occured in Sept. 2000.

I guess that most of us underestimate the strength that we carry inside, and it often remains unrevealed until one is forced to go through such an ordeal.

Expat Traveler said...

I remember being in Lucern on Dec 27th, 2003 or so. It was so cold. All I wanted to do was stay inside. We were last there on our vacation in August. I had a lovely time. I especially like the lake and venturing outside the city better though..

Michael said...

Sounds like you had a good weekend....quick get togethers like that with the TBF'ers are usually the best.

I'm going to be totally American here, but I thought Lucerne was a Dairy Brand (I really do know better).

The concert sounds amazing and inspiring, thanks for sharing!

J said...

I love Dvorak! The pianist sounds wonderful also.

I've just come across your blog from Christina's.

CanadianSwiss said...

Thanks for visiting J. Hope to read you more often.

The Big Finn said...

I'm gettin' tired of reading the same blog over and over again. Kudos on writing such a long blog, but come on!!! We need some fresh material!
Also: you have writer's block or somethin'?

Expat Traveler said...

Haha - I'd agree with TBF - we want more!!! :)