Friday, 22 February 2008

Saying goodbye

We've just returned from a farewell dinner for a friend who is returning to Canada after nearly 7 years working in Geneva. It was a fun occasion in a very busy restaurant in the heart of Paquis, Geneva's red light district. Sitting next to me I had someone who speaks fluent Kiswahili, Swedish and English and opposite me someone who speaks Zulu, English, German and some French. Always good for a linguist to feel humbled!
Saying goodbye is in some ways an integral part of life for Geneva's international workers. It's also one of the reasons that some of the local population find it hard to connect with people working in the international organisations, they've seen too many former friends move away. Writing a card for Callie, I realised how transitory many friendships here are. It's easy to let work dominate so you don't even get to know people as well as you would like. Then before you realise it years have passed and you or they have moved on.
When good friends move away you are somehow no longer the same. It's hard to maintain relationships over large distances even by email. The serendipity of a shared cup of coffee and a listening ear at just the right moment is not something even the internet can offer. Friendships are important and I very often don't invest enough time in those I've shared with over the years. Appologies if you're a friend I've neglected over the past two decades or so.


Gustavo Bonato said...

I make mine your words.

Jane said...

Hi Gustavo
I've been reading your blog in Portuguese and you know how non-existant my portuguese is but have I understood rightly that you're now the person responsible for writing about agriculture?
We wake up each day listening to a strange British radio programme called farming today
I come from farming country.
I was watching a programme about Brazil today saying it is the world's largest food exporting nation -putting pressure of course on the areas around the amazon forest. Anyway sounds interesting - but maybe I've misunderstood.
un abrazo