my first English novel PILLOWS

Are you fascinated by the far East, especially modern China with Shanghai – such a metropolitan city – on focus, meanwhile you are wondering how it was like some decades ago?

Are you interested in interracial relationships? Say, Western men (white and coloured) try to develop romantic relationships with Chinese women in Shanghai, how the other Chinese people look at such things?

Or, you might be more business-minded and interested in doing business with Chinese people, especially in a very fast-paced international environment like Shanghai where opportunities pave the roads and streets, would you want to read about the business behaviour described in my book?

Then, again, love… LOVE,  this perpetual topic – seriously over-discussed but also seems never enough-discussed. How would these contemporary Chinese people enjoy love and be torn by love?

I hope you will find out everything that you have been looking for in Pillows. Now it is available on all Amazon websites. US$14.99 for a paperback, US$2.99 for a Kindle eBook.

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How to market your product?

I know you love your product. It’s like your own baby – you conceived the idea, you materialised it, you created it. Now you want to nurture it and make it grow, make it shine, make it seen and appreciated by others. You want to be proud of it, and of yourself; you want to benefit others from having it, using it, or even just knowing it; and most ideally, you want to make money with it.

You then created your website, or perhaps even rented a physical space which is to be called a shop. You are aware of the influence of social media, therefore you have created all kinds of accounts to promote your “baby”. However, there is no sales…. which means no revenue… which means your costs are not even covered, not to mention profits.

What is wrong? You ask yourself and you rack your brain. You start investing more money into the physical decoration of your shop, into promotions on social media, but all seems to be in vain. Why?

I know your “baby” was “born” out of love. But was it meant to be “born”?

It sounds harsh. But please take a minute to think about it. Before conceiving the idea of such a product, did you know about the market? The whole market size, the whole addressable market size and your target market size? How many players are already in your target market? How many of them are your competitors?

Then about your product – What are the differentiations of your product? What makes your product stand out? Is it environment friendly? Is it ethical?

Your customers’ unmet needs make them your target customers. Because you will meet their needs. Hence they will love your product and you. Have you spent time trying to understand your future customers? Their gender, age group, educational background, profession, lifestyle, hobbies, etc. etc. If it’s a B2B business, the same principle applies, everything about your customer’s industry matters. Their growth means your growth.

Is your business model feasible? Is it sustainable? Do you know anything about laws and regulations in your production site and your market site? Do you know if your raw material suppliers are reliable? It also applies to the shipment and payment method.

Before you have answers to all those questions, don’t, please just don’t make your “baby” born. Because raising a child is tough.

I am here to help you find all your answers. Contact me.

Back to Innocence

— my online dating stories in Switzerland

About a year ago a girl friend in Zurich gave me a book, encouraging me to go online dating. To celebrate my regained dignity and freedom, she said,”I hope you will find true love. Never give up.”

“121 First Dates” is the title of the book.

By looking at the title, I already felt discouraged. “Does it have to take so many random men to find THE one?” I thought to myself,”Or does this author really have no standards?”

Needless to say, I didn’t finish this book. I have my own standards, and belief.

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love.”

I set out unprepared. The pandemic “lured” me into trying online dating. So after doing my desktop research, I downloaded this most popular dating App in Switzerland. (note: Swiss people in Switzerland don’t approach people. Men and women both. How they date remains a myth to me. Online dating seems to be the only known way to make people meet and talk.)

Next day I stepped into office, two male colleagues nicely pulled me over and raised their eyebrows,” Jinglei, what are you doing on T. App? It’s a hookup App.!”

That’s the reputation of it. I knew. (I did my desktop research, remember?)

I actually felt a bit amused. I tilted my head and managed to ask nonchalantly,”Where did you find your girlfriend?” “On T. App.” One of them answered. I turned to the other one and asked the same question. He gave me exactly the same answer.

“You see, it works.” I smirked.

“But this happens only one out of one thousand cases!”

If this was a matter of probability, I was wiling to give it a try.

A few months passed, my date pool was several times empty. It seemed like I even didn’t want to find a date. But I knew myself – I was never an online shopper. I didn’t like going through product catalogues, just to start with. All those pictures of men looked to me just meaningless, especially when 80% of them left their profiles blank. By showing a picutre of their six-pack abs and some silly snapshots, they thought women (like me) would just swipe right.

No, I wasn’t that desperate. I had my standards.

Then when least expected, someone caught my attention. He greeted me politely and talked smartly. (being of Swiss-German origin) His English was perfect. And most importantly, we shared the same message typing habits. (Yep, this is very important to me.) We clicked immediately. We chatted everyday. We teased each other every now and then. Sometimes I’d laugh out loud reading his messages, and vice verca. “I want to see where our chemisty takes us.” He said. Yet, he made me wait for an entire month before meeting me in person, explaining to me all about his work projects and priorities. As his star sign and ascendant sign both were Capricorn, I sort of believed in his workaholic trait and his words.

Then we finally met and he asked for the very simple thing as much predictably as possible.

Pff. What a strategy he had!

“Told you, it’s a hookup App!” I could almost hear my colleagues say.

“Looking for a serious relationship? Try P. App.” A suggestion from the aforementioned two colleagues.

So, without doing a proper desktop research, but by remembering seeing their advertisements everywhere in the streets, I was convinced it was gonna work. I downloaded it and after completing their painfully long questionnaire, I even paid for a one-year membership! I was determined to take online dating seriously.

At first, you were not allowed to see each other’s photos. Sure, it was designed for finding your soulmate. Many messages from my potential “soulmates” came in. Within a couple of weeks I experienced two extremes – one group of men deleted my contact as soon as I released my photos to them (Apparently, a pretty Asian woman is equivalent to a monster in Switzerland. Run, chicken, run!) The other group of men got way too excited and boldly wrote me: “You are Asian. You must be good in bed.” and “I’ve never been with an Asian girl. What are your tricks in bed?” This time I had to run away as fast as possible.

One of them after seeing my photos wrote me that he wanted to have sex with me, when I reminded him to behave himself, he wrote: “Meinst du, du kannst hier Liebe finden?„ (You think, you can find love here?) (Sigh, he was even not able to write in English.)

No?

Instead of answering him, I wrote a complaint to this App’s customer service. A few weeks later, the App developer decided to let all paid members see potential “soulmates” profile photos. (Yeah, let us judge a book by its cover as we are basically all visual creatures when it comes to online dating.)

The consequence on my end was – it became extremely quiet. No more guys contacted me. When I took the initiative to contact them, their reaction showed that they belonged to the first group of men. They deleted me immediately without saying anything. It hurt (my ego) at first. But I got over it within no time. And I wrote an email to the customer service again and cancelled my membership. (There was no refund. But I didn’t care. The bad expreience was priceless.)

Well, as some wise people say, “Rejection is protection.” This is the living truth in Switzerland. I hence feel very safe in Switzerland.

Winter fell and stayed. It even prolonged to fight against the global warming. And it prevailed. I gave up online dating.

June arrived. The suddenly picked up warm temperature and loosened up COVID-19 measures restored some hope in me. I heard more and more successful online dating stories rooted from T. App.

I was tempted to download this App again and re-created a profile which sounded more serious. “…looking for a soulmate, a kindred spirit, a partner in crime…” I wrote.

And as efficient as I had always been, I paid upfront for one month, to see who “likes” me so that I could choose from the “likes” pool directly.

24 hours later, I received over 1100 likes. 72 hours later, the number of likes climbed to over 3000. By the time I finally chose someone to like, it had hit 4400. So, it should be easy to find THE one, right?

His profile was concise but well-written – he revealed his educational degree, his profession, his origin, his reason to come to Switzerland and his hobbies, his taste in music. Needless to say, he was my type, 100%. (Didn’t I mention I was a visual creature?)

We matched and chatted. He seemed to be outgoing, bold, smart, fun, honest and hardworking. Wasn’t that some of the qualities I had been looking for?

We met and talked. He couldn’t even wait for a second to point out my flaws. So direct and straighforward. So I was triggered to talk more. We talked more. And we wanted to talk even more. So we did. And we did it again, and again. I fully understood his goals and ambitions, his struggles and achivements, his loneliess and longings. There was a sense of innocence in his boldness. There was a reflection of insecurity in his confidance. He was a little boy (from a small town) in his age. I was a little girl (from a big city) in my heart. I thoroughly enjoyed the simplest things we did together. Nothing could prevent us from feeling the attraction and connection, except one thing…

He didn’t know my age and didn’t want to know. I had my theory but I was too scared to prove it.

Rain started and intentionally tired to quench the sparks before they could become flames. I decided to be honest with him about my age and my past (as I had lived longer than he had at this point, my past would probably seem a bit longer as well.)

“I find you very interesting and intelligent.” He looked at me softly from a distance, “But…”

The lightning scraped the dark sky and the thunder followed quickly to cover the sound I didn’t wish to hear. Outside, the rain was still pouring. I knew it was out of my power to stop the rain. The universe always had its own plans.

“Please drive me home.” I uttered those words.

A goodbye was a well-meant goodbye. We didn’t kiss. We didn’t hug. We didn’t shake hands. I jumped out of his “humble” (I quote his word) car and dashed to my apartment building. I told myself not to turn my head. So, I didn’t. I told myself it was alright to walk away from another wrong one and I should enter the buiding as quickly as possible to keep myself dry. But the air was so humid and it got my eyes moist.

I looked at my T. App profile. Over 5500 men “liked” it. But I only liked one. One month subscription was due and I didn’t renew.

“You are too picky.” All my colleagues and friends tell me.

Truth is, I absolutely disagree. The innocence and simplicity I find in myself is gold. I just need to find someone who will be able to recognize the gold and cherish it, and keep it.

The Misty Road to Refuge

Törbel, Wallis

It’s been a whole year and my broken heart still hasn’t been healed. Stubbornness, sometimes can be one of my personality traits. When running out of ways, the only thing I could think of was go on the spiritual path.

It was misty the whole time up in the mountains, where a meditation retreat was organised. The theme was “refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha”. I wasn’t familiar with Buddhism nor meditation. But my hopeless heart brought me there.

The venue was located in a small ancient village with about 500 inhabitants. A church, a cemetery and a temple shared the same piece of land, so harmoniously.

Our accommodation was in a several-storey building next to the temple. It was simple and humble but had everything that we needed. Three vegetarian meals a day and tea and coffee were provided in the canteen. Again, simple and humble but it was everything that we needed. We had 8 sessions and during the breaks we could enjoy reading in the library or take a walk outside.

On the first morning before waking up I was very surprised to meet an old schoolmate / friend in my dreams. I dreamed of myself walking through some high waste water to look for something. After fetching it I went to a fountain to rinse my legs. When I looked up I caught a sight of Kai, passing in a narrow lane. “Did I see it right?” I thought to myself. “It’s been ages since I have last time seen him.”

I dried my legs and went somewhere else. Then suddenly he appeared in front of my eyes! Kai! Yes, it was Kai! My old dear friend from the university. We had got along so well and at one point we even joked that we would marry each other if we would still be single at 30. He was smiling at me and looked radiant. I smiled back and walked towards him. Before I could say “hello”, he first said to me:”Have you seen my wife?”

“Oh right!” I thought to myself, “He is married. He didn’t wait until we would turn 30. But look at him, he must be happily married.”

I hadn’t seen his wife. Before I could answer him, my alarm clock pulled me back to the reality. I saw my dear Kai again, although it was brief in a dream. My heart was delighted.

But I have never met his wife. About 6 years ago in a morning when I woke up in my Zurich apartment I received a text message from her, informing me that Kai had passed away due to cancer. She told me that Kai had told her a lot about me and when he was suffering from cancer, he didn’t want to let me know. She also said that in Kai’s last words he hoped that I would become less stubborn and capricious. I remember during my last communiation with Kai (now I know he was actually coping with the chemo at the time!) he said to me his wife was the most wonderful person in the world. Yes, now I know why he didn’t wait until we turned 30.

I’m just a little spoiled child, naive and playful, always wishing to be carefree, still on my way to grow into an adult. But I know, my inner child is wounded, always wanting to find protection and healing. Therefore, here I was, in the refuge to Buddha. And meeting Kai in my dreams seemed to be the confirmation I needed.

The first morning started with the precept of no speaking at 7am. That was the time our breakfast started as well. I somehow was very excited about this entirely new experience, therefore, I greeted everyone I saw in the canteen in three languages: “Good morning! Bonjour! Guten Morgen! ” (as I wasn’t sure who could speak which language)

No one answered. Then I realised: no speaking. Awkward. But Buddha would understand, obviously.

Sitting like a buddha wasn’t easy for me, either. But time went by swiftly. Outside the temple it had become foggy. My eyes were completely misty when I arrived and I took up 3 merit jobs to keep my mind busy. At the end of the last session, I was able to smile again.

According to Buddhism, the only way to be liberated from suffering is to renounce.

When leaving the temple, the sun broke through the clouds and brushed the valley with a golden touch. My heart found its temporary ease.

Renunciation. That was the answer I had been looking for, perhaps. My spiritual journey has just begun.

Birthday, same same, but different

Each year, February 20th is a special day to me. It is my birthday and usually this day brings back our long-desired spring.

This year, it was double special as I by chance found out my Chinese girlfriend’s daughter was born exactly on the same day…just 21 years after.

Like me and many other Pisces women, she is artistic. But she takes it to a much higher and more serious level. She is an art student working on her master program.

The first meeting with her was a bit funny. Her mom – my friend – asked her to call me sister, as I’m not a parent. “Whoa.” I took a step back. “Does it mean, you and I belong to two different generations now?” I blinked at my friend.

“Aunty?” She asked for my consent.

That title made me feel…old. So I answered:”How about simply call me by my given name?”

We all agreed and settled.

I was very proud of myself that I was able to find a not-yet-officially-open Japanese pastry shop in Lausanne to order a very authentic matcha cake for us as a birthday cake.

Complying with the Swiss COVID measures, I divided my guests into two small groups. Hence, I had two sessions of celebration. Every moment of happiness doubled.

Next day, my birthday celebration continued. As if the lonelier I felt, the more eventful I had to make each day.

With a “Goldenpass Panoramic” train, from a breathtakingly beautiful spring in Montreux, I arrived in Gstaad’s winterland, which was just like another little tiny town in Disneyland.

I was welcomed by a man who arranged for my stay at Hotel Le Grand Bellevue and who liked to say “big time” in English quite often. Mr. Big-Time was elegantly dressed – slim cut blue suit and neat velvet dark red shoes. That was the first thing that distinguished him from the locals – the Swiss locals. Yes, he was Italian.

I was warmly greeted by the hotel staff. Everyone looked just so sophisticated, as if I was on a movie site in Hollywood. One of them was called Oliver, from Paris. While I was being awed by his greetings in perfect Mandarin, he told me he spoke other fifteen languages more fluently.

After drinking up a delicious hot chocolate from a small cute cup offered by one of the staff, I was led to go upstairs to my room. At the entrance of the staircase stood a real-sized dromedary made of cloth. Actually, that was the “butler” to the bar and restaurant. Going up, I was dazzled by an exquisite chandelier hanging from the ceiling. Somehow, I felt her loneliness through her warm light, as if she had been standing there for too long, waiting for her true admirer.

I knew I had been to many other five-star hotels. It had become a sort of ritual of my birthday celebration. However, this time, I felt something different, something unique, something mysterious.

“I hope you like your room.” Said Mr. Big-Time.

“Very.” I answered, politely, with a smile on my face.

He seemed satisfied. Then he slowly stepped towards the door.

“Are we going to meet again?” I asked.

“Dinner, at seven.” He gently closed the door.

I checked the time on my iPhone. There was enough time for me to visit the wellness & spa area. It was a delicate place with enough facilities. Yet, seeing all others in couple, I decided I might need more time to get ready for dinner.

When I returned to my room, the evening housekeeping service had just been done. The water bottles I had left empty and the peanut shells I had peeled off were cleaned up and gone. 

On my way to the bathroom I started taking off my bathrobe, unknotting the strings of my bikini top and quickly realizing that in this spacious bathroom where two sink cabinets opposite of each other stood, a bathtub and a shower room were next to each other installed, mirrors were everywhere, and windows were not yet covered by the curtains. It was too inviting and too…revealing. 

I instinctually used one of my hands to cover my top (this was one of the moments where I appreciated my humble breasts for their genuine size), dashed to the windows and swiftly put down the curtains. But the mirrors… were alluring. Before entering the shower room, I stopped in front of a full-length mirror behind the door. I contemplated my intact body, thinking, who could really tell my age – “The Age of Adaline”. (In the end of the movie, Adaline finally meets her soulmate and starts to age normally.)

After the shower, I went to look for my dress – a red one, not too formal, not too casual, not to thin, also not to thick, the one I had planned to go to the restaurant in, the one that would have been perfect for such an occasion. Yet it was nowhere in my suitcase nor my room. I sighed. I had forgotten to pack it. As if the universe wanted to warn me beforehand that I’d only be dining among those families and couples. Nothing romantic would occur. There would be no chance for such an effort. “How about my birthday ritual?” I thought to myself and felt like a beaten sack. 

“I’m waiting for you in the bar with a drink.” At a quarter to seven, a text message came in from Mr. Big-Time.

I had to put on what I had had before, and same applied to my make-up.

A tall slender waitress with blonde hair neatly put up was chatting with Mr. Big-Time. Even though a mask was covering nearly half of her face, I could still imagine how pretty she must have been. We greeted each other before I was seated. She said to me that the head of the chef in the restaurant wanted to prepare a surprise menu for us and asked me attentively whether there was anything I’d like to eat or not to eat. 

“Wonderful!” I smiled. “I have planned to eat fish this evening. But, just surprise me, please.” 

That was the advantage of being with someone who knew everyone here. I knew I was getting spoiled, big time. Such a familiar feeling that I had left about a century ago; sitting in a posh bar in a five-star hotel, being served with a lot of attention and care, all seemed like happened in my previous life – now was all coming back to me. 

I didn’t know what Mr. Big-Time was drinking. I asked for the name and quickly forgot. So, I ordered the same. Again, the familiar taste and sensation, crawling onto me unmistakably, reminded me of how my life used to be. 

COVID happened only a bit over a year ago. Yet, I had lost contact with myself for like over a hundred years. Or, did I find the true self instead?

Mr. Big-Time seemed very content or rather amused to see my satisfactory facial expressions. He was sitting on the other side of the table, trying to have an amicable conversation with me. Very friendly and very professionally. 

Just after having enough time for an aperitif, we were led to the dining table. Another waiter seated us at a round table that could easily serve a family of four. 

We were eagerly expecting the surprise. 

Mr. Big-Time was telling me about his professional experiences in wine business and hospitality industry. Whenever he was exited, he would exclaim “Big time!” Meanwhile, he was checking his mobile phone every now and then, excusing himself for potential emergency calls at work. 

The theme of the dinner was seafood, as I had wished. I couldn’t ask for more, could I?

Then Mr. Big-Time said something to surprise me, which was in fact foreseeable and predictable already. “I’m afraid I will have to leave around 21:30. She is not feeling well. It’s a forty-minute drive one way to her place.”

Of course. The “potential emergency calls at work” was far beyond understandable. I was neither entirely surprised nor disappointed. I was in line with the universe. However, with the alcohol running through my veins, I couldn’t deny that I was envious. 

Once upon a time, there was a prince charming who cared about me as well. 

Mr. Big-Time managed to wait until the last course which came out together with the head of the chef. We had already lost track of the courses. (But apparently, we didn’t lose the track of the time.) Thanks to my typically notorious Chinese behavior, I took photos of each course and every dish to help me to remember afterwards, perhaps in another century. 

“I will have breakfast with you tomorrow morning.” He said that before leaving. I told him it was not necessary. But he insisted. 

The delicious 8 courses.

I was back in my room, drunk. I hit the song on my iPhone “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” and started to enjoy my own party. I moved my body for a while, dancing like indeed nobody was watching. Even while I was changing into a night gown, I couldn’t stop dancing. At last, I hit a number. It went off.

I hit another. It was answered. A single girlfriend’s soothing voice was all I wanted to hear at that moment. “You will find love.” She repeated that to me, like a lullaby.

I then hit a different song and went to bed. It was Selena’s “Dreaming Of You”. 

The 8-course dinner kept me awake until late. At some point, I drifted into my dreamland. Surprisingly, when I woke next morning, I was feeling hungry. 

I’m still proud of myself for being able to take selfies like this. 😉

Mr. Big-Time was drinking his coffee with one hand and holding a newspaper in the other when I joined him in the restaurant. 

“All the bills have been taken care of.” He said gently, without raising eyes from his newspaper. 

“No!” I protested. No one had been so kind to me lately. I formed the habit of rejecting kindness. “How much did that dinner cost? I must pay you, together with the room rate.” While saying that emotionally, I took out my iPhone and opened TWINT. 

“What are you doing?” He asked me, nonchalantly.

“Transferring you the money.” I answered. Wasn’t it obvious? Everybody in Switzerland used TWINT.

“I don’t use that kind of App.” He finally looked at me, catching me tossing a weird look at him. He was smirking.

“Finish up. Go pack. I will be waiting for you in my car.” It sounded like an order. But very pleasant. 

“Right.” I thought to myself, “He is not Swiss. He is Italian. A true Italian gentleman that appears only once in a blue moon.”

Later that day, he drove me to the snow mountains nearby. We took a walk together and we chatted. He told me how he met his special lady and how they fell in love with each other. And how he realized he was in love with her – “When you are in love with someone, they bring out the best in you.”

He then drove me to the train station as I had scheduled. We said goodbye, like old friends. I knew, I was going to write down this extraordinary birthday experience. I also knew, one day, another prince charming would be willing to slay a dragon for me, even if I would not need that. But that would be meant to be the beginning of another beautiful story. And we would want to be the best version of ourselves.

Love in the Time of Corona

Unrequited love.

That is pathetic. That is undesired. That is unreal.

What I truly want is: the like-mindedness, the same wavelength, the spark, the emotional connection, the chemistry, with one particular equal soul.

For a brief moment, I thought I found it: the like-mindedness, the same wavelength, the spark, the emotional connection, the chemistry.

With this one particular equal soul, my heart was lit up and my spirit was lifted. I vividly felt younger, purer, dreamier, as if everything in my life made sense, again. I instantly got addicted to this occasional high, despite being aware of all the realistic lows. I was willing to wait for the time to prove me right…or wrong. Patiently.

There is no right or wrong, only the ride you choose to take along your journey. Gradually I came to the realisation: the love in this difficult time, for me, is actually all about self-love. Being drowned in the boundless loneliness, every sound shuts up. I look inward, inside of myself. Deeply and carefully. I rediscover an amazing being, who keeps on going, keeps on igniting the spark, keeps on believing in herself and the whole world.

I manifest love to the universe and hope one day, the universe will reciprocate.

Photo by Kartik Gupta on Pexels.com

Loneliness or Solitude?

Loneliness kills.

I haven’t done my research. But I’m pretty sure it does.

There are about one hundred forty thousand inhabitants in the city of Lausanne. There are about twenty-one units in the apartment building where I reside. But they are all total strangers to me, as I am to them.

I know, we are in Switzerland. This is just normal. COVID-19, confinement, lockdown, working from home, travel bans, first wave, second wave and now third wave… just make it worse, especially for a single foreign woman who lives all by herself. As the joke goes, “When the measure of mandatory social distancing of two meters is lifted, Swiss people are happily back to the normal social distancing of five meters.”

Every joke has a little truth to it.

Another truth is, everything has a price to pay. The price for living a non-toxic life, for me, is like casting an amateur swimmer into the vast icy ocean in the North Pole. I am cast. Life can be ruthless. I have to try my best to get to the shore a.s.a.p..

Shanghai dialect is my mother tongue. Around age five I started to learn Mandarin. At age eleven I started to learn English. When I was satisfied with my English language skills, I challenged myself with French. That was eleven years ago. A couple of years later, I started to learn German. Now I’m back to learning and improving French. Life can be surprisingly kind – all my efforts on learning those languages were not in vain, as those langauge skills in THIS country seem so vital. Another joke says, even a homeless man on the street can speak four languages fluently in Switzerland.

Yet, I’m feeling as lonely as those homeless men and women. I know, the only solution is to build a shelter, a sanctuary within myself. I need to become the sun of my own Milky Way galaxy. After month and month of practice, it’s finally working.

We are in the middle of the winter in Switzerland. The last round of snow usually visits us in April. It could also be in May, depending on its mood.

Loneliness and boredom try to kill me. I fight back and we start wrestling. In the process of it I finally understand why most Swiss people don’t complain about their long gloomy winter. The “fashion show” and celebrations actually take place everyday in the ski resorts. When the outer sun shies away, the inner sun shines.

When I will have mastered the skiing skills, I promise myself, I will upgrade the sportswear winter collection in my wardrobe.

By then, I indulge myself in the merry sledging, dashing through the snow. There are quite a few ways to get the adrenaline flowing.

Loneliness thus becomes solitude. I hope.

Hello New Year! Hello Undying Hope!

The new year has inevitably arrived. No matter how awful the year of 2020 has been, the arrival of the new year didn’t necessarily change anything, except that it brought us stronger hope.

Hope. Who doesn’t need it?

When I just moved to Lausanne, the French-speaking part of Switzerland, exactly a year ago, I had nothing but hope. When I encountered a false potential love interest and got heartbroken, I knew it wasn’t anyone’s fault, but my expectations’. Hope, again, became my one and only ally. When I very unfortunately got infected with COVID-19 and my symptoms were getting worse and worse, being trapped in a small hotel room in the famous ski resort (Zermatt), without any medication, but further infection to my dear friend and her daughter (who fortunately had no symptoms at all), I thought I was going to die. I wasn’t afraid of dying, given the seemingly hopeless situation; I was ready to go (how rediculous that may sound to me now) – if I could just go like this, without making an effort to say goodbyes to my friends and witnessing them shedding tears. Yet, my dear friend worked her magic on the Christmas eve and conjured a feast. I was sitting at the table, holding a glass of red wine (symbolically), feeling my energy dwindle. I retreated to my bed and lay down, closed my eyes, hoping it would soon be over.

Hope, never disappoints me, but expectations do.

It was just like a flu. I then recovered. We then were “allowed” to return to our place of residence – Lausanne.

It was on the New Year’s Eve. While others were still trying their best to celebrate, I stayed alone in my apartment in Lausanne, the so-called home. The first time in my entire life I was all by myself spending the new year’s eve. Quite an experiment rather than an experience. However, to me, it was just like any of those evenings, nothing special. I knew, the next morning, except the calendar date, nothing would change dramatically.

Home, is where your heart is. Where is my heart? It belongs to me. I am my own home. No one here to hurt me. No one cares to hurt me. How safe I feel. I started watching Bridgerton on Netflix. I found it to be a copy of Gossip Girl, in the setting of early 19th centrury. Yet, it suited my taste – my hopeless romantic, fancy, cliched “happily ever after” kind of taste. It awakened my hope.

What the major protagonists confirmed me was my theory about two people (a man and a woman) first becoming best friends, then falling in love. When the beautiful friendship ends, the wonderful love story starts.

I hope, one day, I will start such a beautiful friendship with a wonderful man. Will the new year bestow it on me?

欧陆黛尔《无童言》之开篇寄语

小女子今年四十又一岁,居住在瑞士偏远的山村。其实瑞士不大,四万一千平方公里,只有祖国母亲的千分之四,所以说自己的居住地偏远,实属夸张。从这里开车去瑞士最大最繁华的城市苏黎世,只不过一个小时多一点的车程。换在上海市区,交通稍稍堵一点,这才只是五公里的车程。但这里的确远离城市的喧哗,若不是Facebook和iPhone经常拿过去的照片来提醒,我还真的不会意识到五年的青春年华就这样悄悄从指尖流逝。因为在这里,时间仿佛是静止的。

家门前是欧洲第三大淡水湖,博登湖(德语Bodensee,英语Lake Constance)。它瘦长的身段足足有六十三公里,紧紧抓牢了瑞士、德国、奥地利三个国家的肢体的一部分。它波光粼粼,夏季的湖面上经常飘扬着帆船。若不是对岸绵绵的山峦提醒着我它的宽度,我真的会把它当成蔚蓝的大海。到了冬季,它也会毫无留情地结冰,与一边的皑皑雪山呼应着,全然弄出一个冰天雪地的世界。它有它的尊严要维护,若是遇到狂风,它势必要掀起大浪。但如同大家闺秀一般的它,即使发飙也是矜持的。若是遇到暴雨,它势必会拉高它的裙摆,让大水冲进附近的村庄和小镇,凉凉行人的小腿肚。大部分时候它风平浪静,各种野鸭和天鹅携带家眷一起出来觅食和嬉戏。它保持着两岸土壤的肥沃,德国境内有一个著名的花岛和一个著名的菜岛,都是它的杰作。

德语里,湖是个阳性词。在我眼里,它更像女性。融合东西文化,索性,我便用了“它”这个中性词。

因为居住在乡下,买菜则要去城里。骑自行车出行是个环保、健身的选择。这里的自行车都带有山地车的特性,因为地形像蛇,蜿蜒却妖娆。伴着湖,仿佛是条美女蛇。夏季的“美女蛇”身旁遍地是牛羊,时不时也会见到结伴的马,要么与同类结伴,要么与人类结伴。当骑着自行车来到平地上时,只身穿越一个接着一个的中世纪小镇。倘若不是见到许多最最现代化的汽车,我会幻想南瓜马车的出现。这里可以是童话故事的一个缩影,也可以是陶渊明老先生笔下的桃花源。而事实上,这里是欧洲的一个角落,不如巴黎有文化气息,不如罗马有历史气息,不如伦敦有商业气息,不如米兰有时尚气息,不如马塞罗那热情,不如威尼斯多情,也不如维也纳深情。

它的情谊,需要一个人静下心来慢慢地品味。

从我家出门右转,上个坡,总共步行五分钟便是拿破仑三世的故居,又名拿破仑博物馆。想当年,拿破仑一世倒台,他的继女兼弟媳Hortense de Beauharnais (是的,拿破仑一世把自己挚爱的女人约瑟芬跟前夫所生的女儿嫁给了自己的弟弟Louis Bonaparte)带着儿子Charles-Louis Napoléon Bonaparte逃难到了博登湖这里,买下了湖边的大宅,请人重新装修。宅内硬装和软装皆显法国皇室奢华,室外的花园也刻意修剪成当年巴黎盛行的模样。于是,两百年来这个鲜为人知的桃花源里一直有着一个小小的巴黎角。

经过五整个春夏秋冬,我决定把我在这里的一点一滴的感受都写下来,与你们分享。“欧陆黛尔”这个名字便油然而生,它的寓意随着我的心情的变化而不同。你们心中的“欧陆黛尔”会是怎样的呢?

dream-like family life in Germany

Waking in the morning to the bedroom door cracking open sound, followed by a few quick steps, hearing a little cute sweet voice saying “Tante Hester, xia lou chi fan”, German, English mixed with Chinese mandarin, I opened my eyes to see the everyday wonder in this 4-storey 5-decade old house. My godson Jonas, one of the wonders.

Winter in this part of Europe can be depressing and even dreadful due to the lack of sunshine. However, a family cannot be more joyous with children’s liveliness and laughter.

This is one of my best Christmas times in Europe – being among a loving family. I captured this dream-like moment of the family on the Christmas eve, after the kids returned from the nearby church and started to open up the presents that had been delivered by Santa Claus.

What is success? At the end of the day, you ask yourself this question. When seeing this picture, I believe you have the same answer as mine. 🙂

low budget modelling for the brand I’m working on – Eveline Zoccolillo :)

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