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Life stories

About the blog

Life tells a lot of stories. Some of them that I have lived in Italy, Tanzania, Berlin, Frankfurt, New Zealand or the rest of the world I would like to share here. Some might be sad, some philosophical, most will be funny. Most will be in English, but some may also be in German (and on rare occasions in Italian). Feel free to comment on any given story in either of these languages. I would love to hear what you think and feel when you read those stories.
Please also check out the main page of this blog:

The power of the turtle

Life is interesting Posted on Fri, January 13, 2017 09:11:41

While at the beach with my sister one day, I had a strong sense of female energy around. It figured that the turtle that lay there in the sand in front of us, relaxing in the sun under the rainbow, was a female. It also figured that the only other tourists passing by was a family with two little girls. Only now did I google the shamanic meaning of the turtle: it represents Mother Earth. Isn’t that magical. (Photo to follow)

Gesprächsfetzen (2)

Life is funny Posted on Sat, December 31, 2016 10:40:19

Die interessantesten Geschichten schreibt doch das Leben. Hier konnte ich mir ein Schmunzeln nicht verkneifen – für die Mutter war das vermutlich nicht so lustig: Im Buchladen in Norddeutschland. Ein kleiner Junge, vielleicht 5?, zur Mutter: “Mama wir müssen jetzt bitte einmal nach Hause fahren.” Die Mutter: “Wieso?” Der Junge, zeigt verschämt auf seinen Hosenboden: “Ich hab’ hier rein gekackert.” Mutter: “Nee, das ist jetzt nicht dein Ernst?!” Er, mit der gebotenen Ernsthaftigkeit: “Doch”. Ich nehme an, sie sind “einmal” nach Hause gefahren. (Ich mag die norddeutsche Ausdrucksweise)

Die Fabel vom Nichtstun

Life is ... ja was eigentlich? Posted on Sat, September 24, 2016 23:20:19

Als Winnie-the-Pooh sich von Christopher Robin verabschieden muss, gesteht ihm dieser nachdem sie Nirgendwo hin gegangen sind, am liebsten tue er gar nichts. “Wie tut man gar nichts?” fragt ihn dann Pooh nach langem Grübeln. “Das ist, wenn man es gerade tun will, und die Leute wollen von einem wissen: ‘Und was willst du jetzt tun, Christopher Robin?’ Und dann sagt man: ‘Och, gar nichts’, und dann tut man’s einfach.”
Nach Christopher Robin bedeutet es, “dass man einfach so vor sich hin geht, sich alle Sachen anhörte die man nicht hören kann, und sich nicht weiter darum kümmert.” Christopher Robin hatte aber auch verstanden, dass sie ihm da, wo er hin gehen würde, nicht mehr erlauben würden, nichts zu tun.

Das Nichtstun ist in unserer Gesellschaft nun einmal verpönt. Jeder tut irgendetwas. Jeder Moment sollte am Besten irgendwie zum Tun genutzt werden. Noch besser: nicht nur irgendwie, sondern in einer bestimmten Weise. Am Besten man tut ziemlich viel, ständig, und möglichst spektakulär sollte es auch sein.

Nun, was ist das Tun, und was das Nichtstun? Kann man eigentlich „nichts“ tun? Man tut doch immer etwas. Hören, sehen, fühlen, atmen… Am nähesten ans Nichtstun kommt vielleicht die Meditation heran. Wer sich aber schon einmal daran versucht hat wird gemerkt haben, wie schwierig das ist, und wie die Gedanken rasen – Nichtstun ist da wohl die falsche Bezeichnung. Nicht umsonst sagt man ja auch nicht, „ich habe nichts getan“, sondern man sagt „ich habe meditiert“. Und schon passt man wieder ganz gut ins Raster der Gesellschaft. Man gerät dann zwar schnell in die etwas belächelte Esoterik-Schublade, aber immer noch besser als einfach nichts zu tun.

Situationskomik im Sauniersalon

Life is funny Posted on Sat, September 24, 2016 23:05:10

In der Sauna.
Der lieblose, aber effiziente Aufguss ist gerade vorbei. Einige „Hartgesottene“ sitzen noch ein wenig in der feuchten Akazienblütenhitze, als ein junger Mann handtuchlos in die Sauna tritt und sich auf die unterste Stufe setzt.
Kaum sitzt er, schallt es von links schräg oben (empört): „Wo ist Ihr Handtuch?!“ und als der junge Mann verdutzt drein blickt, sichtlich ohne ein Wort zu verstehen, tönt es schon von rechts schräg oben: „You have to leave the sauna! You need a handkerchief (Anm.: = Taschentuch)!“
Verstört sucht der junge Mann das Weite und verlässt die Sauna so schnell, wie er sie betreten hatte (vielleicht noch ein bisschen schneller).
Die zurückgelassene Saunier-Gesellschaft befasst sich noch eine Weile damit, ob die Reaktion so nun richtig (oder vielleicht doch ein wenig zu ruppig) war, findet aber zu keinem eindeutigen Ergebnis.

Ob der junge Mann letzten Endes verstanden hat, was diese Deutschen von ihm wollten – man weiß es nicht und wird es wohl nie erfahren.

The wrong kind of doctor

Life is funny Posted on Wed, June 22, 2016 03:13:34

Boarding a long haul flight, the flight attendant looks at my boarding pass and asks: “Is that a medical doctor you have?” – Me: “No.” – Her: “Oh just lots of time at university then.” And off I stroll to find my seat, wishing I had learned something useful and studied medicine.

24hrs of Hong Kong

Life is interesting Posted on Sat, March 19, 2016 09:02:47

One of the first things I notice on the spectacular flight into the city are the skyscrapers.
Huge and neat like giant lego towers they sit everywhere between and on the mountains that form Hong Kong City. Around these obvious signs of mother nature’s suppression, she shows her undiminished beauty: the concrete masses are surrounded by green hills and mountains.
The late afternoon light with a slightly foggy air sets the scenery for soft shadows of blue. I feel as if I am flying right into a painting.
I have 24hrs in the city and soak it in. Everything seems perfectly organised, and rather safe. Strolling around Kennedy Town on Hong Kong, the island, in the evening, I see lots of (younger/working age) people exercising in the park, and older people taking a stroll. Food is delicious.
I return to my airbnb apartment early and meet my landlord. I learn that he is from India, Delhi. He says everything is so different in Hong Kong. With 7.5 m inhabitants only one third of that of Delhi. People walk so slowly. And space is rare and costly. The apartment is located very centrally, but on standards I know from Germany, I would not call it spacious. From where he lived previously in Hong Kong, it seems to be though. I learn that because of the little space at home, people usually always eat out and never invite someone at home. But they are very friendly, my host says.
He works for an investment bank. He had been working at the same bank in Delhi for 4 years. Life was just work then, 12hrs at the office per day plus 1hr each way to get there and back. A little less hours in Hong Kong (although his investment banker flatmate returns after 11pm that night). He tells me that you can earn and save good money in Hong Kong. I should try as well. I could work for German companies with business in Hong Kong or for Asian companies with business in Germany. There was a lot of money in Hong Kong. Teachers speaking Cantonese and English as native speakers were earning 1500 HK Dollars per hour.
I should have said something about what money is to me: That it is nothing but a means for a “higher” goal. That it will never be worth putting my life on hold for the sake of figures flowing into my bank account. That money is a game world of its own and not something very real, and certainly not my religion. But somehow I kept it to myself.
I get up early next morning, put on my running shoes and join the crowd that is already populating the little park just outside the apartment. Besides the sound of exotic chirping through the city noises, I hear Chinese music everywhere. Older people have gathered for their morning Tai Chi and are scattered all over the parc. I would like to join them but instead I only watch them. It is quite heartwarming how the women have spread out a piece of newspaper to place their bags on. Noteworthy that the older generation seems to be in good shape, and I notice many old people throughout my stay!
I manage to visit Victoria Peak and take the Star Ferry later on. Beautiful weather. Indeed, people walk slowly and seem friendly. And as much as the city fascinates me, I have difficulties in believing that any human being could truly enjoy living in such an environment of stapled shoeboxes, running in the hamster wheel day in and day out. Even if it is a luxurious one for some.
I tried to imagine how people might have lived there in the stone age – and learned that the first settlement does actually reach back that far. That the wealth of the city came from opium trade, on which the UK had its grip, seemed apalling to me. Call me naive but in that moment I realized once more that our westerly richness is built on lack of integrity, and on the backs of others, to their detriment, squeezing them out. But that’s a different story.
With all these impressions, and more, I leave the city. Off to yet another part of the world.

Was bleibt?

Life is ... ja was eigentlich? Posted on Wed, November 04, 2015 21:48:56

Was bleibt aus der Altsteinzeit? Die Clan-Führer, falls es sie gab? Geschichten über einzelne starke oder charakteristische Personen? Namen? Nichts davon. Was gefunden wurde sind Knochen, Zähne, Steinwerkzeuge, konservierte Utensilien. Und Kunstwerke.


Life is funny Posted on Tue, November 03, 2015 09:16:32

Gesprächsfetzen beim Vorbeigehen zaubern manchmal in der trübsten November-Stimmung ein Lächeln hervor:
Vor mir läuft ein grauhaariger Mann, an der Hand ein etwa dreijähriger Junge, gut eingepackt mit Mütze bei diesem kalten nebligen Herbstwetter. Sie laufen langsam und halten zwischendurch, um einen Stein oder ein Blatt aufzuheben. Ich will möglichst schnell zur Bahn, muss ja zur Arbeit! Wenn mich der Anblick auch rührt und an meine Kindheit erinnert, überwiegen doch der vermeintliche Zeitdruck und die Ernsthaftigkeit. Während meines “Überholvorgangs” darf ich folgender Unterhaltung lauschen: Der Junge: “Bringt mich heute die Mama zum Kindergarten?” Der Mann, erstaunt: “Aber nein! Heute bringe ich Dich zum Kindergarten, das siehst Du doch!” Der Junge: “Bist Du auch eine Frau?” Der Mann, wieder erstaunt: “Nein, ich bin doch ein Mann! Ich habe doch einen Pimmel!” Dann war ich schon außer Hörweite. Und hastete zur Bahn, mit einem breiten Grinsen auf dem Gesicht.
Life is funny.


Life is ... ja was eigentlich? Posted on Fri, July 17, 2015 15:45:54

The light awoke me, as it often does early mornings in the summer. I took a glimpse out the window just to turn around again and bury my head in the pillows, to continue sleeping. But too late: I had already noticed the pink glow of the clouds. Could this be the moment of Sunrise? All my senses were getting curious.

There is a flight of stairs leading straight up to the roof terrace from the sleeping room. From up there, you can look all the way towards the sea, which appears as a small blue stripe in the far distance, beyond the olive-green sea of leaves created by the trees around the house.

This morning, the sun was indeed only about to rise at the horizon. It announced itself with bright pink and orange colours lighting the clouds that seemed to be placed in the sky exactly for such purpose. I looked around, down into the courtyard, and at the street – it was like waking up, like lifting the gaze after having looked at the ground or the mirror for a long time. I took note of my surroundings, and saw the cats sleeping or strolling around, not aware of being watched. I saw someone down there, taking a sleepless stroll – not aware of me observing him. It was like watching the world from a distance above, and understanding that every being is caught in its own world, or even universe, walking its path with its own thoughts and issues, dreams and realities. Just as myself, when I am usually struggling around with my gaze fixed on the ground or upon myself, totally absorbed.

A small red dot appeared on the horizon. It rose fast, then hid for a few minutes behind the clouds. When it returned, it shone brightly, lightening the world. I enjoyed the moment, gratefully. Then I turned around, returned downstairs and buried my head in the pillows. But there was no way I could go back to sleep.

20 years

Life is interesting Posted on Wed, February 25, 2015 07:58:49

It was a cold winter day, and I was sick with a cold. Still, I had to take this flight to Vienna for a work meeting which I did not want to cancel. So there I sat on the airplane, window seat, eyes closed, trying to sleep and not feel the feaver. I did not feel like speaking to anyone, so it happened that I did not exchange a single word with my neighbour that had taken the seat on the aisle. It was a short flight and we deboarded the plane an hour later without having had a conversation.

We ran into each other again when we were looking for transport to downtown Vienna, however, and so it happened that we took the bus together. I was glad to be feeling better, and here a beautiful story unfolded before me, which I had almost missed. When spoke about why each of us was in Vienna, it turned out that he was there to attend to an appointment he had made 20 years earlier: After their graduation from high school, he had travelled to Vienna with some friends from school. They had agreed then and there, as you do at that age, to meet again 20 years after. Where?… Well it had to be a place that would most probably still be there 20 years from then. It was decided to meet at the café of hotel „Sacher“, famous for its cake and pastries.

And here he was, 20 years after the exact date, on his way to the café in order to see whether any of those friends from the past, of which he had lost sight in the meanwhile, had also remembered their appointment.

I was awed that this person took the chance, taking on himself to travel to Vienna 20 years later on the basis of such light-hearted agreement. Not a lot of people would do so, I thought to myself. We parted when we arrived in the city and wished each other a good time in Vienna.

When I arrived at the gate to fly back home the next day, I saw him sitting there already, waiting for me. We knew we would be travelling back on the same flight, so it did not come quite unexpected. Obviously, my first question was whether any of the others had shown up at hotel Sacher. He shook his head: No they had not.

Such a pity, but still he thought it was worth while the adventure. It paid off for me at least: I found a dear and special friend. This happened seven years ago. We should agree to meet again in Vienna, 13 years from now.

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