Category Archives: People

The Roman, the Greek and the Nazi(s)

How overdue this blog is can easily be defined by the time past between my last publication here (August ’12). But even to a wider extent by the strong urge I have had to write this piece – which dates back many, oh so very many years. It may have first manifested itself inside of me during the school-year 2003/04 that I spent living in Cork, Ireland. Over there, in a overly catholic boys-to-men-school I was first being introduced to the idea of having foreigners tell me what they know – or thought to believe – about Germany and its past. Spoiler alert: it is not a very happy story! Of course not, how could it be?! Well, truth be told: my classmates back then were 15-16 years old and still had a few years of school in front of them. And even I had three more years to go afterwards. But then again, these 3 years – speaking about the history class in particular – were filled with one subject: Ze Zermans.
Okay, now here is, what I remember from all in all 9 years of more or less intense history-learning in various schools:

There once was a German Empire. Then they fought a war, lost it, got blamed. Started a second war, lost it. And rightfully so: got blamed. And then there were two German countries until David Hasselhoff miraculously reunited them, full stop.

Well, this is mind and taking those few weeks in middle school into account, during which the teacher would playfully explain the Romans and the Greeks (and we are talking a few weeks only!) I have absolutely no idea about any other country or historic events. For all I know, Germany could be only 150 years old and the riverbanks from where I am currently typing these words got drawn here like in SimCity. If it was not for the English classes in which we scratched on the surface of history of all major English speaking (and the U.S.) me knowledge would be even more limited.
What is bothering me immensely is my lack of wisdom regarding my own national identity and how this may be perceived elsewhere. I was being “honored” by Estonian nationalists back in 2010 with them telling me that I should be proud of “the” past. Shocking for a person like me, being brought up in a school system that for 9 consecutive years indoctrinated my mind about Germans and Germany being the source of all evil.  That persons’ believe put aside, I wish I could, in that very moment, have been able to explain my knowledge more thoroughly – but nah. I was merely given the tools to accept all blaming and beating for something in the past.
But in today’s day and age, I strongly develop the urge to educate myself about the history of others, coz I want to understand the bigger picture. And maybe, just maybe, it will help me to understand why the German-centric view in school is as it is. For I am still afraid to raise my voice about the international beating I sometimes had to endure abroad. Don’t get me wrong, what happened was the ultimate hate crime – yet the school system still teaches us that it was my personal fault. Mine…?!

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My take on poetry: Tranquility and Chaos

Tranquility and Chaos

 

The sound of silence

Captured in monochromic rainbows

A constant urge to create unplanned spontaneity

reflected in

truth-bearing lies in a

one-dimensional sphere of deep

impressions

 

Insipid coffee beans

arranged;

seemingly at random on a surface-free mirror

 

Edentulous smiles on oddly drawn souls

covered in yesterday’s wisdom

Memories of tomorrow’s instability of change

Fresh smell of old habits

viewed by

uncoordinated emotions

renewed on a cloudy battlefield of

hope

and unverified assumptions

 

Ill-natured sovereignty, expressed in closed

yet talking eyes

 

Disturbed heartbeat

beat

for

[…]

for

beat


Zagreb: Ideas and Images

A firm handshake, 1 second, 2 seconds. Eye contact. Straight. Sincere. Little blinking, every now and then. The coffee arrives on the table. The usual glass of cold water as well. You light a cigarette with a match. Inhale.  Breathe out in the clear summer air. Sunglasses disturb your vision, do not use them. The book is almost over, you read it for weeks and weeks now. Clearly. It looks like being tossed around too often. You like that idea. Smile secretly. A smile. The most honest thing one has to offer. You take a sip of water, while letting the spoon find its way to the bottom of the coffee. A small pack of sugar accompanies your cup. Do not open it. Coffee wants to be pure. The cigarette in the ashtray keeps burning down. You take a hasty pull and start reading. Lose yourself in a book. Trams keep speeding by, so do people. You look up, once in a while. People change. Your coffee gets cold. You still drink it. Cold coffee: a metaphor for time leaps on rusty chairs in moments of pure alienation. Detached from notions.


Addicted to a certain kind of kindness

Now, there is a different connotation to living in a Slavic country, I really have to admit. I only been here for, what, 2 weeks and I already feel another wave of honesty that I am exploring. Of course, I have been familiar with the kind of kindness, openness and ease of living for many years, but I somehow could never fully accept and/or appreciate it. To little congruence with my own culture, my way of being and my style of communicating was visible and so I did what I was best at – I stuck to what I knew and what I felt at ease with.
After those 2 weeks in Zagreb, I can say I found 1 real friend yet. 2 weeks! Real friendship does not come easy to me and it normally takes quite a while before people make the transition from being a “close acquaintance” to becoming a friend. Not here. I felt accepted and liked by the people I met so far and despite my different upbringing and history, I am welcomed immediately, That 1 guy I consider a friend, he has a girlfriend. We talked twice, I told her about my study and what I have to work on while in Croatia and she, in an instant, told me, she would help me! I was perplex! I told her, I was. She stared at me with surprise and simply replied, “that’s what friends do”. 🙂 Wow!

I came here for a reason. I start to understand a culture that really should have been familiar to me by now. I will try to incorporate every inch of this culture. It means the world to me.


Zagreb 50h

So far, I spent a bit over 50 hours in Zagreb, Croatia and thought, it definitely is time for a first statement:

I am so overly positively overwhelmed!!

To be honest, I haven’t really done anything here so far. I took 2 cabs to find my final destination (I get to that later) and did a bit of grocery shopping here and there, but for the most part of my 2 days, I spent them at my new, overly dusty, attic room a good 5km outside the city center. The room is…something else. Roughly 30qm I reckon, it is packed with dust and old broken furniture. Since I won’t be needed much, I simply dragged all those boxes in the one corner of the room I most likely never again will pass by, and set up my bed and desk close by the window. Now I use the bed, the desk and something that looks remotely like a cupboard to store my clothes. My 4 house mates seem to be pleasant companions, but I only met 2 so far. However, I explained my reasons for being here and instructed them (nicely) that within short time, I shall practice my Croatian language skills on them!

Back to my being overwhelmed. I have spent two weeks in Ljubljana, Slovenia over the past 4 1/2 years and the mentality I got to understand their seems to be much applicable to what I saw from Zagreb and its people so far. Every single person I talked to so far is so friendly. And it is an honest kind of friendly, the one that makes you want to just smile at strangers and talk about everything. My first cab driver asked me whether I am married and what brought me to Zagreb. He liked the reasons… 🙂 He continued telling me that Zagreb is a safe city with no harm for strangers. Just imagine a somewhat similar conversation with any (!) German cap driver, I dare you.

Okay, since I don’t want to reveal too many emotions at this first of many posts, here are two more things that I find worth mentioning:

a) The weather. I was told that the Balkan are in the middle of a severe snowstorm. I write these words on my shiny, -3°C cold balcony! It hit +7°C yesterday, so much of the snow has turned into brownish mud, but that is okay. It is very very slippery here, guess that compensates for missing out on the white beauty.

b) The burek. I tried 2 different places already. They were good, the one I had in Ljubljana in ’07 was better! Guess the first one is always the best and the most memorable.

Oh yeah, pictures. Next time… 🙂