For when the demons come
none shall be safe
none shall see the daylight
it shall be dark after dawn
For when the demons come
shall day become dust
and the smile of all
shall become an unspoken line
that cannot be walked
For when the demons come
all we know
will turn out a lie
and those true believers
shall meet their real destiny
For when the demons come
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…?!
Tranquility and Chaos
The sound of silence
Captured in monochromic rainbows
A constant urge to create unplanned spontaneity
truth-bearing lies in a
one-dimensional sphere of deep
Insipid coffee beans
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
renewed on a cloudy battlefield of
and unverified assumptions
Ill-natured sovereignty, expressed in closed
yet talking eyes
2 more days. 2 more days waiting for the sport event of this summer (London Olympics, what?). 2 more days waiting to see Greece take on Poland in the 1st match of the 2012 UEFA Euro tournament. Only 1 day later: Germany. VS Portugal. Really, we love Portugal. Beaches, Sun, you know…the perceived ease of living. Germany? Bureaucracy, Socks in Sandals, Sauerkrauts 🙂 But who cares about how Germany is being perceived in the world? Who cares that we still believe to carry some sort of guilt? In those 3 weeks that shall follow, Germany discovers its own national pride. Flags on cars, flags on bikes, flags on faces… One does not simply walk outside the house without noticing the change in colors. All over sudden, the backyard is being renovated, a grill is set up and beer is cooled down. We rediscover the collective idea of friendship and common love for something, football. We hug strange people on the town square when Germany scores, we (will) cry together when Germany will (!) lose against the Netherlands and we will wish nothing but mean stuff to that Christiano Ronaldo bloke yet secretly liking him for his talent.
In short: we are one! We are Germany! Hurrah!
This post is valid till July 2nd…
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.
Bok! Daj me jedna bijela kava, molim.
That is how it all began. The wish for a normal coffee with milk. What I got was the invite to stay several hours, sip your coffee every now and then and just see “being”.
Drinking coffee in Zagreb has become a wonderful tradition of an almost daily routine, involving working on my thesis (wi-fi is widely spread), reading a book and continuously improving my language skills. But all this I could do back home in Germany too. Here, it is a different feeling….coffee. It means so much more.
My day starts with making a strong coffee in one of the Balkans (some might claim Turkish) cezve. Boiling water, adding some sugar, adding the coffee, letting it boil just another second. Taking it off the stove, letting it rest for a moment – truly the most authentic coffee I have every tasted. And yet I am far from mastering this technique.
Hence my frequent visits to decent cafés like Funk Club or Melin.
Some of the “best” poems I wrote in the past few weeks were created under the influence of strong coffee and comfy chairs, mixed with an unstoppable amount of inspirations walking the streets and, of course, cigarettes.
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.