Saturday, October 03, 2015

25 years

"Slowly but surely acting more like a global power, a changing German nation is holding its 25th Reunification Day. If I have a wish for the future as a politically interested German person, it is that “we” think a little less about “our” past and “German” constraints, and a lot more about the world and global problems. It might take another ten, probably twenty years, for some of those who do exactly this to come to power. But with so many young Germans expressing open-armed sympathy for floods of refugees, makes this writer very optimistic."

The full article is on the Quartz website.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Austerity and constraints

Tuesday evening in my preferred 'living room', two brave mothers flanking daughters about to fly the coop in a big way. As posted yesterday, it was the eve of Jessica's departure for Berlin. And Dominique's destination was Mexico City. Final hugs for both of them... real warm embraces for the last time for a good while.

For the last time, too, the cosy Italian comfort of Eiscafé Venezia, as of today closed for four wintery months. I shall very much miss my regular table inside in the back corner. In several ways the fourth quarter of the year will be marked by austerity and constraints.

I must nevertheless count myself fortunate. The unexpected windfall in the form of several years accrued pension payments meant that the summer was not too grim. I could indulge in daily late afternoon outings for my beer-and-espresso break, enjoying many of them in the sitooteries of the three cafés withing easy walking distance. I could pick up the tab when Jessi joined me as she often did after returning from London. 

But the fourth quarter of the year will oblige me to economize rigorously once again and limit my outings to three days per week... unless, of course, paid translation assignments come my way.

With Venezia no longer an option my alternatives are limited. One is Bei Schakir, next to the discount supermarket where I shop. The guests are mostly ancient and there is the added problem of a very friendly Vietnamese waitress who chats non-stop, but in such a soft and high-pitched voice that with my less than optimal hearing I can understand little of what she tells me. Which is embarrassing. The second solution is Scheidegger... lovely in fine weather when I can put cushions on the chairs outside. But inside the seating is unforgiving... hard wooden benches which are agony for an extremely bony old codger like me. My ruse there is to have with me a cushion contained in a shoulder bag on which I can sit and hope that nobody notices my odd behaviour and presumes that I am sitting on my grocery purchases!

Yes, constraints and austerity. But... volens, nolens... they are to be endured. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

She's Leaving Home... Bye, Bye.

This time it is different. Not that seeing Jessi off, watching her leave Munich, is unfamiliar. There was the start of the autumn semesters in Maastricht, the winter semester that took her to Barcelona, the beginning of her year at King’s in London.

But this is the defining move, to Berlin where with her formal education behind her she’ll hope to start her career, her truly independent existence. She knows what a milestone this is. Her name is already on the doorbell of the flat she’ll be sharing in Berlin-Neukölln. Jessi has hired a car which will be fully packed with everything she needs to commence a new and exciting chapter. And she will drive north alone, disinclined to share the car with anyone even if this would reduce the costs involved. I like her determination to be fully aware of what she is doing, noting as the kilometres are notched up that this is a journey like no other.

“She’s Leaving Home”… my soundtrack for this day. Just as in the song it’s a Wednesday morning! 

Even now I recall my own awareness of the magnitude of the event when I left Dallas so very long ago. I had a much longer journey to reach London, days rather than hours. I had no real understanding of what awaited me.

No, not true! I know what my destination was, what Jessi’s is. It’s called ‘a life’.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Darkening days

Monday, September 21, 2015

En passant

They are an elusive generation, these twenty-somethings, constantly on the move. At the end of the month Jessi will move to Berlin, where she has a good support network and the hope of a decent job in the nations's capital. 

So she's only in Munich for a quick stopover after her Paris visit. That's where she bought the latest copy of Photo magazine. Why?

Because she'd asked if there was anything I could bring back for me. And I imagined myself strolling at her side and stopping at a kiosk to buy the magazine which I never failed to pick up forty years ago! That's why... another perpetuation of old habits.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

A brief reprieve

When mid-September arrives, days in Munich when the temperature reaches the mid-twenties are to be treasured. The weather will be seen as a welcome to the next 'invasion' the city will experience in a few days... the arrival of hoards of Australians, Italians and (yes) Scots for the annual Oktoberfest.

In my Schwabing-West village it is a joy to see the kids still able to play in the fountain at the centre of Hohenzollernplatz. I note the last... or perhaps penultimate sightings of pretty long-legged girls in cut-off denim shorts. I hope fervently that next summer the menfolk will no longer be wearing baggy trousers ending at mid-calf level (a sartorial aberration I simply cannot understand!). 

I try not to think of the chilly months to come. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015


A nombrilist note today, I must admit. Let me say simply that for me the Café de Flore is synonymous with continuity. My first visit was in 1963 and since then I have patronized the café whenever fortunate enough to be in Paris, either as resident or as visitor. 

At times I was there with only centimes in my pocket (with friends paying for my grand crème). But there were also times when I was doing well and felt nowhere more at home or better treated. But le Flore remains a constant, almost immutable and for that alone to be treasured. 

Jessi is spending a long weekend in Paris and I asked her to promise that she'd stop by on my behalf, having imparted to her the salient facts concerning this venerable institution. 

Promise kept! Thank you so much!