Christmas and Merkelstones

Christmas time in Germany used to be fun … the Christmas markets used to be open from early December and filled with joyful people, the smell of chocolate, vanilla filled the city, everyone smiling all around the city. For a large part this is still true but things are slowly changing from both west and east. More and more people start to raise their eyebrows is you wish the “Merry Christmas” instead of the more political friendly way “Happy Winter Holidays”. I never really cared for the religious meaning of the Christmas, after all it was a pagan holiday adopted by Christianity (a pretty smart PR move, if you ask me) but to change the way we wish each other Merry Christmas because some people from other religions might not like it seems a bit too far even for an atheist like myself.

This however is not all now we have a very new set of Christmas like problems: for the second year in the row the markets are not only populated with happy people but also happy police anti-tero police with automatic weapons. The sight of weapons in public might not be something strange in many parts of the world but here it is. People do not used to own guns (and hopefully still do not) and police patrols did not have to carry firearms. So that I see police having automatic weapon, even if is for my protection, does not make me feel safe, on contrary.

A new addition this year are to so-called Merkelstones: the big (and ugly) concrete structures connected with thick steel chains that the city hall installed to prevent any mentally sick person from playing  Carmagedon. The “good thing” is that all this created a few thousand jobs, since the structures must be guarded too but sadly all this is paid directly by all of us since everything in the Christmas market is suddenly more expensive.

Dear Frau Merkel, why can’t you admit that you have a problem ? You allowed so many refugees, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but why can’t you also deal with the fact that some of them don’t really care about the law of the country they now live in? This is perfectly understandable for someone coming from a place where law = corruption but you must have known this from the beginning and if you really did not it is now a pretty good time to accept it. And please address the root of the problem and not just deal with their effects. Putting a few concrete blocks here or there will not stop those who are determined to create problems or who doesn’t give a S on the rule of the law. Giving money to all the refugees (including those who are registering many times under different names and who consistently burn their passports just to make it more difficult for the authorities to track them) is not the solution. And by the way: the money that you use to generously supply the refugees are given to you by honest working people who are paying their taxes (including many immigrants – like myself) and obeying the laws of the country they live in. Does this matter to you ?

This country has well established legal system, has a police force: why don’t you use them, enforce the law and send those who to bot respect it home ? They burned their ID and you don’t know where to send them ? Build a city at the South Pole and send them there, talk to Canada I am sure they still have some land far north they would like to populate … there are solutions as long as you want to see them. Some will call you a Nazi, yes they will but to whomever forgot WRII ended 2 generations ago so let them deal with it. Your duty is to your German and EU citizens and for now you are not fulfilling it .

Merry Merkelstones

DK

 

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My daughter and me

dnaGenes, one of the miracles of life. We all read about them, do experiments in school and understand, or at least we think we do, how they work and affect the life. None of these however prepare us for the moments we actually see their effects first hand in the behaviour of our children. I am a father and I have a daughter (age nine) who by the description of most of my adequateness looks “just like me”.  I hear this a lot and frankly I don’t actually consider it a compliment: having a daughter that looks just like her dad … what does this mean ? Does she looks like a guy ? no female features at all ? and is supposed to be a compliment ? No worries  though this will not be a post with only complains … and to be honest (or not) I don’t actually see the resemblance that all those people talk about.

Before really starting with my story you should know something about me: since childhood I inherited (from my grandfather sic!) a significant amount of patience that I directed (among other things) in the way I eat. As a 6-7 years old child I used to carefully prepare my breakfasts/dinners and only start eating after everything was nicely arranged on my plate, all the vegetables were cut and pealed etc. By father used to joke with me that when I’ll go to the army I’ll die of hunger since by the time I am ready to eat all the food will be gone. Lucky me I never got to the army so I am not sure if he was right or not.

Saturday morning, breakfast, me and my daughter (you know the one that looks “just like me”) eating together and she suddenly asks:

“Dad did I tell you the story with the mandarins ?”,

“No you did not, tell me”,

“Well I was at the after school and you know that they give us there snacks. Sometimes they give us fruits but every time there is something good that we all like they are eaten pretty fast. However they don’t allow us to keep for later or even get a second until we didn’t finish the one we were eating. Once they had mandarins and we all took one and I was carefully pealing mine, you know that I don’t like it when it still has some of that white part(“just like me” starts to have a new meaning 😉 ) but all the other ate theirs without properly pealing them and took another one. I knew that I will not manage to get a second one if I will continue pealing mine …”

“So (I ask) what did you do ? Did you ate it like that ?”

“No, no, I just put my hand with the mandarin under that table so the supervisor wouldn’t see that I didn’t ate it and took a second one just like the others”

For a few seconds I tried to debate with myself if is OK or not to laugh if I would congratulate or criticize this behaviour and to be honest I still don’t know. So a just laughed and made no comments about it …

She truly “just like me” 😉

 

May the genes be on your side

DK

 

 

Catalan, Spanish or both

Anyone who follow the news in the last period most likely noticed a petty important wave of independence movements. In just the last 2 weeks you undoubtedly heard of the Catalan independence vote and its Spanish counterparts, the Kurdish independence vote and the Irakian military response and these are only the ones that the media insist on but they are by far not the only one.

In the same time we can easily notice many nationalistic and separatist movements (see Brexist) all over Europe and we see as a result an increase of non-tolerance and fear towards everyone that is different.

This seems to be very similar to the national movements from 1848 that marked the change from the feudal societies to the national states. The difference ? All those smaller nations like the Catalans that wanted independence but were not powerful enough to take it on their own in ’48 and were melted into a bigger national state (like Spain) woke up again and ask for what was never given to them until now. So from this point of view these movements are nothing new but due to the changes in our societies (more civil right, better media coverage, Internet) these requests become more and more lowed (not necessarily more powerful) and more difficult to ignore. Of course the reaction of the national states (especially the ones like Spain that are created from different nations – even if they don’t like to admit it) is to shutdown these movements. Sometimes this is done with force: like Spain and Irak are doing now, other times with mass colonizations: like China did with Tibet or Rusia did with all the territories it took after World War II.

A pure democratic solution is also not really an options since a vote (if it will be allowed) will only impose the rule of a majority and we’ve seen many times what majorities do: try to shut down minorities, which in Catalonia will be Spanish if the Catalans win or vice-versa if the Spanish win.

Why can’t we find a different solution that gives both Spanish and Catalan people what they want ? Why can’t be a person Catalan, Spanish, member of EU in the same time ?

The big problem I don’t think is at the people level but at the politicians level: the big stake here is who has the power, who controls the economy, the flow of money. I am absolutely convinced that both Spanish and Catalans agree that can live and work just like they did until now if they are governed from Barcelona, Madrid, Bruxelles or Honolulu. All they want is to be recognized by others as member of their communities  (in this case Catalan) to be allowed to speak their language and keep their customs to govern themselves and decide their own future. I don’t think this is too much to ask. On the other hand can’t they do this without breaking out from Spain ? I think they can if the Spanish government is ready make some concessions.

The big problem is how we all are used to think about country: as a unique indivisible national entity, but is more and more obvious that this view is no longer true (actually it never was) and that all counties are in the end is just a federation of distinct nationalities. In many cases all these nations are stuck and squashed within a border or in many cases more than one (like the Kurds for instance) but feel completely disconnected to that country where they were born but deeply connected to a certain nationality that has little in common to the country. So if a person sees her/himself as a Kurd rather than a Turk, Iranian or Irakian why can’t we give him this right and why can’t we also see him as a Kurd and why can’t we write this on his passport (regardless of the country he was born) ?

Is it so simple ? No it is not but starting to think like this might help start the process of accepting that we are what we feel we are and not what others tell us we are.

Regards,

DK

 

The fun of travelling

I always loved travelling, the planning the expectation of things that I will experience, the joy of discovering new things have always been a delight for me. I also like to plan it ahead, to know where will I go, how will I get there, where I will stay and even worth visiting. Sometimes though things get a bit messed up … like it happen t me in my last trip.

We decided, together with my daughter, to spend together a weekend in Hamburg so as usual I made my planning, bought the train tickets, found a place to stay … and here we go.

We’re waking up take our bikes and cycle to the train station. I don’t really like to wait so we try to get there just in time (that is 10-15 minutes before the train leaves). Of course, things are not that simple: since it was pretty cold our bicycle are frozen so we spend 10 minutes cleaning them …(but we should be still fine). We finally leave and, obviously we catch all possible the red lights but we do arrive a few minutes before the train should arrive but as German train are always keeping their precise schedule … the train is delayed with 30 minutes. Great, I have no excuse so we have to go through the shops … which for a father travelling alone with his daughter is a pretty scary experience because the last thing that you want in the beginning of a trip is to add extra luggage. With a mixture of skill pleading and a solemn promise that we’ll buy those things at the return (yeah, right) I manage to dodge the  “extras” so we get to the track.

Finally the train arrives, we find our seats and I relax: we have a direct connection no changes we are on vacation. I take out the cards and we start playing. Time flies and the we are close to our destination. The station is announced so we collect our things and get off the train: we are there !!! I watch the people hurry to get on/off while we slowly walk away. I notice a mother and her daughter running to get the same train we just get out of but the doors close just in front of them … I see there frustration and I distinctly remember thinking to myself: “Poor them,now they will have to wait for the next one ” … but  there is nothing what I can do.

As we walk toward the main entrance I slowly start to have a feeling that something is awfully wrong but can’t just point out what is it. Then it struck me: this station is familiar to me … but wait it cannot be since I was never in Hamburg before … so I look around and then realize it: we are in Hanover we just got out one station before 🙂 just great.

After we return from our trip (since we finally managed to get to Hamburg) I am kind of embarrassed to tell it to my friends but I do it anyway: so they laugh and then they share their “adventures”:

“Well I never get off from the train at a wrong station but I did managed once to get to the wrong airport: I went to Hamburg Airport and there I found out that my flight was actually from Hamburg Lübeck 😦 so to make sure I catch the plane I took a Taxi which was pretty expensive (about 100 Eur) and still missed my flight”

Another one says:”I also messed up my travelling plans pretty bad once: I was supposed to go to Hawaii for a conference (I was flying from Frankfurt) so I arrive there by train but at the counter the lady tells me: “Sorry but your flight is for tomorrow”. I think should I spend the night here or should I go back tomorrow ? so I choose to go back home but when I try to book my train for the next day I realize that some trains are cancelled and there is no way for me to get back to Frankfurt in the morning … so I miss my only chance to see Hawaii”

But my favourite: “I also mixed trains once. I was partying all night so my friends took me directly to that train station (I was supposed to meet some friends in Italy and go hiking. My friends take me to the right track and put me into the train without realizing that sine my train was delayed another train is stooped at the same track. Being a night train after a night of party I just find a free seat and fell asleep. No one checks my tickets or my passport so I only woke up in the morning and realize that I am in Paris” 🙂

After all these I realize that my little adventure in really insignificant compared to what other went through …

Did something like this ever happen to you too ?

Travel safe !

DK

The Parisian Wedding

A Parisian friend of mine from the research institute I work for invited me a few month ago to her wedding. Why do I say Parisian ? well this is pretty simple to explain: just ask any French and you will be told that in France there are two separate nations: French and Parisians. This exist about everywhere in between city people and countryside people but in France if you are not living in Paris you are a provincial no matter how big is you city.

Knowing all this and even though I’ve been told the it will be just a small wedding I was already imagining myself dancing in (one of the smaller) palace of Versailles, walking in beautifully maintained gardens and greeting annoying tourists with their point-and-shoot cameras with my perfect “Bonjour”. After an accepted the wedding invitation the couple added even more to my grandeur dreams: they asked me if I do not want to be their grooms-men. Since I am their friend but not that “close” friend I asked a bit suspicious “but whyyyy ?” so I found out that the bride has a few very close friends that HAVE TO BE bridesmaids and since I was coming alone to the wedding … I was a perfect filler :). Thinking about Versailles, I accepted so I asked about the dressing code (if any) but I was told there is none so anything is acceptable.

I started thinking about what to wear so the first option was my “old” suit. It looks decent but had two major flaws: a) my mother likes it so much that she asked me to wear it a her funeral and b) I lost about 15 kg since I last wear it so it looks on me like I would have inherited from the dead fat uncle. I ruled it out so decided to buy something new. Jeans +  jacket was the second option but thinking of Versailles I ruled out this option too so … a new suit it is. I would never even dream of doing something like this on my own so I asked for some professional help (you know … some woman opinion). I got a promise they will join me for some “live feedback” but since buying for other is less fun  than buying for yourself these promises never materialized.  Since I was running out of time I told myself: come on you are an adult, you can do it alone so I took my credit card and went hunting accompanied by the only women representative that agreed to join me: my 6-year-old daughter (not before I bribed her that I will also buy something for her).

After eliminating one by one the stores we finally reach to something ok: S. Oliver had a nice dark blue suit that I kind of liked so I asked for some advice from the sales woman. Her first question was: “But what will your partner wear ?” “I have no idea” I answer … She lifts hew eyebrow and says … “Ok” and helps me find the right size for the suit as well as a nice shirt and a matching tie. After paying she tells me: “You know … you can bring back the suit in 15 days for free … in case you have to …”. I thank her politely, happy that it is over and leaving I  am thinking “what she meant” …

Three happy weeks pass and about two weeks before the wedding the bride and one of her bridesmaid talk about their gorgeous dresses etc., you know … the boring things that all men try to avoid but at some moment the lightning strikes: “By the way, how what is the colour of your suit and tie ?” … After a loooooong pause I answer fearfully: “Dark blue !?”, “Oh no” they both answer together but we agreed that we’ll use autumn colours for the wedding. I answer slowly “No, you did not …” feeling how my fear becomes first anger and moves slowly towards rage. “Yes we did !” “WHO DID ?” I ask undecided whether should I strangulate them both together or separately while in my mind just like in near death situations I already calculated “the 2 weeks have passed so no chance to replace the suit which means an investment lost: 1 suite, 1 shirt, 1 tie … and counting).  “I told you” says the bridesmaid  (probably compelled by the maid word from her title bridesmaid). “And when did you do that since in the last 2 weeks I was away and in the next 2 you were in vacation and we never met ?” … silence … Just before exploding I leave not before leaving a couple of f. words behind but luckily before any blood is spilled.

A few hours later the bride comes with the white flag raised: “Look, sorry we forgot to tell you, but is ok, really, you only need to change you shirt and tie and it will be ok …” seeing that I am not convinced she continues: “… look, I’ll come with you and we can choose something together to match your suit and the dress of my friend.”

After another afternoon lost I end up with another shirt and tie and a happy bride so Versailles here I come …

All is set only travel arrangements to be done … so I get the location and I try to find the best way to get there. Plane or train ? Well considering that Charles de Gaulle airport happens to be in the exact opposite side of the city (so I will have to cross Paris during rush hour) … I kind of lean towards train (also cheaper). On the other hand every time when I had to arrive in Paris by train the working lover French railway workers were in strike and  almost every time I  lost my connections. So which should I chose ? The answer comes from another Parisian colleague of mine who was also coming to the wedding: “Let’s travel together … by TRAIN !”. “Ok, Ok I agree.” I answer secretly happy that I will have a “personal guide” since once I arrive in Paris I have no clue how to actually get to the hotel where we’re supposed to sleep. I could have done some research but … what’s the point ? After all I am just a foreigner and she is local so my only job is to hold her hand and not let go 😉

We search for tickets and when we are about to buy them we notice that there are some “strikes” scheduled !!! for the local B2 line (exactly the one we need). So that was my luck, I think,  but after some more investigation (from the “locals”) it turns out that by the time we arrive everything should work pretty smooth again. Smooooth, in Paris, Fraaaance … right, but without prof how can I complain ? I don’t but instead keep my mouth shut and follow the lead. The schedule is simple: leave from work to the train station, take the ICE change to TGV (we have about 30 min so should be fine), arrive about 10:00 PM in Paris take the B1 and around 11:00 we’re in bed getting some rest for the wedding next day.

The traveling day arrives, all luggage present just as their owners take the bus to the train station arriving even earlier (better safe than sorry), get to the platform and we see 2 trains scheduled to arrive both to the same direction: an IC (slower train) and our ICE (fast as the German arrow). The first arrive the IC: “Should we take it ?” “No, no our tickets are for the ICE and besides there is no point the ICE will arrive anyway earlier” “Ok”. And so the IC left together with our luck. We wait and wait and wait, the arrival time passes and a short 10 min delay is announced. The 10 min become 20 then 30 (I start to check and recheck the connection … “We’re going to lose it” I say, “No we won’t” I’m reassured, “the next train is TGV and they are always late”. After about 40-ish minutes the ICE finally arrives and the loooong trip … just starts. The ICE is decent enough to catch up so we arrive exactly when the TGV is supposed to leave, actually we see it … 3 platforms away ready to leave (this time On Time !!!). Since we already know where to go we start the “400 metres hurdles” race. Luckily we are not the only runners and since many of the are French in a German train station we arrive among the first not before seeing people literary falling over their luggage’s in the attempt to catch it.

Get into the train and to our surprise the train doesn’t move for the next 10-15 minutes to give everyone the chance to get it. The train starts to move and immediately you notice the difference between the ICE (newer, fancier) and TGV (80’s like fashion). At stability and speed though it is exactly the opposite: TGV is faster, way more stable: you can easily walk with your coffee cup without fear of spilling it everywhere. I dare anyone to do that in the ICE !

We arrive in Paris with only a few minutes delay (TGV rules !!!) and we run to the B2 line. We are not in huge hurry because we have 2 more trains on that direction so my friend finds her way pretty fast and there we are at the platform. Some people are already there, others arrive the train is displayed … but no train arrives. people start to ask each other: “is this the B2 line to Etamp ?” “yes, yes” My friend is not satisfied: “let’s ask an employee” … here things start to be spooky because as we look around there is nobody !!! Ok, maybe at the tickets counter ? … it’s closed !!! we finally find a cleaner who clarifies it for us: “There is no train, the track is closed for repairs !” I burst into laughter as I see the blood pressure rising on my co-suffering partner. We walk around for a few more minutes to actually find a reliable source and the only one we find is a guy wearing a semi uniform outfit standing in front of a table but having the toilette door just behind him. I look at him, I look into the toilette behind him and I constantly asking myself “Is he for real ? is there a hidden camera somewhere ?”. Unfortunately I was not lucky and there was no hidden camera: he was sincere and he explained us what the cleaner has just told us 😦 but adding an essential piece of information: “there are though some buses to replace the train …” “Really where ?” “Just in front of the train station” (I swear there was non when we arrived).

We check the stairs we have to climb with the luggage … (obviously the escalators were not functioning anymore … after all there was no more train running) so we start the climb. while doing this I hear my Parisian companion: “As soon as I step into a train station I instantly remember why I left Paris, I miss Germany, let’s just go back !”. We get out and … waves of people buses arriving, leaving people in uniforms with walkies-talkie giving explanations … I am totally confused. We jump on one of these guys and we ask “Hey we want to get to …” “Yes Yes take a bus” “Ok but which one” “Any” !? !? !? we go to the first one (why did we have to choose that one ???) and we ask again “Are you going to …” but before receiving an answer a uniform guy answers “Yes, Yes he stops anywhere” ?! ?! I started imagining taking the tour of Paris by night with the bus (so romantic) … with luggage and 50 other angry passengers that want to get home asap for a ride that will take us at least 1.5h (not so romantic).

After about 15 min of waiting the bus leaves and I can’t stop smiling at the face of my Parisian companion who just grime at me. There are 2 other buses in front and people giving instructions at every major cross-road so all seems fine and smooth. People start to get off and the stations to be less frequent. After about one hour the windows of the houses from outside start to have metal bars and I start to have the feeling that we are in the ghetto. “No No this is a pretty safe neighborhood” I am reassured.

The driver starts to be a bit nervous and he uses the station to ask for directions and then we realize that he has no GPS and he is a bit lost. But he gets pretty good directions from the bus in front: “the intersection with the blue advertisement take right” “at the pizza place … go left” and so on. 3 or 4 stations the bus stops but nobody get in or out and people start to smile and so we drive into complete darkness. No light on the street (sometimes I feel that even the street is missing) so some people suggest to maybe just stop in the stations where people get off since at this time (about 1:00AM) nobody needs a bus. Reluctantly the driver asks “Ok, in the next station … is anyone getting off ?” no answer so he say “Ok I will pass it” and so he does but after about 30 minutes he reaches exactly to the same station that he previously passed and this time stops. Everybody starts to be angry except for myself, I have the time of my life fighting against my urge to laugh.

Probably because I had this compassionate face the driver feels the need to explain himself to me (the only person in that bus who is not French and who does not speak French): “I am driver of a different line, I’ve never been on this line, they just gave me the bus and told me to go … but I don’t know this road”. Trying to make up the people he even asked them for directions but nobody could or was willing to help out so the romantic travel in the French Parisian country side continued.

Around 2AM someone took the initiative: “I am going to … does anyone need to get of before ?” “I am also going there” “Me too” so it turned out that everyone basically goes to the last station 🙂 “Look”  says the organizer “this way we are going to get in another 3h, everyone goes to … please just go on the national road and we can be there in 30 minutes.” Further convincing was of course necessary but in the end the crowd won and here we slide on the French national road. Here I see light again (I mean other than the one from the stars) and signs: Marseilles then a sign for right towards Marseilles and we go right 🙂 I already imagine myself arriving in Marseilles instead of Paris (a small detour). Around 3:00AM the bus passes in front oh the hotel where we’re supposed to check in but since we didn’t knew (at that time) we get off at the proper station which happens to be on the other side of that very small village. Doesn’t matter we are out from the bus of hell and we are happy so we start to go towards the hotel with out wheeled luggage. The problem is that all the streets are paved with cubic stones so try to imagine the sound of the people with wheeled luggage on empty narrow roads. It feels like the church bell rings every 5 steps you make. At 3:00AM while you sleep this may be a bit annoying.

At 3:30 AM with only 3h and 30 min later than we were supposed do we entered our rooms and got to bed since after all the party is just starting !!!

 

 

 

A travel story

I was flying back to Germany with a Lufthansa flight and for some unknown reason they changed my sit that I initially choose with another one on the first row from the economy class. Having no one in front of me just a come curtains that separates the Economy from the Business class I felt how I imagine an odalisque felt like in her Harem. Having nothing to do I started peeking into the business class: I saw no different between the 2 classes (no bigger space, no fancy chairs) so I started wondering how is Business class different ? do they get an extra chocolate or what ? While looking a very cute, blond hair girl came and sat in front at my right side (obviously in the Business class). Some other person came and tried to sit on the same row (which had 3 chair) but she said: no please do not sit next to me I need more space so the gentleman said sure and sat at aisle leaving an empty chair in between them. Content with her she took out a magazine and started reading. Having just enough place in between the chairs in front of me I started peeking into her magazine expecting so “sensitive” information like financial reports, unpublished articles etc. what did I see ? I would like tell you but I’ll have to kill you afterwards 🙂 : a scandal magazine describing who dates with whom, who sleeps with whom, you know the normal “sensitive” information that you can only get from some “special” magazines.

Pretty unhappy by my boring discovery I started checking the other side (the 3 seats from the left side): at the window there was a gentleman (I would say 60ish) pretty quiet but soon a woman (great body, slim, tall, very tight jeans 😉 ) and sat at the aisle at some After arranging her luggage/purse and finished checking each of her 2 phone for at least 5 times (all having, of course only FB running) she started chatting with the man next to her. Since there was an empty place in between she had to turn pretty much so her pants started moving down giving me a great view of her very sexy black underwear. I know how it  sounds but really, it was just there in front of me, how could I not notice ? At some point she turned back so I had a quick look at her face too and I noticed that she was not as young as I thought initially (she was in her late 40th) so my respect for her body increased even more 🙂 She continued the sporadic conversation  with her neighbour but at some point she put her head down on the empty sit next to the gentleman and continued talking. I was pretty amused and curious: what the hell was she doing ? Were they together ? Did they know each other ? No idea. This continued for some while but the woman seemed not very content with her place (feet on the ground and her upper body at 90 degrees on 2 chairs) so the gentlemen (which put his jacket on his knees to make more space for the poor tired woman offered her with a kind gesture his lap. The woman didn’t ignore this act of kindness and moved a bit towards him, put her head on his lap lying now on all 3 chairs. Being pretty tall she couldn’t lie properly so she had to keep her knees bend (but this time on the chair) to allow the flight attendant to pass by. At some point though she stood up a bit just like you wake up from a nightmare so I also looked to see what happen: the problem was that the Gucci label from her boots were no longer visible so she quickly arranged the boot so the label should be easily readable by all the people who pass by and then she put her head down again on the lap of her kind gentleman this time even more happy: now everyone will see her great violet Gucci boots!

From now on I will always travel on the same place … Does that make me a voyeur ?

Have a great 2015 😉

DK

Globalization of human habits

I’ve travelled a bit in my life and more than that in my current place (Germany) I have the chance to get in touch with many foreigners from so many countries that I think my conclusions are if not correct then at least representative for a big part of the Western society. My origins are in a country from the former Eastern bloc and I had the chance to see the Communism in its real shape just before falling and the changes that followed. The human society before the WR II was pretty well established in the sense that people knew their origin and usually followed the family tradition: peasants had their land and their children inherited it continuing to work it from a generation to another, wealthy people usually remained wealthy the army as well as the church was respected and feared. Communism came and took away all this social order by taking the land from the peasants and the factories from the bourgeois and in the 50 years that followed the new generation was brainwashed to revere The Party just as in US people were brainwashed (and still are) to revere the “American dream”, the “freedom”, the “nation” and other big words that actually mean bullshit. All this made people to lose their sense in the society and this is why I think today respect for the others is so uncommon.

If you do not believe me know that in my country (and I am convinced that in other countries too) when peasants went to work on their fields they always left the door from their houses open and food on the table and clean covers on the bed just in case some traveller happens to pass by to have some fresh food and a bed to rest. Do you think this is still happening anywhere today ? I doubt it.

People used to stand up for their beliefs, for their rights; how often does this happen today ? last week I went to the university gym to play volleyball with the students. There were there students, PhD students, post docs about 20-25 people in total from about 15 countries. 3 of them were friends and were in average a bit better than the rest of us so they formed a team with 3 other players (I was one of them) and started playing. They took all the balls, they only passed between themselves so I basically just watching them play. At the end of one of the games I went to one of them and asked him loudly so everyone can hear: “Tell me please is this volleyball training for everybody or is just for you guys to train ?” of course they did not agree with my question but I wanted to see who else shares my opinion: no one, not even “my friends” I went with. Everyone just turned their back or acted like not hearing me … Next day though I do receive an email from one of these “friends” telling me that she talked with some other people who were present and everyone agreed with my point of view and she apologize for not saying anything. I found this pretty lame and even coward.

There is also this madness with the political correctness taken many times to extremes. For instance touching someone’s arm, back or shoulder can get you in many companies in troubles. But if you think this is an American invention you are very wrong. My girlfriend is Iranian so very far from the “evil American customs” 🙂 and I had countless problems and fights with her when I happened to touch a shoulder or an arm of another girl during a party or even when we had friends coming over.

I feel like the western society is heading towards what Jew author (call me racist now)  Isaac Asimov described in his book “Naked Sun” a civilization where people to not meet each other and only talk using electronic devices (sound a lot like Facebook & Skype to me at least) and only meet to procreate.

Welcome to Solaris,

DK

Happy New Year

“What is with the funny title ? Didn’t you notice that the New Year started about 3 month ago ?” I think this is what most of the people should think when they read my post title and  they are obviously right. However today is somehow a special day since exactly today 20th of March (only for this year) it is the Nowruz or the Persian New Year. If you do not believe me you can check out this site too: Nowruz.com and I am sure the fireworks will convince you. Seriously speaking it really is today the Iranian new year and for this celebration most of the Iranian families are preparing a special table with some special items: the so called Haft Seen which are 7 different items; all of this items start with the same sound “seen” and each has a different meaning which you can better see on the Wikipedia page.

Coming back to my post however since in the last few months (around our New Year) I didn’t really made any new posts on my blog I was thinking that maybe this is a good moment to come back “with renewed strengths”.

The truth is that in this period many things and most of the not very happy happened to me so even though writing on my blog forces me to think about my problems, understand them and most importantly accept them I really had no strength for all this. I think though that I passed that stage and I am back now so be ready to take out your SPAM filters from your closet because you will need them !!! 🙂

Happy New Year to all our Iranian friends and see you soon.

Blowin’ in the wind

Today’s post will not be an original one but an approximate (bad) translation of a very funny Romanian post written by Julius Constantinescu that I read on www.dailycotcodac.ro. I know that is not nice to simply take some other people’s work but the truth of this post convinced me that this worth to be shared with the entire world 🙂

The author tries (successfully I would say but I might be biased) to analyse our (men) reactions and behaviours towards our “significant others”.

Have you ever really tried in the most honest way to understand your wife, girlfriend etc. ? Yes ? If so then please go with the mouse on the small red cross from the upper right (for Unix users make it left) corner of the window  and click on the X: this post is not for idiots !!!

OK, and now that we are alone let’s be honest, why should we even try to understand the women in our life ? They have (just like God does) a logic of their own than no human mind could ever understand. And even if by some miracle we could understand it in the next 5 minutes everything we learned about them would be outdated so why should we even try. The best we can do is how to learn to avoid them and their traps.

Once we know and understand these simple things we can go on and give some simple (and probably useless too) advice to all those that are at the beginning of a relationship.

1) “At least put it in the sink if you are not going to wash it” (with some variants for clothes and/or shoes)

A less experienced man would jump to wash the plate thinking that this was the message that she intended to send.Well, you are WRONG, she is just pissed and whatever you do she will continue to be pissed the entire evening so don’t bother washing the plate, it is not useful so don’t waste your time.

2) “What are those socks next to the chair ?”

This is a rhetoric question that requires no answer what so ever. Just take the sock, making sure that she sees you when you roll you eyes in disgust; this will help to annoy her enough not to give any other answer.

3) “A fiend of mine went to theatre with his boyfriend”

Just like Anna Karenina, bro ! Of course this friend does not exist or if she does her boyfriend does not or if they both exist they never went to theatre. Here you can lie a bit by vague promises that you will go with her too but be careful not to mention any specific date.In no case you should answer with an arrogant “So what ?”; if you would have wanted a life with dignity you should have think about this before getting married !!!

4) “You could have not put this, there ?”

If you are in the bathroom do not get out; after all you do not wish to find out what “this” actually is. If however you are in the same room, bad luck: you will find out.

No matter what “this” is you should be astonished and surprised: how could you leave that there ? You have to be so pathetic to … you got my point.

5) “If I would have know that you’ll complain so much I would have not taken you with me!”

A lost evening, there is no way of fixing it. However a wise man treats it as an investment: the worst the evening will be the better are the chances that next time she will not take you with her (to her boring friend, parents, shopping, theatre etc.)

Now let’s have a quick summary: what did we learn today ? First of all we, men cannot understand women and we should not ever try to. Second: all we can do is to try to avoid the troubles as much as possible; and if you can read between the line also a third thing: if a woman wants to tell you something, let HER do it, you will never guess what she wants.

 

All the best

DK

P.S. As I said in the beginning all the acknowledgements should go to the original author.

Barcelona a place of fun and bad luck

Before anything else I guess I should try to explain the title of my post. Me and a few of my close friends have some mixed type of memories about this wonderful city. I think the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind when they hear Barcelona, except the football team (soccer for our over the ocean friends 😉 ) of course, is  Gaudi and his architectural masterpieces. However I remember Barcelona for a few different reasons too and I will tell you a few of them: being a very popular tourist destination it also attracts many street performers, beggars and obviously pocket thieves. The latter are the ones that gave some of us a lot of problems.

One of my friends went with his wife to Barcelona for a vacation and the first day after their arrival someone in a bus managed to steal his wallet. They obviously went to the police to declare the theft but the worst part was that the second day after the incident they got hit again but this time even worse: the thief stolen all their ID’s, passports etc. so they remained without any money or credit cards in a foreign country being non EU citizens without any proof that have a EU visa and without any possibility to come back to Germany. They had to go to the embassy to ask for a passport renewal but the embassy is in Madrid more than 600 km away from Barcelona so to get there without any money is … difficult. They went again to the police that “helped” them by filling a new form and let them know they will “investigate”, the usual useless encouragement that actually tells you: “you are on your on sucker”. By an extraordinary chance they met at the police station a couple that they also met the previous day and they offered their help and finally even paid two tickets for them to go to the embassy in Madrid where they managed to get some temporary ID to get back to Germany.

My personal memories about Barcelona are related to the a new year that me and some of my friends decided to organize there. We were around 12 people in total and since it was soon after Christmas we all came from different directions (from home) so we arranged to meet in Barcelona flying in from several countries. One of my friends came flew from Poland and brought his laptop with him and the both keys from his car (for some reason he forgot the spare key in his backpack when he left home for Christmas). Luckily he always keeps his wallet in his pocket …
Somewhere waiting in a queue someone tapped him on his shoulder telling him “Look, you are dirty on you jacket, someone spilled coffee on you.” He tried to look back but since he didn’t see anything he took of his backpack, put it down and took off his jacket. In that moment the man who tapped him started shouting like he would fight while someone from the crowed jumped grabbed the backpack of my friend from the floor and started running on one direction while the other man started running on another direction. My friend needed a few sec to realize what happened but by the time he did both men were out of sight.

When we arrived he already checked in and was waiting for us with his “good news”. The adventures however did not stop here. Since we were many (as I said around twelve people) mostly students we decided to get the cheapest option available that will still keep us in the centre so we just rented for a few days a three room apartment somewhere in the centre. In the advertisement there were pictures of the apartment and the full list of features among which “Wireless Access Point” was one. As the internet geeks we are we absolutely need internet even for New Years Eve so the first thing we did when we arrived was to check our emails but the internet obviously did not work.

We tried to call the landlord he told us a non reassuring “It should work” followed by a brief explanation that it is new year’s eve, so he is not in Barcelona and he will try to pass by after the New Year. All this was obviously un acceptable Since we had many computer people in our group we thought about using some older techniques like reset the access point as we usually do in our work place. We started searching for the Access Point but there was nothing in the apartment. We thought: “Hey it might be in the staircase” so someone went searching for it on the lower and then on the upper floors. Unfortunately we had no luck and the only thing we found was the electricity power switch of the stair case. F. one of our friends told us then: on guys I will reset the switch, and she left … A few minutes later she switched off the power for all the apartments from every floor on our stair case (about 4 or 5 apartments at each of the 4 floors) from the switch we earlier found. I don’t even want to think how many curses we got from all the neighbours that thought it is a power shut down. At least they didn’t knew that this was only to reset a switch 🙂 Amazingly the trick worked and the Wireless Network started to work properly afterwards.

The conclusion here is the following: if you are ever in a situation where Internet doesn’t work do not worry and just turn off the power of your entire neighbourhood for a few seconds. You have great chances to solve your problem (or contrary to create even more problems)  in this way 🙂

All the best,

DK