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Blog 2008

31 December 2008
It is freezing cold in Budapest but that was just ideal for the so-called Memento Park where many of the old statues from the Hungarian communist past have been put up in order to remind people of these times. It is fascinating, especially on a day where colors are fading away and the frost is visible on the grass and tree branches.

30 December 2008
Drove to Budapest – to the Margit island on the Danube river where I will stay for a few days in the Margit Thermal hotel. The island is connected to sides of Budapest (Buda and Pest) via the Margit bridge. The legend goes that Margit was the daughter of King Bela IV who forced her to live as a nun. She cured lepers and did a few more saintly deeds and eventually was beatified. The not so great part of the story is that for her lifetime she refused to wash above her ankles. Well, all that was back in the 13th century.

28 December 2008
„Ugh“ can be pronounced in 8 ways in English. See the following sentence by Tony Benn: „Going through the Borough of Slough, I bought enough doughnuts to give me a cough, which made me laugh.”

27 December 2008
From my collection of t-shirt prints: I saw a shirt today with a print that translates to something like “star shaped cinnamon biscuit”.

26 December 2008
The British Department for Children, Schools and Families has produced more than 150,000 leaflets for “the season to be careful” to advise parents in preventing typical Christmas Day accidents which have sent people to hospital such as:
– Parents stabbing themselves with scissors they’ve grabbed instead of screwdrivers to assemble toys;
– People cutting themselves with knives they are using to open presents too quickly;
– Children falling off rocking horses or smashing new bikes into walls;
– Tripping over toys and trailing cables in the rush to try out new computers and other appliances;
– Gravy exploding in microwave ovens;
– Tipsy party guests toppling down stairs or crashing to the floor when they miss their seat at the dinner table.
For more information click here.

24/25 December 2008
Sending holiday greetings has become difficult in today’s world. The most politically correct one I found this year was the following:
Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender neutral celebration of the winter/summer solstice holiday, practiced with the most enjoyable traditions of religious persuasion or secular practices of your choice with respect for the religious/secular persuasions and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all.
I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2009, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make our country great (not to imply that it is necessarily greater than any other country) and without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the recipient.
By accepting this greeting, you are accepting the following terms an conditions:
This greeting is subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting.
It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for her/himself or others and is void where prohibited by law, and irrevocable at the sole discretion of the wisher.
This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher; me, in this instance.

21 December 2008
Some people are genuinely rude I think. I quote: “Please send me your comments/thoughts by the end of the year if you have any.”

20 DeCember 2008
According to Manner, every two seconds a Manner Neapolitan Wafer is is eaten in Austria.

19 December 2008
Vienna or at least parts of Vienna face a hostile takeover by either Christmas market booths or the ever present wasabi nut. Whereas the former is widely visible and can be smelled clearly and distinguishably (what is called “Punsch” is most often just lousy hot wine with loads of sugar and some artificial flavors), the latter is much more subtle. Whole market areas that were used for selling fresh or dried fruits and nuts before are now devoted to a big, green artificial peanut covered with wasabi paste.

18 December 2008
An online service informed me today via e-mail that again Christmas will fall on the 24th of December this year. That insightful comment reminded me about a book I read a few years ago with the title: Our second daughter is again a girl.

17 December 2008
Isn’t it interesting that extra-corporeal shock wave lithotripsy for treating kidney stones was invented by Dornier because of problems the company was facing with their supersonic aircrafts due to shock waves?

15 December 2008
Sometimes being ahead of time it is rather easy. What I heard today just seems to prove it: “The Directive from 1998 is already 20 years old.”

12 December 2008
What I forgot to mention about Tokyo: I met James Bond! Herr is a picture of Daniel Craig and me and please take into consideration that I had a heavy cold and high fever. Bond girls look differently I have to admit.

James Bond and Margit

10 December 2008
From the classes in basic logic reasoning: “We have the solution and you tell us what the problem is, right?”

9 December 2008
From my collection of circular definitions: „A connected world is a better world because it helps connecting people to other people“.

8 December 2008
I think one could make a lot of money with seminars on basic logic reasoning for IT support personnel. One basic module would deal with the thought of “no e-mail without e-mail” or in other words “I cannot send an email to my client describing his problem and possible solutions if he does not have e-mail access and reports exactly that as a problem”. Module two would be “if – then correlations” or “why the user needs to have an Internet connection before he is told to search for a solution on a particular website. Module three could be “a good because and an even better but” such as having better explanations for non-functioning services than “it’s not working because the user is in Belgium”. A module for the advanced staff would then be “there is only so much a user can take”.

6 December 2008
As a private person it is getting more and more difficult to visit factories. Today and therefore with a two week delay I received an email refusing me a visit of a factory in Sendai/Japan. They would not do guided tours for tourists they said. Well. What also interests me to a large extent would be visiting old factory buildings that are not used any more.

5 December 2008
Sometimes I wonder about modern day’s professions. About their names, that is. And I think at times it is really not at all easy to figure out, what is meant. Who would have thought that a job ad for an „after sales service technician“ actually searches for a watchmaker?

4 December 2008
Announcement in a bus: Passengers should not use their mobile phones as they annoy their neighbors.

3 December 2008
Why would somebody put his bed’s head board in the office garage? Probably that is meant for not bumping into the wall when parking.

2 December 2008
Tales from the Dilbert side of my life: For whatever mysterious reason the IT department seems to believe that I am the responsible administrator for a particular IT service. They gave my name to everyone who reported a problem. As the server for that service seems to be down since many hours, a number of people contacted me in varying degrees of anger, telling me to get the problem fixed. I spent the day telling them that I had no idea what this was all about.

29 November 2008
I am back again in good old Europe where things don’t move as smoothly as in Japan. But on the other hand at least people do not wear protecting masks and so you do not feel as being part of a science fiction movie that is all about rebel bacteria and where you are the only one who has not heard about an effective means of protection, yet. And still they hit me hard. I have still not recovered from one of the most annoying colds I had during recent years.

20 – 28 November 2008
Tokyo is very much first world. Everything seems to work out, things function smoothly and people do not make big fuzz about it. Trains are on time, taxis available on every corner of the city, people genuinely friendly and helpful and no one seems to be stressed out.
My first impression of Tokyo was the toilets. The seats are heated and most of them have a quite sophisticated menu. You can chose from various bidet functions and – most interestingly – put a flush sound on. So without actually flushing you can enjoy a flush sound. The flushing button as such is often not part of the sophisticated mechanism and rather hidden.
Already on the way from the airport it is stunning how little advertisement there is next to the road or on buildings. It is like big cities should be; you concentrate on the skyline and you are not distracted by advertisement.
What is the biggest metropolitan area in the world does not give that impression at all. When looking at it from top of a skyscraper, you can see it’s enormous dimensions but when walking in the streets you have the feeling of being in a small town or discovering a certain neighborhood of such town. There is no rush, the air is clean, there are hardly any traffic jams and there is no shouting or other forms of loud noise. People are not moving in a hasty way either. Next to skyscrapers there are residential areas where you walk in the middle of the street and don’t even think of the possibility of a car running you over.
There are many vending machines in Tokyo where you can buy most anything from. Mostly it is hot and cold drinks, but there are also food vending machines with attached kitchen. You chose your food first, pay and as soon as it is done you are allowed into the shop. People still smoke a lot in Japan. There are cigarette vending machines with cigarettes brands called Hope, Seven Stars, Pianissimo, Cabin and Péche.
Other interesting brand names were: “dog’s care joker” for a shop with dog supplies and “Doughnut Plant” for a doughnut restaurant.
The Mori Art Museum greets visitors with the words: “Visitors who have consumed alcohol will not be permitted inside the museum.” In the museum there was a sculpture of a tuk-tuk motor rickshaw made of artificial bones and called “Autosaurus”. That was very special I thought.

20 November 2008
I always thought that although most shopping streets look alike, no matter in which city you are, they have a distinctive smell. In Brussels, it is the smell of waffles. Since I walked past the “gourmet wander waffle London“ booth yesterday night, I am giving up on the idea of distinctive smells.

19 November 2008
An advertisement in a shop in London’s Oxford street – decorated for Christmas – reads “the more the merrier”. I guess that slogan has been agreed upon well ahead of the current global financial turmoil situation.

18 November 2008
News on my name: A taxi driver wrote me a receipt for Marie Brandel and a hotel was reserved on the name of Margit Brandelille.

17 November 2008
Unfortunately I missed an interesting project in the KDW (Kaufhaus des Westens) in Berlin, called “revolting mannequins”.

16 November 2008
I had an odd flight today. My luggage decided to spend the night in Vienna instead of coming with me to Brussels and the stewardess said “all remaining passengers are kindly requested to board the aircraft. Otherwise they will be uploaded.”

15 November 2008
J. M. Keynes said after some disappointments: „Three things drive me crazy: love, jealousy and studying share prices.

13 November 2008
My mother says that a color iPod does not become white when washing it in the washing machine (not even at 60 degrees). She has to know as she tried it recently. She also says that it does not become an iPod shuffle through washing although since then there is some noise when shaking it. Interestingly enough the new one though reshuffles songs when you shake it.

11 November 2008
In Belgium, the 11 November is a national holiday that reminds people of the end of the World War I. In Austria, the carnival season starts on November 11 at 11:11.

10 November 2008
The slogan of a bio supermarket reads: „Be positive – health is an attitude!“. This will for sure make really ill people very happy…

8 November 2008
My best friend Margit Kuchler-D’Aiello’s novel has been published! It is called “Portrait eines Balkonsitzers“. The blurb says: “Mr. T. is sitting on his balcony and looks at the world. He is rather content until one day his attention is drawn to a young woman in the neighbouring house… Margit Kuchler-D’Aiello has written a touching story full of melancholy and poetry. It is a story about aging and longing, about failing, about hopelessness and the fragility of love.”

7 November 2008
From my “meeting quotes” series, this time a quote during a moderate dispute: A: I have the feeling I live in a parallel universe! B: I can assure you that this is the case.

6 November 2008
On core (immaterial) values: A beggar in Brussels city center played the European anthem on a flute.

5 November 2008
On core (material) values: Nutella is raffling a golden Nutella pot (14 carat).

4 November 2008
There are different dustmen in Brussels. There are those who are just regular garbage collectors and then there are those with an over dimensioned Hoover. The machine is then either used to Hoover leaves or to blow away leaves. Those that Hoover leaves can mostly be found at intersections with little or no trees and thus little or no leaves on the ground. The others are mainly populating alleys with loads of leaves. There they use the Hoover to blow leaves into nice patterns.

3 November 2008
I wanted to make an appointment at an institute for Thursday. Sympathetically enough, they still use a paper agenda with loose sheets for each day. Much to the embarrassment of the assistant, they had lost Thursday. She mumbled that this had never happened before that they lost a whole day. She then had a last attempt searching and pointing to the other end of the room asked her colleague: “Veronique, can you search for Thursday over there?”

1 November 2008
What’s new on the market is the so-called BachPod, an iPod that contains the complete works of Johann Sebastian Bach. On a parallel issue I sometimes ask myself whether future generations – instead of browsing albums with their childhood photographs – will receive a memory stick from their parents with the complete childhood photo compilation.

31 October 2008
On winning time (taken from my “meeting quotes” series): I will actually, kind of, sort of like double-check…

30 October 2008
And again another story on my name: I reserved a table in a restaurant on my name. When I got there I was greeted with the words: “Good evening, Madame Wandel”. [In German, “Wandel” means change.]

29 October 2008
There are bags from bookshops that read: Attention, reading might endanger stupidity.

28 October 2008
From BBC News: “Man’s arm trapped in train toilet: TGV toilets are equipped with a powerful suction system. A passenger on a French train had to be rescued by firemen after having his arm sucked down the on-board toilet. The 26-year-old victim was trapped when he tried to fish out his mobile phone, which had fallen into the toilet bowl, and fell foul of the suction system. The high-speed TGV train had to stop for two hours while firemen cut through the train’s pipework. The man was carried away by emergency services, with the toilet still attached to his arm. “He came out on a stretcher, with his hand still jammed in the toilet bowl, which they had to saw clean off,” said Benoit Gigou, a witness to the man’s plight. The incident happened on Sunday evening, aboard a train travelling in western France between La Rochelle and Paris.”

27 October 2008
Belgium has a club called the “League of Optimists of the Kingdom of Belgium”. According to their brochure their purpose is “to help bring about a change in the mentality of the inhabitants of Belgium, encouraging optimism and enthusiasm, good humor and positive thinking, greater daring and a spirit of enterprise, tolerance and understanding between individual citizens and communities”.

26 October 2008
Sometimes I feel like a city map on two legs. Random people looking for addresses come to me and ask me. Today it was in particular funny. The houses the girl was looking for had recently been torn down.

25 October 2008
There is a book with the title: Women who read are dangerous (by Stefan Bollmann).

23 October 2008
Another one on the Fortis advertisements: As said they still advertise with the incredible slogan: “Life is a curve – where are you on it?” but they also ask underneath the picture of that curve: “Are you heading to the right direction?

22 October 2008
The exhibition opening in Brussels tonight went really well. It was very pleasant and I had the chance to talk to many people. When I mounted the pictures last Friday I noticed that the cleaning personnel looked at my pictures and I had a good debate with them. That was a really nice compliment I thought. Also yesterday it seemed that everybody really discussed the pictures.

21 October 2008
A typical one day business trip: Getting up at five in the morning and returning home after eleven at night. On my way back home I finalized the preparation for my exhibition opening tomorrow. All pictures now have their little tags.

20 October 2008
New tales from Absurdistan: Fortis still advertises with the incredible slogan: “Life is a curve – where are you on it?”
There is a Belgian label called: But were is the sun? (Mais Il Est Où Le Soleil?) and a new (Belgian ?) movie called “Let’s talk about the rain” (parle-moi de la pluie).

17 October 2008
Quotes from a very entertaining meeting: “I can tell you one thing, this is not inconsistent with what we’ve just said. This is just a daisy argument!” and A: “And, did they say anything intelligent on the subject whatsoever?” B: “Let’s double check, we can’t preclude that.”

16 October 2008
Again on the never ending story of my name. I added a subsite to an Intranetsite. In normal circumstances the new page shows the author’s name at the very bottom, something like MargitBrandl. But to my surprise today the new site all of a sudden said SabineBrandt. Isn’t that weird. Now it is not just about taking away my first name, it is also about changing my second name. It seems Birgit was only the beginning.

15 October 2008
The exhibition opening yesterday night was a really good party with over 100 guests. Most of them were really interested in pictures and I guess everyone has seen my pictures. The most interesting comment was: “Even though your pictures capture inanimate objects, they seem to be the liveliest ones”.
A lady asked me why, by all means, broken mannequins. I said, exactly because they are broken. We had a lively discussion, interrupted many times though. She spent at least 2 hours in front of one of my pictures, a mannequin from Moscow (Inside Gum). That made quite an impression on me.

14 October 2008
Hairdresser to customer: “How old are you by the way?”
Customer: “Seventeen.”
Hairdresser: “And how are you coping with that?”

13 October 2008
Worked. Drove to Germany. Worked. Refueled. Drove back.

10 October 2008
On the current financial crisis: I read the following insight on some well-known and now bankrupt banks today: ‘There are two sides to a Balance Sheet – Left & the Right (Liabilities and Assets respectively). On the Left side there is nothing right – and on the right side there is nothing left’.

8 October 2008
Is it a sign of fatigue when you become dizzy in a running sushi restaurant just because the food is moving past you all the time?

1 October 2008
Worked. Had dinner. Went home.
In Paris they would say: Métro, boulot, dodo.

26. September 2008
What a statement: „Our current debate shows that there is only a marginal corridor for consensus…”

25 September 2008
What can one think standing in front of a billboard that says: No billboards here.

23 September 2008
I am not officially known as THE corporate spammer. A few latecomers are still spamming back. A nice one today read: “Please don´t pusch [sic!] the button answer all.
It´s terribble [sic!].” In essence he is right.

22 September 2008
On the problem with spelling or pronouncing my name correctly: A dear reader said that his grammar school teacher was called Margit and her sister Margrit…

21 September 2008
Seen on a t-shirt in Paris: “I am muslim. Don’t panic.”

20 September 2008
I would not have thought that my “bride” is still where she used to be 6 years ago when I first took a picture of her. But she is, I found her again on what seems to be the biggest antiques and flea market in the world, located in Paris.

19 September 2008
I think I’ve understood today what they mean by glass ceiling. It almost definitely has to do with soundproofing. And so the story goes:
VIP: I’ve just missed a call from a number starting with +27. +27, that’s the country code for…?
Margit: South Africa.
Deputy VIP (pretending nobody has said anything, yet): I don’t know.
VIP: Hm…
Margit: South Africa.
Deputy VIP (still pretending nobody has said anything, yet, checking something at his mobile phone, face lightening up): South Africa!
VIP: Ah, yes, South Africa, thanks!

18 September 2008
From the pool of realistic quotes: “I have a personal opinion on that but that is irrelevant”. What a statement from a civil servant, every administration would love to have people like that.

17 September 2008
We’re back to Birgit. The newest slogan is “Birgit take me off that list”. But also Margrit, Mgit and Martingit have been used lately. To be fair I have to admit I have a huge pool of potential spelling errors as I got about 100.000 e-mails since yesterday.
Nevertheless “Birgit take me off that list” almost sounds like a song title.

16 September 2008
After calling me Birgit has become popular, the newest trend seems to be calling me “Kathrin”.

11 September 2008
Tales from Absurdistan: At night I sit down at a restaurant table. The waiter comes over. I tell him that I am still waiting for someone but would like to see the menu already. Instead of the menu he brings me coffee.

9 September 2008
I saw another half mattress today. Not the other half of the one from a few days ago, though.

8 September 2008
Tonight I used my retouches color set for the first time, trying to recolor some black and white prints. I like the redundancy of that work in the age of digital photoshopping. It is the luxury of the outdated, the physical pleasure of the old-fashioned.

7 September 2008
I got to know a street artist called Mimi the Clown. I saw his work earlier in Brussels and Paris and was always asking myself who was behind it.

6 September 2008
I recently read: “If you are good at anything, that is beauty.”

5 September 2008
My e-mail client does not work. There is a new hotline. They are friendlier than the previous ones but equally unhelpful. In order to refer to the problem, you need a number. The number was sent to me by e-mail which I cannot access (as this is precisely the problem).
In the past there was Yves. Yves worked for the previous hotline. Whenever I called – sometimes up to 10 times a day – he would ask me for name and essential PC data. He refused to recognize me. He did not even show a sign of recognition. Never.
The new hotline employees are not allowed to state their names. They also do not have a personal telephone number. So there are neither traceable nor responsible. I do not know what I like better, forgetful Yves or the no name world. A day in the life of Yves, that would be at least a title for a tragedy. I am not in the mood for comedies.

4 September 2008
I attended a workshop and can report back a nice quote: “… it depends whether you live more or less than 25 km away from your home”. Living away from your own home is an interesting attempt and requires further study I think.

3 September 2008
A conversation from across the corridor: A: “I hate my car, I just hate it!” B: “So why is that?” A: “It’s missing some essential parts!” B: “What? A steering wheel?”

Still 2 September 2008
Democracy live. I spent a good part of the day in the European Parliament, listening to their Plenary debate. A good 20 out of 785 or so people were present. A few of them had helmets on their desks, interestingly enough only on the Socialist’s side.
Note: On 7 August, a 200-square meter section of the ceiling of the Parliament’s building in Strasbourg fell down. Subsequently the Plenary session exceptionally takes place in Brussels this week.

2 September 2008
He holiday season is finally over. The best thing to recognize that is the amount of conference calls. During a call today, three colleagues faced the following difficulties: A: “I can barely hear you”. B: “No, no, that’s all right, we’re here!” A: “As far as I can tell from the acoustics, to me it sounds you’re in a toilet!” B: “I can reassure you, we’re NOT in a toilet!” At least not together I assumed.

1 September 2008
On my way to work I came past half (!) a mattress that someone had thrown away there. I understand that after a while you throw away a mattress. But half a mattress?

30 August 2008
Who would buy a t-shirt reading “psychopath”?

29 August 2008
26 August: Someone refers to me as Birgit in an e-mail addressed to a whole group. Slightly hurt I politely corrected that and got an apology. 29 August, same person, same group, same mistake „Birgit and I propose…“. Alzheimer is a subtle disease and affects short term memory first. I wonder whether we’ve now found common ground for my name. I feel that there is hardly any room for a compromise on my end.

28 August 2008
Why do I get invitations to luncheon (!) meetings on “Obesity and Weight Loss: The Empowered Consumer”? Probably the new slogan in Brussels is “Burn fat, not oil”.

26 August 2008
There are very interesting t-shirt prints out there. A recent one read: “I taste good”. In a restaurant I saw a guy whose sweatshirt read “vagina lover”. On her t-shirt, his girlfriend only committed to “mango”. A little boy in Stockholm sported a shirt reading “trouble maker”, and a guy in Brussels one stating “trouble with authorities”.

25 August 2008
Welcome to Absurdistan: While I wait at an intersection, a woman in pink pajamas (!) is crossing the street pushing an empty buggy (!) and a person is calling me, happily informing me that he won’t be able to join me for a meeting that took place a week ago.

23 August 2008
A t-shirt in Amsterdam read: Cereal killer.

21 August 2008
The seven deadly sins are contrasted with the seven holy virtues. They vary to quite some extend depending on the source chosen. There is chastity, abstinence, temperance, diligence, patience, kindness and humility. But also chastity, temperance, liberality, diligence, patience, kindness and humility and another set that reads prudence, justice, restraint, courage, faith, hope and love or loving-kindness.
Anyway, to my knowledge there are no new virtues that reflect the age of globalization.

20 August 2008
I just learned yesterday that the Vatican has added seven new deadly sins for the age of globalization. The original ones are lust, gluttony, avarice, sloth, anger, envy and pride. They were laid down in the 6th century by Pope Gregory the Great and popularized in the Middle Ages by Dante in The Inferno. A distinction is drawn between mortal and venial sins. Mortal or deadly sins threaten the soul with eternal damnation and immediate descend to hell unless absolution is sought before death through confession and penitence.
Whereas the old sins were personal in nature, the new sins are social (it should be added that the old ones are by no means abandoned):

1. “Bioethical” violations such as birth control
2. “Morally dubious” experiments such as stem cell research
3. Drug abuse
4. Polluting the environment
5. Contributing to widening divide between rich and poor
6. Excessive wealth
7. Creating poverty

19 August 2008
On saying it bluntly: “20 years ago when you were green, you were a freak. Everybody laughed about you, except other greens of course.”

18 August 2008
Isn’t that a form of globalization, being in Amsterdam on Sunday, sleeping in Brussels, having Indian food on Monday in Helsinki and biking to the hotel after that?

15 August 2008
Brussels bi-annual flower carpet on the Grand Place is ready and can be admired for the next three days. It is truly splendid, a masterpiece made of flowers! I had ever seen it before, as I was out of town during the two previous occasions.

14 August 2008
Heard during a lunch discussion, the topic being neighboring countries: “Well, I don’t want to be judgmental, but they are stupid, unsatisfied idiots there!”
Well, so much for not being too judgmental.

13 August 2008
A friend of mine sent me a quote from the Kung Fu Panda movie that is really nice: ‘Yesterday is History. Tomorrow is Mystery. Today is a Gift. This is why we call it “Present”‘…

12 August 2008
A quote from an e-mail that came in during the holiday season: “I just came from vacation and life is still somewhat disorganized. This is of course a state that will continue…”

11 August 2008
Leaving Stockholm seems to be difficult for me any time I am visiting this charming city. When I was here for the last time, I missed my plane due a delay caused by a traffic jam following a heavy car accident (where I for heaven’s sake was not involved). Today my flight was cancelled because baggage handlers on Brussels airport went on strike.
All that is dwarfed by an incident that happened earlier today in the archipelago around Stockholm. We were called by some neighbors and asked to help rescuing a guy who has shipwrecked with a little boat. The boat, not more than a nutshell, has turned upside down and swam unmanned in a channel between two islands. The driver had been rescued already and brought to the shore. When we arrived there, the man who had saved him and brought him over to the shore had his head in his lap and seemed to wait for a doctor to arrive. The shipwrecked person did seem to be pale and in severe shock, as if he was unconscious. In fact he was dead already when we came there. We thought that the coast guard, a helicopter that just landed there with a team of experts and the medical team that arrived on another ship would do the trick of reviving him but in fact all help came too late.

10 August 2008
A trip to beautiful Stockholm city center where we saw a Lennart Nilsson photo exhibition called “Somewhere in Stockholm”. It was very interesting to see that in his earlier work Nilsson, Sweden’s most well known photographer who is famous for his medical photography, has taken black and white images of Stockholm. Around 40 pictures taken between the 1940ies and the 1960ies, none of them previously exhibited, are shown in the Kulturhuset until 7 September. Also have a look at www.lennartnilsson.com.

9 August 2008
A boat tour in the Stockholm archipelago took somehow longer than expected. Also in Sweden it tends to get dark around ten at night…

8 August 2008
I read a nice quote along the lines of “Real achievements need passion…”

7 August 2008
In 1865, the Boston Post opined: “Well-informed people know it is impossible to transmit the voice over wires. Even if it were, it would be of no practical value.”

6 August 2008
Even universities do marketing. The Yale University advertises its summer courses with the slogan: „Same veritas. More lux.”

5 August 2008
I got a post card from the “beginning of the world”, a slogan Brittany obviously uses. I’d be interested if there is any region that advertises itself as the end of the world.

4 August 2008
From the sound bites collection: „The group was very successful. There was no effort made to seek consensus.”

1 August 2008
One can hardly believe it but there are CDs out there for babies. They carry nice titles like „baby dream“, „classical lullabies“ and „nature sounds“.

31 July 2008
Driving back to Brussels took much longer than expected. But being on the road there is plenty to learn. For example that Worms is not only a legendary town but a real city with a Nibelungen festival. They even have wine from the area with names like sea spider and donkey’s skin.

30 July 2008
A nice Freudian slip towards me: „… there is no problem as you do not have a wife or children“.
On a different subject I was reminded about the special language of real estate agents when trying to rent out impossible apartments, e.g. saying spacious apartment and in brackets: 34 square meters.

29 July 2008
Isn’t it odd that the VIP computer hotline deletes my inquiries not on grounds like I was not entitled to VIP service but because of my “Viennese” accent?

28 July 2008
I hear a very interesting radio program on recent research done on happiness. They found that in order to be happy and contented with a job or more generally ones occupation, one has to find positive replies to the following three questions:
1. What do I think makes sense?
2. What do I really like, what pleases me and makes me feel good?
3. What am I really good at?

27 July 2008
Once more Mariazell and the Basilica there. What’s new there? Well, they do not only sell gingerbread there but also gingerbread ice cream and there is a pizza place and a bet and wine bar close to the church.

26 July 2008
Someone who was interested in acquiring a Broken Muses picture had to refrain from doing so as he was held back by his family. The argument being that he is a hopeless collector and on top of that has 34 pairs of shoes. Unless he is willing to throw some things away they would oppose any new acquisition.

25 July 2008
The tourist season should be at its peak but in fact there is not too much going on in Istria at the moment. In Novigrad’s five or so harbor restaurants there was not a single person at lunchtime today!

24 July 2008
Rovinj is always worth a tour!

23 July 2008
We went to some stalactite caves today in Baredine, in between the towns of Porec and Vizinada.

22 July 2008
Istria is full of old and interesting little towns. A real discovery was Grožnjan, a town full of galleries. The one that made the biggest impression on me is run by the artist Jozef Todjeraš. He makes little terracotta heads that resemble doll heads, cuts them most often in four pieces and re-assembles them in an intriguing fashion.

20 July 2008
After a very nice wedding party I drove further to Croatia. A thousand kilometers can be a long way. Finally I ended up at the entrance of the local nudist camp. With the help of my dear friends in the end I arrived safely to where I was supposed to go.

19 July 2008
Europe without frontiers – that is always impressive. Nowadays you only seem to recognize having passed another frontier and thus being in another country when recognizing that your mobile phone is booked into another country’s network.

18 July 2008
On politeness in the electronic world: Using my great new list I invited for a meeting. The tool was kind enough to send me – on behalf of myself – an invitation as well. Trying to be polite, I wanted to accept the invitation and pushed the appropriate button. I received the following warning message: “As the meeting organizer you do not need to respond to the invitation.”

17 July 2008
I feel a little like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice. In trying to make my life easier I wanted to set up an e-mail reflector and accidentally subscribed about 57.000 people. Now I am trying to get most of them off the list again… I am just about to get rid of all the Florians. Filipos are next. But there are still 50.000 to go.

16 July 2008
A thoughtful reader has alerted me to the fact that his company has specific employees that are responsible for certain corridors. In an emergency case those corridor agents need to make sure that everybody has left their rooms. There is even a job description for that kind of job. According to that description, apart from foreign languages, a corridor agent has to have a loud voice. It is worth mentioning, that there are also deputy corridor agents. It would be interesting to know whether there are training workshop for all corridor agents worldwide.

15 July 2008
Some restaurants in Brussels have interesting names. One is called “Ultimate Atom”, another one “Second Element” and a third one “Ultimate Hallucination”. I have been to the latter one just recently and what is worth mentioning is that they sell Champagne in full and half full glasses.

14 July 2008
On Belgium: There are beers with raspberry, peach and cherry taste (I should say that they are actually brewed together with those fruits) which taste uncommon to put it diplomatically. One of the best known breweries is called “a la mort subite”, to the sudden death. As far as I know they do not own the rights of the equally well known beer “Delirium Tremens”.

12 July 2008
The photo museum in Charleroi is a real discovery! It is said to be the largest photo museum in Europe with about 50.000 prints and over one million negatives. From one of the billboards I noted down the following quote: “Is photography a mirror, a view of reality or a reflection of the photographer’s subjectivity? The two complement each other – a window can open onto a mirror and a mirror can reflect a window.”

11 July 2008
“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” Theodore Roosevelt

9 July 2008
It has been quite a while since I last had as bad a meal as today. They ran out of sandwiches on the train to Strasbourg and what was advertised as the „salade compose“ turned out to be stinky cubes of ham on a variety of salads that have gone bad a while ago. Ah yes, and no dressing available.

6 July 2008
Talking about smells: I read that there is a researcher at Harvard (Sissel Tolaas) who teaches invisible communication and rhetoric. At the moment she works on the smell of luck.

5 July 2008
Albert Einstein said: Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.
He also said: The hardest thing in the world to understand is the income tax.

4 July 2008
There are gifts that come around and go around, like a nice large box of exquisite chocolates. Everybody is happy to get them. What has proven to be absolutely wrong was to open such a box. The content proved to be rather prehistoric: the chocolate was covered by a thick white film and literally nothing was eatable anymore.

2 July 2008
I was standing next to a neighbor in the elevator. He had an ID badge and I was close enough to secretly read it. It read Free Lancer. I thought, what a terrific name and that this probably has lead to some hilarious confusion already until I found out that of course he was called Freddy so-and-so and that was just the job title.

22 – 27 June 2008
A snapshot on Montreal: Hm, what can I say? I had expected metropolis, but de facto Montreal is much more one of those North American cities that give you a sense of calm and quiet – at least in the time that I was there. The streets are wide and laid out in a grid, even in the old town, so getting around is made easy. There is hardly any traffic. On the surface, there are less shops to be seen than in other cities, for a large part of the city is built and connected beneath the surface. The total corridor length is supposedly about 30km. This city under the city has something sinister. Due to the rain on Sunday I spent quite some time in the underground. It was partially bleak, the shops were mostly closed. You walk up and down escalators and stairs, cross through connecting doors and find yourself in sometimes wider, sometimes narrower aisles. Perfect conditions for a horror movie I thought. Maybe it’s slightly less frightening during the week.
If Bucharest is the city of wedding dresses, then Montreal is probably the city of weddings. (I should probably to venture out as far as suggesting that probably all Montreal newlyweds had been to Bucharest to buy their dresses). Without paying special attention I counted five weddings on Saturday night alone, with all that that entails: Stretch limousines, bridal virgins in the dozens and in native dress, at least two photographers and a professional cameraman per wedding couple.
At the edge of the old town I found a bar called Wonderful. Very nice.
The most interesting quarter, not least because there is a Viennese café there, is located around Boulevard Saint-Laurent. Speaking of the Viennese Café: The name is indeed Cafe Vienne, but to my utter astonishment they do not serve Sachertorte. When I asked why that was so, I got the almost cutre answer that they had offered them right after the café opened but as all (!) Austrian pastries and cakes were based on Champagne the production was simply too expensive. And after all you cannot offer your customers overpriced desserts, can you? Therefore one had decided to resort to local cake knowing that they do not come close to the Austrian original. After a test of the cake of the house I can only agree. Nevertheless at least there is a café that’s already something .
Also otherwise the city is interesting. There is a myriad of cafes, bars, restaurants and shops. The most bizarre was a costume shop cum café. I guess they must have had between 500 and 1000 different costumes there. Some of them were of course also exhibited on mannequins and both the costumes as well as the dolls are likely to have seen better times. Unfortunately, photography was not allowed.
The Museum of Modern Art had a retrospective on the work of Yves Saint Laurent – and also there was a variety of (wholesome) mannequins with wonderful (new) clothes and of course a ban to take photographs with flash…

21 June 2008
On my way to Canada with Jet Airways the steward called me Mrs. Brandy. As he was Indian, he wiggled with his head. I saw that there was no chance to get on with Brandl. So I suggested that Brand would do as well, but he kept wiggling his head and stayed with Brandy. Actually I started to like Brandy. And after all that’s what my Belgian registration card reads as well. They pronounce it Brandi, though.
On the ground and after quite some months with no major male-female confusion, the customs officer waved me through while saying “all right, go ahead, Sir!” At least he did not stop me.

20 June 2008
Two songs are played up and down in the Belgian radio. One keeps repeating your eyes are as big as the moon and the other refers to a silhouette that resembles the loved person. I wonder how a silhouette of a person with eyes as big as the moon might look like.

19 June 2008
Today’s witticism was: Delegation can be learned but the comfort zone for many people is in micromanagement.

18 June 2008
A friend of mine says it is better to be known for being eccentric than not being known at all.

15 June 2008
Another trend in the seminar business I spotted in a newspaper: There are seminars to “de-resent”. Anti anger training.

14 June 2008
The newest trend in calling anyone a manager is having the profession of “engagement manager”. I have to admit that I have absolutely no idea what that person would do in his day to day work.

13 June 2008
I followed an 80 slide presentation today – which as such already qualifies for power point poisoning. The tragically funny part about it was that the whole concept was built on outlining terms and conditions for a group of “exempt” and another group of “non-exempt” people. Somebody dared to ask “exempt from what?” and just got the answer from the guy who was not only presenting but really should have known “I have no idea”. What a brilliant way of wasting about 80 people’s time. One could also talk about a dilbertesk afternoon.

12 June 2008
Probably Freud would have had a good time hearing me say: And whom are you going to cook tonight? I think I wanted to say what…

11 June 2008
A nice new lesson for those who have some difficulties with logic reasoning (heard in a meeting today): Well, if we finish step one, we can then start with step two.

10 June 2008
After a long pause something adding to the „sort of kind of“ collection: Some people like to end all their sentences with “and stuff like that”. And I mean ALL sentences.

9 June 2008
A nice quotation from a conference call: Would everyone please open the first Excel shield… I always thought that these spreadsheets are used for protecting and hiding reasons.

8 June 2008
Now the Leuven exhibition – after having been extended twice – is finally over. I brought the pictures back home and made room for another artist’s exhibit there in Leuven.

6 June 2008
A friend told me that in today’s world bus drivers are called “destination managers”.

5 June 2008
From the series of nice filling sentences: “We can have as many opinions on this issue as we have people in the room.“

4 June 2008
Since my car needs to be fixed I have a rental car for the time being. Yesterday I wanted to put something in the trunk and discovered a huge bag with many little bags inside. Although I did not really want to see what’s inside I could not resist checking it out. And well, it was bread, loads of old and dry bread. Is this the rental company’s way to communicate their driver’s omen?

3 June 2008
There is something I find quite frightening when it comes to telephone conferences. There are people who get started very vividly, they state their name and say hello to everyone but then they fall silent. From time to time you hear them breathing and that is in a way frightening.

2 June 2008
On hot days you can smell some people before you can actually see them. But I should of course mention that I am shortsighted.

1 June 2008
Meanwhile smokers are discriminated against (see blog entry from May 14). At Munich’s central station they have painted parking place sized spots with a smoking sign in the middle. There and only there smokers can gather.

30 May 2008
The Austrians are never to be blamed: A train conductor said in his announcement right after taking over in Salzburg from his German colleagues: “Due to a delay on German territory (!) we are 12 minutes behind schedule.”
The reason for the delay was that several children were playing on the train tracks somewhere between Munich and Salzburg. The German conductor had announced we would stop there for 10 to 15 minutes. Probably to let them finish their games.

29 May 2008
From the collection of last and concluding lines of people’s e-mail messages: “enthusiasm is contagious, start an epidemic”.

28 May 2008
The newest trend seems to be hotel rooms specially designed for women. A Brussels hotel is very proud of it I heard and offers not only magazines, but also extra toiletries and a special professional hairdryer.

27 May 2008
Brussels has a broken plane now. It seems to be very popular to go to the place where the cargo flight crashed a few days ago.

26 May 2008
The gipsy quarter in Bucharest is somehow smaller than I remembered it. Nevertheless it is an interesting area. There was a street that was devoted to flowers. People were sitting in front of their houses, working on flower bouquets.

25 May 2008
Another memory from 2002 was the immense amount of wedding dresses that were sold in Bucharest. Although much seems to have changed, wedding dresses are still sold all over the place. In the old town almost every shop seems to specialize in wedding dresses or bride’s necessities. It almost looks like a collective obsession. And actually there was even a wedding that we saw on Saturday night. It was slightly disappointing as most guests seemed to have either already left the place or never shown up. My suspicion was that most guests were taking a paddle-boat tour on the lake that surrounded the restaurant where the wedding dinner was hosted.

24 May 2008
I did not now that they’re now even offering visits to the Parliamentary Palace, the huge monument that Ceausescu had built in the eighties. Unfortunately one would have had to pre-book it quite some time in advance so we did not have the chance to get in. Nevertheless it is an impressive building, somehow so big that it seems almost unreal.
From my earlier stay I remember alleys leading to it with half-finished monumental houses where the cranes marked with the construction year 1989 were just left over. I did not find these streets anymore, it may very well be so that in the meantime the buildings have been finished and the cranes been removed.

23 May 2008
Since my last trip to Bucharest in 2002, many things have changed. The city is much more modern and westernized than it used to be. Huge advertisement billboards are mounted to buildings and give the impression of being in just any other city. What fascinated me in 2002 was that you constantly had to watch your step in order not to fall into a hole in the ground, step into motor oil or dog excrement. Not to speak about stumbling over a dog. Well, there are still bumps and deep holes in the streets and sidewalks and one has to watch one’s step. There seems to be less oil and less dogs but for the latter still too many for a biobigot person like me.

22 May 2008
On my way to Romania I needed to go through Vienna. It seems that a little odd to just have a stopover in a city were you once lived.

21 May 2008
Isn’t it bizarre if a waiter is greeting you with the words „I am sure you take a lager beer!“?

20 May 2008
Is there a cure for cynicism?

19 May 2008
I took a very beautiful black and white picture of a mannequin muse in Slovenia and developed it today.

18 May 2008
One of the best reactions I got regarding some black and white pictures (taken in New York in April 2008) came from an eleven year old boy: “… hmmm… I guess it has been quite a while ago since you were there, right?”

17 May 2008
According to the New York Times there is a special term for disliking certain animals, it is called biobigotry.

16 May 2008
I think I will start a collection of last and concluding lines of people’s mobile e-mail messages. A nice one reads: “I am sending this on move so please excuse the lack of grammar and spelling.”

14 May 2008
Smokers are not treated well anymore these days. Meanwhile – seen at an airport today – they have to go into closed cages, four at maximum to smoke inside a glass cube watching the non-disturbed non-smokers outside.

13 May 2008
I am not superstitious but we have the 13th and a black cat was coming from the left side, well, that is almost too much.

12 May 2008
Just too much work, will provide an update of the blog as soon as I can.

10 May 2008
The homeless woman is still sitting on that doorstep day in and day out (see blog entry of March 23).

7. Mai 2008
As we know there are lousy jobs out there (see blog entry from February 8 – shark on a diving fair and Feb. 15 – policeman directing traffic together with a functioning traffic light). If you have to wear a red tight dress, playing a pregnant woman that is in fact pregnant with a magazine that is just about to be published, well, I do not know whether that is really a fun job.

3 May 2008
Close to my Brussels flat there is a monument, a column, with the statue of king Leopold I of the Belgians with total height of 47 meters. The column is surrounded by four sitting statues representing the major constitutional liberties; the ‘Liberty of Union’ by Charles Fraikin, the Liberty of Worship by Eugène Simonis, the Liberty of Press and the Liberty of Education both by Jean Geefs. Two monumental bronze Lions by Eugène Simonis are placed in front of the monument. As a memorial to the Belgian victims of the First World War, five anonymous soldiers were buried on the foot of the monument, the 11th of November 1922. Their tomb is surmounted by an eternal flame.
During the severe storm of January 18, 2007, which affected a large part of Europe, the impressive (but hollow) representation of the freedom of the press has been thrown down from its pedestal. The bronze statue, a height of five feet three and an estimated one and a half tons weight had resisted for 150 years. It is damaged by his fall but will be restored. Here is a picture of the fallen sculpture:

fallenstatue

2 May 2008

After quite some time I’ve been to the movies again. „Bienvenue chez les Ch’tis“, which is a really funny comedy about prejudices.

30 April 2008
The suicidal pigeons in front of my office window are back. The tree where they obviously are nesting is about to bloom and stretches its branches against the windows. That leads to a rather frightening scratching sound and as if that was not irritating enough, those pigeons are sitting there and keep staring towards the window. From time to time they then fly against the window and probably suffer from a traumatic brain injury and immediately drop dead.

28 April 2008
Taken from the series of avoiding immediate action: “We are really just starting and not aiming very high with fast actions.”

24 April 2008
Close to being allowed access to the collection of circular definitions: We must not confuse the term service with the term service.

23 April 2008
Recently I saw a picture of some vegetables by Markus Vater stating that they „like plants because they have a different organic background“.

22 April 2008
There are hotels who charge 1.5 Euros for using the shower (and forbid using it after 10 p.m.) but offer wireless Internet access in the room for free.

21 April 2008
What is he deeper meaning of a magic tree in a convertible?

20 April 2008
Viktor & Rolf say that fear is a bad advisor.

19 April 2008
Spending most of the day at Frankfurt airport is a rather boring thing.

18 April 2008
„I still have a video conference with the Pope“ was one of the best excuses for declining an appointment on short notice that I have heard in a long time.

17 April 2008
It is Thursday and I was sitting next to a guy whose socks said “Friday” in elegant print. Luckily I was not close enough to find out whether they were from last Friday.

14 April 2008
My insurance company kindly let me know that there is no Malaria in Austria and no Malaria in Belgium.

13 April 2008
The former Golden Tulip hotel is now part of the Thon hotels chain. I am not quite sure whether changing from golden tulip to tuna fish was really an improvement.

12 April 2008
The latest hotel ad in Brussels reads: “Come, get closer, stay a while and experience the way you deserve to be treated.” Isn’t that nice.

11 April 2008
Underestimating the distance from Brussels, I went to an exhibition on “Radical Advertising” in Düsseldorf. In total it was about a 500 km drive and starting at 19:00 was probably a bit late but nevertheless it was truly worth it. A series of black and white shots of over-sized Calvin Klein posters in cities made quite an impression on me. And although up to now I had been rather skeptical on video art I saw some intriguing scenes of a guy trying to just blend everything – from coke and chicken to iPhones – using an ordinary kitchen blender.

10 April 2008
From a toilet poster: “If you sprinkle when you tinkle be a sweetie and wipe the seatie!”

9 April 2008
Too soon we are leaving New York again, heading back to Washington and from there to Europe.

8 April 2008
In the Museum of Modern Art I found a very interesting statement by Ann Temkin, the Blanchette Rockefeller curator of painting and sculpture who said: “… Beauty is found in the everyday rather than in the ideal.”
SoHo is fascinating as always although I did not find my New York Muses that I took a picture of some three years ago. What I did find though was the Italian coffee place I like to go to in Broom Street in Little Italy.

7 April 2008
Yesterday – after a quite intense photo equipment shopping tour – we saw an exhibition of the Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang, called “I want to believe” in the NY Guggenheim Museum. His installations are fabulous. Cars are hanging down in a spiral from the ceiling of the Guggenheim. A ship wreck is placed on broken china, gunpowder pictures are framed by videos of explosions he has arranged in many places all over the world and wolves are arranged in the shape of a flying dragon.
Having seen the flat iron building and parts of Fifth Avenue, we saw the Empire State Building and Ground Zero today and walked all the way across Brooklyn Bridge.

6 April 2008
Eight years ago the Broken Muses concept started with a picture I took at the Italian Market in Philadelphia. Yesterday on my way from Washington DC to New York I spent a few hours chasing them. After having almost given up I was lucky and discovered them – hiding in a narrow corner. They have suffered surprisingly little over those last eight years. Some have a few more scratches, the occasional nose has bigger bruise but in general I would say they are doing just fine.

5 April 2008
Some quotes to remember:
– Some Think Tanks do not much thinking but lot of talking.
– Not knowing much does not prevent you from having an opinion.
– A response to crisis is re-organization.
– Often there is a triumph of experience over performance.
– Most groups increase efficiency if they lose one of their managers.
– 86 Mio barrels of oil are consumed worldwide per day.
– Looking at the western world’s economy today, what’s left for my children to do is burger flipping or working as gender equality consultant.

30 March till 4 April, 2008
It feels good to be back to University even if it is just for a few days. It feels like intellectual holidays. Being at a US university is also a very interesting experience. The identification with the school is omnipresent. Apart from t-shirts, sweatshirts and other trinkets, the University bookstore sells even Georgetown University pajamas.

30 March 2008
Boarding a long-haul flight and having a look at the necessaries they had out, one gets a good overview about what globalization means. The plastic package reads: Bag – made in China, socks – made in China , eye mask – made in China, ear plugs – made in USA, tissue – made in China, mints – made in Spain, marine body butter – made in USA, toothbrush – made in China, toothpaste – made in India and romance card – made in USA. Interestingly enough, the romance card made in USA is missing.
Another airline, different security requirements. I find the following very charming: “If you are sitting in an exit row please identify yourself to allow for reseating if: You lack the ability to read, speak or understand the language, or the graphic form, or the ability to understand oral crew commands in the language specified by the airline.” So how can you possibly find out about you obligation to identify yourself to the crew if you just don’t get it?

29 March 2008
Den Haag hosts an exhibition of Lucian Freud, Freud’ grandson, who is a painter. Next to that there is a Picasso exhibition. Both were really interesting. Picasso obviously once said: “Photography arrived at just the right time to free painting from all that was literary and anecdotal, and even from the subject.”

24 March 2008
There are a few new India pictures when you click on that link and three new trinities!

23 March 2008
During an Easter walk in a big city: A homeless woman camps in a narrow entrance next to a new flower shop, the close by glass eye shop still presents a variety of glass eyes in their shop window, an old lady in a fox fur coat noisily blows her nose on the street using only her index finger and not far away there is an old ventilator leaning against a bus stop.

22 March 2008
A few days ago I took a plane and got a seat in the emergency row. What is a standard procedure is always an embarrassing spectacle. As soon as one is seated, a steward or a stewardess is leaning over, giving you looks like “I have my doubts that you can count to three”. Then, in a soft and slow voice he or she starts explaining about the tremendous responsibility that comes with that seat. All that concludes with “… and we strongly recommend reading the briefing card for passengers sitting at emergency exits” that can be found in the seat pocket in front of you. And well, this briefing card is worthwhile reading. I cite: “If there is a clear order from the crew, unfasten your seatbelt”. So if they accidentally forget about that order or if the order is just not clear enough, tough luck, the heroes at the emergency exit stay buckled up. Further in the text it reads “2. Check outside condition and only open exits which are not in direct danger area (e.g. fire)”. As if one would have the choice between opening more than one exit at a time anyway, but more importantly: one sits there, seatbelts unfastened, stares out of the window as told and thinks to oneself: if it is burning to my left and to my right, am I in a direct danger zone? If not than one has to remove “the cover”, pull the handle on the top of the exit and place the other hand in the grip mould on the window (points 3 and 4). After having managed that, one has to “move the exit inwards” (5) and “6. throw the exit out of the aircraft”. That seems to be a compromise text. Pull it in, throw it out and all in one go. Something just does not seem right here. Plus, it is not only the exit door that needs to go, the exit as a whole has no be thrown out of the plane. Isn’t that just too much to ask of a passenger who happens to sit at that exit? Finally one is told to get out on the wing – foot first, slide down the escape slide and assist passengers sliding down (7). So no jumping head over heels. Interestingly enough one has to assist others in sliding – now word about any other form of giving them a helping hand.

18 March 2008
My e-mail address died more or less completely. Not only that senders are told that I do not exist anymore, meanwhile it is even worse, telling me that I am an “unknown sender”.

17 March 2008
Little by little my e-mail account is dieing. Senders are told that I do not exist in the system anymore.

13 March 2008
For the collection of very positive thoughts and statements: “I was positively happy with the event.”

10 March 2008
Lousy weather ok, but no people queuing in front of my favorite AMT? That is unusual. And well, yes, there was a metal fence cordoning it off leaving me with 20 Eurocents and no chance to get closer to it.

9 March 2008
Price finding for locksmiths is closely linked to the degree of desperation of the one who has locked himself out. Plus there seems to be a weekend cartel in the sector.

8 March 2008
The photographer Miroslav Tichý says: Beauty and perfection does not interest anyone!

6. March 2008
Finally I have uploaded some first pictures from India. Just click here to see them!

3 March 2008
A little collection of sentences that help you to say nothing if you do not intend to say anything really: We cannot underestimate the issue. This matter is more important than urgent. It is never too late to do the right thing.

2 March 2008
I read in a newspaper article reflecting on art that there are no male muses. Which is actually true, all nine muses are female.

1 March 2008
In the dark room developing pictures again – a long learning curve.

29 February 2008
Following up on kind of, sort of: I have a jazz CD that’s called “Kind of Blue”.

28 February 2008
In a rather well-known institution in Brussels there are signs that point you to “restrooms and translators”. So you think those poor guys are mentioned together with the toilets. To my surprise those restrooms weren’t toilets but actual rooms for resting and reserved for the translators.

27 February 2008
When entering the European Parliament with a laptop you have to go to a special counter and register the laptop. There is a special form for it, requiring the PCs serial number and a signature of the owner. So far so good – assuming that there is a similar control when leaving the building. But there isn’t. In that sense I have brought my PC many times to the building but – theoretically – never brought it back outside.

26 February 2008
For the collection of useless filling words: “The remaining single sentence would kind of require some additional explanation because it is otherwise somehow lost.”

24 February 2008
In the train from Austria to Germany today I discovered a so-called „tail light switch“. I thought it was “sort of” interesting.

23 February 2008
The rumors say that my beloved coffee shop in my hometown is almost bankrupt. Will it disappear?

22 February 2008
There are four different sorts of garbage bins at Munich central station in order to sort garbage for roper recycling. The local clochards have a difficult time grabbing into those bins because of the design of the bins. Nevertheless they carry four different plastic bags with them in order to also sort the meager harvest.

21 February 2008
Is there reason to believe that a big office coffee machine that says “no flow” even though water supply and electricity are ok is just unhappy?

20 February 2008
Watching people boarding an aircraft is sometimes odd. What can you think of a passenger that carries a book showing with a summary on the backside that reads “My name is Joe. Actually I am a rather nice guy but sometimes I just kill people.”

19 February 2008
Isn’t it sarcastic if the hotline wishes you continue having a great day just after you told them that your computer just doesn’t work anymore?

18 February 2008
For whatever mysterious reason, „okidoki“ seems to be back in fashion again. I fear that “super-duper” will celebrate its revival soon, too. Thinking of it, together with “sort of“ and „kind of“ one could form some nice little sentences.

15 February 2008
In the series of really frustrating jobs (see blog entry of Feb. 8 – shark on a diving fair) there is another one: policeman directing traffic at an intersection together with a functioning traffic light. Without a working traffic light I can see some excitement but with one, well, that is then basically supporting the traffic light through waving and whistling.

14 February 2008
There is a tram here in Brussels that goes to what would translate like „Viennese“ and a bus which has its final stop at „Heroes“. So I guess Viennese and Heroes are not close. Can the Viennese be Heroes? How about those Heroes that want to become Viennese? Can you blame the Heroes that do not want to become Viennese? And what if both are just end stops?

13 February 2008
The „Kite Runner“ movie started today and is one of the best films based on a great novel I have ever seen. The other people in the cinema must have seen it likewise, they applauded after the show.

12 February 2008
How often can you use „actually“ in one single sentence?

11 February 2008
In a close by house people are in hunger strike since quite some time. It seems that the authorities do simply not react.

10 February 2008
The spa in Spa has something, especially on a beautiful day.

9 February 2008
A very well known hamburger restaurant chain advertises “Sauerkraut” burger in Holland. And they interestingly charge men 25 Eurocents for using their toilets while women go for free. On the other hand Holland is very blessed with ATMs. Today in Utrecht I saw four in a row, one next to the other!

8 February 2008
There are lousy jobs out there, for example being in a shark costume at a diver’s trade fair handing out brochures.

7 February 2008
It seems that Belgium has been annexed to the UK. That must have been done rather smoothly and without any media coverage. I just learned about it today when reading the not so fine print on my sandwich bag: „Please use a bin and keep Britain tidy!”

6 February 2008
Booking a non-smoking hotel room and a parking place in a hotel over an Internet platform, means you end up with a non-smoking parking place. Thinking of non-smoking parking place might really be a market gap…

5 February 2008
Had a chat with an anthropologist who basically summarized the findings of all the studies he had done so far in saying that what makes human beings special is that they behave irrational.

4 February 2008
On car dealers and copyright: “… and into this data slot you can put a data card just like the one you use on your PC. So you just download music and put it on the data card…”

3 February 2008
I have talked a lot about India today and shown pictures. India changes you to a certain degree and teaches you a lot about different values in different people’s lives. By the way, Calcutta has a town twinning agreement with Naples.

2 February 2008
A dizzy day after a long ball night and a nice train ride through Austria.

1 February 2008
Although I have not been to the Opera Ball yesterday I have been to the Coffee Maker’s Ball today. It was a great, impressive, cheerful and truly majestic party.

31 January 2008
Vienna is different. So they say in an advertisement. But yes, it is the country that has more ATMs than people. No, I exaggerate…

30 January 2008
Today I heard a piece of small talk, put to the extreme. “Well, thanks for the meeting and now we need to go out and I think we need to go through a door…”

29 January 2008
What I thought was a nice and huge sculpture of a snail – exhibited in a chic restaurant in Brussels is obviously only a wheelbarrow that is put in a weird way with its handles pointing to the ceiling.

28. January 2008
Casanova has obviously said “I attribute nearly all the good fortune I have had to coincidences.” That is what my new mouse pad says.

27. January 2008
Nobody really looks great when having a parking ticket in his or her mouth.

25 January 2008
On a close by restaurant table people were drinking orange juice. I heard the following statement which would probably not really thrill the Nobel Prize committee: “If you give it a thought what we’re drinking here was three oranges just some minutes ago…”

24 January 2008
I have to admit that I thought spitting was not en vogue any more in Europe. Having a closer look at the street around a bus stop that I pass by almost every day gives another picture. It is not really sputum but rather remains of chewing gum but still. It seems that spitting has just come to another dimension.

23 January 2008
I should have kept the old habit of taking a day off at my birthday.

22 January 2008
In a garage in Brussels’ city center that I often use there is an old wrecked car. It used to be blue at the time and is now covered in a thick layer of dirt. A little while ago somebody wrote into the dust “Exists also in blue” (see blog from Dec. 16). Now there is a new line on the rear window that reads “Wash Me!”.

19 January 2008
In comparison with Delhi Brussels seems like a climatic spa. Nobody is running after me, touching me or wanting something. Red lights are not really ignored, they do are not only strong suggestions. Nobody is clearing his throat right next to me in order to spit in the next second. And I mean there is NO spitting at all. Over the last weeks I was already confident when there was no 180 degrees spitting or no direct spitting into my direction. Thomas Mann would have been thrilled by the amount of sputum there is in India. At the time I am sure there was plenty of spitting in Europe as well. I still remember the spitting pots that were mounted next to each reading room at my university. I always thought of them as ashtrays until somebody once explained they were actually spitting pots. Besides I am enjoying the warm light of ordinary light bulbs while reflecting on the incredible luxury of life in the western hemisphere.

18 January 2008
Travelling back to Europe I’ve been reading an excellent book called Animal’s People, written by an Indian author. In a way the journey back home could have even lasted longer.

17 January 2008
After three weeks travelling back and forth through India, Delhi is almost boring. What cheers me up is the Cah Bar, a tea bar in the Oxford Bookstore. It seems to be hip in India’s main cities to sip tea. Also chains of coffee shops are booming. Nevertheless this tea bar in the bookstore is a real pearl. Indians seem to love reading. There are excellent newspapers and magazines and books can be bought on every corner. Literally. I’ve seen books being sold in tiny trolleys in railway stations, packed in plastic covers or piled up on the street and in various bookstores all over the place. What makes the Oxford Bookstore so special is probably not only their selection of books and the nice calm atmosphere but the concept of integrating the tea bar into that. There is a selection of over 40 different teas but the most fascinating one is still the marsala tea (black tea with cardamom) which comes in a silver, ape shaped tea glass holder.

16 January 2008
Agra is a two and a half hours train ride away from Delhi and home of the Taj Mahal, one of the world wonders. It is definitely an impressive building, although as one has seen so many pictures about it already, the big bang is not really happening. It is majestic, and the white marble is splendid. If you get closer it is not that white anymore but from a distance it looks bright white. The guide said that it is also cleaned once every few weeks as the air pollution is simply too high. Not too far away there is another very interesting site, the abandoned palaces of Fatehpur Sikri, including a Red Fort made out of red sand stone. Those sites are very touristy and so are the hundreds of trinket sellers that can be really annoying.
Going back to Delhi in the evening confronted me again with the extreme poverty of this country. It is incredible how many people and especially children live in the poorest circumstances, often handicapped, lepers, and forced to begging. Children seem to live in or at least in the vicinities of the railway station. They play on the tracks and when a train is about to arrive they quickly jump up on the platform, shake out their dirty clothes, smile a friendly smile and sign that they are hungry. As if their skinny bodies would not speak for themselves. Their skin is covered with dust and so are their clothes, some of them are only able to move using their arms and hands, while their feet and legs are underdeveloped and useless. It is shocking to an extent that is going over what one can support. Ignoring it is impossible and facing it almost unbearable. You want to help but feel that you are basically helpless give the vast number of cases.

15 January 2008
New Delhi, Old Delhi, two rather different places compared to the rest of India that I have seen so far. New Delhi is rather boring, there are wide streets and condominiums and modern hotels like everywhere else in the world. Old Delhi has a Red Fort, where you can only see the outskirts of the palaces within, an impressively huge Mosque and some busy market streets. People are running after you, begging and touching you constantly. It is impossible to just stop for a second and watch the scenery. Cannaught Place is a busy intersection and somehow the point where Old and New Delhi meet and is compared to other places rather calm and modern. The most modern subway has some stops there, there are bookshops and coffee houses and trinket sellers are relatively moderate.

14. January 2008
Finally my suitcase appeared again and with it all the films I had shot so far. Meanwhile they form part of my hand luggage.
Calcutta is really impressive, the Brits have done a really great job here. The so-called writers building for the clerks of the East India Company and the administration of India is amazingly beautiful and in a very good state. The Post Office looks like a cathedral and the Indian Museum is a huge complex hosting many dusty but interesting items.
In one quarter one bookshop is next to the other and almost anything is available (second hand) on any subject in any language. In the middle of all that there is the „Indian Coffee House“, an institution by all means. From how it looks and how it feels to be inside it could also be somewhere in the Arab world. A huge hall, like a ballroom hosts many simple tables and a bee like humming so loud that a conversation is rather difficult. The coffee is great. The walls are painted in a light yellow that comes off on many places. The balcony in the first floor gives people an even better look over the rest of the place. The only (rather small) photograph on one of the walls shows the Rabindranath Thakur, winner of the Nobel Prize for literature. Besides that there is no other picture. The only other furniture are ancient fans all over the place.
Right next to that quarter is a street with professional writers. They sit in open rooms one next to the other and write texts for their clients on really ancient typewriters.

13 January 2008
In a way Calcutta (Colcata) was the real target and centerpiece of my journey to India. I always assumed that Calcutta is the metaphor for India and whenever I heard „India“ I thought Calcutta. India`s former capital city is a real pearl in the true sense of the word. It has been designed by the British as the London of the East and was meant to be even more beautiful than London. Many of the palaces and houses could also be in Europe, in Italy or France or Vienna. But mostly it reminds me of Palermo where also hundreds of beautiful buildings are just rotting and falling apart. All those nice buildings are very worn and everywhere you look there are people, plants, dust, dirt and pieces of walls, bricks and stones.
Before getting to enjoy the city I was brought back to reality rather intensively. My luggage got lost on the flight from Kerala over Bangalore to Colcata. And with it all the films I have shot so far. Well, if only I get the suitcase back!
To me, Calcutta`s most interesting quarter is the so-called potter`s lane. Calcutta adores goddess Kadi, a goddess of death that demands huge sacrifices from people. The usual sacrifice is donating a Kadi sculpture that has been made out of mud/clay from the Ganges river and throwing it back into the Ganges. Once a year there is a procession where this is widely done. The Ganges gives and Kadi takes. After that the potters start over again, take mud/clay out of the Ganges and start sculpturing new huge statues. In many tiny streets there is one potter workshop next to the other. Some of them manufacture the inner straw skeleton of the sculpture, others add the first layer of clay to form the final life-size statue and then again others model heads or hands to be added later on in the process. Numerous sculptors work there. Some of the statues are fresh and the clay is still wet, others are older and the clay breaks up, leaving traces and wrinkles. Broken Muses made out of clay. I was fascinated and wandered around in this maze of incredible craftsmen streets taking picture after picture.

12 January 2008
The difference between a five star hotel and a home stay is that it is easier getting in touch with local people and other travelers in the home stay. This morning right after breakfast I was offered to see the wedding pictures of the home stay owners. Although the house was packed with pictures of Christ, crosses, a Christmas tree and other related items I could have sworn they were Muslims. But in fact and against all conspiracy theory attempts on my side including the hidden picture of Mecca I’ve spotted close to my room they were Roman Catholics and got married 16 years ago. I briefly thought about a camouflage attempt but gave up on that thought quickly when I saw the wedding pictures that seemed almost Hindi (bright saris for the bride and a huge multilayered cake etc). The album and the pictures were so worn that about 5.000 – 10.000 people must have flipped through them already. The best part came after that. The husband asked in a very subtle voice whether he may show some more pictures. He said his father has “expired” just one week ago. The Indians do not speak of “passing away” or “dying”, rather they say someone is not so well anymore or simply he expired. I was slightly astonished, especially because I am not used to see pictures taken at a funeral. Those shots of the 82 year old showed a slightly blue face and were taken from a perspective that made the dead face seem huge and the grieving visitors besides and behind the corps looked rather small – relatively spoken. Weird and in a way rather funny. In the Jewish part of Cochi an artist had made quite some impression on me. The guy was in a long batik shirt with a huge Krishna on his back. According to a leaflet he offers sketching in a meditative environment. I was curious. He led me to his first floor loft studio where he made me sit down on a mat and started sketching. I posed but that did not really work out the way I had supposed it would. In the end the picture does not resemble me too much, the only thing which is rather realistic is the green color of my t-shirt. I waited for a attempt to start a meditation together. Instead he started chatting and told me about an old judge whom he had sculptured once. He showed me pictures of that sculpture and said that t has caused quite some controversy in the local news. We talked about his difficulties in finding a good spot for exhibiting and I told him about my pictures. He said he is friends with the minister of Culture in Kerala who could eventually be of help should I want to exhibit in Kerala. He gave me the Minister’s phone number and most importantly his name: he is called Mr. Baby.

11 January 2008
A day on the beach of Cherrai. I drank way too much tea with Kardamom, the taste was simply wonderful. In that area the tourist trap has not been invented. Lunch was costing the equivalent of about 20 Eurocents. Mostly that beach is used by the locals to see the water. As neither men nor women can get out of their clothes, the waters are if at all just tested with their feet. It is most astonishing. Busses full of schoolchildren are brought over 120 km to that shore. 6 – 10 year old girls and boys are allowed to play near the sea but only with their school uniforms on. Their teachers wear the most colorful Saris but cannot get wet either. Most of the afternoon we’ve chatted with and English nurse who spends about three months of unpaid leave in an ashram, helping to set up a hospital. A very fine woman who has definitely gotten some insight in Inidan society.

10 January 2008
Cochi is a really nice town that has many hidden treasures. I saw how candles are made and how ginger is dried in the sunshine of a huge inner court of an old warehouse. Ginger and mango pickles are still handmade, packed and sealed in a very odd manner. Working conditions are more than hard. Some girls and women sit on almost broken chairs in a packed open air corridor of that old warehouse stirring pickles, pouring them into little plastic bags or sealing them with an archaic hot plastic sealing machine. One of these girls was so pretty that I could not help but think she would be a model elsewhere. Instead, her task was sticking labels to the filled little plastic bags. Another warehouse hosted all imaginable spices, packed into big bags for wholesale purposes. Most of those spices I had never seen before or never seen in a size as big (huge pepper seeds, dried chilly, cardamom, coriander). In the middle of the spices district all of a sudden there was an art gallery, showing impressive modern art works, mostly paintings and some installations. Unfortunately all of those who I would have shown some interest for were not for sale.
In the hostel there are regular power cuts. They are even announced beforehand. During dinner there was one, bringing an interesting scenery to life: leftovers from dinner, smells after cold spices, mosquito sounds, and a lonely rocking chair that seems to move all by itself before I discover that there is a child in it. Just when the dripping candles were lit, I had the feeling to be in the Adams Family’s living room.

9 January 2008
Another five hour train ride away is Cochi, one of the oldest towns of Kerala. The Portuguese, Dutch and British used this town as main entry point for the spice trade. There are giant so-called “Chinese fishing nets” in the harbor. Those nets are huge and can only be bent into the water with the help of at least four people. The nets give the harbor a very nice skyline. One of the fishermen said that there are only 10 left where there used to be 24. The Tsunami destroyed most of them and since then the catch is most depressing and therefore the owners are reluctant to build up the missing nets again. Biologists forecast that it will take another 5 years until the big fishes will be coming to Cochin’s shore again. Nevertheless they must catch something because in one of the fish markets there was a massive amount of huge, flat, so-called “Pomfret” fish. It was a nice spectacle to see the Pomfrets being loaded into baskets, and after weighing packed into boxed cooled with crashed ice. The ice itself came in big blocks and was crushed with an enormous shredder.

8 January 2008
Finally leaving the jungle resort by jeep to take a train from Ooty to Metupalayiam. This train has been constructed in 1886 by the Swiss and has not been changed since. It leads through the Nilgeri mountains, showing an impressive panorama of mostly tea plantations. The train ride took about three and a half hours whereby most of the time the train was pulled by a historical diesel/steam engine. Although that was very nice it led to a very dirty face. From Metupalayiam another train brought us to Coimbatore, the Indian fashion capital but as we were only arriving there at night there was no opportunity to check out the shops. The dialogue of the day (in a hotel): A: Do you have a free single room for tonight? B: Yes, for how many people? A: For one person! B: Yes, ok, a single room is available, but for how many people? … continued. The dialogue took place in a very friendly atmosphere with a lot of head wiggling on the Indian side. Wiggling in a way that resembles moving the head to either side, resembling the figure eight, neither nodding nor shaking the head is a frequent behavior pattern in India and can mean anything from yes to no, maybe, for sure, I do not understand, or not quite, I also see it that way or no, most certainly not to we will see or god only knows.

7 January 2008
Getting up at 6:15 during your holidays is not an easy task. Anyway, a trip to a village where they wash elephants in a river seemed to be worth it. We drove for about half an hour to arrive on the one side of the river that was not only in a very bad back light but also rather impassable. Well, an elephant was down in the river and about to be pulled to the other side. There he was briefly washed and then quickly led away over a hill. A brief discussion with the driver to bring us to the other side resulted in a no based on a story that there is this forest ranger who does not allow tourists to be there. Shortly after that, two tourists were visible on the other side and sure enough the forest ranger was not mentioned anymore. We were brought to the other side. Unfortunately the last elephant was just about to be washed. The driver said that we should have started earlier, they always wash the elephants earlier and that he would have mentioned that to his boss anyway but nobody ever listens to him. Well. A serious discussion with that boss later on resulted in comforting words and pitiful looks. Of course they would take us on the afternoon tour again. But in the afternoon all of a sudden it was the regular tour and of course to be paid again. As I figured it would not be feature-length anyway I did not get into a serious argument with the guy. Tomorrow we are heading back towards civilization…

6 January 2008
Another long taxi ride brought us to the Nilgeris, a jungle area. The hotel here is in the middle of nowhere and called Jungle Retreat. Not only that they warn you from tigers and elephants on signs beneath the road going there, the welcome to the hotel was two large black Rottweiler type of dogs. I almost fainted. But in the end, the rooms here are marvelous and it is really quiet. Quite a change from the hectic city life during the last days. Interestingly enough there are only Americans staying here. Probably they mixed up India and Indiana – no that was not nice.

5 January 2008
Mysore used to be the capital city of one of the last Maharadja kingdoms. It is an ancient town although you cannot see that anymore. Most of the older buildings have been destroyed some 200 years ago and so the city looks rather young. The most interesting site is of course the Maharadja Palace. It is a palace out of the stories of 1001 nights although borderline kitsch most of the times. What is rather annoying is that one cannot take any pictures and even has to hand over all cameras at the entrance.
The Green Hotel here is a really interesting place. It was built to serve as a palace for the unmarried sisters of the Mahardja, just outside the city. Then in the 1950ies it was transformed into movie studios and recently into an eco friendly hotel. You could see Miss Marple there. The main house unfortunately only hosts 7 rooms and we had to stay in the other building, most likely the servant`s rooms back in history. Anyway I got a glimpse into one of the rooms in the main building: it really looked like a bedroom for the court. The main block also hosts a library with a bed beneath the window, a reading divan, simply great. And the chess table in the games room was just tiny but brilliantly carved.

4 January 2008
The energy saving bulb has conquered India and puts everything into a cold and unfriendly light. Even in the train that we had to catch very early this morning heading west towards Asikere Junction gave you the sterile feeling of a hospital. After quite some time in the taxi, we visited the Hoysaleswara temple in Halebid which is a marvelous site, covered over and over with sculptures and reliefs. After another long ride we arrived to the Channekeshava temple in Belur. Hundreds and hundreds of figures are carved into the outside wall of the temple as well but in a different manner. After another two hour ride we came to Sravanabelagola, a temple that can only be reached after climbing up 600 or more steps. It hosts a 17m high monolithic statue of a naked god called Gomateshvara. Rumors say that it is the tallest monolithic statue on earth. What is impressive is that it is over 1000 years old. The most funny thing was that in a corridor behind the statue there are smaller statues and one of them was just cleaned by a naked man. I asked the tour guide for an explanation and he said that about 12 monks serve there and four of them are naked.
All the trinket sellers around these three temples are rather delighted when the rare tourist shows up. They are all called „Hello my name is Johnny Maybelater“. Yes, maybe later.

3 January 2008
After a short trip to Hospet center we took a flight back to Bangalore. The same instructions on how to use the sickness bags, a short flight and back we were to the luxury of the Windsor Manor Hotel where hot chocolate is not only served on the private terrace but also sweetened and stirred for you. Even the toothpaste tastes after cinamon here. I keep on wondering since quite some time why both the English and the Dutch who controlled the spice world market for such a long time actually never developed a special way of cooking based on all these spices themselves.

2 January 2008
The journey continues. Today it is a visit to Hampi and Hospet. On the flight to Bellary, Deccan Airways explained amongst the usual safety instructions the use of the sickness bags.
In Hampi there are the remains of an old ancient kingdom that existed until about 1550. I did not quite get the whole story due to some consistency issues although the tour guide was quite knowledgeable. Anyway, he said also that towards the end of that monarchy the Portuguese brought quite some horses as present for the king and those horses then lived there together with the elephants (when they were not fighting in a battle). The elephant stalls have been uncovered and did not need too much restoration while the barracks for the elephant guards have been completely rotten. So the life of an elephant at the time was so much more important, a clear discrimination in favor of the elephants.
The most interesting palace in Hampi is the musical palace. It is a palace that consists of many columns with even smaller columns around them that seem to be there for aesthetic reasons only. But in fact they are hollow and make a beautiful noise if you touch them. You can play a full concert with different tones there. Unfortunately is just in the process of being renewed so one cannot touch those columns.
Hospet is particularly remarkable as there are so many pigs on the streets. The way back to the hotel was easy; we just had to turn right at the big black pig that was eating garbage in a little hole there.

1 January 2008
It is unbelievable but the Dalai Lama came today to stay overnight in the same hotel in Bangalore. Together with 12 Buddhist monks I sat for several hours just outside the hotel lobby to wait for him. In a way it was like the preparation of the last supper. Being number 13 and constantly in trouble with the ceremony master of his holiness who doubted that my photo backpack contained only photo equipment, I was seen as security risk. While waiting I found out that almost all of the monks had mobile phones and on average four out of the twelve were in a call. Furthermore the rest did not sit there contemplating or meditating but rather chatted with their peers or wrote SMSes. The one that did not have a phone had his finger in his nose most of the time. In other words they seemed to be pretty modern and human.
And then he finally came. A red carpet had been rolled out, the monks and other people from the Buddhist community of Bangalore lined up and last in line the only six Europeans waited for the Dalai Lama to come by. I was so excited and then he came and really shook hands with me! Here is a picture of that scene:dalai_lama_and_margit.jpg

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