Blog 2007

31 December 2007
New Years eve and a quiet day with massages and sauna in the hotel. At night during the new years eve party, H. was awarded “Best European Bollywood dancer” and won a hotel voucher.

30 December 2007
Leaving Mumbai and going to Bangalore. The rumor says that since outsourcing is not en vogue any more, there is already a new verb in English namely „to bangalore“. And really, Bangalore seems to be better off than Mumbai if that can be seen as a category at all. Also here people are poor, dentists pick teeth on the street and beggars have all kinds of heartbreaking physical shortcomings.
The city market is a great mixture of fruits, vegetables, colors and flowers whereby this description is by no means sufficient. The flowers are folded to long chains that are devoted in temples or used in order to decorate statues or pictures. The smell is very pleasant and not even the smell of the ubiquitous leftovers of the holy cows can kill that smell.

29 December 2007
Those of you who have seen my first self-developed pictures already know the story and will probably never believe whom I have met in Bombay by pure coincidence. In a very picturesque market hall that would deserve a description on itself all of a sudden Mr. Kahn stood in front of me. Mr. Kahn, the artist from Paris whom I took some picture of last August. Those pictures were my first ever self-developed pictures! So there he was in flesh and blood! I was not only astonished but just merely happy. What a coincidence! Some might say: Will wonders never cease? How is it possible that you meet a person in a city of 20 million that you have seen only once before in Paris? And who has nevertheless left such an impression? I just could not believe it. He has left Bombay for Paris in 1973 and was there again to visit family. But it was the first time in years that he actually went back to India!
Just a few days before Christmas I had mailed him the pictures I had taken last summer. When promising him to do so in August I felt rather stupid, explaining that it might take months for me to actually send some pictures. The reason for that was that I was just about to install my darkroom and setting everything up to get started. In today’s digital age that sounded like a cheap excuse but probably too bad to be true.

28 December 2007
A visit to Bollywood was very high up on my „must see“ list for India. But that is not as easy as one would imagine. What people told me about Hollywood, basically buying a ticket and then being shown around in order to see how special effect are made is not happening here. A big sign at the entrance of Film City informs all visitors that they are not allowed to get in. After intense discussions I was informed that neither the actors nor the producers want to be disturbed on the set. I could try and send a fax to the administration but no, for today that will never work out. Slightly depressed and definitely disappointed I decided to check out with the tour organization I had heard about whether they could help out. After searching with for an Internet cafe with an uninspired taxi driver I found their site but as it was lastly updated in 2002 and the phone was dead I thought that they have probably gone bankrupt or so. Before I could go on with searching for another solution the guy next to me in the Internet cafe announced in brilliant English that there will be a server update and no Internet connection anymore. I took the chance to tell him about my wrecked plans. He said that never having seen a Bollywood movie is not an issue as you have to be brain dead anyway to suffer through a three hour performance. He was pilot for Kathar Airways by the way. But else he said it would not be a problem at all to actually see the studios as the owner of the cafe was regularly going to the studios and could definitely bring me in. So we tried it again, this time with the owner of the cafe and his nephew – just to be thrown out again and even more harshly than before. Under a certain performance pressure the guy than proposed to go to another studio where we faced a similar treatment but after long discussions and handing over some rupees were finally successful. And what a reward! They produce 800 films a year in Bollywood but just at this very moment thy were shooting a prisoner`s story „Prisoner 420“. At least 150 people were dressed up as either prisoners or guards, chatting and hanging out at the set waiting for the main character to show up. They were having a really good time especially after they got some attention of unexpected visitors. I shot many, many pictures. Especially in the cantina that really looked like the cantina of a prison with all the prisoners eating there. I have rarely before enjoyed a meal as much as there. And of course actors had a good time as well posing for my pictures.

27 December 2007
Mumbai (Bombay) is a huge and loud city where the ubiquitous poverty is overwhelming. My first impression was most depressing, people sleeping on the streets, mostly only wrapped into a piece of cloth. They roll themselves up on the sideways where cars pass by only a few centimeters away. Their belongings fit into a single plastic bag which is placed besides or behind them. Some use plastic covers to have a roof or at least the impression of a tent over their heads. But then again, it is unbelievable how poor people can be and how privileged we are.

26 December 2007
Everything is set for India, the journey can start!

25 December 2007
Christmas is always a busy and almost hectic time. Nevertheless I like it very much. It seems that although I still have an Austrian (but Viennese) license plate, I am considered a foreigner in my hometown. When I got out of the car today, someone was wishing me “Merry Christmas”  in English.

24 December 2007
Brokenmuses wishes a Very Merry Christmas!

23 December 2007
Flying to Vienna I read that there is a new Woody Allen auto biography out. In it he says that man is the only species on this planet that can cheat on waiters in not tipping them.

21 December 2007
My mailbox is inaccessible and neither opens, nor allows for sending or receiving anymore. That seems to be the protocol of a sudden death.

20 December 2007
My mailbox started telling me (via e-mail) that I cannot longer send anything as I do not longer exist.

19 December 2007
My mailbox does not accept incoming e-mails anymore and tells the respective senders that I do not longer exist.

18 December 2007
I have this one picture in my bizarre and odd things collection that reads “lust is life the rest is just details”. A friend of mine just told me that a racing driver once said his life was a car race; in the meantime he was just waiting.

17 December 2007
I finally managed to take a picture of the “sandwishes” billboard!

16 December 2007
I saw a car in a garage the other day which was grey and dirty as can be. It is obviously standing there since quite some time. Someone has written into the grey dirt: “Exists also in blue”.

15 December 2007
After a few more painstaking hours in the dark room I seem to find out more and more about the art of developing pictures. I fear that really only practice makes perfect…

14 December 2007
The discovery of slowness: Despite the ubiquitous hectic times just before Christmas I discovered a person who seems to be immune. Slightly impatient I watched her for about 25 minutes wrapping one (!) gift for me…

13 December 2007
Several hours and the first one hundred sheets of photo paper later I start to see some correlations and light at the end of the tunnel.

11 December 2007
Another nice item in the collection of circular definitions: I think that everybody who has arrived is here now.

10 December 2007
A meeting today was opened by the following kind statement: “I see some new faces around the table and some very old ones.”

9 December 2007
Today was the end of the five day exhibition Selection XXI.

8 December 2007
I spent most of the day at the exhibition venue. The interaction was mostly happening between the artists and not so much between the visitors and the artists.

6 December 2007
I went again to the exhibition venue. It is really interesting to see people watching my pictures, talking intensively about them. As I did not want to move too close I didn’t not get too much of the conversation but there was “amazing”, “incredible” and “impressive” in it.

5 December 2007
The evening of the evenings: Opening of the exhibition Selection XXI in St. Gilles in Brussels. There were several hundred people present, if not one thousand. Many of them had a look at my pictures, some of them asked questions. A few asked whether it was photos or paintings. Others had questions like why this subject, why mannequins, why broken? Recognition and criticism from unknown people is interesting. One lady said that those pictures seem sad. I would say melancholic, but that is a matter of definition. The evening went smoothly, the ambience was nice. There was Champaign and finger food – everything a vernissage requires.

4 December 2007
I had to hang up the pictures for tomorrow’s vernissage early this morning as I was very busy today and had meetings all day long. I totally underestimated the long sharp edges of the aluminum surface and only found out when I felt the blood dripping down. Nevertheless the overall impression was really nice.

3 December 2007
I spoke out and handed over the last invitations for the exhibition opening on Wednesday night.

2 December 2007
I spent again some hours with developing pictures learning a lot. I definitely need to get some practice.

1 December 2007
I guess you must spoil before you spin. With regard to picture development I seem to produce quite some junk for the time being.

29 November 2007
Today I got the pictures form my exhibition next week. They are mounted on aluminum, perfectly done by my favorite laboratory and in a larger size than ever before.

28 November 2007
I got the invitations for my next exhibition, Selection XXI. They look marvelous!

27 November 2007
The “sandwish” billboard (see Blog entry of June 30, 2007) is back on the street!

26 November 2007
I saw a manual in a conference room today: “The art of setting up a telephone conference.”

23 November 2007
Read in a recipe today: „… and then add half a liter of chicken soup or alternatively guardian angel soup or ginger energy soup. “

22 November 2007
I had another lesson in black and white film development.

21 November 2007
Recently there was a big initiative in Vienna requiring all dog owners to carry little bags with them to collect dog shit on the spot and help keeping the city clean. Graz is even more progressive. Today I saw a dog shit bag dispenser next to a garbage bin.

20 November 2007
Together with a friend of mine who is a great graphic designer I worked on a Broken Muses brochure.

19 November 2007
I heard a sales person in a bookshop in Vienna saying to her colleague that there is this American who regularly comes to their shop and who speaks German very well but has some charming difficulties from time to time. Recently he was very concerned and told them something that would translate like: “I am so worried. My wife will be operated on her turtle”. What he wanted to say was “… will be operated on her thyroid gland”. The words are very similar in German.

18 November 2007
I did a two hours black and white family photo shooting. Enough work for picture development till Christmas…

17 November 2007
A few dozen birthday candles on a Sacher cake are a logistic challenge as well as a source for great heat.

16 November 2007
Flying out from Brussels I sat next to a guy who asked me whether we had ever met before. After a little break he added: “If that is not the case, even better, because I need an unbiased opinion. So I found myself smelling at a stranger’s wrist helping to select the ideal perfume.

15 November 2007
I was finally able to develop my first black and white picture. It is a great abstract piece of work that will potentially shape history. It is deeply black, shiny, simply great!

14 November 2007
After various major mistakes in various flight bookings a very big German airline decided to say sorry through upgrading me to business class for one of the many flights where they messed up my bookings. I had great food and great drinks but to my astonishment I was the only one who ate. It seems to be posh to refuse excellent food when you are entitled to. Is this the latest trend in the luxury segment?

13 November 2007
I read that the Catholic Church changed the text of the Lord’s Prayer. The problematic line was “and lead us not into temptation”. Many theologists argued that God cannot be blamed for encouragement to sin while at the same time being the one that requires confessing those sins to him. There seems to be a problem with separation of powers. After years of debate a compromise text was reached, requiring people to take more responsibility. The text now reads somehow like “and don’t let us fall for temptation”.

12 November 2007
One of the biggest modern day threats often come in very simple words: “Let’s have an e-mail discussion”.

11 November 2007
After all I wanted to try and develop my first picture in the newly furbished and very aesthetic dark room only to find out that I had everything but paper. That must have gone lost somewhere.

10 November 2007
Somebody said that it does not make a difference whether a dark room looks nice or not. It’s main aim is supposed to be dark anyway. Well, no sense for aesthetics…

9 November 2007
The neighbor’s dog is called Nero. Whether it is called after the emperor or the color remains an open point at least to me.

8 November 2007
Is there an art movement in modern art which focuses on aesthetics?

7 November 2007
Can you or do you even have to assume that modern day walking canes with inbuilt compasses are mobile phones with GPS-modules?

6 November 2007
In the bus from the terminal to the aircraft at Munich airport a guy spoke vividly to someone else on the phone. He started the conversation by saying “well I am actually at Frankfurt airport.” There was a big smile on everybody’s face.

5 November 2007
There is not only publicity for Volkswagen but recently also for a Volksnotebook.

4 November 2007
When using public parking garages, mostly when entering or just before paying, almost everyone has the parking ticket in his mouth. It is interesting that nobody has had the idea of putting some flavor onto these tickets. I think a slight coffee or beer taste would be an excellent idea and would bring good business to the sourrounding coffee shops and pubs!

3 November 2007
Status report from Amsterdam: 10 people queuing in front of a cash machine.

2 November 2007
A few days ago the neighbors have put up a skeleton in the size of a three year old child right next to their all year Christmas tree.

1 November 2007
From the life of a plumber: On Tuesday I was told that it is too late for the plumbing company to take on any new for this week because first of all it was already Tuesday lunchtime, secondly Wednesday is just the day before the public holiday on Thursday and therefore not ideal and thirdly of course nobody works on a Friday after a public holiday.

31. Oktober 2007
Another example of circular definitions: I’d propose to proceed in the way I’ve just proposed.

30. Oktober 2007
There is a couture designer called Sisi Wasabi. The name reflects on the Austrian Empress Sisi and the spicy Japanese horse radish paste.

29 October 2007
My father says the darkroom will be a bright spot.

28 October 2007
I think that the former owner of my darkroom had a certain weakness for development tanks. There is a tremendous variety of these tanks, ranking from stainless steel to plastic specimen.

27 October 2007
Sorting out my belongings and setting up the dark room is a cumbersome task. Especially recognize pieces of furniture wrapped in bubble wrap are a challenge.

26 October 2007
Thinking of the actual debate on environmental protection: already Kermit from the Muppet show knew that it’s not that easy being green.

25 October 2007
I had an interesting chat today about the adventure of taking hotels. Talking about it I recalled a recent stay in Helsinki where my boss and I found out that our two rooms that had been booked well in advance were simply not available any more. The concierge offered us a free taxi ride to the closest available hotel – 60 km away from downtown Helsinki.

24 October 2007
I learned today that my Internet pages cannot be accessed over the public Internet in China. Probably because the word “censored” appears several times.

23 October 2007
Just after having come back from London and on my way to the metro station “Brussels Midi” I crossed what I had described in my blog entry of July 1st as “brand new ATM”. At the time it was too new to have power supply. Well, meanwhile it isn’t that new anymore and it isn’t a real cash machine I fear; big letters on it’s side announce it as “ash” machine. So again no money, just ashes.

22 October 2007
London has changed pretty much over the last years. I remember that there were bookshops on every corner. Searching for one today made me walk at least 45 minutes in cold drizzle, passing by many clothes shops and bars. Finally they did not even have the book I was searching for.

21 October 2007
The opening of the exhibition in Leuven was very nice. About 60 very interested people were there and I got some really nice feedback!

20 October 2007
Charles Dickens said: “I […] feel the truth, that trifles make the sum of life.”

19 October 2007
What remains of a pigeon… that was exactly what I saw today on a zebra crossing. I guess that has been one of those suicidal pigeons that preferred to go that way instead of hitting my office window (see blog entry of September 20, 2007).

18 October 2007
Adorno said in his aesthetic theory (1970) that pieces of art that mean to be images reflecting nothing but reality do that only peripheral; they become reality because they react to (the first) reality.

17 October 2007
I had a diet coke without caffeine yesterday. I wonder what they will come up with next. Probably it will be either coke without color or half full cans.

16 October 2007
Most of my belongings have arrived to Brussels. The moving guys brought box after box and piled them up. I made me feel slightly uncomfortable that I had forgotten about everything I’d ever owned. The movers did not unwrap anything but a statue, Klaus, that was buried in tons of styrofoam flakes. Exactly in the moment when two of the three strong guys lifted Klaus out of his big box in the hallway, my un-beloved neighbor came out of the elevator, gave all of us a weird look and said to her dog “come on darling, that woman does not like dogs”. As if that wouldn’t have been enough, the movers did not find the statue’s supporting stand and instead deposited it in my bed. I was considering sleeping on the couch but tried my best to get hold of that stand. It appeared in the very last box.

15 October 2007
I found out that the town hall in Brussels is only used as tourist attraction. The actual offices are in a building close by, where, after I had finally found it, I had to queue together with 70 other people only to get a number for waiting in line for the actual service.

14 October 2007
The guys in the occupied house had a washing day today. There was wash in all colors on a string that was bent all over the facade in the third floor.

13 October 2007
Since some countries require each driver to have a reflective safety vest, there is an inflation of these orange or yellow uniform vests. You can buy them literally everywhere for something like three Euros. Anyways, they are most popular with bikers where they have a leveling effect on (at lest the bicycling part of) society. No matter whether it’s a man or a woman, old or young, tall or short, slender or less so, well  dressed or less so – a reflective safety vest is slipped over all of them.

12 October 2007
At the opposite side of my street a house is occupied by a bunch of people who from time to time bring some sofas to the street where they relax while demonstrating against cars and driving as such.

11 October 2007
A nice example of male argumentation which is perfectly dull but broadly accepted: “It seems that business is good where there are no barriers. And where there are barriers, we have difficulties.”

10 October 2007
Do you know the „sort of kind of“ speeches? There are people who introduce every thought with either “sort of” or “kind of” which makes it impossible to concentrate on what they want to say. But I guess they only sort of want to say something. Which might anyway only be kind of, you know?

9 October 2007
I had a speed exhibition today in the Committee of the Regions in Brussels. It was nice, though. I had to rush from a meeting to my car and further to the Committee of the Regions to hang up the pictures for an evening cocktail which I could not attend due to other obligations. After 10 p.m. a friend picked the pictures up again. When hanging them up I got some very nice feedback saying that it was amazing how human and fragile those scratched faces look.

8 October 2007
I am playing a funny game with my cleaning lady. Whenever she sees me her face freezes and she brings up the serious topic of my plants. There is nothing wrong with them as such but she has the feeling that I do not water them properly. That is why she has started to water them with enormous quantities of water and several times a week. Whenever I notice that she had been around I secretly pour out liters of water so that my plants’ Amazonas swamp feeling does not prevail. That of course leads her to think that these poor plants drink all the water she gives them in no time, thus they suffer, ignorant me does not care and the burden to help them survive lies on her shoulders. Something stops me from clearing that up.

7 October 2007
Oscar Wilde said “It is personalities, not principles, that move the age.” I could not agree more.

6 October 2007
The neighbors added carnival balloons and garlands to their all year Christmas tree. We are at the beginning of October and to my knowledge we are neither close to carnival nor to Christmas. I get confused whenever I see their window. Probably that has to do with climate change. I’d advise them to calculate through how many tons of CO2 emission they would save as a family if they got rid of their nasty black dog.

5 October 2007
One conference call is followed by another. I consider that as a real bad habit of our times. Well, after a really long one (over four hours) I dragged myself to a sandwich bar (no sand wishes there any more) from where I have a great view to the favorite cash machine. This time I had a witness for 12 people queuing.

4 October 2007
There is one thing that keeps me thinking since a long time. When driving to the airport in Brussels the closest you can get to the arrival hall is using the express parking which allows you to sprint over to the arrivals in less than a minute. Surprisingly enough the two parking places that are closest to the exit towards the arrival hall stink bestially after urine. I wonder whether that has to do with the inborn attitude of the master hunter who has managed to land the best parking in the area needs to mark that place even when under immense time pressure?

3 October 2007
And another exhibition is planned still fort his year. I won’t give further details, yet!

2 October 2007
I had a look at the exhibition venue which does look very nice. It will be a challenge to deliver, exhibit and put away those pictures in four hours next Tuesday.

1 October 2007
I just learned today that I am required to exhibit some photographs at the Committee of the Regions (Brussels) next Tuesday. It is the so-far shortest exhibition I will be doing; it will only last for four hours. So probably I shouldn’t call it a permanent exhibition.

30 September 2007
I heard an interview with the author Ilija Trojanow today who said that the fork was only introduced to the Italian royal court around the year 1000. The lady who brought the new habit of using forks to Europe was from Byzantium, where forks where used since the 4th century. It nevertheless resulted in a scandal in Italy, especially because the arch bishop was reminding everybody that god gave men two hands to eat with and such a tool was to be called profane.

29 September 2007
I had a totally new experience today, which was developing the first three black and white films myself. It was a great feeling to hold the negatives in hand knowing that it was you who had shot and developed them.

28 September 2007
It is not particularly nice to be brought to your plane by bus. It means carrying down heavy hand luggage to the bus and afterwards up to the plane again. Most of all it means being stuck in that bus for longer than you would have expected. People keep pushing you and force you compromise on your originally chosen place and trat it for a a strategically inappropriate position in the middle of the bus. There you the witness a strange spectacle of people holding on to a handle or steel post although the bus is not movng at all. They keep holding on so hard that you can even see white bones and finger joints glancing out of their hands. You ask yourself why this is happening although the bus doesn’t move for at least twenty more minutes.

27 September 2007
Lisbon in late summer or early fall is a very nice combination. Blue skies and sunshine, life can be tougher. There are remarkable sidewalks and this tram number 28 that goes up a hill in an unbelievable speed, speeding through breathtaking curves and narrow streets. But what impressed me most was the encounter of an elephant man. A certain layer of swollen dark red cancer-like surface had settled over his whole face, burying mouth, nose and eyes behind it. I was asking myself whether it was appropriate to take a picture or not. For ethical reasons I decided against it. There are more ways to remember that other’s can be so much worse off than yourself than by just taking a picture.

26 September 2007
The last few missing pictures are hanging now, the name tags are fixed right beside them. Now only the invitations must be finalized and printed, then the Leuven exhibition is ready to be opened.

25 September 2007
My neighbors have a big black dog which would be enough pain anyway. In addition to that they have a plastic Christmas tree in their apartment which I can see from a corridor window. The electric candles on that tree are burning every night which is bizarre in summer but mostly anytime except for December.

24 September 2007
Today the piece of clothes I saw was an expensive looking rain jacket with two zip fastened arms, detached but assembled right next to the jacket. My suspicion is that all this clothes in the street has to do with the cash machines or their absence that is. The saying goes that in some places the money is lying on the street. As it is difficult to get money, maybe that’s why the clothes are lying there.

23 September 2007
Today was car-free day in Brussels. It is unbelievable how many people own bikes. And how many seem to have left their cars and their sense for traffic rules home. Tomorrow there will be more cars but this city will also be a safer place for pedestrians again.

22 September 2007
A pink baby anti-adhesion sock crossed my way. Ok, here I admit that this might not have been abandoned out of free will.

21 September 2007
There seems to be a trend towards leaving your clothes and shoes behind when coming to a city. Not too long ago I came across a pair of lonely pumps in Naples and a single dotted one in Munich. Just a few days ago I passed a pair of crumpled jeans alongside a parking lot. Not far from that there was a pair of abandoned climbing boots, nicely aligned on next to the other. Today seven or eight black used socks crossed my way or vice versa – they were scattered along some twenty meters of a sidewalk. In the gutter there was a pair of white gloves.

20 September 2007
There are some trees in front of my office windows which grow against them and create strange noises in the wind. But this does not bother me as much as the pigeons that crash into the windows on a regular basis. They fly against these windows and probably drop dead in the second when the bounce. I fear that I have kind of a pigeon cemetery somewhere down there. Probably it even started smelling. I guess I should never open these windows again.

19 September 2007
100 days after the elections Belgium still does not have a government which you barely notice as a foreigner. Nevertheless there are many critical voices that try to suggest that this is the end of the Belgian state. As a very funny reaction, a Belgian tried to sell Belgium over Ebay “For Sale: Belgium, a Kingdom in three parts … free premium: the king and his court (costs not included).”  The oddest thing was that there was even interest from someone to buy it! Ebay took it off their website.

18 September 2007
How to define division of labor: After an initial attempt and mutual acceptance, labor is divided which is followed by the comforting feeling of “a problem shared is a problem halved”. That is then abruptly ended by the horror vision of the other parties not fulfilling their duties because they spent all their energy in inventing creative excuses.

17 September 2007
I counted 18 people queuing in front of a Brussels city center ATM …

16 September 2007
There will be a new Brokenmuses exhibition soon in Leuven/Belgium!

15 September 2007
A very tiny extra packed cheese (a “Babybel”) lays right next to my door, in fact next to the elevator there. It is wrapped in dark red plastic and gives me reproachful looks whenever I pass by.

14 September 2007
I was inspired recently to think about those products that are left right in front of supermarket cash desks. Some people seem to spontaneously decide against a product that they have thoroughly chosen and brought with them all the way through the supermarket. Does that make a reference for exactly buying these products? And isn’t it also interesting that those products were even found before?

13 September 2007
It’s Thursday the 13th and there were five people and a guide dog queuing in front of my favorite ATM. I ask myself how guide dogs are trained for finding the rare ATM in Brussels.

12 September 2007
Further on gender issues: A male colleague on a contentious issue arguing for his view: “My proposal to solve the issue would be to write something that I’ve just said!”

11 September 2007
Why women will never make it: I just heard this statement from a woman speaking to another woman today: “I’ll get going and get it done. Because after all it needs to be done and if it’s done it’s done, right?”

10 September 2007
My officially employed me got vaccinated today. After a slightly absurd dialogue, certain earlier vaccinations of my private me were recognized. The exception being hepatitis was then shot in such a clumsy way that I could not use my right arm all day long.

9 September 2007
It’s not only me alone who experiences weird situations at work. I was told about a recent security training for employees which had to be done using a standardized slide set.  The first slide showed a site map where all those doors that were only 3.10 meters high were specifically marked. All employees who are taller than that have to be alert and need to pay special attention. To underline that, the bottom line read: “The event of an accident is highly likely”.

8 September 2007
On my vaccinations that I still need to receive before going to Belgium again (see Aug. 31) the question is now whether other vaccinations I got in the past (e.g. against hepatitis or tetanus) were given to me for work reasons. If not, which is unfortunately the case, they do not count and I will get them again.

7 September 2007
I had a meeting today in a room called “Cheesecake” (in Helsinki). Without the help of several locals I would have never found the room. What made it worse was that I had to make my way back alone. While stumbling through myriads of hallways I asked myself – should I pass away without having seen daylight again – whether, from a strict legal point of view, your death certificate replaces your birth certificate.

6 September 2007
Why do men in general get away with statements like: “We will get an answer because we have to get an answer although people do not have an answer, yet.” or “We are in September now and we have to be aware what is going to happen in February because after all February is only five months away…”

5 September 2007
An airport toilet announcement I saw today read: “Help us saving water. Press the flush button twice.”

4 September 2007
In my Istanbul conference hotel, a quite good hotel superficially spoken, showed the weirdest comportment of employees I have ever seen. The other day a Turkish speaking room maid entered my room, without prior knocking. Gesticulating she explained that she is in charge of controlling whether my single room is used by more than one person. I was rather surprised as I had never thought of smuggling in a battalion of “blind overnight passengers” in my hotel room. On the next day the same lady met me in the bathroom asking me whether she should start cleaning the room. As if that would not have been enough anyway about an hour later – the room has still not been cleaned – she came again requesting whether there were more people besides me sleeping in my room. Shortly after that a guy showed up who wanted to control the status of the mini bar. Probably he found it rather impolite that I kicked him out.

3 September 2007
The saying goes that the eyes are the mirror of your soul. I wonder whether you can say that the camera bans on film what is reflected over that mirror?

2 September 2007
I saw the Istanbul Pera Palace hotel, where Agatha Christie wrote the Murder in the Orient Express. It is closed for renovation, but I managed to sneak in and got a little private tour. In the evening I went to a 500 year old Hammam. The guy at the entrance wore a T-Shirt saying “sexually deprived for your comfort” and told me that the massages will be done by men. I sort of found that weird but in the end it was just a great and harmless experience.

1 September 2007
After arriving from Munich to Istanbul, I thought my luggage was lost. For whatever mysterious reason I found it on my way to the lost and found counter at the other side of the arrival hall: it stood lonely next to a belt that stood still and said “Rome”.

31 August 2007
I had a conversation with the HR department. They advised me to get some vaccinations for Brussels, probably to protect me against the EU virus.

29 August 2007
No matter where I want to go to in Munich, I always have to drive 8 kilometers to get there. I type in a random place and the navigation system tells me 8 kilometers. Sometimes I get the feeling that this is deliberate. Even if the distance is 5 kilometers only it secretly guides me on sidetracks and calculates an 8 kilometer route.

28 August 2007
The UN building in Bonn hosts inter alia EUROBATS, the secretariat in charge for the Agreement on the Conservation of Populations of European Bats.

27 August 2007
A Munich supermarket chain is selling “Tsunami Sushi” – not the best name you can chose I guess.

26 August 2007
A person working for the personnel department, human resources that is, sent me an automatic response saying: “Dear sender, I am in the process of being switched to a new data base system…”. How can a person be switched to another data base system?

25 August 2007
An advertisement for toothpaste advertises a “smile for eternity” showing Marilyn Monroe’s lips on a huge poster. Right next to it the pope advertises automated blessings – to be sent to your mobile phone via short messages.

24 August 2007
Again a short piece on cash machines. Not only that Austria has them on every corner, you can also re-load your prepaid mobile phones there.

23 August 2007
Is it really true that not the world but the pictures taken of that world are the scale of beauty?

22 August 2007
A restaurant in Munich offers a 4 course menu and calls the dinner “enjoy dinner in darkness – there is little to see but loads to experience”.

21 August 2007
After telling a colleague about a non-paper I was working on she said: “I would not want to do your job.” I replied “Me neither.”

20 August 2007
Subway graffiti in Munich: I’ll be with you forever. Yours Aids.

19 August 2007
I ask myself how the art market functions. How are pieces of art evaluated and estimated? Who judges that an artist has created something really great and outstanding, or that he has the potential to do so? And on which criteria is that done?

17 August 2007
Do politically correct toilets have a hand shower? More than that it keeps me thinking that a Japanese coupe asked me the way to their hotel in Helsinki and I could give them the right advice. Moreover, all cash machines in Helsinki are called Otto, but nobody has asked me for that.

16 August 2007
The world hasn’t stopped turning – which I sometimes doubt. But still: the shop specialized in wheels for trolleys and the like in Helsinki is still where it used to be when I took a picture back in 2002.

15 August 2007
Schopenhauer said: “With people of limited ability modesty is merely honesty. But with those who possess great talent it is hypocrisy.”

14 August 2007
In my personal hell I will screw and unscrew picture frames with a non-fitting screwdriver.

12 August 2007
In August, Paris is really dead. There are hardy any people in the streets and most shops and galleries are closed. The atmosphere is weird.
I had dinner in Le Procope, which used to be the first coffee shop ever. Nowadays it is a fine restaurant.

11 August 2007
On one of the islands of the Seine there is a replica of the statue of liberty. That is kind of odd, especially because from a certain angle you can see the Eiffel tower in the far distance.

10 August 2007
I went to the opening of a gallery in Düsseldorf. I guess the best thing about it was a cinema fort two people with two red velvet seats. The film was the credits of a Spanish movie – in an infinite loop.

9 August 2007
When browsing through the index of Brussels’ galleries in a weekly magazine I found one that’s called “Sorry, we’re closed”. I am sure it is in the neighborhood of the restaurant “And who is going to walk the dog?”

8. August 2007
I had dinner with a colleague. Hat was kind of odd was the waiter’s „Bon Appetite Gentlemen!“.

7. August 2007
Target and objectives setting are time consuming habits. A colleague of mine thinks that only if you have a target you can actually reach it. On the other hand having a target is also the prerequisite of missing it.

6 August 2007
Today’s insight: Modern laws are made by people that show a certain lack of logic reasoning and miss the sense for simplicity. Instead of thinking about short, concise and lasting rules, detailed over regulation seems to be en vogue.

5. August 2007
A sign on the terrace of a small restaurant in south west Styria read: “Please do not feed the cats. They belong to the neighbor”.

3 August 2007
I am always curiously interested to keep track of new trends. One of the latest trends seems to be the concept of so called cuddle parties where strangers meet to cuddle with each other – under the surveillance of a “cuddling trainer”.

2 August 2007
From the long list of communication killers: One particular example that can be used in almost all circumstances in which one does not want or simply cannot answer a question. “You may remember that I had already sent you some slides regarding that issue.”

1 August 2007
I am thinking of a new picture series: “Dirty fingers of man at work.” In a way, dirty fingers have something comforting. Something like: I can do it, repair it, help you, make anything better. The natural borderline for these people with the dirty fingers is electronics, particularly car electronics.

31 July 2007
My car refused to recognize the key today. Two hours and about 200 tries later the touring service showed up. They towed away the car and brought it to a garage in an (to me unknown) part of town. We’ll see whether and if so how I will get it back again.

30 July 2007
Just recently I read in a nice e-mail that one should never let someone else’s stupidity interfere with his own joy. That is easier said than done if confronted with it way too often.

29 July 2007
Why is it always raining after my car has just been washed and polished (which is not often, I admit)?

28 July 2007
Why can I not refill gas without participating in the gas station chain’s lottery which means putting lousy star or dot shaped stickers onto a post card with several rows for an endless number of stickers that – if ever filled completely – would give me the chance to win a coupon which would entitle me to buy something that I never wanted or needed in the first place but which would definitely be cheaper than usual?

27 July 2007
Sitting alone or at least having the attempt to sit in peace in a train or subway seems to be socially unacceptable in Munich. Or otherwise maybe people just like it cozier. Anyways I get slightly nervous whenever somebody approaches the empty or not so empty (bags, suitcase) seat next to mine (while there are many more free elsewhere close to my place), does not even bother to ask permission but just puts himself or herself right next to me. Most often there is not even enough time to get the bags onto a safe place on the lap.

26 July 2007
Sometimes I really suffer from not having my camera with me. Yesterday I saw a tall black guy with a v-shaped body in a white underwear type of shirt and a straw hat which left an impression.
Today at the airport I saw a less impressive guy who tried to step on an escalator – against the direction. The back of his t-shirts read: „best time to make friends“. I really wonder whether going against the main stream on an escalator provides for the right opportunity to make friends.

25 July 2007
It’s not always me who witnesses strange forms of argumentation. Somebody told me yesterday that in a recent meeting he had heard the following: “Only because 99% of all customers are happy with the service that does not mean we do not have any problems!” And, even better and a follow-up argument to the same discussion: “At the moment we really do not have any problem. But just assume we had one: how would you solve it?”

24 July 2007
Lunchtime in a little restaurant: A British lady sat next to my table, wearing a bright green shirt and an even brighter yellow blouse was served pizza. She cut it with scissors (!) into very small pieces. The scissors’ handles were in the same yellow as her blouse. And yes, the restaurant also offered knifes.

23 July 2007
More clarity to the story of the national holidays in 2008: May 1st will be a Thursday and Ascension. Therefore it was planned to “shift” May 1st to May 2nd which was heavily opposed by some business people who did not want to close their shops two days in a row (Thursday and Friday). Consequently a Commission then decided to shift May 1st to August 17 (a Sunday) which is a day where most shops are closed anyway. Employees can choose whatever date for compensating the lost 1st of May. Most of them will probably chose May 2nd.

22 July 2007
What I like about Belgium is the absurd snapshots. Amongst the leftovers of the national holiday parties today I saw half a hover. I really wonder from where it has been falling down onto the street.

21 July 2007
Today Belgium is celebrating their national holiday. It is Saturday and there is a rule that the population is entitled to a certain number of public holidays during the year. Next year one of the holidays in May will be on a weekend. Therefore a special Commission has decided that this (lost) holiday will be made up on August 17, 2008. August 17 is a Sunday in 2008. Most probably another rule applies then which is that public holidays that fall on Sundays will be made up on Mondays.

20 July 2007
During my last absence the landlord has changed the lock at the entrance of the building I am living in. In spite of a key you now need a code in order to open the door. For safety reasons, the code was safely deposited in my apartment (and not in the post box). The answer to my question, how on earth I should have gotten hold of the code while I already get stuck at the entrance of the building was answered by a “well, yes, you’ve got a point here…”.

19 July 2007
Where have the times gone when traveling needed to involve a travel agency and scheduling was a matter of long term planning? I have the feeling that one can spend hours and hours comparing schedules and tariffs via different web sites. In the need the result is always the same: Schedules involve spending private time and are still impossible and prices are arbitrary.

18 July 2007
No sand wishes anymore: The sand wish restaurant has a new owner and sells sandwiches now. Most disappointing!

17 July 2007
Another communication killer – best used as an answer to a well thought trough and novel argumentation line: I am sure that you are referring to this morning’s article on this particular subject in the Wall Street Journal…

16 July 2007
A new item fort the collection of circular definitions: We need to get into that market, because when you are in, you’re in and when you are not in, you’re out!

15 July 2007
During breakfast in a small coffee shop and elderly woman sat next to us and started talking. She was 81 years old but the way she was telling her stories and interacting with us I thought she was barely 60. She had a huge black and blue mark on her right upper arm. Without any bitterness she explained that there are some gangs that are digging out the cobblestones on the square next to where she lives in order to throw them after each other. Sometimes an elderly lady like her is in their way.

14 July 2007
Besides a shop specialized in “church requisition and special electronics” the most stunning discovery was that there are surfers in Munich city center. There is a small river in the English Garden and at one particular spot there is a constant wave of about a meter where surfers are showing their most precise movements.

13 July 2007
I thought of starting a collection of communication killers. The most recent example was the nice introduction of a topic with the words “for sure you have read in this morning’s Financial Times…”.

12 July 2007
Just yesterday I was reading a story about the Czech Foreign Minister, Graf von Schwarzenberg, who obviously cares for good manners and is kissing hands of his female counterparts on a regular basis. The whole interview was really good and I was particularly smiling when I read about that. Well, today I attended a meeting in London – and was welcomed with a hand kiss. Well, needless to say: that made my day!

11 July 2007
I was calling a colleague in order to get some information I needed. I introduced myself politely, told him from whom I got his name and started to introduce the issue I was calling about. But soon enough I was interrupted by the question who I was. Calmly I repeated my name and department. I was interrupted again. My phone number was unknown. I said mildly that the internal directory might not be functioning fully, yet. He requested an e-mail identification. Kind of puzzled I tried that while at the same time he was asking my name again which I gave in a frostier way than before. He found me in the directory, but with a different number. I thought my unwanted disguise has vanished and started to tell my story again when I was interrupted for third time. I could be anybody. From the press or from a competitor. He would call me back under the other, the only “real” number. Destiny showed some mercy and he really called. The other number was my mobile.

10 July 2007
A hilarious reaction to my blog entries on sand wishes:
“Food for thought and your blog – a follow-up to your Sand Wish story: The European Commission restaurants propose sandwiches of the week. This week’s sandwich is the so-called “Provencette” (bread from the provence) with Maredsous cheese and Jambon Braisé (cooked ham).
But …now comes the but and what is written under it: The Jambon Braise has been replaced by Jambon d’Ardenne, which is smoked ham and the Maredsous has been replaced by Mozzarella. To my obvious question: “Why don’t you call your sandwich than: Provencette with Mozzarella and Jambon d’Ardenne?” I never got an answer.”

9 July 2007
Friday night on my way to Austria I had to refill gas right at the outskirts of Munich. When I was almost done, a guy in odd clothes came over to ask me whether I would go to Vienna and whether I could take him and a friend of his with me to Salzburg. In the beginning I was kind of skeptical but then I had a look at both again and thought that two guys in traditional clothes with a very weird baggage can be trusted.
And what can I say about this journey to Salzburg? It was great! They were craftsmen (carpenters) on the waltz. When I heard that, I first thought that this can simply not be true and that I would definitely appear in candid camera. But they reassured me and said that this is by far not something that died out some hundred years ago but a tradition that is still there. After the apprenticeship and before being able to become a master one has the opportunity to go on the waltz for three years and one day. During this period, he (or she) is not allowed to come closer than 50 km to his hometown. The wanderer needs to be decent and reputable and will earn his living by offering services according to the apprenticeship. Whenever the means earned allow for it, he travels the world. It is mandatory to wear the traditional clothes and the walking stick but besides that and a small bundle with personal belongings that is all to be carried around. Most often these craftsman travel alone.

8 July 2007
I do not like to refill gas. Since I have spoken to a filling station attendant a few years ago who said he would find it disgusting to control oil for his clients, my aversion has slightly decreased. By the way, meanwhile the gas station he owned has closed down. So sometimes people are courageous enough to change jobs they are obviously not made for.

7 July 2007
Through a reaction to my blog I came to think that it is in fact true that I have been locked up in the office several times recently. A few months ago I could not leave the office toilet anymore as the lock was blocked and just a few weeks ago a colleague locked me in my own office. He thought it funny. I disagreed.

6 July 2007
Munich is a weird place. On a little vegetable market I saw a big, over dimensioned plaster model of a half grilled chicken on a kiosk. A sign close to it said “take me”.

5 July 2007
Germany is he Dorado for bargain hunters. Six wine glasses from a fine brand for 10 Euros, three towels for 4 Euro 50, three for the price of two, everything promises to be cheaper and cheaper, better and better. What does not change are the rental prices for apartments. No 60 square meters for the price of 30. So if you spend a good part of your income on all these incredibly cheap goods, there is one problem that remains: where to put all these things.

4 July 2007
I talked to the concierge again who rescued me a few days ago (see June 25). He still gives me these pitiful looks that seem to say “you would not be where you are right now without me” and “how come they let you commute without guard”.

3 July 2007
Forgot to mention that besides sand wishes they advertise also more profane things like pizza and salads.

2 July 2007
There are rumors that Belgium has increased the price (or tax) for aluminum foil threefold in order to contribute to the government’s environmental protection targets. I somehow fail to understand the deeper meaning of that. Maybe that has to do with the sand wishes (see blog entry from June 30). No sand wishes in aluminum foil anymore in this country!

1 July 2007
On my way to Brussels south station and its Sunday flower and vegetables market I thought it might be wise to have more than 15 Euros in cash at hand. So I went to the one and only ATM at the railway station. 14 people were queuing up there. So I went all over to the other end of the huge market to another ATM with only one person waiting and three more standing around. One of them said it might be better to go to another cash machine on the other side of the road because the one we were at was out of money, another one close by had a huge queue and the other one on the other side of the road just had “better” money. A little astonished I did what he advised me to do and crossed the street – just to find 12 people queuing there. I gave up and used the 15 Euros I had for shopping. On the way back to the metro station I saw a brand new ATM – too new and now power supply, yet. I got off the metro at my favorite ATM and saw nobody there. I felt kind of worried – and right so because a sign said “temporarily out of service”. In a way one could build a conspiracy theory around that.

30 June 2007
A bar close to my office advertises sandwishes – on a sandwich board. I ask myself since quite some time what such a sand wish must be like. Does one have sand wishes close to a beach and if yes, is a sand wish then the wish for a cold drink? Is that lousy bar then the closest thing to a beach bar you can get in downtown Brussels and if yes isn’t the only sand wish you can have there a sea view?

29 June 2007
My father writes in an SMS that the readings on board were a great success. When I called them today also Margit said she was pleasantly surprised about all the nice feedback she got.

28 June 2007
Today is the second day of the two readings on board. They are in Murter in a bigger harbor. I was asked how it is possible to have a library on a 6 meter 60 boat. Well, my father obviously has his priorities in life. For the rest of the season he will keep the “literature suitcase” on board.

27 June 2007
I am just missing my best friend’s and my father’s great evening on board of Dr. Putzi. In the library of my father’s boat in the Marina Nikola in Tisno/Croatia, Margit Kuchler-D’Aiello is reading out of her recent work.

26 June 2007
Why do I get e-mails with sentences like “I think it is important because it is already important and it will become even more important in the future”? After a rough analysis I think this is because we all are getting older and with age the issue of aging does not become better.

25 June 2007
I managed to get locked uo in the office together with two visitors. While we had our meeting, the cleaning personnel locked my office where I had my suitcase, home- and office keys and my notebook. This office is a very safe zone. You cannot leave it without key a, you cannot leave the building without key b and you cannot get into the garage without key c. The only option was to call the concierge, to abase myself and beg him to come, feeding the guests peanuts and diet coke in the meantime and live through nasty remarks and a grand hero appearance of the concierge.

24 June 2007
Is the GPS system providing the ordinary driver with more freedom or is it just a system that has a life of its own which gives the user a feeling of quasi-democracy? As if you could ever choose!
In the not so distant past I used to smile pitiful at the owners of GPS systems, accousing them of not being able to read any maps anymore and secretly even blaming them for laziness of severe sort. Since I own one of these devices myself that attitude has somehow changed. Although I know about all the relaxing effects I am also quite aware of its drawbacks. For instance it has a tendency to distract you and make your way to the next slip road to the motorway´ which leads to the traffic jam of the century. With an almost Buddhist calmness it then announces “enter the motorway after 300 meters” whereby the voice calms down at “300 meters” knowing exactly that these 300 meters will cost you the next 30 minutes of your time.

23 June 2007
Is there a deeper meaning that some places sell some very specific things? In Brussels it is a shop specialized in glass eyes, in Munich it is one that sells tailor made toupees.

19 June 2007
Every once in a while I spot these lonely and pitiable people, sitting on the ground, their jackets, computer bags and other belongings scattered around them while having a PC on their knees that catches all their attention. Most often these sceneries occur next to toilets, obviously a fertile place for power sockets.

16 June 2007
I visited the surrealism exhibition of the Museum of Fine Arts in Mons. The pictures, collages and sculptures of Magritte and the group of artists around him are fascinating. Their humor is sometimes very plastic and then again subtle. The Belgian surrealist Louis Scutenaire pointed it out in the following way: “Humor is a form of melancholia.”

15 June 2007
I got a call from a (female) colleague from a Nordic country far away. After a brief discussion (over a very good land line) she asked me whether she had noted my name correctly as she intended to send some more information. Everything was correct and I thought we were done when she finally asked me whether I was male or female.

13 June 2007
A short update on my favorite ATM: This morning there was a lonely police car – but most likely they just had a routine stopover and not a spectacular operation. At lunch break we were back to normal and had six people queuing up in front assumingly having a real good time.

10 June 2007
Together with a friend I went for a walk in Mariazell, one of Austria’s number one places of pilgrimage. The basilica has been freshly renovated for the pope’s upcoming visit in early September. In a small corner of the church there is a booth for all sorts of images and rosaries in all sizes. It was exactly there where I saw a priest arranging tiny little mini-rosaries, one after the other, meditative, in great patience, engrossed in thought.

8 June 2007
The new car is a bit scary. It has no key and uses a card which has to be put into a slot instead. It needs to be started and stopped by pushing a start button, the handbrake disappeared from its normal place and works on its own whenever it feels for it and most worrying: I found a little bag with some big screws in the glove compartment and have no idea where they should be mounted.

6 June 2007
I had a little car accident today. While I was waiting at the red light of an intersection an elderly lady hit my car in a slow but persistent movement. She did not stop when she realized it. She just went further and further. I felt steadily displaced, a weird feeling. The result was a really long dark green line and a profound bump in the beige passenger door of the lady’s car. My bumper lost all its color. Well, I never really liked the hunter’s green anyway. But still. I did not plan to lose it that way.

4 June 2007
There are obviously variations and differences in Europe, especially when it comes to ATMs. The problem is that there are hardly any in Belgium. The rare spots where you can finally find one can be described as nice gathering points for people. I have hardly ever seen one where there would not be a queue of at least 3 to 12 people waiting. Most likely they are seen as speed dating spots or are somewhere recommended hot spots in small talk beginner’s lessons.

2 June 2007
In contrast to my normal preference of non-arranged photographs, I was trying out something new today. Running around with my camera and a huge beach ball with an imprinted world map in a rather poor area of Brussels city center, I think I made my self rather ridiculous. People were looking at me like I were the eighth world wonder.

1 June 2007
This evening I went to a photo Vernissage in Brussels. The most interesting thing there was a note saying that one may respect that this is an artist’s environment where other people are also living. Visitors may respect these neighbors and be at the same time kind enough as not to urinate (!) onto the street (the exhibition took place in the second floor…).

31 May 2007
About two months ago parts of my Istanbul pictures got lost at the laboratory. The person in charge in Brussels has done a lot in order to find them. Meanwhile she almost became a friend and I am allowed to call her Barbara…

29 May 2007
Nowadays eye doctors seem to divide their patients into two groups: Those whose cornea is thick enough and those whose cornea isn’t. Only if the cornea has a certain thickness, a laser correction of the eye and with that substantial additional income for the eye doctor is possible. There is sort of a positive discrimination for those with the “right” sized cornea.
Another weird detail of the day in Munich: People from Ukraine seem to favor Italian supermarkets that specialize in fruits and vegetables. And it seems that they think I am the only person in Munich to help them find their way to this particular supermarket. For those who know me I think it is quite obvious that Italian supermarkets have so far been of an obscure nature to me. This led to a rather ungentle encounter with at least the outskirts of the supermarket. You never know, there may be a point in time where I can use that valuable information…

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