Category: Places

Suebia, eh ?

I realised this morning that one can hear emptiness.
All the usual sounds that can be expected in a large appartement building located in a reasonable quiet neighbourhood, with some green around – even large trees -, and parking spaces over ground, balcony door open, through a bog-normal Wednesday late morning, like water rushing through pipes for whatever use, elevator doors clunking, car doors slamming, trees rushing in a lovely breeze, the occasional toddler yelling a bit – just stand there with eyes closed & listen … the place is empty.
Of course there may be scientific explanations that involve rugs, curtains and pictures on the wall, let’s not forget the lack of ameublement, but this is not what I mean.
It is not about silly sound waves behaving different, is not something missing, it is something else, something additional I can’t name.
To step in routinely like done for ages – “ages” may mean ten years and perhaps a bit more – comes to a halt when the usual choreography of moves stops because there is no more place to put the wallet and the keys – the shoe cabinet in the Diele (it is impossible to translate the name of this little anteroom with “hallway” or “vestibule” – it is a Diele or a Flur ) is gone.
Obviously something changed.
It is easy to say “And of course I am ready to move for this job”, it is easy to plan such a move, and have a look at the different pieces of stuff that surround one. It is a bit more challenging to search for and finally find a new appartement that “fits the bill” in all – or at least all serious – points. It can be a bit of a task to fill boxes with stuff – that seemingly has a life of its own, even after years of culling ; this usually leads to some introspection – and finally “the day” arrives : All is prepared, professionals move in, and within two hours the place is cleared, engines start, and something new begins. This can be a bit upsetting, worrying even.
DOn’t get me wrong, dear reader : This is not about an ending of sorts, a drama, it is about the aftermath of a new beginning.
It is only about a middle-aged man who switches off the hoover in a large empty room, closes his eyes, and listens.

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Sunday Music

“Geschichte wird gemacht – es geht voran !”
Band Fehlfarben, song Ein Jahr

 

And history was made in Wembley when Mr JOSHUA knocked out Mr KLITSCHKO, a clean fight, a clear victory, a generational change. Let’s hope that Vladimir understands the message written on the ring floor, and quits. Enough of this.
Yesterday was the only sunny day in a row, and for the week to come, so I took a stroll on the banks of the river Main. Here is some photographic evidence.
To give a general impression, this is a view from the right river bank towards the left one, lot of mistletoes growing there in the trees.

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Der MAIN, FRANKENS Stolz

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Nice and sunny, and no, our rivers are not flowing uphill. Of course they could, if they’d decide to.

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Where unruly tourists end up

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Communities are generously providing health facilities for free, everyone is invited to a round of Wassertreten, also called Kneippen.

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Detail der Wassertreterei

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Stepping through cold water is a bit exhausting, so it is time to try the local street furniture.

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It is actually more comfortable than it looks.

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Franconians, at least many of them, like to decorate their environment. There is always place for some flowers, or stuff. So on your way back to the car you may spot something like this :

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There’s always space for a flower.

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And your reward for following me up to here : A short bourée by Christoph GRAUPNER (1683-1760) (Ger., Eng.).
I hope you like the music. May we all have a peaceful week !

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Two Men

The Professor is lucky. Despite his old age (he is over ninety now) he is still in full command of his body and his brains. He is the doyen in my discipline, and of course may smile when some over-enthusiastic scribbler describes him as the one “who single-handedly renovated” our field, because he was not alone – and I think he’s the first to acknowledge this. But without his institute things would have taken a different course.
When he took over the chair of a small institute in a sleepish Suebian provincial town 57 (!) years ago, das Fach was marginalised, not least because of its unfortunate history in those twelve years. When the professor was given the emeritus status some thirty years later the limited “German” horizon was opened towards an European perspective, and the 19th century “Volkskunde” was replaced with “Ethnology”, a different set of methods and approaches – without a doubt results of a process started by his institute in the late sixties.
He saw colleagues come and go, friends and adversaries. And of course it was time to step aside for the next generation, but that would not mean to fall silent, curl up, and die. A university owns this & that, he was given a working place in a dependance of his former institute, a nicely situated house in an up-market neighbourhood with gardens and narrow alley ways. There stands the desk he visits daily, the house (originally a residence house) holds some collections, a library, you get the idea.

The Ghost was nicknamed by neighbours, they called him the Schlossgespenst, the ghost of the castle, seemingly because he spoke to nobody and silently swished by on his bicycle. The Ghost was in his late sixties, and had studied a lot, among other subjects philosophy and history. As it seems, he never graduated.
Academia is not only filled with happy stories and success, there are always people who, well … are not so lucky. Some simply can not stop being a student, some can not get their stuff together and write a Magisterarbeit or a thesis, some struggle with mental problems, some simply meet an ill fate.
Whatever it was with the Ghost, he simply never left the university. He worked in different institutes as “Hilfskraft” over the years, but a “student temp” in his forties or fifties or sixties – alma mater can have a wide heart for their stumbling sons.
He occupied some rooms on the second floor of that old house more than ten years ago. I think he worked for this institute for very small money, and lived from benefits, Sozialhilfe. As I already said, mother Alma may have a big heart, but …
They offered him another flat, several times. They  threatened with eviction. Finally it was the job of a bailiff (“Gerichtsvollzieher”) and a man from the Ordnungsamt, the municipal authority responsible for public order, to get him out and clear the rooms.
The Ghost waited for them on the balcony. He took out a gun and shot at them, thankfully hurting no one, but a bullet went through one man’s sleeve. While the two men on the ground covered behind a car they noticed that the Ghost’s flat was burning. He had set fire to the appartement he should leave. They watched as he tried to go back into the rooms, but he finally decided to escape via the balcony. He slipped, and fell six meters to the ground, finally to death.
And while an emergency doctor tried to save his life, the fire brigade tried to reach the house, situated on a hill with nice gardens and narrow alley ways. When they finally arrived the fire was happily munching through the old wood beams, all that nice paper – in the end the building was totally gutted with only the outside walls remaining, declared unsafe by technicians and forbidden to enter.

All this happened last week. As I read the Professor was still travelling, on a voyage in Africa, unaware of what happened, they could not reach him.

Safety First

Pointless, boring story ahead.

The first man came in the late morning and marked the positions. The second one carried a box with devices and a laptop. He sat on the floor and busily scanned codes in, marked the devices, sorted them and left, remarking that they’d be “scharf” now, loaded. The third hauled a large power drill and fixed the devices, all three in less than seven minutes. He left with a grin and gave me a xerocopied instructional paper.
You may already guessed it, venerated reader, I am talking about smoke detectors that were installed in my rooms. All for safety.
What I do not understand is that these things must be so terribly ugly.

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They successfully searched for the ugliest smoke detector available in Europe.
They successfully searched for the ugliest smoke detector available in Europe.

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They look like anti-personal-mines.
I chatted with my neighbour who is living in a pretty large appartement. They had six of these things bolted to the ceiling. Also another neighbour some floors up found six of these design disasters decorating her flat. So I wondered when in a friend’s flat of the same design only five abominations were installed. I met laptop man in the lift when he carried a new box of devices and said something along the line that they surely fitted some hundreds in this large appartement house. He was a little upset and complained that he had been told to bring more than 300 of the things, but he only had 200 mounted, at the utmost. If it would have been better organised they’d be at home already.

Yesterday I walked past the janitor’s office, found the door open and him sitting at his desk. I looked, he waved me in, kicked a chair in front of the desk and asked “What’s up ?”
I expressed my astonishment about the not mounted safety device and the lack of coordination. He rolled his eyes and explained that laptop man & friends were clearly instructed to nail a smoke detector at the ceiling of every room that is possibly a sleeping room, and in the exits or hallways (“Fluchtwege”). Of course not in bathrooms and kitchens, obviously. Laptop man decided to install the things only in rooms that right now are used as sleeping rooms. The large room in my friend’s flat is actually used as a bureau – no bed, no smoke detector.
And while they were at it, they ignored the basement level completely (six appartements) and were busily searching for the “Dachgeschoss”, the attic, that is miraculously not built.
There will be another date to fix the mess. It is not clear whether laptop man & friends will do this.
While I sat there I asked him what would happen if I heard such an alarm ? “I mean : Thursday morning, 09:30, I’m back from my morning drive, ready to sleep an hour. All my neighbours are at work or at the university, usually I am alone on the floor. I hear an alarm two doors down. I knock at the door, no reaction. My janitor is not reachable, he has to take care for other objects too, some miles away. Even if you’d be here, you are not allowed to open the door.” “That would be burglary”, he chipped in.
“I call the firefighters. They go in, false alert. Do I pay the operation ?” “Nice question”, he said, “especially because it was not asked before.” “So what does my landlord say ?”
He thought for a minute and told me that if he would ask this in the centre office they’d kick him and tell him to mind his own business. Very nice shop morale.
As he knows his company, they would pass the question to the firefighters.
He pulled out a file card and called the village firefighters, 70something.
No one reachable, even after several tries.
He called the village administration and asked for the number of the force – 70something. And, after complaining that it is useless, he got the number of a portable.
Which is not working. We tried two times : Number not taken, not connected to a customer.
“Better not burn here” he said. “Commander’s out for lunch”, I agreed.
So he called the emergency number.
“Yes, relax, no alarm” – and he told his story and asked the question. Their answer was clear : They are the professional force. If someone calls them they need to know where the emergency is, then they alarm the local force. The local force deals with it and decides whether they need professional help. The cost is not their business, that is between the local force and the local administration. For this village, they call 70something.
“Thank you.”
Two middle-aged blokes with too much time to spare and a telephone.
All in the name of safety, of course.