Mittwoch, November 15, 2006


When I was in Switzerland in September, I went hiking with a friend for some days. Our proudest moment was when we arrived on top of the Schilthorn after an ascent from 1500 to 2970 meters altitude - no, not spectacularly climbing sheer rock walls, just walking slowly but steadily uphill for a few exhausting and exciting hours.

The Schilthorn has a steep path on one side and a cable car on the other, that's going all the way up to the summit. At the top there is a souvenir shop, and a revolving restaurant as well as a terrace with some benches to enjoy the very spectacular view.

And for those soft-legged tourists who go up there by cable car instead of their own feet, there's a signpost with this sign at the entrance to the very rocky mountain path my friend and I came up on.

I loved it for its absurdity (who on earth would want to wear high heels on a steep mountain path?). At the restaurant I asked why they put this funny sign up, and was told: It's necessary, since some accidents have already happened. With Indian tourists mostly, and because of Bollywood movies. So often has romance been shown to Indians in form of fashionably (and impractically) dressed movie stars dancing on Swiss mountaintops, that it's become a habit for honeymoon couples to go to Switzerland for some romance and dance. Preferably on a mountaintop, of course; and often also dressed in their most elegant clothes and footwear, totally disregarding the rough terrain and unpredictable weather conditions at almost 3000 meters altitude.

So this sign has been put up by exasperated Swiss personnel who got tired of telling all the happy tourists please not to try and walk on the rocks and ice in high heels, thin sandals, slides or slippers.

I went back to it in my walking boots and made a photo of it. Then I made it my avatar in my favorite forum for Bollywood films. This silly sign represents me, now. Not only on a practical level, because in everyday life I like comfortable boots and jeans a lot better than fancy shoes and dresses. I also don't believe in the ideas of romance and eternal love anymore, which movies or romantic novels show us. Like high heels they are pretty, but become dangerous in rough terrain; and like high heels they seem to elevate women, but cripple them in the long term.
Have you ever noticed how easily a woman in high heels looses her balance? A woman like that can neither run away nor fight.

Mittwoch, November 08, 2006

Long Nights

It is November, and in my part of the world the days are getting shorter. There is fog in the air every morning now, and only sometimes the sun manages to fight its way through.
Most birds have flown south, to warmer places. Here, the last leaves are falling, and first frosts make us realize that summer is gone without a trace and winter is beginning - the cold and the dark.

I was born in November, and when I was little, my father used to say: "It wasn't a stork that brought you as a baby, but a crow." And even though I never really believed in the stork story, that sentence always made me feel slightly doubtful about my background.
Then my birthday would be planned, and I envied my classmates and friends who could celebrate their birthdays in summer, when we could play in some garden and have some ice-cream in the sun. An indoor children's party in foggy November just isn't the same thing, even with ice-cream (which made stains on clothes and on the carpet anyway and wasn't very popular with mothers).

These days I am grown-up, and birthdays are no longer something to look forward to; year after year they are becoming more of a thing to endure, or even to dread; a thing that makes a depressing November even more gray.

The week after next I'll be older once again. And oh man, am I depressed.
I wish I could follow the birds to warmer and sunnier places, with cheerful people and happy sounds. Today I only heard the occasional croaking of a crow outside of my window - and it made me feel as if the d**ed animal would be cackling cynically at my self-pity.

Sonntag, November 05, 2006

Rock in the Surf

The last couple of weeks were a test of strength to me. I feared to lose my mother, who is the only close family member I have.

These weeks included a cancer diagnosis and surgery for her, and many days at her hospital bedside for me. A time about which I don't find much to tell: there is nothing entertaining or exciting about a hospital room, and nothing to do but to wait and hope.

I was surprised at my own patience sometimes, the ability to wait until she woke up after one of her many short, exhausted naps, and pick up our conversation where it had stopped. I was able to give her hope, whenever her fears grew too big, and to make her laugh whenever she felt depressed.

After weeks of waiting for the surgeons' verdict, finally they brought good news: The operation was successful, there was no more cancer to be found. My mother is back at home now, slowly and steadily healing and getting stronger again.

And only now I feel exhausted, battered and very, very tired.

Samstag, Oktober 14, 2006


Ein Feuerwerk sehe ich
Aus meinem Dachfenster
Da draussen feiern Menschen
Und ich sehe nur zu
Als Zaungast bei ihrem Fest.

Ich besuche meine Freunde
Und kehre zurück unter mein Dach
Auch zwischen lieben Menschen
Fühle ich mich
Als Zaungast bei ihrem Fest.

So viele bunte Feuerwerke
Betrachte ich aus der Ferne.
Das Leben ist ein Fest
Und ich schaffe es nicht,
über den Zaun zu steigen.

(geschrieben im Jahr 2001)


Sometimes I am busy and active, travelling abroad or just spending time among friends, colleagues or other people. Then I do not even think of my singledom.

But sometimes there are days like today. Days when I work at my computer at home; days when I have no reason to call anyone and no one calls me. Communication happens via email, if at all.

Around noon I might go downstairs, to empty my letterbox and do some shopping in the little supermarket across the street. After some more hours at work I cook a simple meal for myself, watch a DVD or read. When it is time to go to bed, I realize: I have not spoken a word to any living being all day.

Like today. There was no phonecall, not even from my mother (who, although retired, has a very busy life, loves travelling, and does not always remember to tell me if and when she is at home). I did not have a reason to call a friend, I did not even feel lonely until now - and now it is well past midnight and much too late to phone anyone.

So I will go to bed after a day of silence and work. A hermit's day, but without prayer and without a blessing.

Mittwoch, Oktober 11, 2006


A friend is leaving. Not just for a holiday or another town, but leaving the country for good. Yesterday we had dinner and a bottle of champagne together, for what may well have been the last time ever.
We have met a few years ago, felt attracted to each other, were lovers for a little while...
...we even managed to become close friends again after that little while...
...and now it is over.

I knew it for months, but now it is reality. A part of my present has become a part of my past. It left a huge hole in my future.

Samstag, Oktober 07, 2006


When I started working as a free-lance documentary filmmaker and TV journalist, I made a number of reports about energy politics and climate change. At that time, 15 years ago, the science was already sound and believable, but politics and industry managed to make the idea of climate change sound like some mentally deranged treehugger's armageddon scenario.

I remember how much I hoped for some insights, for political movement, for people using their imagination to see and prevent a future of heat, drought, storms, melting ice and rising sea-levels. I even was naive enough to believe that my films and articles would make a difference, however little.

Kyoto came and went; but basically, neither scientific proof nor the real experience of the hottest 10 years in known history (all of them happening since then) made a difference to the rising CO² levels.

At some point I gave up making those films. Today, the electricity I use comes from renewable energies; a little difference that cost me a few cents each month - no big difference for me or the planet, but I always wished more people would do something. Just a little bit of awareness could still make a difference - oh yes, I am still naive enough to hope.

Especially since now there's another filmmaker tackling the subject: Al Gore. His film 'An Inconvenient Truth' will release soon in my country, and I am looking forward to watching it.

(see )

He may have a real chance to make some difference with his film. I wish him the best!

Mittwoch, Oktober 04, 2006

Can you spot the Australian?

Dienstag, Oktober 03, 2006

Memories of Wonderland

Have you ever been to Switzerland? For me, coming from a neighbour country, it is not a long journey. Others travel halfway around the globe, from Australia, Korea, Japan or India, all the way to that lovely, little country with its valleys and mountains.

Most of those travellers from faraway take the spectacular train ride all the way up to Jungfraujoch, a ridge between glaciers and peaks. There you can get drunk on thin air and phantastic views. I do recommend the trip, in fine weather it's definitely worth the (lot of) money for a train ticket. Up there you will find Wonderland, a unique landscape in black and white, rock and snow, sky and ice.

Last week I went there and was lucky enough to spend a long time outside, surrounded by tourists from many countries. I loved to observe how everyone took their own memories with them. Many of the Japanese and Korean groups took photographs and videos of their friends in front of just about anything - mountains, signposts, trains, souvenir shops, postboxes and even dustbins. Often they had less than one hour to see the sights, before the next train took them away downhill and to their next destination. No time to sit and enjoy, only just enough to take a memorycard full of digital photos, maybe buy some Swiss chocolade and a t-shirt and feel the breathlessness of thin mountain air. A few had been to Switzerland only for a couple of hours and were quite surprised by the fact that the country has its own money: You can pay for souvenirs or postcards with US-dollars and Euros, but the change comes in Swiss Franks. That was a bit of a shock for many of the foreigners; they simply did not accept these coins and demanded their dollars back.

I smiled at the many travellers from India, who danced and sung Bollywood film songs in the snow. Of course, lots of Bollywood movies have been shot in Switzerland. It was great to see enthusiastic grown-up couples play and dance in the snow like kids, although some of them were dressed a little odd, especially the ladies - in a thin and flowing cotton salwar kameez or saree, with a warm cardigan and wooly hat, but bare feet and slippers. Nevertheless, unimpressed by below-zero temperatures they still danced a few steps with their husbands, who took pictures of the whole fun with their brand-new digital cameras.

Young Australians obviously have to undergo some initiation rituals on arriving up there. Those whom I saw all went straight outside to undress in the snow. Males with naked chests then seemingly have to throw snowballs at each other, until their white skin has turned a distinct purple.
And some Aussie girls took photos with a little snowman - no, a snowwoman - dressed with only a bra. The girls themselves didn't wear a lot more, either...

Germans, Austrians, Italians - how boring we all were. Most of us Europeans simply admired the landscape, some silently observing the strange ways all the others celebrated their visit to Wonderland. Incredulous, amused and a little envious.