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.