Dienstag, November 27, 2007

India Again

In a few hours I'll be sitting in a plane to Mumbai again. Just as a tourist this time, for three weeks; to visit friends, go sightseeing, and to make my peace with 'his' country. 'Him' - meaning the guy whom I went to see half a year ago with hope and trepidation - I will not meet. I did not hear a word from him in all these months. I understand he doesn't want to speak to me or to meet me, so I won't try any more.

I'm not going there on my own this time, but traveling with a friend. Together we will explore unknown places and enjoy to be in a vivid, warm, lovely and chaotic place of the world - one that's very unlike our own orderly home, that's cold, gray and dark at this time of the year.

Dienstag, November 13, 2007

A Small Life

She was my father's cat until he died eight years ago. She was my mother's cat until yesterday.
When she came, she was a shy little thing, who appeared out of the blue one summer's day in 1995. Where she came from, we never knew, nor how old she was then. She was mortally afraid of brooms and sticks, so she must have had bad experiences before she discovered my parents' home, and decided to stay. My father named her Susi.

She never liked to catch mice around the house, but she became a devoted companion to my father who was sick and unhappy at that time. When she grew older and stayed in the house most of the time, my mother doted on her (more than she ever admitted). Sometimes when I phoned, my mother let me listen to the sound of Susi's happy purring over the phone, and then I knew: All is well at home.

Susi even purred when I petted her the last time, day before yesterday. She was a sick, old cat then, hardly able to move and finally beyond help. Today my mother and I buried her little, light body in the garden, right where she used to sit and watch birds - she stopped chasing them years ago, but even in old age loved to pretend to be a great hunter.

She was only a cat. But we have lost a loved one with her.

Mittwoch, September 05, 2007

Breathing space

Working as a freelancer has its ups and downs - sometimes there is hardly any work at all to be done (and very little money coming in), and sometimes work comes raining, pouring and flooding.

I was inundated in work for weeks. Gladly so, because it gave me no time to think about missed opportunities, or regret whatever mistakes I might have made in spring, when I was hoping for love. By now, all of it seems long ago and buried under a thick layer of sensible thoughts and much more important things - at least more important moneywise.

Now, for the first time since two months, I have a few free days coming up, and I am going to spend them in the mountains.
I feel drawn to mountains in times like these, they give me breathing space in every sense of the word - clean air, lots of space, calmness and beauty. It clears my head and gives me a feeling of freedom to hike up a mountain; just to be there, on top of the world, overlooking the valleys and their bustle...
...I can hardly wait to get there.

Montag, Juni 25, 2007


Pink clouds
throw the blackest shadows.
After flying high
I'm falling deep and dark.
On the other side of happiness
is nothing but pain.

Getting drunk on happiness
left a hangover of self-pity.
My colourful dreams
fade into a gray dusk.
On the other side of hope
is nothing but despair.

Fallen from clouds and dreams
only loneliness is left.
Again a bittersweet poem
in my diary
pays tribute to another failure
in my life.

Donnerstag, Juni 14, 2007


How familiar are you with the brother Grimm's fairy tales?
They are truly grim tales mostly, full of blood and gore.
If I had a small child, I'm not sure if I'd want him/her to read those stories. But the name I chose for this, my weblog's, identity came from Grimm's Märchen.

Falada is a horse who can speak. He's a princess's horse, and that princess (who has no name but 'the Goose-Girl' in the tale) is betrayed by her maid. The maid takes the princess's place when they set out to meet her royal bridegroom; she steals her mistress's dresses, jewels and horse, and poses as bride when they reach the prince's kingdom - the real princess is forced to herd geese, and her mount Falada is slaughtered as by the intruder's orders. But Falada remains loyal to the real princess even after death. His head (that's been nailed above the castle's door) still talks, and answers the princess's questions. Because they're talking every day about their cruel fate, finally the princely bridegroom finds out who's his real bride, and he punishes the intruder and marries the real princess.

In that fairy tale, Falada always stays faithful to his mistress. His life is needlessly sacrificed, but still he remains loyal and unwaveringly so. There is a Happy End to the tale - but not for Falada, who had long since been slaughtered, so he can't be rescued or revived.

Montag, Juni 04, 2007

post scriptum

One day later, no news. Again I tried to call, again no answer. No answer to the last of my SMS messages, too. I will quit trying now. There is no way to reach that guy, as he obviously does not want to talk to me.

With tears in my eyes I removed his smiling picture from my desk today. I would not have thought it possible for this episode to affect me that deeply; or for any end to hurt me that much again.

This may sound pathetically dramatized, but I'm in that kind of mood right now, so let me confess to you: My heart had been thoroughly broken once before, by another man, almost ten years ago. I was truly devastated then and almost lost the will to live. Since that time I had never really, unrestrictedly loved anyone. Until I almost did, now. And something went horribly wrong again.
I really wish I knew WHAT went wrong.

I will stop writing any more about this whole story now, as it does not make sense to speculate, and I have wallowed in enough self-pity to make me feel sick myself.

Just one more thing: Today I feel very grateful to my friends - the one in Mumbai who told me the truth (thanks, Rahul!) - and those here at home, who came, or called, or wrote, and supported me these days.
I am glad to have friends like you, thank you for your help!
You give me a lot of strength and I really need it now. Today I don't knew what I'd done without you.

Sonntag, Juni 03, 2007

Unhappy End

My little love story has come to an end.

Since I had not heard anything from my 'Mr. India' since I left Mumbai almost a week ago, I asked a mutual friend if he knew what happened. So today it was just a SMS - not even from the one whose message I have been waiting for, but from his friend - that told me that it's over; with the cryptic addendum: "He loves you a lot, but..."

A "but" and three dots, and I don't even know what they mean. I am left guessing:
"But you are too different"?
"But you are too old"?
"But you have the wrong religion/ skin colour/ language/ nationality"?

Of course, the distance between India and Germany is a lot bigger than just miles. It is a different culture with different values, and somewhere I may have made a mistake which I am not even aware of.

I am very, very sad.

What irks me, is that I really don't know what went wrong. I tried to call him today, but his phone was switched off, and he did not answer my messages.

So there it is. Final, not at all happy, and very unsatisfactory:
The End.

Mittwoch, Mai 30, 2007


Back from Mumbai, still tired from eight hours of sleepless night flight in a packed aircraft. The trip was everything I imagined, and more; heat, dust and traffic, unexpected friendship and incredible hospitality, innumerable colours and tastes, and new deep insights in Indian everyday life and about the Bollywood film industry.

Below the glamorous surface of Bollywood as seen in magazines, TV and the movies themselves, there is the most ruthless and competitive industry I've ever known. People can be made to work for three or four days and nights at a time without a break, just because some shooting schedule demands it. I have seen it happen to some of my friends last week, who slogged nonstop from Wednesday morning till Friday night, for more than 60 hours without sleep. If someone is not up to these work times, he'll have to leave his job. There will be 20 young, strong guys waiting to get an opportunity like this...

But you (at least Jackie) will want to know more about my own Bollywood story. It's gone into it's next chapter, but there's no happy end as yet. There was one moonlit, romantic evening at Juhu Beach, a dinner and some talk. We met twice again at a friend's house for a glass of chai, but otherwise he worked (see above), and during our few short meetings he was so tired he could hardly keep his eyes open, let alone make conversation in English. And in fear of losing his job, he never dared to take even a few hours off to be with me.

I felt as if the guy I had met in March, the one who loved to laugh and to cheer me up, had changed into a kind of robot on auto-pilot, able to move, but without any spirit of his own. It was sad, and a little frightening.

Now, after my time in Mumbai, I hope he loves me, too. He said so. But I don't know if I can trust him, or if there will be a future for us. Maybe this is the end of my Bollywood romance, and it isn't even interesting or dramatic enough to make a good film script.

Donnerstag, Mai 17, 2007


Today is the last day before my trip to Mumbai. In about 24 hours my plane will land in that incredible city.

Then I will be just one of 20 odd million people on a crowded peninsula. I will choke in permanent traffic jams, be assaulted by noise, smells and damp heat; I will sweat on the streets and freeze in airconditioned buildings, and I will feel as much out of place as a penguin in the desert.
I must be mad to do this for fun.

And I'll see my friends again, get pampered by the nicest hosts I've ever had, enjoy the never ending diversity among the city's chaos, taste lots of unknown fruits and spices, and learn as much as I can about a different kind of live and about a culture that fascinates me. Perhaps I'll even find a little love.
I would be mad not to do this.

Mittwoch, Mai 02, 2007

Call of Hope

One short phone call made my day.

There are still some weeks to wait until the 'real life Bollywood movie' can go into it's second half, but there will be a second half after all.

Yesterday, my friend called. It was a short phone call - he's working in some rural part of India and the connection was lousy - but it was so good to hear his voice, and to know he'll be waiting for me when I get there.

The countdown to post-intermission is at 17 days now. Whatever is going to happen then, I hope I will get a chance to write a part of this movie script myself, and make it into a romantic film instead of a pure comedy...

Samstag, April 28, 2007

Trying too hard

The 'intermission' has been two weeks long by now, and it doesn't look as if there will be a Happy End in real life. There has not been an answer to my letter, nor an answer to a SMS message I sent in the meantime.

This should be the moment when I go back to my DVD rack, pop in one of my most sugary Bollywood movies and start dreaming again - after all, second hand love stories are so much less complicated that real ones.

But I will not yet give up. In three weeks I'll fly to India, to try and meet him once more.

Of course not only him. I've already made plans to see the friends and colleagues, with whom I worked (and I am very much looking forward to it!), and to do some research on two new projects. But yes, the main motivation is to see that guy again, the one who doesn't answer my messages.

I know I'm trying too hard. I know this act is foolish, pathetic and desperate.
But what do I have to lose?

Freitag, April 13, 2007

A Letter

Today I sent a love letter.

I can't even remember when I did that the last time. It must be years, maybe a decade ago. In times of internet, email, mobile phones and SMS it seems so strange to write a letter like that.

But this time I had no choice, and I had to write it in English - which is neither my own language nor the language of the one it's addressed to - since it's the only language we have in common.

It feels strange to drop an envelope into a postbox and settle down to wait. I hate waiting. But I will have to wait for weeks until I get an answer - if I ever get it. Because that letter has to go a long way, all the way to India.

Bollywood is creeping into my life more and more, it's colourful madness seems to be slowly winning over the German sensibility and practicality that used to rule my brain.
If I write the whole story, this post will get really long. Even the short version seems to be half a novel. But anyway, here it is:

I worked for a Indian film team all March. I was very busy becoming a tiny part of Bollywood right here in the middle of Europe, being with the mostly Indian crew all day and sometimes half the night - working 15 hours per day, and still, to my own surprise, finding enough energy to go out, have a glass or two of beer, and talk until two or three in the morning. (If anyone wondered: That's why I never posted all that time.)

To my utter confusion and embarrassment, I fell in love with one of the Indian crewmembers on the very first day, for all the wrong reasons. Remember my last post? The one about Raju aka Govinda? Well, that guy reminded me of Govinda - there was something about his looks, his movements, his smile, that pulled the same strings in my heart. And there I was - instantly crushing on him, but I resolved not to let it cloud my vision, not to let it impede my work - best, not to let it show at all.

So I did not seek his company, and at night, when I went out for a drink, I went with others.
But whenever I looked at him, I found him already looking at me. And in that team of almost a hundred people, we ended up sitting at the same table for lunch quite often; or standing in the same corner, or having a glass of tea at the same time. Then we would talk a little (if we could understand each other's English, which wasn't always easy), laugh a little, and meet again a few hours later, for a couple of shared minutes or just seconds.

My resolve finally eroded. And I fell again, this time for reasons that seem right to me: Because he was charming, gentle and courteous, shy at first and confident later; because he always ignored the jeering comments of his colleagues when he sat down beside me; because he is a good companion and an amazing dancer, and because he loves to laugh and to make me laugh.

And when I finally admitted to myself that I really fell in love, the film crew had just left this country and was on its way back to India.

Bollywood has taken over. I feel caught in a mediocre script. The first act in this movie was mostly comedy, the second a funny and sweet little romance, but now there's finally a moment of real drama: I do not reach his hotel in time to say good-bye, his bus has already left.
Cut to: A plane starts. Cut back: Comic heroine slinks back home.

For a whole week I was depressed, and angry at myself for wasting so much time trying to be sensible. Finally I decided to make up for that mistake, and - if possible - give us a second chance. I don't care any more that he lives on another continent. I don't care that he doesn't speak my language nor I his, nor that his job isn't as 'good' (or anywhere as well paid) as mine, nor that he's younger than I am. I don't care if this match is the most unlikely one on earth, because I feel like in a movie and there has to be a Happy End. I only have to make it possible.

He doesn't have a computer, thus no email. All we have for communication is SMS, at least he's got a mobile. I did not call, because I don't want to risk my precious message to be lost in translation, but I asked for his address and got it.

And I sent a love letter today. A message that will take a week to reach him. In times of digital mail and instant delivery, this seems an eternity. How many weeks before I get an answer? Will I ever get an answer?

Here this Bollywood film has its cliffhanger, big enough for a long intermission.

Donnerstag, Februar 08, 2007

Salaam-E-Ishq, or: Declaration of love

Since a few years, I am a fan of Hindi films, so-called “Bollywood” movies. I’ve lost count of how many I have seen till date, maybe 350.

Some are funny, some are sugary, some are thrilling, others longish and slightly boring; but some are just perfect. Some are a mixture of all this, but for me they certainly are one thing: Good fun, and often the kind of fairytale that appeals to the hopeful little girl I once was, and soothes my old, much-too-cynical heart.

And one in particular let me fall in love with Indian films all over again. It’s called Salaam-E-Ishq, ‘A Tribute to Love’, and it came out two weeks ago. Luckily it was shown in a cinema near me (which is rare) and I went and watched it. Twice.

It’s 220 minutes long, it’s a convoluted tale of several stories – all about different shades of love – and many critics hated it. Yet I loved it. For me it was the perfect ‘masala’, a well-balanced blend of romantic, funny, tragic and heroic with a pinch of the erotic, pathetic and sweetly innocent thrown in as well. And a great entertainer.

One of the stories I liked best was that of Raju taxiwallah and his dream girl. It is a fairytale par excellence, the story of a bachelor taxi driver in Delhi, who keeps waiting year after year for his Western dream girl to appear and fall in love with him. But just when Raju thinks he has found the woman of his dreams, he finds out she only came to India in search of her boyfriend, and he drove her to the wrong place because they can’t understand each others language.

But he never gives up, and even decides to help her in searching for her lost love. Many adventures follow –heartbreakingly funny, sad and sweet – before she even takes notice of Raju as a person and accepts him as a friend.

Nikhil Advani (the director), and his cast, the Indian actor Govinda (whom I so far only knew as a comedian I didn't even like much) and the South African actress Shannon Esra, have created a truly beautiful fairytale here. One that surely appeals to millions of people - not only to all lonesome taxi drivers, tourist guides and waiters in India who might still wait for their dream-girl to appear, but also to all lonesome women in search of love. This is exactly the kind of man every woman dreams about: Charming, funny, attractive and strong. Above all he stays unfailingly patient, respectful and responsible towards his loved one, even if she acts rather foolish in her desperation. Language or status are utterly insignificant here, this selfless and faithful Raju has all the characteristics of a true hero.

The story makes me want to catch the next flight to Delhi and take a tasseled taxi to Agra. But my old, much-too-cynical heart tells me there is no Raju for me; neither there, nor anywhere else. So I remain at home in my cold little European town, waiting for the next movie to let me dream of true love again.

Sonntag, Januar 21, 2007

Freak Winter

Two thirds of January are over and I have yet to see any snow.

This is most unusual. Granted, I don't live in the Alps or even on a hill, but even in the German valleys like mine the first snow usually falls in November. It then melts away soon, but more will come in December, and in January the landscape will be white (or at least mottled white), and stays like that until February or March.

But not this winter. We had record temperatures all through November and December. It's been raining and storming, with no snow and hardly any frost. In the first half of January we even had temperatures up to 15° C, so people where sitting outside in street cafés and the first spring flowers came out - two months too early.

I am worried. What is happening to nature if the climate keeps heating this quickly? I have seen some birds starting to build nests now, in January. Will their eggs survive if it becomes colder next month? What about the trees, which are starting to blossom now - are they going to freeze and die, or will we have cherries in April and apples in June this year? When none of last summer's moths, snails, wasps, ticks and mosquitoes freeze to death (as usually happens), will we be plagued by pests this year?

We will see. But one thing really angers me. Yesterday I heard a radio interview with some meteorologist who still doubted man-made effects in this climate change. How blind or biased can an scientist still be? Of course after a devastating storm which left 25 dead, people love to hear, "You are not responsible for this, it is just freak weather and could have happened at any time."
But it is the wrong kind of message, we need to feel responsible to change something, even if it is too late for the 25 dead of this storm and all the other victims of "freak weather" all over the planet.