Posts Tagged war

Sunday Column (513)

Berlin. Taking the family to Berlin for half term would always be an adventure. A 7 and a 9 year old on a city trip with lots of history? This wasn’t to meet family, it was about showing my family a Germany away from the grand parents, it was to experience Berlin and a couple days in Hamburg. So before we set off, we talked about German history, about the war and how this resulted in Germany being split in four parts; and it resulted in Berlin being split in four parts.

For me, Berlin has always been the capital. From Prussia to the modern ages. I never, probably similar to most Germans, saw Bonn as a real capital city. Berlin just has this charm, this feeling of being able to host big statesmen and to have the space to parade in front of presidents. It is that flair and history that attracts me to Berlin. However, and I want to be as honest as I can be, yet not being rude, Berlin in parts looks tired. My sons pointed out the massive amounts of graffiti and when you started to look under the hood, what we saw at least, was a Berlin that is a bit run down.

I guess, given it’s size, there are different areas. When visiting friends of ours one night, we loved the big side streets, high ceiling flats and quality of living. Our AirBnB on the other hand was in an area which seemed a bit less upmarket, yet had a flair, which at least I love about Berlin. The multi cultural aspect you don’t find in every city around the world: openness, togetherness, community.

So we did what you do with two little ones on a city tour. We visited the main attractions like Reichstag and Brandenburg Gate. We looked at famous squares, hopped on a tourist bus and went for walks in the park, finding some play grounds. We met friends, caught up over locally made pizza, gyros, ouzo and wine. We went up the TV Tower for the sunset and had a drink at the bar, taking in the view. We met with extended family, school and university friends, as well as having a night in whilst autumn weather was blowing the rain outside. We just enjoyed ourselves with no agenda, made our own chocolate, went for our runs, watched TV, went on a boat tour and visited a planetarium. And above all, we had a lot of fun as a family. Thank you Berlin.

On Thursday came the highlight. Something I wanted to do for a long time. We went to Hamburg on an early morning train to see the Miniature world, a model of the world out of minituare trains, planes, cars and everything that belongs to it. It was mind blowing. 3.5 hours of miniature world watching. And, we managed to have a look around Hamburg, a harbour boat tour again getting close to big container ships. For me, Hamburg is a city that portraits itself so differently to Berlin, and we enjoyed our time there very much. It might have been that it is smaller, more affluent, or that the shower in the hotel just gave much more comfort than the one in the AirBNB. But in the end, Hamburg as a city, won over Berlin, it just impressed more.

Now back to reality, back to work.

Have a great start in the week, it got colder out there.
Volker

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Sunday Column (360)

Writing this post in the aftermath of the terror attacks of Paris is hard. No, I didn’t know anyone that was directly affected. Yes, I know people who know people. I have clients who were affected. My thoughts are with you all. And I love the fact that people on Social Media show their support. I also love the fact that France still committed to taking on refugees from Syria. Together we stand and fight terrorism. In whichever shape or form.

It is a terrible scenario which leaves me speechless.
A friend on Facebook said he survived Madrid, London and now Paris. I have been in London when the bombs went off here. One never forgets. Let’s hope this won’t happen again.

You don’t know. You cannot give in. I am going to Germany next week. They evacuated a football stadium in Germany, diverted two French planes from New York to Paris, they will cancel more events and evacuate more places. We are at war.

It is a new war. No one is safe and no one should give in. There cannot be a religious motivation to kill anybody. Again, this was widely acknowledged on Facebook. Whoever is after killing others is sick. What has the world come to?

Paris

I shared a few posts on Facebook this week. We are dealing with a minority, unfortunately the minority has a high impact on our lives. And I am not getting into a political debate, never have done, and never will. I am not a politician, I hate war, aggression and love peace and friendship. I am probably one of 99% of the world’s population.

And we shall not forget that in other parts of the world terrorism has been killing loads more. In other countries those attacks are part of your day. This is even harder to imagine, of course because it is far away, yet it doesn’t make it better. One video I watched from some Pakistani kids nicely said, that actually they are dealing with the same problems we are dealing with in Europe. They have the same every day problem we are having, and terrorism is just one of them. United we stand!

Let’s hope that we get through this chapter of world history together. Let’s hope we get through it safely for the sake of our children and the children and next generation of the baddies. They deserve it as well, and they deserve to live in a peaceful planet. Or don’t they? What do the children of the terrorist got to do with war? Nothing. Neither do German kids of the war generation have any association with the war either. We will get through it. United!

I am a firm believer that when your time is up your time is up. That’s it. You cannot be scared of dying. And, honestly, you shouldn’t be. It is harder for the people that remain, than for you. You will never know. But let’s not think about it and hope we all come through it together. Let’s try to not think about it and focus on the time we have with our families. This time is precious.

Anyway, the highlights this week: my children! I looooove my kids and my wife too, but she wasn’t there. So we had a men’s weekend. Pizza on Friday night, fun and games and good food and shenanigans all weekend. Despite the younger one recovering from a cold/flu and the older one having one. This time of year, bugs and all. Being able to spend a whole weekend with the boys was fantastic. They are at this stage where I can play with them, discuss things, challenge their minds and brains and their thinking. It is so much fun to just do things. That wasn’t always the case, hence I am super excited. Plus, in times like these, we should put the effort and time in, as this is what we live for!

Of course we were glad, not only me but also the kids, when mum was back, but it was great whilst it lasted 🙂 The opportunity to be able to just spend quality time with your children is something you need to make use of. Building the bond, building trust. And it only gets better over time.

With that high I wish you all a successful and friendly, a peaceful week.

Volker

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Sunday Column (274)

This week was a “back to the roots” week. Back to work, busy days, lots of progress, having fun. Yet, as so often, I am thinking of my boys and found this amazing song by German artist Reinhard Mey. I must have listened to it a hundred times but only this week the meaning became really clear to me. I am not alone with my feelings, balancing work and family, yet enjoying both!

Vaters Nachtlied (Father’s Lullaby)

The translation goes roughly like this:

I’m sorry, I could not come home sooner,
We had a difficult negotiation at work, man oh man, lasting until after eight!
Well, you took Benno Bear and Fritz Fuchs to bed
And Cookie Monster too? I have thought a lot about you.
Were the grandparents over, has it been a good day?
And you blackmailed your mother again for an ice cream?
And I? Oh, I’ve only read the stock market report,
and whilst doing that I was thinking about, how I can glue your boat.

Then Doctor Schulze-Wüstefeld invite me for a working meal,
I moved from “one bum cheek to another”
There was “spicy venison stew,” how gladly would I have instead
Had a bratwurst with you and sucked licorice.
Then I completely forgot to laugh at a joke,
Which Senator Kühn thought was very funny,
I was probably just thinking about beating eggs for pancakes
meanwhile one has chosen me for the board of directors.

It is true indeed, since I am here, not only have the balance sheets improved,
the growth rates are doubled, and the index rose.
Today would have been the day to repot our pumpkin,
And then I would have liked to show you how to sow radishes.
Maybe I landed my biggest deal today,
Perhaps the major order of which the whole company dreams,
But certainly, I have not sung with you at bed time,
And a day that never comes again, I failed to be with you.

Now the regular reader knows two things about me. I enjoy working and if I hadn’t had family I would probably do that all day. The other is that I have family and love being with them, trying to be a good dad. Balancing those two powers can be difficult at times, so days like the one I listen to in the song make me think: about both sides! I am not alone with my feelings, it is totally normal and I get a lot of reassurance from the song and speaking to other dads. I guess it is “back to work” this week, a full on one but really enjoyable one too.

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This week we also got a delivery of logs for our wood burner. It might sound funny but I felt like a child. It was exciting to stack wood for my own stove, making sure we have enough for the winter, which actually I am not. It Is only June and the weather should get warmer before it gets colder, but hey, it is an exciting thing to do. A bit of self sufficiency, independence. Roll on winter, or before that our camper van trip, Hippy, self sufficiency, independence. Roll on the 60ies 😉

There has been one other thing on my mind. And I try not to elaborate on it too much. Friday marked the 70th anniversary of D-day. This is a long time since Britain and the US invaded occupied France to free it from Germany. It has been a dark chapter in Europe, Germany in particular, but it also is history.

Speaking with my 5 year old, asking whether they discussed D-day in school, he said yes. Not that he would really understand. Understand that he is living in a free Europe, being half Scottish (and don’t get me started on the independence campaign there) and half German), growing up in England, and that the privilege to live in a peaceful Europe is down to the brave men who fought in the war. The allies, yet also the resistance in Germany and other countries. But foremost thanks to the guys who on Friday remembered their comrades and all fallen in the Second World War.

Without those I would not be sitting here, working in London, enjoying what I have. I am grateful for that. Grateful for the freedom, peace and opportunity we as a generation need to understand where it is coming from, accepting and remembering the past but letting go of it at the same time.

I think this is a good way of closing this week’s blog. A bit sentimentality about love and war. About how life really is and that there is always something better, something greater, and more opportunities to grasp. Yet, not ever to forget the opportunity we have today, being grateful for what we have. That counts.

Buddha bless.
Volker

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