Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Tyrannosaurus Felix

After all the games Feli and I have been playing it finally happened. Last night I actually dreamed about a robot. We were at a party and there was this robot in black with a masked face, serving drinks. At some point Ayse went up to him and gave him a kiss and he turned into a man – still in black but with a human face and wearing spectacles. This morning Feli came downstairs early and I told him my dream after which he related six dreams to me, centred around a mixture of spiders, robots and dangerous sharks.


The weather has been holding up which is a pleasure because it is possible to spend time outdoors. Sat on a bench downstairs for over an hour yesterday with Sammy sunning himself by my side and purring away loudly.

Ariela left left for Switzerland yesterday. She took a train because she wanted to meet someone there who is to help her with a film script she is working on about illegal immigrants in Germany. A. said it is weird but she began the script several months ago and then in the middle of it, the cleaning woman was arrested. It felt almost as if her script were coming to life. Anyway now she wants to meet this ex-policewoman called Jutta who is part of the community around Samuel because she feels Jutta will have a lot of information on the subject of illegal aliens. Thomas and I will drive down on Wednesday morning and reach L├╝sslingen by late afternoon. I will stay with Ayse who lives opposite Samuel.

Sonya is currently cleaning up the kitchen. She is the new household help and she comes from Croatia. Her husband works in a restaurant in Prien so at least her status is legal. I think from now on Ariela will be very careful before employing anyone. Sonya has a four year old daughter called Adriana who sometimes comes with her and is extremely chatty. When I asked her her name she said “Atheliyana” and I thought it must be some Serbian or Croatian name I’ve never heard of, until I heard her mother calling her.


With Ariela and Thomas away most of the day yesterday (he drove her down to Munich to drop her off at the station and returned only after six in the evening) Lioba and I took take care of Feli along with some help from Lilly. We spent two hours in the evening playing sharks and whales and dinosaurs. This is a very simple game in which Feli plays the dinosaur or some other dangerous beast and comes growling at us and making fierce faces and we have to whimper and moan with fear and it can go on for hours. Lioba was exhausted at the end and said she would have to take the train back to her hotel because she was too tired to walk.

Tilmann wants to visit his father in the afternoon. I mistakenly killed off the old man in a mail to my parents but it appears that Tilmann’s dad is in an old folks home near Munich and suffers from dementia.

(For the next few days I'm away so most probably wont be able to write until I return at the end of the week or early next week. Have fun meanwhile!)

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Sunny Weather

Thomas relaxing in the courtyard in between renovating the downstairs apartment

Lioba and Felix
The last two days in Prien have been sunny and warm so we've been spending a lot of time outdoors. Now that the doc downstairs has vacated the premises and the B's have the whole building to themselves we make full use of the little courtyard which has been laid out with benches and a table. It's especially pleasant sitting out in the afternoon.

In addition Lioba is in the vicinity for a few days. She's rented a room in a nearby village and walks down most afternoons to Prien. Lioba (the name means "love" in Latin - at least I think it's Latin!) is Brigitte's sister (the therapist in L├╝sslingen) and works in an institute in Stuttgart for teens and young adults with learning difficulties including ADS. (Attention Deficiency Syndrome). She supervises the tests which are administered and then decides where to place each person. They can go for further training in a whole lot of professions including catering and carpentry and when they've graduated they're helped to find employment.
Lioba's cowboy pose


Lulu and Felix are both away at the moment - Felix only for a couple of hours - his baby sitter Julia has taken him for a walk to the mini golf course near the lake. Tilmann has gone shopping for tonight's dinner and other stuff we need. It's one of those rare quiet spells and Ariela is upstairs making the most of it.

Dracula Duo: Lulu and Felix

Thanks to the good weather I've been able to start walking outside, and was able to hobble to the Chinese restaurant this afternoon and after that, to the local supermarket and back, without any help, though with Lioba at my side. That did me good although when I got back home I discovered I had a shoe bite. But Tilmann gave me a plaster to stick on it and now I'm resting the foot a bit.

Lulu, off to help at the stables for another week, before school begins

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Some Pics

Finally I managed to find an easy way to connect my camera with the computer, with Tilmann's help. Tilmann is the guy who's rented a couple of rooms on the ground floor and is often in and out of the house. His grinning face and cheerful nature make up for the lack of sun on cold and cloudy days.

Anyway here are some of the people I already wrote about.

Irina and Ose. Irina is the musician who gave the piano recital at Ose's place the evening we arrived in Munich. She lives in Hamburg and is married to a guy from Togo, who runs a restaurant in Hamburg.

Julia and me. Julia is the daughter of my old friend Sabine and lives in Frankfurt

Ten month old Aidan. (Julia's baby)

Jenny, the au pair from Bogota (Colombia). She makes a great dracula.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Busy Days

Felix with his flying dolphin

Been super busy entertaining Felix. This morning we watched a couple of short documentary films, one on dinosaurs and the other on Egyptian mummies. He has probably seen each of them a hundred times. At one stage Felix turned up the sound so much it hurt my ears and I told him not to do that. He gave me a reproachful look and explained. "You don't understand. I love dinosaurs so much, the sound has to be loud." When the second documentary came to an end he said that when he grew up he wanted to be a "dinosaur researcher" and a "mummy researcher".

The other day we went to the lakeside for lunch, Ariela, Felix, Lilly, me, Ose whom we had visited in Munich and her friend Irina who is a music teacher and who had given a piano recital at Ose's place the day we arrived in Munich. After lunch, Lilly lights up a cigarette and Ariela looks and sounds most unhappy about it. Feli says to his mother in a most matter of fact tone, "Mama, don't look at Lilly just now, then you wont see her smoking."

Apart from Felix there has been a spate of visitors. Andrea came over a couple of days back and is here again today. Right now she is with the kids in the workshop downstairs where they are busy painting pictures. She's come with her 9 year old daughter Ines who is quite a handful. She and Feli make quite a pair, dashing across the house and screeching at the top of their voices. Julia, my friend Sabine's daughter, had visited yesterday with her ten month old baby Aidan, and Aidan's baby sitter, a really nice young woman from Colombia in South America. She reminded me quite a bit of a South American girl I used to know in Paris in the days when I was an au pair myself - Graciela, who was from Venezuela. She had the same quick mind, the same sense of humour, the same warmth. Jenny's year in Germany is over and she returns home tomorrow, so now Julia will have to look for a new au pair. Meanwhile I have an invitation to stay with Jenny and her family in Bogota - anyone want to join me?

I've been taking photos but it's a bit of a pain transferring them onto the computer. I do hope to get down to it at some point though.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Getting Away

There comes a point in your journey when, having checked in for the flight and had immigration clear you, you heave a sigh of relief and put your feet up. Of course your bags still have to be x-rayed and your body to be patted all over by some listless deeply uninterested security officer in a khakhi uniform but at least for the time being you've got through a couple of the big hurdles.

So thanks to my parents who were travelling business class I was able to wriggle alongside them into the business lounge with access to free drinks and snacks and having crossed the threshold almost immediately regretted it. It was smoky, packed, and the three of us at least initially couldn't sit together. Outside we would have been part of the hoy polloi but at least there was a lot of space and you didn't get the feeling you were in a cramped delux prison cell.

As I sat feeling a bit disconsolate at first, a nice looking hostess passed by and gave me a really nice friendly smile. That made me feel a bit better. She brought me a glass of red wine and I thought of what a difference "the personal touch" makes, though at a slightly later point I caught her smiling not only at everyone but at everything, including the walls and the sofas and I realised that the smile had frozen on her face and she probably wasn't even awake but sleepwalking.

The flight itself was super uneventful. We landed in Munich at around noon, checked into our hotel in central part of town and went on to have a pretty good time over the next three days, meeting many old friends, including Ruth who had accompanied me to India in January and Ose who had treated me with homeopathy during the time I was recuperating from my broken ankle in Prien.

Thomas picked me up yesterday from the hotel and we came to Prien while my parents went on to Champaign in the U.S. where they will spend time with Vishnu and Peg.

More in the next few days, just wanted to say Hi and all is well.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Ingmar Bergman - An Unlikely Tribute

Ingmar Bergman is dead. The morning papers brought me the news. I went through Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s tribute to the master, over coffee and cereal and then, as I usually do while reading the newspaper, turned the page to see what was next (a follow up on the recently released Bangalore doctor, Mohammed Haneef, bird flu in Manipur and Rajiv’s dream – according to Sonia - about a woman president in India). A couple of minutes down the line I suddenly realized my brain wasn’t registering what my eyes were reading, at all. The reason was this funny lump in my throat which refused to go away, which I was eventually forced to acknowledge and look at.

I realized it had to do with Bergman. Funny, I thought. I seldom react this way to the death of public figures, no matter how sorry I might be at their passing away. The last time anybody’s demise had affected me personally had been over twenty years ago when J. Krishnamurti, one of my favorite philosophers and teachers (whom I never personally met) had died, leading me to babble sorrowfully a day or two later while lying on the psychoanalyst's couch.

What was it about Bergman that now made me feel sad? It struck me that it was not only to do with his own death, but with the passing of an entire era, that is to say, with the graying of an entire generation of youngsters who imagined time would stand still and that they would never see the wrong side of forty, let alone fifty or sixty as some of us are doing. Bergman in my mind is inescapably connected with chicken rolls oozing mayonnaise eaten in the dark, loud arguments about the merits of his various films and silent giggling. There was the time when some of us went to see “Wild Strawberries” for example (I think it was at the Excelsior) and sadly enough the only thing I remember today is trying not to choke over the shock in the voice of a German friend among our group, who had nudged me and muttered in a panic stricken voice, “Retts – there are retts in this hall!” while the rest of us watched a large rodent scampering up and down the aisles with more than a little amusement.

It’s not only the image of scuttling rats in cinema hallways which Bergman brings back when I think of him now. It is also memories of a bunch of us exuberant film buffs getting together after every show to dissect what we had just seen and experienced. Mostly we would land up in the pocket sized PG room which the B’s, a mad, carefree couple in their late twenties, had rented on Peddar Road, just round the corner from where I lived. So, over drinks and snacks we’d fill the air with the sound of our own voices as we argued and fought with each other over what had just been screened. Some of us loved Bergman’s pensive, often dark treatment (me) others intensely disliked his style though most of us agreed that his last film “Fanny and Alexander” a fairy tale cum horror story centered around the get together of a rambling, adulterous, philosophical family, was possibly his best offering – a positively magical piece of work.

On one occasion we’d been so preoccupied tearing each other to bits over some obscure aspect or other of a movie we’d just seen, we’d completely overlooked the shortage of food at home, which came to our notice only when our stomachs began to rumble in unison at about ten at night. Please note, this was before the days of fast food service when uniformed, decorous young men on motorbikes rumble to a stop before your door bearing a stack of thin crusted cheesy pizza or a plate of tandoori kebabs to fill the cavern expanding in your belly.

On this occasion, someone was obviously required to go and fetch some food but because nobody wanted to break up the party and step out we eventually decided to cast lots. A young fellow called Golly (I never figured out how or why he got his nickname), became “it” and wishing us a melancholy goodbye, set out to fetch us all biryani from the closest Irani restaurant a couple of kilometers away, while the rest of us continued to pour ourselves generous measures of rum from the B’s waning stock of liquor and to wax eloquent on the meaning of life, death, relationships and dark areas of the human soul, topics which Bergman’s movies invariably threw up.

Half an hour passed. An hour passed. There was no sign of Golly returning and remember, again, this was before the days of the mobile when you could track down each cough and fart of a loved one who had strayed. An hour and a half later, when we called up his home with bated breath, imagining the worst, we were told by Golly’s mother that he had returned a while ago, finished his dinner and was already in bed.

Oh well. It is ages since that happy group disbanded for various reasons. The B’s who had decided to turn into responsible adults and to complete their joy in life by producing children, packed up and left for Pune which they figured was a more healthy place to bring up kids than Bombay. Two of the group went on to become well known film critics. One of the couples emigrated to the U.S. Golly got married and had kids of his own. And I dropped freelance journalism to become a psychotherapist.

That’s life. We don’t meet that often any more and when we do, of course it’s not the same. Not really. I don’t expect or even want it to be the same and yet, thinking of Bergman today keeps bringing back that funny lump in my throat.