Why I don’t eat Fish

Because I know what it looks like before it gets on your plate:

fish bon appetit

(Photographed behind the Swabian Castle in Trani, Apulia, Italy.)

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Burglar-Friendly Facade

Breaking into this house does not even require the skills of John Robie aka “The Cat” in the Hitchcock film “To Catch a Thief”.

facade burglary

(Spotted in Trani, Apulia, Italy. The exact address will be shared for a stake in the loot.)

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Free Internet

But only for lawyers:

internet avvocati

(Spotted in Trani, Apulia, Italy.)

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If you insist on free advice, you will get it

You might think I am stupid because I give heaps of legal advice for free, either on my FAQ or my AllExperts profile. I could earn millions instead by charging for this service. But I am a nice guy and it warms my heart when I can help people in need.

But I get really cranky in three cases: (1) when people try to take advantage of it by asking question after question after question; (2) when people think they are entitled to my advice; and (3) when people ask questions which they could have found the answers to in my previously published FAQ. Do a bit of reading around my blog before bothering me, please.

This lady for example has been asking questions for several months now. I answered one or two. But she always manages to make her life more dramatic and come up with new questions:

Dear Andreas i am Pregnant with a German man WHO is married to an Afghani Lady and has two Kids. His wife had put a Case of Strangulation and Attempt to murder Against him Since october Last Year. He has two daughters and when his wife and Kids were taken away from him and were Sent to Foster Parents he got both his wife and Kids back in complusion, through he döes not Wants to live with his wife but is with me for so Long, although he is staying with his wife and Kids under The Same roof for The Sake of Kids and i being a flight attendant from india Based in india just fly on Duty to Frankfurt and back and so Meet him there… He has also got me pregannat with his Child, i have a Indian Passport and i can not Marry him and come easily to Germany. I Heard his Child is German and has all The rights over him, how can i Stay in Germany äs i have a Schenegan Visa only. Although he is searching for a House for us but he told me that unless his Criminal Case is over he can not file for a divorce from his wife äs his wife döes not speak even a Single word of German and has not Tried to integrate Herself in The German Community nor Tries to learn Anything äs only Copying and Taking care of her daughters at Home is what she has Been Doing for The past 8 years. My boyfriend is working for The Last 13 years and is Self Sufficient but is not Earning that much that he can take care of me and our Child, i dont know Good German but i am Learning and have cleared The Test Till B1 Level, Hope there is some possibility for me to learn and make my Family in Germany. I really love him and do not Want to Leave him at this Stage, pls suggest how to move about with my paper work of staying back in Germany and living with him on behalf of my Child WHO is The only link we have although we are not married yet. Thanx a lot in advance.

I pointed out that there are a lot of questions and issues involved (and a whole lot of legal misconceptions to be rectified) and offered a full consultation for my standard fee of 200 EUR. That was something which this prospective client didn’t like at all. She told me that she refuses to pay and asked to suggest a cheaper lawyer instead.

Richa Kapoor cant afford 200 EUR

That’s brazen. Not willing to pay me for my services, but asking me to go around looking for other lawyers. I could have pointed her to my guidelines on how to find a good lawyer, but I decided to dispense some free advice after all:

Richa Kapoor abortion

Free (and quick) advice may not be the best advice, but you get what you ask for.

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Did you notice the Irony? (17) Robots

“Please prove you are not a robot,” I am being asked - by a robot.

please-prove-youre-not-a-robot

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Video Blog: Macedonia by Train

Of course there is also a video to accompany my article on travelling through Macedonia by train. But this time, it won’t be one of my self-made, stuttering amateur videos in which you can’t understand anything because of the noisy wind. No, this time I found a professional video which will convey the true atmosphere of travelling from Skopje to Bitola by train:

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Macedonia by Train

A lonely steam engine rests on the tracks. It is no longer operational, but it fits well into the image created by the train station. Prilep is the fourth-largest city in Macedonia, but the train station looks like that of a village with a population of 2,000. A dying village with a declining population of 2,000. The four tracks are covered by grass.

train station Prilep

Four times a day the train from Skopje to Bitola passes through here. The ticket prices have been entered by hand in a chart that is pinned to the wall behind an insect-covered piece of glass and above the opening from where tickets are sold. The ticket counter is closed. The station clock is 10 minutes slow.

Ticketpreise

16:45. The sun is still hot, but the shadows are already long. I lean on the wall of the station building which is facing the tracks, my backpack will be covered with chalk later. Some of those waiting have large canvas bags with clothes and household items. Two men are putting sacks of wheat and boxes with tomatoes on the platform.

The ticket vendor arrives but goes hiding in his office, unimpressed by the crowd of waiting travellers. From all directions, men are pushing bicycles across the railway tracks. A man wearing the overall of a car mechanic comes onto the platform on a moped. Will that go on the train as well? The wind is blowing cardboard boxes through the scene from right to left. Men in checkered shirts are smoking cigarettes. Opposite from the train station, a horse-drawn carriage with bales of straw passes by twice.

The longer the scheduled departure time at 17:12 passes by without anything happening, the more I understand the lack of any urgency on the part of the ticket vendor: of course he knew of the train’s delay. Finally he does open his window for a few minutes to sell some tickets without any apparent sign of excitement. He picks up a 100 denar banknote from the cash register and holds it up to the window to signal me how much I have to pay. I even receive two denars change. 98 denars, that’s 2 US$ for approximately 50 kilometers. Here, you can still take the train just for fun.

In the heat and surrounded by the dust, with the view of the mountains and the passengers who are waiting patiently, but with some distance from each other, I have been feeling like in a Western movie for a while already, when an elderly, smaller gentleman’s mobile phone begins to play the soundtrack of “Once upon a time in the West”. I am inching closer to the entrance of the cobwebbed concourse to be able to retreat as soon as the first shots are fired.

And then it arrives, the much-expected train. Old and young disembark with heavy bags which they brought from the capital Skopje. The man on the moped is only here to pick someone up. He helps an old woman (his mother? his grandmother?) to get off the train. She is blind. Hopefully she will be safe during the ride on the two-wheeler.

The journey from Prilep to Bitola doesn’t attract too many passengers today. The train is sparsely populated, but even emptier is the landscape through which the railroad is battling forward. The evening sun colors the cornfields in shining gold and the meadows in luscious green. The hills are undulating in perfect shapes.

goldgrün

A huge sunflower field on the left; contrary to the rumor about their behavior, the sunflowers have turned their faces away from the sun. The slip stream blows through the windows, twisting the heavy curtains like flags of freedom. We are not travelling fast, almost one hour is scheduled for the 50 km.

Again and again the train is convinced to stop in the middle of nowhere by collapsed or burnt-out station buildings.

Bahnhof kaputt 1Bahnhof kaputt 2

I can’t make out any settlements to which these buildings would belong, nor any roads. People get off, but they still have to walk a few kilometers across the fields before they will get home.

Only outside of Bitola, Macedonia’s second-largest city, human life begins to enter the landscape again. Increasingly often the train has to whistle a warning when crossing roads. Thus, the whole town learnsthat the evening train is about to arrive. At the station, two men run towards the train carrying a heavy fridge-freezer, which they heave through the door directly behind the driver’s cab.

Outside the station, a man leans on the boot of his Audi 80, marked as a taxi only by the yellow sign on the roof. I give him both my backpack and the address in the old town of Bitola where I want to stay. When he gets into the car, he removes the taxi sign from its roof. There is no meter. That’s also a way to do some moonlighting.

The next morning during breakfast at the hostel, I talk to an American who complains that the trains in Macedonia don’t have air-condition. I on the other hand loved the trains with open windows instead of air-condition so much, that I am sad that I will have to continue my journey by bus from here on. Because Bitola is the end of the railroad. The direct connection from here to Greece was cancelled in 1991; there is no train to Albania either.

(The trains from Thessaloniki to Skopje and from Skopje to Prilep also went through beautiful scenery. Even if you are only in Macedonia for a few days, you should definitely take a trip by train. Tickets are sold at the train stations in larger towns or you can pay on board. – Zur deutschen Fassung dieses Berichts.)

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