“Why did you come here?”

There are two types of places in the world: those where nobody will bat an eyelid if you move there and those where you will be welcomed with the question “Why did you move here?” – if you want to call that a form of welcome.

Having lived and worked in eight different countries so far, I have experienced both cases.

london-crowdsThe strange thing is that nobody is surprised when you move to a crowded, smelly and noisy city where you will spend two hours every day under the ground and where rents are so expensive that you can only afford a room in a basement. Because everyone considers it normal that people move to New York or London.

But when you move to a quiet and peaceful place where you can reach the mountains or the forest by foot from home and rents are so affordable that you can rent a whole house without working too much, people ask you “Why of all places did you move there?”

It’s no coincidence that I am writing this one week after my move to Târgu Mureș, although this time I did have a good reason for my move to Romania. Often, the question displays merely the lack of knowledge of the person asking. Some people do not know more than three countries beyond their own and the rest of the world is like outer space to them. They won’t be able to associate anything with any other city besides Rome, Paris or London.

Birds move twice a year. Why shouldn't we?

Birds move twice a year. Why shouldn’t we?

I have always found it particularly strange when locals pose that question to me in such a way as if they think that their own city is the worst place on earth. If you don’t like it there, why don’t you move away? We are people, not trees. We can walk away from places.

Having moved 20 times already, I am beginning to consider the question of where one lives to be overrated. A place can be top-notch exciting, but if you have to work all the time, you won’t get much out of it. Another place may offer less at first sight, but it allows you to enjoy your time and discover the country, or – as I am planning for the upcoming Eastern European winter – to stay inside with a cup of hot chocolate and catch up on my writing.

Different places are for different times in your life. Because you are not the same person you were two or three years ago. Hopefully.

(Zur deutschen Fassung.)

Posted in Life, London, Philosophy, Romania, Travel | Tagged | 3 Comments

Terrible Street

No matter how terrible you have been, you can still get a street named after you.

Via de Terribile

At least in Brindisi, Italy.

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Fire in the Sky

I have only been living at my new place in Târgu Mureș in Romania for one week, but thus far every evening offered a colorful spectacle which I could observe from my bedroom. In chronological order, all four acts:

DSCN2937 DSCN2946 DSCN2952 DSCN2956

(All photos taken in Târgu Mureș on 6 October 2014.)

Posted in Photography, Romania, Travel | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Lines in the Sand

Human beings feel the urge to leave signs of their presence in nature. When I was a child, it was common to carve one’s name (or a heart and a girl’s name) into the bark of a tree. Now people use spray cans to tell everyone that “Johnny was here”. Some put whole cities into the middle of the countryside.

All of this is damaging to the environment.

The least damaging way to leave your name may be to write it in the sand, where it will last for a few hours at best, about to be washed away by the eternal movement of the oceans. Not only ecologically sound, but also a reminder of our transience.

I wonder if people actually did this before they could snap photos of it, but now they do it a lot.

sand guy writing

sand Dorina

sand SOS

But – I am sorry to tell you – you have to stop doing this! Please!

This writing in the sand is not as harmless as it seems. The beach is not yours, it’s the home of many different animals, among them turtles. As you know, turtles crouch along on the ground and cannot see very far. If they stumble across one of these lines that you drew in the sand, they get completely disoriented. Even worse, they sometimes trip over them and fall over:

turtle_upside_downHelpless like this, they either slowly dry out under the scorching sun or they get eaten by foxes or hyaenas. – You may think that your name in the sand is cute or romantic, but you are killing turtles.

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Peak Oil

gas station Hiiumaa 1

gas station Hiiumaa 2

(Photographed on the island of Hiiumaa in Estonia.)

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Brazil, a Paradise for the Left?

Brazil will hold the first round of a presidential election tomorrow.

The candidates with the best prospects of advancing to the second round are incumbent Dilma Rousseff of the Workers’ Party, Marina Silva of the Brazilian Socialist Party and Aécio Neves of the Brazilian Social Democratic Party.

That doesn’t seem to be enough of socialism and social democracy because the Socialism and Freedom Party, the Christian Social Democratic Party, the United Socialist Workers’ Party, the Brazilian Communist Party and the Workers’ Cause Party are all fielding their own candidates for president.

Of course I realize that parties’ names don’t say much about their profile, but on first sight this looks more like a meeting of different student socialist groups than a presidential election.

(Auf Deutsch.)

Posted in Elections, Politics | Tagged | 4 Comments

Shocking anti-tobacco pictures

Everyone knows that tobacco products are potentially dangerous, nobody is forced to smoke, and after the wide-ranging smoking bans in public places, there is hardly any harm caused to third parties. Yet, some countries require that shocking warning pictures be printed on the boxes. These photos of smoker’s legs, cancer and death are supposed to drastically illustrate the consequences of lighting up, in the hope of ultimately convincing the smoker to kick the habit.

shocking smoking pictureMeat products lead to the gruesome treatment and killing of other living beings against their will, although there are plenty of food alternatives. Yet, nobody thinks of printing photos taken inside slaughterhouses on the packaging of salami slices of chicken wings.

Isn’t it weird that one is encouraged to preserve one’s own life, while the extinguishing of other lives doesn’t seem to cause any moral concern?

(Auf Deutsch.)

Posted in Death, Health, Philosophy | Tagged , , | 7 Comments