Tag Archives: Life isn't fair

And I am stuck in Brussels


Unexpected resistance

I’m not that much of an advanced planner. But for once that I try, I can’t as it is not possible to book tickets with the German, French or Belgian railway service more than 3 months – 92 days to be haarspalterisch precise – in advance.

I feel like someone is having fun watching…


What’s better: Good memories or a bad present?

I love marshmallows

A great, hilarious video from TED. Only that I failed to embed it in this post; tried 4 times though…

Any way, having to wait 15 minutes to get 2 marshmallows instead of 1 doesn’t seem fair to me. If you’d give me 10 instead of one, then we can talk. I think these experiments underestimate the pleasure of immediate gratification. And I still got a university diploma…

Je déteste

I hate to say good bye. I hate it when friends leave. I hate to be left behind. And I gave up counting all the farewell diners, lunches, parties, drinks and whatsoever I had in recent weeks. Oh, yes, I forgot the farewell breakfast. Obviously, there are some more to come today and tomorrow and the day after tomorrow and… No, stop, the weekend, I’ll go home after saying good bye but without any farewell stuff. After all, I’ll be back in Brussels by the end of August and start a new life with a new job* and a new flat**. Hah, take this Farewell-melancholy-I-do-not-want-it-to-finish-mood.

Quand même, la puce

* & **: Still needs to be found.

Basic skills

Some things are just so normal in life that you hardly think about them. For me, it was surprising to learn, that 9 out of 10 black South Africans cannot swim. They never had an opportunity to learn it because there are no or few public swimming pools and the sea is far away even for Cape Towniens. Living in township means that you do not go to the beach very often. You probably won’t ever have a bike, and making a driver’s licence is a huge financial challenge.

I knew how to swim by the age of six and I guess how to ride a bike, too. To make my driver’s licence was just the necessary thing to do, nearly everybody in high school was busy with in the last year. And I hardly ever thought about it…

Back to work

After four weeks, I am back on my work place.

Yesterday at this time, I was on the beach, swimming in this wonderful warm ocean on False Bay… Sun, water, friends…

Now, I am sitting in an office, trying to concentrate…

NO, I am not complaining, just… OK, I am complaining.

Have a nice day everybody outside there wherever you are.


Violence, diseases and death are much more a part of everybody’s life in South Africa than they are in Germany or France. Stories about robbery, burglary or physical violence (“I was stabbed”) are told with a surprising nonchalance. While the crime rate is declining in Germany since several years, most German people are more and more afraid of crime and violence (according to stats I remember but without having anything to quote). In South Africa and especially in the townships, which are a quite dangerous place to live in, the general feeling is that exposure to crime and violence cannot be avoided, so you better get used to it. At least, I had the feeling that this is the common attitude.

Actually, I think that this is also due to the fact that in Europe, robbery, murder and physical violence are more an individual fate bearing a kind of stigma. If this type of problems is happening to somebody, the person has to cope with this quite isolated.

In South Africa, as already pointed out, it is a part of everybody’s life, it is a “common thing”, easier to bear because it can happen to everyone.

I do not say that this is better or worse. It is different.

Flash lights


I have lost my instinct. When it comes to my personal safety, I do not know anymore when I can walk alone and when I do better to stay in the house. In France or Germany I knew most of the time when and where I was safe, I knew which places to avoid by which time of the day and which routes to take in order to keep away from trouble. Here, I’ve been told more than once that white people in the townships are more seen as dollars on feed than human beings and that you better take care not to walk around alone. On the other hand, I feel quite safe in the neighbourhood but can I really walk alone? I feel silly when I always ask for somebody to accompany me but I cannot evaluate the danger…


One of my weaknesses is certainly the lack of patience and one very good advice I got before I came here was: Be patient. But, it is not easy to cope with frustration, when friends do not show up and when thinks do not work as I want them to work. What do you do with yourself if you have to stay in the house even if it is a beautiful day but there is nobody to go out with… What do you do if you have to stay in the house because the two options of going out reveal themselves as not very reliable persons? Of course, you could iron some clothes, watch TV or cook but the only thing you really want is to go out…


As a matter of fact I have to admit that one thing I failed to learn here is Xhosa. The grammar of Xhosa is entirely different to any European grammar I know so far. But whenever I spent some time with an African family or community I cannot avoid noticing that you do not belong to a society as long as you do not speak the dominating language. I realised how hard it must be for immigrants coming to Germany or France without any knowledge of the language. And even if you can use perhaps English as working language, in the families, between friends, on TV, etc. you can be quite lost. I do not mind not to understand sometimes. It is fine with me and I just let my mind drift away. But sometimes, when you meet people in the street, and they speak to the person accompanying you, I would love to understand without an interpreter…