Archive for the ‘Sad’ Category

Latest Read: Nectar in a Sieve

May 28, 2011

I gave it four out of five stars on Goodreads.  It is simply written, making for a fast read, but it is also beautifully and poignantly written, giving it a quiet intensity.  The author is a keen observer of human nature and the world around her, and these observations are reflected in the very real personalities of her characters, and her vivid use of descriptive language.  Your heart is drawn to the main character throughout her story.  Set in rural India in the 1950s, it begins with her arranged marriage at age 12, and follows the struggles she and her family face to in order to survive.  The simple wisdom by which she lives has the ring of truth to it, despite being constantly juxtaposed against her utter innocence of the harsh realities in the world around her.

When I first started reading it, I couldn’t put it down all night, but after a while the constant stream of tragedy & catastrophe started to get me down, and I went a little slower.  It’s a good book, but don’t expect to be heartened by it.  If you want a laugh, grab something by Dave Barry.  This one’s more likely to bring you to tears.

A Tragedy

November 23, 2009

When I arrived at school today, I was informed that a student here was killed in an accident Friday night.  I wasn’t well acquainted with him; we’d only met once on the school trip to Salzburg, but he’d been studying here for several months, and it’s been a shocking blow to the whole school.  Please remember the students, teachers, and his friends and family in your prayers.  Rest in peace, Carlos.

Students in Salzburg. Carlos is the second from the right, next to me.

A Few More Photos

November 22, 2009

I’ve got over 500 now; it’s getting harder to narrow them down!  These pictures were taken in Regensburg, Dachau, and Salzburg, and there are also a couple from Neuschwanstein Castle.  They’re out of order for some reason; I haven’t yet learned to bend WordPress to my will.

A Very Full Weekend

November 16, 2009

Friday

Friday night I went to Hofbräuhaus, a very famous brewery and restaurant, with a couple of friends.  I ate a pretzel bigger than my head, among other things, and had the following conversation (half in German and half in English) with a man at our table who was from Denmark, but had lived in Australia, and was currently working in Munich.

International Man:  Are you having fun in Munich?

Me:  Yes; it’s fantastic!

International Man:  But where is your beer?

Me:  I don’t drink alcohol.

International Man:  I’ll ask you again: Are you having fun in Munich?

And later…

International Man:  What languages do you speak?

Me:  Only English fluently, but I’m here to learn German.

International Man (pointing to his stein and speaking very slowly):  Das ist ein Bier (That is a beer).  Would you like to stay in Germany?

Me:  Maybe, if I can learn German.

International Man:  Noch einmal; Bier! (Once more; beer!)

Me:  Yes, I’m well aware that beer is important in Munich.

International Man:  Well, you’re halfway there.

A math teacher in high school once told me I only needed to know two words in German:  Bier und brötchen (beer and bread-roll).  Take my word for it:  he was wrong.

Saturday

Saturday I took the train to Dachau with a couple of friends from school.  I was a sobering experience; there aren’t words to describe it.  I’d researched the Holocaust a little for school in the past, but to walk through the museum and read the personal accounts and descriptions of what occurred…  It’s almost unfathomable that such things can happen.  Psychology tells us we all have the potential for violence and cruelty, but what is equally important to remember is our capacity for decency and integrity, and the fact that we all have a choice between the two.  Because amidst all the horrors I read about were other stories.  There were also examples of pure goodness in the face of pure evil:  prisoners who reached out to help those around them, often at great risk to themselves.  I remember reading one in particular about a doctor who was imprisoned.  The camp had a doctor and an infirmary, but in reality did nothing to help the sick and injured, and often made them worse.  During an outbreak of typhus, if I remember correctly, the imprisoned doctor remained day and night with the sick, helping them in any way he could, and eventually succumbed to the disease himself.

My senior year of high school, our term paper was based on William Golding’s “Lord of the Flies.”  The assignment was to decide whether mankind was basically good or basically evil, and defend your position.  I chose good.  For once in my life, I didn’t get a very good grade, and someone told me later that my whole premise was flawed (thanks, mom), but I still believe that.  Right and wrong is a choice, and I believe that the majority of society makes the right choice when it really counts.  I can only hope my belief is justified.

Sunday

Sunday I went to Salzburg with a teacher from the school and a few other students.  It’s a beautiful city.  It has a lovely cathedral (just like every other reasonable-sized city in Europe), and a very old fortress that sits atop a hill.  We walked about halfway up the hill and got a good look at it, plus we had a panoramic view of the whole city spread out below us.

It was good that I had to exercise so much climbing that hill, because I had a very ample lunch.  I had potato cream soup to start (it was fantastic), followed by beef goulash with a knödel (dumpling).  The goulash was quite different from anything I’d had before.  It consisted of a peppery reddish-brown sauce that tasted a bit like chili, and in it were beef pieces akin to pot roast.  It was very good.  To finish up, we all shared a nockerl, a traditional Salzburg dessert.  It’s a bit like a meringue, but the texture is thinner and more liquid underneath.  It also tastes sweeter, and it has berries in it.   It was good, but I agreed with the teacher when she said you only need to try nockerl once in your life, and after that you don’t have any particular desire for it anymore.

I may go back to Salzburg another weekend.  I’m interested in touring the salt mine, and I also want to see the Silent Night chapel and museum, which is in the area, although not in Salzburg itself.  We’ll see.  I spent about half of the two-hour train ride back to Munich doing my homework so I could go straight to bed when I got home.  It was an exhausting weekend, but it was worth it.  Tschüß!