People on the way

What shall I say? These last hours have been quite a jump from O.R. Tambo to Frankfurt via Dubai and now I’m on the final stretch to Wittenberg and just getting past Leipzig traveling by train (ICE 692 which goes all the way to Berlin Gesundbrunnen). Lots of impressions even if most are fleeting and not only because I read bits of Frank Schirrmacher 2009: „Payback: Warum wir im Informationszeitalter gezwungen sind zu tun, was wir nicht tun wollen, und wie wir die Kontrolle über unser Denken zurückgewinnen.“, but just the number of people, who you sit next too, who make a favorable impression even way beyond midnight and that’s not even counting those thousands, who are not even registered by my senses, but who also have stories to tell, moving lives going up and down with countless memories. Still, it all goes by as if it’s just flying by. It’s just too many people in one train or airport. However let me mention some, who did catch my attention first and perhaps listing them chronologically will help my memory:

First passport check and asking for my boarding pass. He got us a trolley, because he didn’t like the idea of Chinese women misusing his trolley for a lounge right there in the Departures Hall at OR Tambo. My loved ones still witnessed that change over of trolley usage and we all posed behind the said trolley.

Without my normal routine of drinking a coffee or beer in the OR Tambo Mugg & Bean, I went straight to Gate 10, where the Emirates Airbus 380 was already being put into shape for its next intercontinental flight. I was one of the first there, but because I tried to clean out my mailbox and phone the rest of my family, this time flew by in no time. Didn’t talk much with anyone else, but did notice that most people were very engrossed in their Handys. Again proving Frank Schirrmacher’s observation, that we’re not changing the machines so much, but that they are rather very much changing us.

The stewardesses were all beautiful so that even serious layers of makeup didn’t  cover  up or even hide their charm. They were young and genuinely pretty and going a long way to prove that such loveliness is very much at home in all parts of the world. On the first leg, they mentioned 10 different languages at our service and for the second one 24 even. Can you imagine that? Sounds as if Emirates is a serious school for language, communication and translations.

For the first part of this trip I sat next to a single lady, who watched one movie after the other and only asked to stand up twice. She was not troublesome at all. Quite, kept her arms to herself and only laughed once in what I thought was about 4-5 movies.

The second leg I spent next to a guy somewhat resembling Christian Heicke or better still Herr Schneider the postman in Oberursel of yesteryear. Typical German from Hessian “an dem kein Falsch ist”. He wore Hotel slippers and was very well mannered too, not quite as quiet, but didn’t snore much nor did he cause any disturbance of this or that kind. I don’t know, whether he slept much for that matter, because I slept that stretch like a log or dog – sitting upright, but passed out.

He played Solitaire about as consistently as Madam Movie had watched her films, but he was much more jubilant as he celebrated every finished game with high-fives and exorbitant dances in so far as that’s possible in the cramped seats of the so-called economic class. I presume, that the slave galleys were something like these airplanes, which resemble tightly packed sardine cans. Surprisingly, we put on the chains (i.e. safety belts) ourselves and don’t even wait for the stewardesses – our modern slave drivers – to do this. Our drive for liberty is seriously retarded no question. The ancients had stronger drives for emancipation.

The food was ok and the beverages too, even though you might think, I didn’t like the Heincken as I dropped it on my seat even before I had a sip of it and therefore had wet pants all the way to Germany and a dry throat too.  In Dubai I ate Japanese soup and noodles and caught up with a ½ pint of Stella Artois. That’s a lot less than I bargained for. I should have taken the full pint or at the very least the ½.

Having finally landed the Border Patrol (GSG 9 or Grenzschutzpolizei?) asked, whether I don’t have a German passport. Wonder why? Doesn’t he like my SA-one?

My baggage was all there and I even got onto the right bus and off at the right terminal to catch the subway into Frankfurt and to the main station. The timing was so good, that I actually could enjoy my first coffee on German soil and a cherry cake in the classic Bistro with a super waiter and a fabulous moustache there in the main station. His manners were straight out of the book or at least from the latest and authoritative English butler’s manual. I loved it so! Reminded me so much of the old colonial times, that have passed forever. (Bad joke – I know) I look forward to going there again. Hope it won’t take too long.

Although I had reserved a window seat in the ICE going to “Gesundbrunnen” (Great name!) in Berlin, I gave up this right, because a whole soccer team was occupying that reserved section. It was no real issue as lots of other free seats were available. I got to catch up with my mail from back home.

They served the best lentil soup, that I’ve tasted for a long time so that I went ahead and got myself a few tins as reserve at ALDI, when I got a chance in Wittenberg. Let’s see, if that lives up to the high standards of the Deutsche Bahn. Perhaps it was just the friendly service in the “Bord Bistro” that made the difference. The various conductors also impressed with their willingness to please the “ou boer seun vanuit die ou Transvaal” far from home and totally “unrasiert” even if in my case that doesn’t really say much.

So much for my first few impressions this side of the Equator and the Mediterranean or as the ancients called it: “The big water in the west”!


About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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