German movie night

What can I say: it was awesome!

True to the theme, the Germans arrived with two types of potato salad, knackwurst and hot mustard. I had made a salad and baked some bread and the rest of the group flooded the house with red wine, snacks, cake and icecream. We were as set for movies as anyone could be. We had a list of seven movies, which was expanded to eight after my last post. Tina suggested we see Run, Lola Run (we didn’t see it, but I will definitely have to – thank you for the input – keep them coming). The other seven movies on the list were

Das Leben Der Anderen (2006, The Lives of Others)
Das weiße Band (2009; The White Ribbon)
Die Fälscher (2007; The Counterfeiters)
Das Boot (1981)
Jenseits Der Stille (1996; Beyond Silence)
Der Untergang (2004; Downfall)
Goodbye Lenin! (2003)

This is in no way an exhausted list of great German movies, but it is a start. Hopefully it is also an inspiration to anyone wondering what movies German directors have put on the map. We opted for the last two. Both depict important turning points in German history (the end of WWII and when the wall in Berlin came down); the first is a serious drama, the second a comedy of grand proportions.

I really liked both. Der Untergang is rather heavy as it depicts the last days of war in a very realistic fashion. It shows the desperation of the losing side and the actions this leads to. There is no glory, no forgiveness. What makes it so scary in my mind is that, deep down, we know that this is not just about the Germans. This is the story that we do not hear from any war… the horrible tale of the losing side.

I had seen Goodbye Lenin! before and I remembered it quite well. At least I thought I did. Because despite remembering a large proportion of the details, they came together as a completely different story the second time, which led to a very different perception of the ending than the first time I saw it. That was SO weird. Now I’m not entirely sure what the movie is about – though it is still a really really good movie and you should see it if you haven’t already.

I don’t know what will be on the next program for movie night. A few suggestions have been up in the air, mostly related to the nationalities of the movie club members. Egyptian movie night, Brazilian movie night, Peruvian movie night…. let us know if you have any suggestions – themes, movies, the likes!


Movie Club

We have made a movie club! That is my colleagues and I.
It is a really simple club, not much organising really. We meet at my house, bring food/drinks/snacks along and watch a couple of movies together. The whole intention behind the club is that it is to be easy, cheap and just as much about the company as the movie. Most of us are non-Australians, so we are in the process of creating a social life here. Coming together to share food and a movie is great for this.

The first time we met, we decided to watch a Danish action comedy called I Kina spiser de hunde (I had a lot to do with this choice, I will admit that) and the latest movie by Almodovar – a thriller called The Skin I live In. This was a really good start as we now have a better feel for each other. It seems that no one in the group is especially sensitive – to anything really.

The second time we met was last weekend. Cairns was host to the travelling film festival and we grouped up across interests and met in smaller groups during the weekend. I did a marathon on Sunday, where I saw three movies, all which I can highly recommend. Festivals are great for this really – they have gone through a lot of trouble selecting the movies to begin with, so they are almost always entertaining.

The first movie I saw was a documentary on a 1970s singer called Searching for Sugarman. The story is unbelievable, it really is, and the music is fantastic. It was definitely worth the ticket. I don’t want to reveal the story, for two reasons: if I give you the short version the movie sounds so uninteresting it would turn you off. If I tell you the interesting part, you know the plot. BUT, definitely say yes if someone invites you.

The second movie I saw was a Chinese drama about growing old called A Simple Life
Also this was a great movie, playing on the whole spectrum of emotions. It was funny, we laughed out loud many times, reflective, intense and of course sad. My Chinese companion and I cried at the end, so much so that the tissues needed to come out of the handbag for a good noseblow.

My personal favourite was the last movie I saw. It was a Lebanese comedy drama about a group of women, who try to ease religious tensions between Christians and Muslims in their village. It is called Where Do We Go Now and is so funny that my face produces a massive smile, just thinking about it. This movie is not a massive block buster, which is a real shame. It should be. I encourage you to go and look for it, ask for it, drive far to see it and bring your friends. It is worth it.

Tonight we have movie club again. The two Germans in the club will be away for a while (one has fieldwork in Papua New Guinea for 9 months and the other is off for a job in Georgia) so we have decided to do a German movie night. We have listed seven amazing German movies for selection and will decide on the final two tonight. I’m excited. I will let you know how it goes!

I said I like Facebook

I sang an ode to Facebook the other day, but one of the absolute heroes of my life is the guy who invented Skype. And I have met him, as he knew someone who knew someone who knew my friend (because he is Danish… just thought I’d let you know). I shutter to think what I would have done, had I known at the time what a great thing he had created. I didn’t reflect on it at the time. It would not have been beneath me to kiss his feet.

I still remember trying to phone home when I lived in South Africa in 1995. I would get a phone card for 100 Rand, ring up mum and the conversation would go something like: “helloooo hellloooo helloooo” (echo). Then wait for 10 seconds and get a return “Hellloooo hellloooo, how are youuuuu?” (10 secs) “I’m gooood” (10 secs) “whaaat?” (10 secs) “I said I’m gooooood, how are youuuuu?” (10 secs) “we are weeeeelll” (10 secs) “there is no more money, I will call you from Durban” (beep beep beep). Now I just say: “Hang on, I’ll put the kettle on and be back in a tick” and then mum and I talk for hours.

Trust me, Skype is the saver of sanity in many a migrants life. It not only lets us know if our family members are OK, it allows us to connect to them in a much more meaningful way.

And now I’m going to call up their media department (if they have one) an see if I can get a sponsorship dollar out of them. I would be an excellent poster girl… because I mean it!

Who would you take to a deserted island?

I was asked that question just yesterday. If I could choose anyone, who would I spend a week on a deserted island with. Apparently you are supposed to pick someone famous.

Have you ever met someone famous? I have. Heaps actually. And probably a lot more than I am conscious of too. One problem with me is that I tend to be distracted and don’t recognise even people I know. When I DO see someone vaguely familiar, I just think they are a friend of a friend. Like the time in the 80s when I walked by John Taylor from Duran Duran in the street and thought he was a boy from the 10th grade (I was in year 8) and just said a long sentence of rubbish in Danish and thought he was really weird when he didn’t respond (we were in Copenhagen and I said something like ‘fancy seeing you here, is your class on an excursion as well?’). My friend almost passed out of embarrassment and that was the end of that moment.

I once spent half an hour talking to Liam Neeson in a pub in Dublin in the mid 1990’s. I gave a long talk about my observations on poverty in Ireland, as I was on a study trip for that particular reason. He asked what I was doing in Dublin, he got an answer. I had no clue who this partly boring, quite drunk man was until the waiter told me after he had left.

Most times I think it is a good thing that I don’t pay attention to those details. I know I would make a fool of myself if I knew who they were, but had no idea what to say to them. But there has been one or two times where it was embarrassing  Like the time I was invited for dinner by a friend of mine who lives in London. I had a lovely elderly man at my side who kept asking who I was and what I was doing. Then I felt it was my turn to ask and the table fell silent in horror. Apparently he was an actor. Played on EastEnders. He didn’t talk to me for the rest of the evening.

All this experience in check, I never made friends with any famous people. I have made friends with people who have time for me and who I really enjoy spending that time with. Yesterday I wrote about friendship and how precious my friends are to me. Having that in mind and also giving the whole ‘lost-on-an-island-for-one-week-with-a-stranger’ – thing a serious extra though, I came to the conclusion that the person I would most like to spend time with on a deserted island would be a friend.




Friend Request

Friendship has taken a whole new meaning since I left my country a decade ago. It takes time to become friends and it takes an effort to maintain them. Most of all, I have learned how precious friendship is and how much I value the relations I have created through my life.

There are the people I grew up with in the village I come from, who I used to catch up with on a regular basis without really making an effort.There are the other people I met growing up, like my friends from when we lived on Long Island. Or my pen-pal from Germany. Then there are the good solid friends who I have laughed and cried with for decades. The ones I studied with, worked with, went on holidays with. Then there are the two girls I made friends with the three years I lived in Italy. Those were tough years, I tell you, and I could not have survived without those two. I don’t see them much and I don’t talk to them much. But I would walk through fire for them both. Then there are my new friends, people I have met here in Australia. That again is a totally different relationship. For most of us, we are tied together through an experience of being foreign, reflecting on our surroundings. They are from countries I have never had friends in before. Like France. And Egypt.

Many of my friends are on Facebook. I often sit and look at my list of friends on Facebook and I get filled with a tremendous sense of gratitude. I love Facebook for that reason alone. I really do. I LOVE to hear the stories, love to see the pictures and I try to return the favor.

I listen to the scary parts they tell us about Facebook, about being watched and surveilled. But you know what? I sometimes hope they spy on me and my friends. I hope they see how connected we are and how much we care. How much I care. And I hope it scares them.

And then I love it when I get a friendship request and think: who the heck is that girl with bananas in her hair? Do I really know her? OH YES she is lovely! How good is this!

Italian romance

The first gift Mr Husband ever gave me was a pendant made of gold. It was in the shape of a leaf, which had little flowers engraved on it. It was such a beautiful gift and he almost destroyed it by saying something vomiting (as a pragmatic Scandinavian girl, I found the Italian romance quite a test). But he was sincere, had put a lot of thought into the pendant and spent days mounting the courage to present it. It had to do with the tree of life from the Nordic mythology (Yggdrasil), that I represented this tree of life for him when I walked into his life and he wanted to be a leaf on this tree. Oh yes.

I wore that pendant all the time. I loved it. For our wedding, I had the flowers engraved on the pendant, embroidered into the top part of the wedding gown and along the hem.

Then the terrible thing happened. I lost it. Three years ago I got on the bus from work in Brisbane wearing it and when I arrived home it was gone. It must have slipped off. It is the only time I can remember crying over a material thing. I was heartbroken. I called the bus-line at least 5 times, went to their lost and found at the library 3 times and walked the streets home with miniature steps a 100 more to search the road for my lost leaf.

Now he has done it again. Presented me with a gold leaf which he has designed. It is very different to the old one. The goldsmith still has the design he drew for the old one, but we are different now he says. There is only one flower on that leaf, because there is only one flower for him. It is still a viola, a flower that has heart-shaped leaves and I quote: “violets are often seen as representative of marriage. In wedding bouquets they represent a promise and faithfulness. In dreams they are said to represent marriage or commitment“.

BEAT THAT FOR ROMANCE!!! I am totally swept off my feet. Which is probably a good thing as the first thing he did after returning home was the ritual marking of territory: a random drop of undies in the hallway.

Love is in the air

Mr Husband is on his way home. He is on an airplane heading towards Cairns. He has been away for 6 weeks, visiting family in Italy and I have missed him dreadfully. All I have wanted to do was scream “COME HOME” but I didn’t because it made me feel really guilty. I have only said it really quietly when I knew it was OK. Because it is great that he is with his family and friends – most of all his kids. He should be able to spend time with them without having me winging at the other end.

The closer he is getting to our coastline, the more I can feel the clouds rising and the fog disappearing. I am even starting to get my sense of humor back. I do not know if it is really because he is coming home or because I have done some serious inner work while he was away and am now coming out of the fog, but it seems to be coinciding.

It has been a serious long time since I last felt this energy boost. It is awesome.