Make Your Life an Everlasting Happiness

I’ve found this statement painted on a house in a small city called Schriesheim. It is actually more like a village than a city. It is situated on the Bergstr, which is a lovely wine land between the Odenwald mountain and the Rhine river valley. It’s one of the places I love so much in Germany. I feel always very happy when I’m there. This is my real home in Germany.

A farmer in this village has painted his house with colourful pictures with motives from the area and his dreams I suppose. It was merged in such a lovely way that I felt like in a dream. Like being in some other world full of piece and never ending happiness.

It is so nice that this farmer distributed his positive feeling all around.

Even the animal’s barn was painted 🙂

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Why there are no kids on the streets in Germany?

I often wish that I’m a kid. A like playing and I like to be free. When I look at all those great children’s playgrounds and children friendly buildings in Germany I definitely want to be a kid not somewhere, but exactly in Germany.

Here there is one really nice example of a kindergarten. So colourful and welcoming!

Not like the grey communistic-style building of the one I used to study in Bulgaria. All those paintings inspire the kids and make them happy.

Germany is definitely a children friendly country. On the other hand there are not so many children in this country. And they are not playing on the streets as in some other countries like Italy or Bulgaria. You can really seldom see kids outside. There are usually staying at home. Why? It is maybe because of the traffic? Germany may be children friendly, but it is an automotive country and it is much more car’s friendly. But traffic in Bulgaria is worse and the streets are much more dangerous for kids. And it is well known that in Italy the traffic is disastrous. And children from these countries still play around. And in Germany even the nice inner yards of the kindergartens which are 100% safe are often so empty!

Why? I couldn’t understand this for a long time. Finally I got it. Not only children, but all the people in Germany are not so often on the streets. They prefer to stay at home. If you are even in a big city in Germany on Sunday, for example, there is no one outside. And in Bulgaria there are almost always some people outside. At night it is the the same situation. There is no one on the streets although Germany is much more populated that Bulgaria. So, Germans prefer to stay at home and they let the kids stay at home as well.

But why? I suppose that there is a big social difference between such a well developed northern country like Germany and countries in the south of Europe like Bulgaria and Italy. In both these countries the society is not arranged as good as in Germany, so you can never rely on some official government structures. As a consequence you have to rely on you, your family and your friends. So you have to have a lot of friends. And the way to make friends is to be outside and meet people. Yes, even nowadays, in the facebook and social media era, we mostly make friends outside and not in front of the computer. That’s why people in Italy or in Bulgaria prefer to be outside. And everyone sends the kids to play outside as well. On the contrary, in Germany you can rely on the social structures much more, so you don’t need so many friends. So you can stay at home. And the TV programmes and internet make this difference even bigger, because you can stay at home and have a lot of fun alone or with your virtual friends as well.

I’m looking forward, that the society changes and that we’ll find a way in the middle. Children friendly cities without cars, nice playgrounds and on the other hand good social structures and people who want always to make new friends. I already see the first changes towards this better future. Because children that play outside make you happy. It’s so nice to play with them. I’ll never forget all those children I’ve played with in Vauban, in Freiburg. It’s a kind of ecological and alternative quarter with a lot of children and almost no cars. Another nice experience was in my previous home in Aachen. I used to live in an 8-storey building with a lot of international families from the south. There were always some kids outside, but the best was on the first snow day in the winter. I helped them build a huge snowman in the yard and it was a lot of fun. After this day I was called “The snowman”. It was so funny!

Although there are not so many kids on the street in Germany, there are at least some that seem to appreciate all those nice children playgrounds.

The Revenge of the Nature

I like nature a lot and use almost all of my spare time to enjoy its beauty. It inspires me, gives me new energy and makes me happy. Last weekend I had a great 25 km walk in Black Forest from Langenbrand through Kaltenbronn to Bad Wildbad. I love this mountain, although it is sometimes really severe. In summer it is raining a lot there (3 times more than it is usual for this part of Germany) and in winter it is cold and windy. It happens quite often that on the highest peak in Black Forest – Feldberg, on almost 1500m it is colder than on the highest peak in the German Alps – Zugspitze, on almost 3000m. This time it was about -10 at about 1000m altitude, again very cold and there was no sun, but no wind as well. So it was quite ok. There was a lot of snow and almost no one in the mountain. So I was happy to experience the silence of the winter nature. Everything was great till I saw this human “influence”:

They were building a road through the mountain or widening an old one. I don’t know it exactly, but it was a total destruction of the wood. And I’m not sure that they need this way. There are so many other roads in this area near Bad Wildbad! And there were a disgusting smell all around. Nevertheless, I kept going and just a moment later I’ve seen this:

A whole concrete mixer has turned over from the road middle in the wood. I thought that this must be the revenge of the nature, being unhappy that we destroy it. I hope that the driver is ok. The truck lies in a steep slope, so it is pretty dangerous for the hikers and especially for the houses in the valley. In order to protect them, they bound it on a tree and put a solid metal fence above the houses:

As you can imagine, in order doing this, they destroyed even more from the forest. And now it can become dangerous for everyone, because the slope is very steep and without enough trees on it, a landslide can occur. This is a typical example how we enter in a devil’s cycle. We destroy nature and in order to repair the problems, we destroy even more. The same is with the climate change, the use of pesticides, floods and everywhere, where humans don’t act according the unwritten laws of nature. I’d rather prefer that we don’t destroy anything. It is always possible to find a solution that suits our society and technical demand on one side and nature on the other side.

Potatoes from Bavaria to Romania

Last week I had a long conversation with a middle-aged couch surfer which lasted some five hours. It’s typical for CS to speak with the hosts or guest for hours. You find always some many interesting topics and you have so many CS and other stories to tell each other, that time pasts without noticing. So, this couch surfer is a CEO of a NPO (Non-Profit Organisation) and a farmer at the same time, so he had a lot of nice stories to tell. A very wise, clever and experience man, who does everything to help as many people as possible. And need to be of course pretty well informed about laws and current political and social developments. But in this story I’m not going to tell you about politics or some other boring topics, but about real life everyday happenings.

Some 15 years ago there was a trend in Bavaria to grow potatoes. Well, the price of the potatoes was quite high, so everyone decided to grow potatoes. You may already guess what happened. There were so many potatoes this year on the markets that the price went down and nobody wants any more potatoes. It was s big disaster for the small farmers, who decided to grow potatoes. Such trends are killing in farming. As a child my uncle decided to grow onions in my grandparents’ village. It was the “onion trend” year in Bulgaria. The whole family worked all summer long for the stupid onions and at the end no one wanted them at all. This year we used to eat not only everything else with onion, but we even specialised in preparing everything from onions, from the soup to the dessert. The menu was like this: onion soup, onion crowd with onion bread and baked onion with chocolate. How delicious. Since then my brother never eats onion. I still like onion actually. That’s almost unbelievable. Well, on the other side, we had onions for two years and all the neighbours were very happy because they received onions for free.

But let’s go back to the potatoes in Bavaria. There were too many potatoes there. You know, in Germany there are some regulations for everything. So, you can’t just throw away or dump such a big amount of potatoes. There is actually a good reason for this – at some point they really start to stink in an awful way. So they need to be stored somewhere. The normal way to story potatoes for a long period is to put them in a closed room without fresh air. Actually you have to put them in a hermetically closed storage. But first you have to be sure that there is no oxygen in the room. So there is a special way to burn it away. But this year the farmers had to put to many potatoes in the storages, so the oxygen didn’t burned well. So when they opened the halls some months later some of them were already bad and stinky.

The potatoes were in the storage room and the farmers were looking forward to finding a solution how to get rid of them. At the same time in Romania there was another problem – hunger. Some years after the fall of the communists the people were starving out. There was nothing to eat. The NPO of the CS I was with, decided to send all the potatoes to Romania in order to help the people there. They opened the halls with potatoes and these were really stinky, because some of the potatoes were already bad. And back to the German regulations. You can’t just give some food which is not according the norms to someone, no matter if he needs it or not. Even if you donate food it is not possible. So they had to sort out manually the bad stinky potatoes. This great job was done by some volunteers in two weeks. They’ve done nothing else whole two weeks. At the end they’ve managed to send a lot of potatoes to Romania, which was all the work worth.

As a small reward some of the volunteers went to Romania as well, together with the clean, but still stinky potatoes. The local people accepted them as heroes, because they finally had something to eat. And they even slaughtered their last chickens in order to be hospitable. That is hospitability – they gave everything they had.

The couch surfer told me some very interesting stories about Romania and the villages where they stayed. For an example how he climbed on the roof of the local church, which was very high in order to see the great view from above. And that he almost fell down from some 30 metres in doing so. And how they took some presents like chocolate and alcohol for the Romanian and how they needed to hide them on the boundary. And about an earlier village in Romania destroyed by a big wave of water formed from the break of a nearby damn. The village was on the top of a hill and surrounded from three sides from a small river coming from the damn. When the damn walls broke, the wave became so big that it hit the village. A horror, but there were some houses and its inhabitants who managed to survive – these were the first row of houses at the beginning of the village. The wave was so enormous and it hit the village with such energy that it jump over the first line of houses. You can imagine what this means for the people there. They were saved out of nothing. This people survived the big wave, but they almost died because they had nothing to eat at this time. Good that the bavarian farmers made this bad decision to grow potatoes and saved them. They were saved two times out of nothing. This row of houses and its people…

As a conclusion, I have to say that there is no food scarcity in the world, but there is only bad distribution. And only with some simple knowledge and will we can change this. We don’t even need the Bavarian potatoes. In the history there are many exemples that people from different countries helped each other. In the time of the communist revolution in Russia and Ukraine in 1917 there was nothing to eat and Bulgarian farmers send all their food to Ukraine and thus saved millions of people. And at this time it was not organized by some organisations or by the government. The people have done it.

Talk to Old People – They Know Cool Stuff You Don’t

Talk to Old People – They Know Cool Stuff You Don’t. That’s a short message, but a good one. It addresses young people. But it can be said in the other direction as well: Talk to Young People – They Know Cool Stuff You Don’t. Then it addresses the old people. This is taken from a one of the greatest initiatives ever – We Are What We Do. In the spirit of Mahatma Gandhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world” this project has the aim to show people small simple things from the everyday life, which make us and others happy. This may be small things, but if everyone does them, the world would be a much better place to live.

So, I’ve started to talk to old people. And to young people as well. Well, I’m young enough, but the generations nowadays are so different and change so fast that some guys only five years younger than me feel for me like a whole new generation. So, I want to tell you stories I’ve heard or experienced. Stories from real people, real stories that make the difference in one’s life. Such stories you can find in with the tag “real stories”.