The Lost Generation II (inspired by Woody Allen)

“I feel sorry for you”, said the man and disappeared in the bowels of the metro. Walking around Paris with a crutch was indeed not easy. I was against bringing it in the first place. It´s so diminishing for a man. But after a lot of insisting on the part of my girlfriend I gave in.  

It was a warm and sunny September day. We met my aunt for lunch and then walked all the way to the right bank to have a coffee and a cake in an outdoor café. We sipped our drinks looking at the hustle and bustle of the Parisian life. I told my aunt Paris was great but it was not what it used to be. We laughed over it and she punched me in the mouth.

In the evening we went to see a theatre show and then grabbed a late-night dinner in Brasserie Lipp in Boulevard Saint Germain. Simone de Beauvoir was not there. Instead, we ran into Woody Allen. He was in town shooting his latest film. We told him his latest films were good but not great. We laughed over it. Then he punched us in the mouth.

We left after midnight. Our hotel near Gare de l´est was smelly but comfy. We fell asleep just as the first flickers of the new dawn appeared in the east. I had a dream in which my girlfriend had a Dali-like moustache. She was drawing giraffes in aquarelle. I woke up and hit my head on the reading lamp. It was time to leave Paris.

How to survive November … and feel good about it


November is here. And with it, at least here in Luxembourg, rainy, colder days with little sunlight. At work, gloom spreads across the corridors. Everybody whines and whinges. Depression is palpable. In the evenings the city looks even more deserted than ever. The wolves howl, there has already been the first sighting of a polar bear near Fentange… (no, not really, I am joking, it was in Itzig :).
While I confess that I, too, tend to succumb to the general atmosphere of despair, this year my fiancée Lucia, who works as a life coach, ( came up with the 21-day method for changing your negative attitudes and becoming a more positive person.
Here’s the deal:
in the period of 21 days there are five tasks for you to do:
1) at the end of the day you write down three things that happened during the day that you feel grateful for,
2) you choose one of those things and you describe it in greater detail. The point is to relive the experience once again to bring back the positive feelings,
3) random acts of kindness: you do something kind during the day – you offer a piece of chocolate to a colleague in the next office, you write an email to someone in which you say something positive about that person, you help someone in the street – anything that will make you feel better,
4) you do some physical activity – you walk to work instead of taking the bus, you go jogging, to the gym or to the swimming pool, anything,
5) you find some time during the day to meditate or at least do something to train your mindfulness – you do an activity with as much focus and feeling of being present as possible, e.g. you eat your lunch with you mind focussed on every bite you take.

After 21 days you and the people around you should already see a positive change in your behaviour.
It’s my second day today. I will try to keep you informed how I proceed. And why don’t you try it out for yourselves? We can swap stories at the end… ;).


After work


They came from work at the same time. He did some tidying up while she cooked asparagus and vegetarian sausages. She did not make a salad because of the E.coli scare that was on at the moment. They brought their plates to the balcony. The wind was slightly chilly so he went back to the room to fetch a hoodie. She was wrapped in her black anorak. They ate in almost total silence needing to purge their heads after a day at work. He asked her if she was tired. She nodded. They sat in silence eating their asparagus and soya sausages and looking at the park below where a girl was walking a golden retriever. He was rather restless. He carried a big branch in his mouth from one place to another. he would then lie down, chew on it for a while and then get up again, take the piece of wood to another place and then lie down again. This would happen over and over. The girl kept calling him: “Diego, Diego!”. But Diego did what he wanted. The girl eventually got up from the bench, tied Diego on a leash and walked away with him.
After a while they started to be cold, so they got up to leave. As they were leaving the balcony, the clock on the nearby church tower struck seven times. They stopped and listened for a while and then went inside. Behind the window, their Tibetan flags were flapping in the wind. Apart from that there was complete silence. 

17 November 2012 – 23 years since the Velvet Revolution

23 years ago I was a 17-year old high school student living the time of his life… It’s very difficult to describe that feeling when we saw the communist regime crumble before our eyes. The hated regime, which prevented people from freely realising themselves, which massaged our brains with communist propaganda on a daily basis, which lied to you, which sent dissidents to jail, which employed an army of spies to grass on you…. But in those cold November days in 1989 we suddenly saw the unthinkable happen. It was not a complete surprise – there had been signs of the regime becoming weaker and weaker – but it was still incredible to see it fall like a house of cards.

With hindsight, we must have looked like a nation under drugs. The sense of excitement and infatuation was palpable. In those few weeks in November and December 1989 we were different people. On the way back from the daily demonstrations against the regime, as the participants were taking public transport, everybody shared jokes, people were being nice and friendly. The feeling that we were fighting for our freedom was like manna from heaven, it was a collective opiate that we all rushed to devour.


No more communist education at schools, the borders were about to be opened, we were to see the mythical “West” with our own eyes. Vienna, a forbidden city for a long time, was to become accessible to all of us. A number of interesting people, that few of us had heard about before, alighted from their underground hideaways. Poets, philosophers, writers, activists…


The grey, ugly country was becoming more colourful day by day. We were astonished to see how many talented people there were who could not express themselves. When we heard that Václav Havel, the dissident playwright and philosopher, the arch-enemy of the state who spent several years in a political prison, became the official candidate for the President of the country, it was like out of Alice in Wonderland. When we saw him giving speech in the US Congress the next spring, we cried.

Of course, while we were enjoying our collective ecstasy, the vultures were already flying high above, surveilling the territory, looking for the preys, scheming… While the fellowship of the ring was engaged in long discussions about what to do next with their task, the orcs were joining forces and planning the counter-attack. Our naiveness was only our fault and nobody elses, though there were no manuals of how to behave in those unprecedented times….

23 years on, it’s a completely different world we live in. The challenges have changed. But I feel that the story of the Velvet revolution in November 1989 in Czechoslovakia is still inspiring.