what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Friday, July 10, 2015

German Musings

Tourism is one of the biggest global industries and yet gives us few real opportunities to fathom the soul of a country – although a retired generation with time and education is now beginning to experience some of the treasures which Europe offers…..and can access books from such publishing houses as The Collected Traveler, The Intercultural Press and Cities of the Imagination which offer great cultural insights not only into countries but even to a few cities  
Readers will know that I recently started my own contribution to this genre when my daughters started to visit me in Romania and Bulgaria – see the list of E-books at the top-right of the blog…..

Now I want to announce a little one on……..Germany based mainly on posts I made during a 10 week stay in Koln in 2013. The booklet is called German Musings
I have been out of the UK for 25 years – spending about 2 years apiece living and working in about a dozen countries on projects designed to improve the capacity of their state institutions. I was in Bulgaria in early 2013 when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and had to decide where to go for appropriate treatment.

But first I had to learn more about the condition and its treatment – which helped me understand that the surgical treatments which had become routine were now being questioned – not just because of their invasive nature but because there was every probability that the symptoms would reappear after a few years….
As an expat Brit I quickly ruled out that country – partly for the delays trying to go as a citizen without medical records would entail but also because the French and German health systems were performing better (in general terms) in the various international league tables (not least WHO). But I did want to go to a country whose language I spoke.
I narrowed the internet search to hospitals in those two countries which seemed to have a good record for treating prostate cancer and E-mailed off some queries….The French hospitals were quickly ruled out for two reasons –
-       Their focus seemed to be on surgery and I was determined to avoid that
-       They required bureaucratic paperwork which annoyed me

The West German Prostate Centre (Koln) simply asked me to send electronic copies of the diagnosis I had received and quickly gave a detailed commentary which persuaded me that this was the place to go. A few weeks later, on the first of May I touched down in Koln and remained there until mid-July – undergoing initially daily radiation treatment and then three minor operations…….

Time weighed - but Daniela and I were lucky in the choice of flat we had made – even although it involved a couple of moves….
We were in the outskirts - with great parks to walk in (the cemetery was our favourite); trams to ride; and bookshops to visit…..Unhappily. however, we found few people to talk with – apart from our last landlord……
When I eventually was able to connect with the internet, I started to blog and surf again (the habit had started in 2009) and that is what forms the core of this little offering….

I hardly mentioned Koln in the posts – let alone the treatment I was undergoing. This was rather an opportunity to sink into another culture – using the immediate environment as a trigger for questions and casual insights…… One of my delights, for example, was the open-air charity stall near my treatment which offered free second-books……..

I think you'll find the booklet an interesting read - and the annotated reading list is, I think, quite original.........

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