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!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The torture of choice

For the past decade I haven’t been able to decide where to live – a condition the Germans call “Die Qual der Wahl”, the torture of choice.
I’ve lived in more than ten countries since I left Scotland in 1990. Since leaving Kyrgzstan in 2007 I seem to have settled down – dividing my time between Bulgaria (where I had a couple of projects); Transylvania (where I have a mountain house); and Bucharest where I have access to a very small flat. But I need a flat in a city I enjoy – with proper space for my paintings and artefacts. And time is running out!

Scotland is ruled out for its weather; I tried the French (or rather Brittany) rural market briefly (in 2010) but realised that, much as I love the French language and culture, I did not need another rural place. I then considered, for their cultural treasures, Brussels and Vienna - but they are too pricey. At the moment I find Sofia the best location (I currently rent a place there); but have, for the past month, been in Koln – receiving medical treatment which is scheduled to finish in mid-July. Occassionally I have wondered about Germany as a place to retire to...
Much as I appreciate German culture and society, my experience so far would not suggest this as an option. It is simply too expensive (although I notice that property in many parts of Germany can still be bought at reasonable prices); the shopping experiences are too bland; and the Rheinland anyway far too cold and damp. I miss my Balkan vegetables and warmth! Little wonder that so many sunbed and physiotherapy services are on offer here!
Of course I am impressed with the neatness of residential areas (so much "touching up" going on); the profusion of greenery; the politeness; the cycling; the regularity and cleanliness of public transport; and the sheer number of old people who use it. But I resent the charges the museums and galleries make – 10 euros, for example, to access Koln’s permanent exhibition of the Expressionists. So my only taste of culture so far has been the great Kathe Kollwitz museum at Neumarkt. It was 1964 when I first came across Kollwitz (1867-1945) - and Georg Grosz - when I lived for a short time in Berlin. Both were a great inspiration for the Bulgarian graphic artists of the first half of the century - the piece which fronts this post is one of the series she did on the Peasants' Revolt.

The Wine festival which has been occupying Neumarkt for the past 2 weeks is, quite frankly, pathetic – with 2.50 euros being charged for 0.15 millitre glasses. What a contrast with the 10 euros 2-day ticket I bought for the Sofia wine-tasting in October when I could fill my face!
The german property market is supposed to be more sensible than (say) the British - but I was still disappointed to find that the cheapest flats I could rent here are 60 euros a night (although that does reflect reasonably the higher cost of living compared, for example, with Sofia where I pay one eighth of that; such proportionality is not the case for food!) .
And internet connections seem to be very slow - one of several reasons why I have not been posting recently.

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