Freitag, 3. November 2017

About #metoo - How a little hashtag changed my view on sexual harassment

Were you as shocked as me, how many people - of course mostly females - posted #metoo?
This campaign actually started a huge process in my head and I decided this is worth more than a facebook post - esspecially because I heard similar things from a huge number of female friends and it's time to speak up and make this louder.

For those who have no facebook and haven't heard about the Me too campaign: It recently became famous in October 2017, when actress Alyssa Milano encouraged women to use the hashtag #metoo on social media. The aim was, to show how widespread and "normal" sexual harassment and abuse are for women these days. It was actually social activist Tarana Burke, who first used the term "me too" as a public statement but after Alyssa Milano accused her producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, she twittered the famous statement:

"If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote 'Me too.' as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem."

The hashtag went viral within minutes.
Facebook, Twitter and other social media were full of #metoos and the stories behind them. Girls and women talked about their experiences and feelings and even men started to spread the hashtag.

this is for us ladies
As usual, when I write about controversial topics, I want to point out that the following is a personal opinion. I write about my experiences and my conversations with others. About my thoughts on this topic and I am open for and happy about any conversation that gets started. This is what #metoo is all about. Starting a conversation. Ending the silence, making things visible. So feel free to join the conversation. But: This is a sensitive topic for many - please keep that in mind. If you feel like saying anything that would compromise someones feelings, or that could give someone the feeling that her (or his) experiences are not relevant - please don't. This whole campaign started to create a safe space for people and especially women to speak about what happened to them. Without judgement. And I think it's really important that we learn to listen to that. What did it do to that person, who speaks up? Even if it wouldn't have done the same to us. Maybe especially then.

So. What do I think about #metoo?
When I first saw it - and that is the whole thing that started to change - I thought: "What a nice campaign, I think that's important." But would I post it? No. Of course not. Because that would be offensive towards those, who had suffered from "real" sexual harassment. I mean - I didn't have any emotional scars - right...? 
But then I read so many #metoos and thought  "Well, we should make this bigger and support those, who really have suffered from it!"
And so I posted in my sometimes-social-activist-behavior:

"If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote "Me too." as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem."
Reading my Facebook feed and all those "me toos" that popped up made me realize that there doesn't seem to be one single woman (and I'm pretty sure men as well..) who hasn't experienced any kind of sexual harassment. Raising awareness for this is important - changing it is more important. Please do not let that happen around you. Stand up for your mother's, sisters, daughters as well as for you brothers, fathers and sons.

And then I read more. And I slowly started to realise.
A friend of mine wrote this:

Of course #metoo. I've always thought this was an obvious reality, but then I'm a woman and I talk to other women. For the small minority of people on my flist who aren't aware of this reality, of course.
(thanks for this, Lisa!)

This statement was the moment, when my mind started to change. Because she was right. Of course had I experienced sexual harassment, even sexual assault. More than once. And I didn't even think of it. Because it WAS normal. It didn't bring me into hospital with physical scars and it might not had left me with horrible emotional scars (do we ever fully know..?) but OF COURSE it had happened. Many times.

When a stranger asked me on the street (I was 5 or younger!) if I wanted to earn money - I would only need to hold his penis.

When another stranger in the swimming pool came way too close and touched me several times "by accident" (I was still not even a teenager!).

When this boy in my gymnastic class, who I played "marriage" with, touched me between the legs and kissed me on the lips, eventhough I pushed him away - every week. (I was maybe 4 and he was about the same age. And I'm sorry that I never told you this Mami, but that was the reason why I wanted to quit gymnastics. I dont even know, why I never told you - I think I was ashamed, because I didn't understood and everyone told me, we would be such "a cute married couple" - so I thought he would be right, doing that).

The uncountable times, when I wasn't ready for the next step and I somehow didn't know, how to say "No!" but never said (or even showed) "Yes!" and the next step happend.

The too many times, when the sex took too long and it started to hurt so I asked, if he was ready or could stop and it didn't stopped.

The uncountable times, on festivals, parties or elsewhere, when someone grabbed my butt, touched my breasts or even touched me between the legs.

Those times in the train, when it was full - but not THAT full and the guy behind me would press his penis against my butt and pretend he just had to make space for someone else. And then I would look at him angrily and ask him to step back and he would look at me and say "Sorry there is no space" - so I would make space and 2 minutes later he'd be behind me again, pressed against my butt. Several times. In several trains. With several men.

That one time in Morocco, when Nori and me almost got kidnapped.

That one time in France, when this drunken guy pressed me against the wall and went under my skirt. And I pushed him away and he'd just press me harder to the wall. Lucky me that some strangers came down the street and heard me yelling at him and came to support me.

That one time in Sri Lanka, when a guy was sitting in the bush near the beach and wanked, looking at us in our bikinis.

That one time, when my boyfriend at that time wanted to try something new in bed and I answered, I wouldn't want to try that and I don't think I'd like it so he just started it while I was asleep and when I finally was fully awake he just smiled and said "see, I knew you'd like it, if I'd just tried. You were just scared of trying something new."

That one time, I was on a beach, topless and this 50+ years old guy would look at my boobs constantly and when I asked him to look somewhere else because it would make me feel uncomfortable, he would answer "Well if you put them out, you can't expect me to NOT look."

The uncountable times in Afrika or Asia when I was not able to read my book, because men would talk to me, even when I told them "I want to read my book."

And the list goes on.
Training with my trainingspartner after the brown belt examen
Honestly - I have a hundred stories like these. Not to mention a billion times of stupid blabla, whistles and so on. I won't even complain about it - I personally take it as jokes and joke back. But yes. A lot of women feel uncomfortable about these kind of things.
And the whole thing is so much worse: Every single female friend that I asked, had just as many stories herself.
And THAT is a shocking. It really is. I remind you: I thought I shouldn't post #metoo, because nothing "really bad" had happened to me. Eventhough that guy in France was pretty damn serious. Especially because I was not able to get him off me. And I'm freaking doing Karate. I could have. And I couldn't. I couldn't punch him in his face. I couldn't protect myself. Me. Who I always considered as strong and safe. I could yell at him (yell, not scream), I could push him. But I could not do whatever it took to set myself free. When his hand was already under my skirt. It didn't feel "bad enough" to hurt someone. Luckily he didn't hurt me in the end. I doubt that he would have hesitated to.

And all the other stuff was totally not okay either.

I spoke to so many friends afterwards and a lot of them thought similar. It really is something normal for us, something "not bad enough" to talk about. But it does happen. All the time.
And just because it may not leave us crying every single time - it still doesn't make us feel good after all.

#metoo started the conversation and the more I read about it, the more I realise, how important it is, to finally speak about these things. Because men do maybe NOT - different to what I wrote in my original post - have the same experiences. At least not every day and in this huge numbers. And for sure it not seen as something normal for them or the world around them.
And yes, it is never okay, happening to a man or a woman. But it should also never(!) become acceptd every day life and that seems to be something that only(?) concernes women. Please! Correct me, if I'm wrong. Never have been a man, so I don't claim to be right here.

And to be honest. Reading all these things, that happened to me or others and knowing that there are plenty more - that is not nothing. That is fucking shit.

working together instead
of fighting each other
One last thing about the reactions: I personally was absolutely pleased. From my female friends and their openness - but also from my male friends. I heard that there were some quite shitty reactions on social media from men, saying "women are overrating" or "Not every compliment is an assault". And eventhough I often agree by saying "jokes are jokes and harassment is harassment, you as a woman can decide if you take something serious or not and how to deal with it" - in this case I don't agree. People open up here. Women speak about their - partly horrible - experiences. Sorry dude, but it doesn't matter if you think, someone is overrating. If she felt assaulted, it is NOT OKAY - even if you didn't mean it that way. And if someone wants to speak about it: Let them speak. Now it's time to shut up for the rest and listen. And learn.

But as I said: Personally I had only good conversations and reactions - especially from men.
And that's amazing, because we do need to make girls stronger and more self confident - but we also need to educate men.
This project in Kenya is an amazing example, how both ways can be combined.

And since I do believe in the good, I want to end this post with two quotes. The first one from Ather Zia, an Anthropology professor assistant and one from a (male) friend of mine. Yes. This. Thank you for understanding and being an example, Vivek.

dear men, #metoo shows you from east to west, how men have chosen the path of least resistance when it comes to gender justice. please, do not ask women what the use of #metoo is? do not ask what the project of feminism (whatever you think the word means to you) is? respect these admissions. these are not admissions of any personal/sexual shame (for God's sake) if anything it tells you, of your constructed perversions which have been naturalized and invisibilized.
it is not the job of women and survivors of other marginalized genders to tell you what they intend next or how useful this campaign is. they just did their part. they just showed you a mirror. respect it. if anything it is your turn to look.



I'm really sorry that it's you too.
Each time I see #metoo posted, I think of you and I feel very sorry that you've had those experiences.
I know a lot of you are reliving trauma brought up by this little hashtag, and I have seen that it's all too often dismissed and trivialised once again. So I just want to be a voice saying I hear your story, as much as you choose to tell, and I'm sorry.

thank you for all your openness and your stories, ladies, sisters and friends.

As I said: I am happy about any conversation. Feel free to share, comment or discuss.

Montag, 16. Oktober 2017

German Summer: How to enjoy the rain or: How to escape the Every-Day-Life Routine for a nomadic Lifestyle in your own home?

How it feels to be back... Ou I can't really say that. Good. So good to see all these faces again, to be with my family, to be at places, where memories take over. 
Bad. So bad to miss Australia and the big big world and it's wonders that only come to you when you're by yourself.
It's good, it's bad, it is how it is but in fact: I'm here. Really enjoying it. Eventhough I spent the summer in Germany.
Let me explain this. for non-Germans...

German summer is not what summer is elsewhere. Don't get me wrong, we did have some good summers the past 10 years but still - it is barely really hot for longer than a month and this summer is pretty much like deepest winter in Tasmania or Melbourne. In fact I haven't changed my wardrobe yet. But I might get my down jacket from the attic soonish.
There might be a sunny day but it's pretty much always followed by at least 3 rainy days. Every single time.
And even the hotest days are more humid and barely hot enough to swim. And that was about it. The leaves are already falling from the trees (what a wonderful world of colours and sounds!) and the days of summer are over in Germany. Anyway I'm here and I slowly overcome the fact that I missed German family Christmas with all the lights and snow (sometimes) etc. for being able to spend (this) summer here instead of Christmas. It's time to chase the sun again very soon, but first it's time to get back to writing and reflecting. Because the summer - as bad as it was - wasn't actually that bad.

So let's talk about something positive. 
Camping works perfectly fine
as "home office"
What exactly are Germans doing in a summer like this? Why and (more important) how can it still be fun here (because damn, it is :D) and goddamn how can we all escape the working boring everydaylife and keep enjoying ourselves more often? At least from time to time and without the need of selling everything and leaving with a no return ticket?
Because really: So many people I talked to, back home, are unsatisfied with their lives. Too much work, not enough cool stuff happening, "Wow, Leo, you must have such an adventurous life out there...!" I'll tell you what: I'm still having it. And I'm having it right here. Within your neighborhood. Besides working and everydaylife-routine. And I'm doing that with you guys mostly so keep your eyes wide open, adventures are right here in front of all of us, behind that door with a sign saying "aaah naaaa not today, I'm too tired from work."

The answer: festivals! Workshops! Roadtrips! Parcs! Life! Open Airs!
Acro at "Keine
Fische aber Grethen"
I'm not even sure if this is such a typical German thing. It might be a international summer thing in the end but since I am in Germany right now I can say one thing for sure: It is definetly a German summer thing! :)
And hell, including not only festivals but also roadtrips, camping weekends and visiting friends in other cities - I have slept on a lot of couches lately and the Flixbus became my favorite workspace ever.
Of course there are these big festivals: Fusion, Rock am Ring, Wacken, Southside, Hurricane and a lot more. I'm sure they're all great. Can't really tell, never been there, I don't like too many people :D
Wind? We can still build tents!
But: there also are these awesome little festivals and open airs and much more! Happenings with heart and soul, with community vibes and do it yourself flavour. And these, my dear friends, these things should not be missed, if you ever happen to be in Germany during summer... Because even if it rains: Nothing can ruin a happy mood. And with 3000 happy moods around you - it's just quite hard to be unhappy.
Just to drop some festival names/suggestions (there are plenty more!)

- Skandaloes
- Kiezburn
- Wilde Möhre
- Yoga Wasser Klang
- Reif für die Insel
- Plötzlich am Meer
- Kitesurf Worldcup
- Keine Fische aber Grethen

What else?
If the weather is good, try a parc near by, have a BBQ, bring your slackline or your pois and become a crazy circus artist! Bring your friends and a lot of sweet strawberries! And maybe jump in the lake if it's warm enough. Or not, because it probably won't. But you know what? Jump in the lake anyway, it rains, yes but that only means, we're wet already, right?

Stand Up Paddeling - we're wet already so the rain can come.

Bring your SUP Board and maybe a Hula Hoop! Join the Lange Nacht der Theater (long night of theatres) or a poetry slam. find yourself a choire or a open mic night, go camping for a weekend, a walk in the forrest, learn how to meditate or try tantra, explore your favorite sport again or learn how to draw... So much to do in this world, 2017 is a new beginning, remember? So start something new!

"But.... I can't do any of these things....." Where and how to find them?
Riiiiiight. That's why we've got workshops! So many freaking talented people are showing us their skills. Sometimes for money or donation, sometimes in exchange for something they want to learn or just for free, because it's awesome to do something you love and share it with others. And that doesn't have to be circus shit just because I love it. That can be everything. Everything you always wanted to learn. And a lot of things you never heard about. And we'll meet same minded people there! And simply have fun, grow and have a new experience! And maybe, if we're keen, we can teach something
Phie and Nori learning new skills
at "Skandalös"
in return one day.
These workshops are not only to find during festivals, but all over Germany (and pretty much the rest of the world). Whatever you always wanted to learn: Summertime is your chance :) How to find them? Meetup is a great app for exploring but even Facebook will send you suggestions, once you clicked on enough events with your interest.
Poing in the parc...
Ah how I love this! So many happylikeaunicorn-moments :) So many good people, so many new skills! Melbournians, be aware. I said I'll start with fire poi, when I learned my 4th trick. I can do 5 now so the possibility to accidentally burn Melbourne down is not that theoretical anymore...

...or headstands in the nature...
Because WHY NOT??
Of course... Sometimes I am happy to have a day in bed. With chocolate and my laptop. We all need this from time to time, don't we?
But I realise more and more how much happier and healthier I am, when I spontaneously say yes to some weird ideas in my head or from friends.

Acro festival "Reif für die Insel"
And I guess this is my answer to a lot of "Your life sounds sooo interesting, Leonie"s. It actually is very stressful from time to time. That is a topic for another post. But it is. It's not all glitter and not all rainbows. But I do include glitter and rainbows in my life actively and I know that it makes me much happier. I know that I don't want to spend the rest of my life complaining but rather finding memorable moments, experiences and unicorns.
Let's go!
And what's best about it: You don't need to give up your security. Of course it's not for everyone to quit your job, leave everything behind and pack your life in a backpack. Even if a lot of bloggers try to convice you "everybody can". Maybe not everyone wants to. That's how easy it is. But that doesn't mean you can't have anything from the life of a free bird. You can do your job, have your partner, you don't need to be a free soul, a nomad or even traveler, if you don't want to. You can have your savings, your warm and cozy home and you can have the adventures on top. Bring your partner and do a workshop together, something you would like to explore as a couple. Get yourself off the couch and for sure off the workspace and wonder around. Explore your talents, your fears, your heartbeat. Find a rhythm and dance to it and I'm not speaking about a club. Include a little bit of glitter and excitement in your day. I know it's hard to find the beginning, because we human beings tend to be rather lazy and stick to what we have. Which is perfectly fine. If it makes you happy. But if you want more - get your phone, have a look at events, happenings or communities around you, get involved, learn, grow and have a blast!

And if you do so: Share your new skill, passion or idea in the comments below :)

Samstag, 15. Juli 2017

G20 in Hamburg - Thoughts and feelings about Hamburg-home and the riots

I don't usually write about politics here but this time I had to. 
Many of you asked me, if I was okay and how I was feeling/thinking about the G20 in Hamburg and the riots that came with it.
I appreciate that. I think we should never stop talking and thinking. So here's how I see G20 and the riots.

Facts first. It has been a little over a week now that Hamburg was in G20-chaos. In the meantime several police officers and radicals were under investigation. The numbers are still varying and the people are still talking. That's the main reason, why I want to write about last weekend. I am not sure how much my friends from oversea hear about the whole thing, even though I think it really is important for many of us.

peaceful demonstration against G20 in Hamburg

First of all: As I always do, I spoke with a lot of people. For me it's alsways the best way, to hear both (or in this case: all) sides before I make up my mind. And even after. Different people see and feel different things in the same situation. This wasn't any different last weekend.
I heard opposite statements about the same moments and both had some truth to them.
Before I start, I want to make it very clear that we all have opinions depending on our own circumstances, experiences and personalities. This here is mine. No absolute truth. An opinion. I am trying to make people think. If you think about the world or anything I've said in this post, I am happy and I'd be even happier, if you share your thoughts in public and we start a discussion to think and change more. But please keep in mind: This here is a tiny little bit of experience from the past weekend and not the only truth. I am happy to learn from you and I hope you do too. Let's not keep on fighting, we had enough of that. Instead we should try to learn from each other.

I say this, because I've seen a lot of really unnecessary mean and angry discussions on facebook lately. People unfriend each other, because they don't agree on something. We should never stop discussing and fighting for whatever we believe in but we should do it with open eyes and open hearts and not to be the person, who wins, but for the cause.

And this is exactly my biggest problem with the whole G20 weekend. What do we see in the news now? What do we speak about? The riots. The fire. The demonstrations and how violent the radicals were. How violent and unorganised the police was. What about G20? What about the hunger in the world, about social injustice and environment? All these reasons, why people went on the street for in the first place?
No one speaks about the problems that were the actual thing about G20. Everyone speaks about the fires as if they were the biggest event ever. Those riots and much(!!) worse are reality in other parts of the world every day!! And as far as I know, was that the original reason, people planned demonstrations, came to Hamburg and had something to say. Let's please not forget that under all those headlines about radicals, brutal cops and terrorism.

For everyone who hasn't seen the news lately or wasn't in contact with me: G20 (the most powerful and rich countries come together to talk about the question how to stay as rich) took place in Hamburg, Germany last weekend. Many Hamburgers (not a joke that's what you call Hamburg's citizens..) were against the G20 and especially to host this event, partly because they were against the concept of G20, partly because such an event (and no, it is not a Hafengeburtstag...) brings things with it like demonstrations, potentionally riots and chaos and - definitely - a lot of chaos and annoying shit like stop-and-go, late busses and blocked streets as well as waste and noise for the citizens.

Defekt: Broken.
But still it happened so in the first week of July, a wave of visitors came to Hamburg. People from all parts of Germany and even other countries camped here, to protest against G20 and take part in bigger demonstrations.
During the G20 it came to crazy riots, the Schanze (my neighbourhood in Hamburg, 15 minutes walk from where I live) was on fire over and over again. Shops, cars and streets got destroyed and the police was protecting the G20 and it's high politicians more than us citizens. Violence came from both sides and protest came from both sides.
Now that it's over, it's time to review, reflect and ask questions - and a whole city does. How was it possible that something like this, almost a warsituation for a weekend could happen in Germany out of nowhere? Who was the actual violent and activly pushing party - Police or radicals? Why did the whole thing escalated? And what do we learn from it?
Since I was back in Hamburg during this time and I know a lot of my friends were only able to follow the whole thing through news and facebook, I want to share, how it felt like, to see (one of) my home(s) becoming a zone out of legality, where everything could have happend and to share what I have seen and heard by friends and people who were involved. To complete the picture the media paints a little more.

It actually started long before the G20: It started with the camps.
demonstrants with mummery
The police tried to stop these camps and this is the critical point, where opinions don't match anymore. From what I've seen and heard was there already quite some violence involved. Mostly from the cops' side, which makes sense when we look at the later pictures of a burning Hamburg. Maybe those camps were not a good idea after all and we should have supported the police to send at least some of those people home. On the other hand, there was definitely violence involved and it was the police who stopped the "Welcome to hell" demo before it started. We can argue about the mummery (the official reason why the demo was stopped was the black block and people who hid their faces, which is illegal). When does mummery starts? Are sunglasses protection for the teargas (in this case a very justified question...) or are they mummery? What about a hoodie? And why can we still not really identify a police officer? Because they come from the gouvernment? With all due respect - and I have respect for the police men and women after G20, they (or let's say the majority) were not treated right nor fair at all - but I have seen police officers using their helmets as a mummery and having fun to be the stronger one, using the "protection" as weapon to beat people and to make the first step. I understand that police are not demonstrants. Still some of them are using their power and abusing it and their identity should be visible (or more visible, a number for their unit is still not enough identity in my eyes) in case someone needs to report one of them.
peaceful demonstrants
I also know, this brings problems for the security of the police officers - still. When you stand in front of two black blocks and one of them asked the other one to take off the mummery while they are one black wall too - with bigger and stronger weapons even... Than there is a reason why people hesitate to.

After the welcome to hell demo the real riots started. And no wonder: The demonstration didn't make it 100m, it was canceled and all those angry black blockers were running around in groups.
Up to this point I do have sympathies. I understand that a lot of people have enough of peaceful demonstrations that don't change anything. I understand, they have enough of being unheard and ignored.

I do not understand the violence that came after neither have I any sympathy for it. I want to show it in pictures. Someone made this youtubevideo out of many videos from different people. I want to note that not all protests were like this. There were a lot of peaceful demonstrations but this was reality, too.
I am not a big fan to spread these headlines more and more in the media and since I didn't film these videos I can not take responsibility for them but for those, who haven't heard about the chaos here it might be easier to understand through pictures. That's the only reason, why I included this video.

Not only cars started to burn as a political sign (GODDAMN IT! Not everyone has an assurance, there are humans behind it, humans who might had to save and work hard for this goddamn car if you personally like it or not but NOTHING gives you the right to destroy it!), also bikes (wtf you anticapitalism radicals, are you aware that an old bike is no Mercedes...?! In this situation, I got myself in a little danger by yelling at some black blockers until I realized that they were in the majority and I should maybe not yell too loud.), shops (and not only the big ones, pretty much all the shops had broken windows, no matter if they were supermarket chains or little book stores) and even living houses started to burn. I am glad to say no one died. But the number of hurt police officers was immense - the media is quite unclear on that. Numbers vary between 160 and up to 600 but even 160 is shit and I assume 160 means the serious injuries, 600 the twisted ankles. But anyway. What the police men and women had to endure is crazy. They slept max. a few hours per night, they had to stand still while people yelled at them, insulted them, even threw bottles and molotov-cocktails at them. And they had to stay calm. With all this pressure. For days without enough sleep. They had to react and follow instructions and orders.
I often ask myself how many of those guys would rather walk on the street among us, instead of standing there for hours in their hot and heavy uniform. Some of them looked insanely tired.
Don't get me wrong. As I said, I've seen both: Violent and power-loving police officers and very tired, almost sad ones, who just stood there and did their job, trying to solve the situation as good as they could.
cops are investigating peaceful people
in a parc - no visible reason in this case.
citizens protesting.
And please: don't anyone come with the argument: "Well, I'm not sorry - they should get another job then." No. These people are humans, too. Some of them became police officers, to protect us, to help. Some of them - I agree - not. Some of them like the feeling to have a stick in their hand and don't get in trouble for beating someone up. But a police officer is not just a police officer. He or she is a human being with a personality. You can like or dislike this personality, but to hear one more person say "I hate all cops" drives me crazy. Go to Africa if you really want to see corrupt cops. Or go and hate the big boss - The politicians and the ones who make the rules and the orders. But don't hate the ones on the street, just because they are from "the other group". This is war. Exactly this. The big guys decide we got war and then they have a coffee (Trump said he "felt very safe in Hamburg". Good for him. We citizens didn't, thanks to him and the others), while the ordinary people are sent to the battlefields and shoot each other. People who actually could be friends or neigbours.
Please. Let's not become this. Let's stay friends and neighbours.

Clown (is that a mummery...?) explains police officer, why they're here.
Communication and creativity instead of violence.

The same btw goes for the lefties. The black block. I already said it: I was angry because they burnt bikes. So I decided instead of yelling at them and get myself in danger (F***ck.... Do you have any idea, how scary it is to see 200 people, all in black, with hidden faces running towards you and destroying windows, breaking things, kicking things, burning things and yelling..?! It IS scary.). But still, I was angry too and I wanted to have an answer.
So I did get myself one. I picked one of those guys and ask him straight away, what the fuck his friends are doing there. And we talked. For 3 hours. Sitting on the street, because cars didn't drive anymore anyway. And I learned. I learned that the black block in Hamburg, the left radicals, the antifa and autonomous or however you want to call them are not all the same (oh wonder.). Just as the police: There are good ones and bad ones. People with different opinions, people with reasons and people with anger. And stupid teenagers (really. Sooooo many youngsters who had no idea was G20 means. Really no idea. I asked them.) HUMANS.
peaceful (but unheard) protest
In the end, I don't agree with all that he told me - quite the contrary: I hate the violence and I stand with all my soul against it. But I start to understand, why people feel they have to escalate to be heard.
After what Merkel said about the riots and that she would thank all police officers and she wouldn't mind peaceful demonstrations... I do understand that one gets angry... Not a single word about almost a whole city showing her that the G20 is not welcome - peaceful and violent. SO MANY PEOPLE. And she ignores it. Just thanks the police and goes on with G20. Just as when millions of people demonstrated against TIIP.
One thing, I'll never understand. Let it be a hate against Muslims, because one terrorist is one or hate against left demonstrants, because a few of them went over the line, let it be cops, because a few of them are abusing their power. I will never understand how people can be against a whole group, without seeing the people within it. Gosh damnit. There are humans (I think I have mentioned this before...). On the police's side, on the radicals side. They are not all good or bad. PLEASE. Go and ask them for their reasons instead of hating them all, because you don't agree with one or two actions.

When I talked with my black-block-friend (who btw did not burn anything and was totally against what happened in Hamburg), he was so busy with hating the cops and to prove that they started the escalation that he somehow forgot to tell me, what he was against in G20 - or what he stood for. I find this sad. G20 is a big thing. I am sure we all have opinions on that. So many people want a new system. But now, we won't speak about it. We will speak about "those criminals" who burned the city. We could have done better.

And the Hamburgers did.

Hamburg cleans up:
Demolition becomes a place for a new flower, citizens and police work together.

As sad I am about the riots, as happy makes me the reaction of my beloved Hamburger fellas. The riots went on and became worse. Radicals started to bring huge cobblestones up to some rooftops. The plan was to drop them on the cops, when they arrive.
I have to say this, just to make it clear: This would have been murder.
people standing together
And the Hamburgers, who already started to get pissed anyway, because all these people completely destroyed their neighbourhood (by that time it was in the media that a lot of the riots were lead by people from other countries - We all wonder if those people would have done that to their own families and neighbours...?) the Hamburgers however... They had enough. And they went to those guys and took the cobblestones right back to their places. And called the cops to warn them. The riots went on but as the G20 ended on sunday, Hamburg's people called each other to clean up the city.
Faith in humanity restored. So many beautiful people. Cleaning up, planting flowers, writing signs, what we should learn from it and what was positive in all this chaos.
I think as we saw the chaos in pictures, we should see the clean-up in pictures, too. Selfmade this time.

Baristas brough coffee, restaurants food and construction companies material

This was interesting. It was so diverse. A few people thanked the cops, another few asked, where they had been (valid question, not to the cops but to the people who make the orders. Who protected us? Where was the police, when cars were burned? Yes. They protected Merkel, Erdogan and Trump. And Putin, eventhough we all know, he can fight alone.).
Another few praised the solidarity within our lovely city and censured the violence and the radicals/criminals and another few asked the politicians what the hell they were thinking to bringing this chaos to us.
And I agree on all. Yes. The politicians have not set anything on fire. But they brought it here. Without agreement of citizens. They also did not protect us or helped us to clean up (oh yes, Merkel said, there will be compensations for everyone, who lost something but let's be honest, if she pays it out of our taxes it won't really hurt her, will it..?). THEY were protected. We were not.
I also agree on thanking the police. I could have not done your job. I know that there are some among you, who don't deserve my gratitude. But I believe the majority does. And I am sorry that our system forced you to sleep less, stand and fight longer and being exposed to anger and hate. This is not right. I can only say: Stand with us. I welcome you to stand on my side for a better world and a new system. Not with violence - but with strengh.
I agree on the critic on our system. That the rich become richer and the poor are suffering. I agree that it can't be right that the police protects 20 people, who are talking about something, that half or more than half of the nation doesn't want, while hard working people are scared in their own homes. I agree that it can't be right that nearly 100.000 people are on the street saying "no" and Merkel just smiles and says "it is your right to say "no" - let's keep doing this." This is not democracy anymore. I may remind on TTIP again and how many people said no. And nothing stopped.
I agree that violence is no option but I also understand that there is a reason why people get frustrated and angry. I agree on not tolerating violence but neither can I provide the ultimate solution to be heard (yet).
I agree on loving the solidarity and creativity in Hamburg and I am proud and happy to see my own people (if that exists, in the end we're all the same) loving stronger than hating and rebuilding and standing together after all.

"If you wanna know, where this damage came from, ask us. It's for sure different than you think."
People start a dialogue.

and ask if there is something positiv about the whole chaos.

In the end I find it hard to have only one point of view. I want to make this very clear: I have no(!) understanding nor sympathy for the radicals, who harmed people. In my eyes violence is not a solution. Ever.
The same goes for those police officers, who like to show how powerful they are by spraying teargas right into someone's eyes after this one dropped his glasses.
And both is true. Seen it with my own eyes.
But after this... I think we are on a point where we have to open our mouthes and be loud. Loud. Not violent. We are awake after the G20. We have seen, that chaos is not as far as we might think or have thought.

"infinite solidarity. Crafting connects - G20 seperates us."
This sign was nailed in front of a shop window to protect it from stones. A demonstrator painted it.

I said in the beginning, I want to share not only thought but also feelings.
Hamburg was a chaos for 3 days. No one could say, what would happen next. I have never felt this way here in Hamburg or esewhere in Germany. I don't want to draw a comparison with a warzone, because I think that would rightly offend many people and because I think we can not imagine what it must be like to life in a constant danger.
But I - personally and I heard similar feelings from a lot of people - got a first (very tiny) insight, how it feels to constantly hear the helicopters flying and smell the smoke (and with constant I mean constant. It was impossible to open the window because of this noise, smoke, horns and not at least fear and I was not even in the main zone). I understood for the first time how it feels to get used to chaos and to live in it - and this was only a weekend, which I'm well aware of! I understood fully, how lucky we are, to live in peace and safety. Even if many of my left orientated friends will protest now and say this safety is an illusion. But fact is: I was never hungry. I was never attacked on the streets and I could always speak out what I had to say. Even in this chaos, you could hear both sides in the daily news. Maybe not fully but both parties had the right to speak and were not muted.
"If you're shocked about the riots in
the Schanze - don't say Afghanistan
would be safe to live in!"
Yes, the system we live in is not perfect. But we are much, much better than a lot of countries and I am insanely grateful for it.
We still can and should make it better but we need to be aware how safe we are compared to others.

Another fact is: As sad and angry as I am about all this unnecessary violence here. This and much more is every day life elsewhere and if all of us would spend as much attention on these people we wouldn't have freaking G20 anymore. Yes, it is shit that cars and shops are destroyed. But can we think about people who lost their complete homes and families for a second? Can we think about the fact that a lot of those people, who are crying for justice and peace now are the same people who are moaning around when it comes to the refugee center in their neighbourhood?
I can only hope that this weekend was not for nothing. I hope we all learned something new. I hope we listen to others more in the future, that we open our eyes and hearts and that we manage it to bring the open discourse back to the main point: Social justice. And not headlines and riots.

Let's hope, we keep more from it in our heads and hearts than a few bags full of waste.

I am sure you have an opinion. I want to hear it. I might disagree, you might disagree but let's talk about it as friends and share the wisdom in the comments below.

Dienstag, 13. Juni 2017

(Too) Big Business in Sri Lanka ?

Sri Lanka with the wonderful waves, the nature, the delicious food and the super friendly people is not only one of my favorite spots ever, it also seems like this country or its people want me to stay...

not the worst place for a season of work... Tropi Turtle Hostel in South Sri Lanka

What is this with people in Sri Lanka looking for European business partners? I've been to Sri Lanka twice (only!) and everytime I got there, I got a number or email from someone who asked me to stay a whole season and join their business. One for each stay. And Speaking to other backpackers I noticed I'm not the only one...
One wanted me to stay at his beach- and diving-hostel to manage it. clean the rooms, doing check in and outs, organize it all a bit etc. He was also very keen to show me other properties and wanted to hear my opinion, which one he should buy. As if I am somehow good in investments and money issues. Poor guy, probably a good thing that I didn't stay. He would be broke by now, following my investment-advices pretty sure.
He offered me free accomondation, a surfboard and a scooter to use, a little pocket money for food and extras and help with the visa.
The second guy wanted to sell me a ring. Then he wanted me to help him in the shop. Then he wanted me to go to another city with him, where he gets the gemstones for his jewellry making shop from. And then he came up with the idea that he could possible turn his beach villa into a hotel (of course me being the muse and decorateur and manager and yoga teacher and in general - just the allover Leonie.).
He offered me free accomondation, paying for my flight tickets (if I stay the whole season), free trips, a surfboard and scooter and the ring, he actually wanted to sell me (beautful, beautiful ring, I was tempted!!!).

preparing breakfast for the guests
That I work on the road is nothing very uncommon. I love to do hairwraps, help in projects or shops, do online stuff or whatever crosses my path. But that 2 people in the same country try to make me stay in such a way is uncommon indeed.
Suspicious how a girl after 5 years of backpacking should be, when a man tries to make her stay, I talked around a lot to find out what they really were after.
I have to say: Both of them emphasized that it was not about sex or marriage in such a strong way that I was in favor to believe that actually was their main motive.

Sri Lanka... A real paradise.
But why the business blabla? I still couldn't really figure that out and regarding the fact that I met other travellers with the same experience (male as female..) and regarding the fact that they always invited my non-existing boyfriend as well I actually believe there is something more behind the whole thing. Maybe it's just good for the business, when people see a European behind the shop or would rather book a hotelroom from a European than a Sri Lankan (is that really true..?) I don't know but there must be a reason.

To be honest: It's not excatly the worst to have 2 invitations to live in Sri Lanka for half a year for free, isn't it?
Sri Lanka is beautiful, I think if Australia doesn't work out I might take one of those guys offer and give it a try. Maybe just to find out, what they're really after. Of course my (non existing but they don't know that) German boyfriend is welcome, too. Both of them actually said he could work here, too.

Avocado Lassi and Dhal/Rotti
nothing compares...
This was one point, that really made me wonder. If they accept me bringing my boyfriend, and even invite him it can't be about sex, can it..? Any of my male friends keen to live and work in Sri Lanka for a while to find out..? We could be a Punkah on Sri Lanka!
We could drink Avocado Lassies, go surfing every day and do a meditation or yoga retreat from time to time to calm our minds or simply go hiking in the mountains. Doesn't sound too bad hm...? :)

Ever happend to you that you were offered a job on the road that kept you staying a country? Or do you wonder how to get jobs on the road?
Share in the comments below :)

Mittwoch, 31. Mai 2017

Goodbye Melbourne, Goodbye Australia. For now - Or: my heart is breaking, where is my wanderlust?!

I am leaving. Can you believe that?? To be honest.. I can't. And I don't want to! People keep asking, if I'm excited. Sure, I really want to see a lot of people and I love Sri Lanka so it will be amazing to be back but my brain hasn't arrived at that stage yet. It just screams "noooooooooo! I don't want to pack this backpack! I want to stay! Settle! Rest! Stay!!!" So I'm sitting here, at the airport and type my last words in Australia...

bye bye Melbourne sky...

I assume every backpacker comes to that point, where the wanderlust gets a little sleepy and the longing for setteling takes over. I did not expect that to happen ever and not at all I expected Australia to be the country where it would happen.
I remember how Laura, a Berlin friend, said to me before I left to India: "But don't you fall in love with an Australien and never come back, I see that happening!" Hm. Not a particular one but I guess, I did fall in love with a lot of Australians. And with a city.
Melbourne. My home, my base, my place to be.
my house my home
It's hard to explain, how home I feel here but every time, I walk out of Jewell Station and see the well known graffitis ahead, the small alley ways and the old trees that are making the alley ways even smaller, I instantly feel home. A feeling I thought I had everywhere, where my backpack is.
In fact... I had not. I love a lot of places. I miss a lot of places. I wanna see a lot of places again. But not a single one feels home, like Brunswick in Melbourne does. And did from the first day on.

...or a chicken
a canoe in the garden...
I remember exactly how I felt, when I went to the interview with my then-future housemates. I walked out of the train station and was in love. I was hoping so bad to get this place and with every step I took, the feeling of arrival became stronger. Luckily I got the room and the feeling has not changed ever since. Every part in my body relaxes as soon as I walk down to my lovely little house with the wild garden. I love the fact to always find something new there. Last time, I walked into my front yard, there was a canoe. Why not?
I love this house, eventho we have mouses climbing in our toaster from time to time. I love my housemates, as diverse we might be. I love the area, I love my Melbourne friends, who still are so damn good to talk to, after I haven't seen them in 5 months. I love my acro-community, those people who I and - more important - my body trusts
without any hesitation.
can you spot
housemate number 6..?
I learned so much here, maybe not as much as I learned in Nepal but deeper or somehow more realistic in a way. Nepal taught me a lot. But it was about me travelling, about my free soul. Handeling problems. Melbourne taught me, who I am in terms of future, achivements, social role and purpose in life. I've never seen my path that clear and I've never felt to not want to leave that badly. This is, where I belong, this is, where I want to be. Right now and for however long.

When I came to Melbourne, I thought it would be for a couple of months, make some money and go back to Asia and travel. Never happened.
I can't even say what it is about this city. It's not at all, how I thought, Australia would be. I expected beachlife, Outback and a lot of laid-back surfing. Actually, Melbourne is quite European. It's cold in winter, warm in summer, it's big and like a city, it has shops and public transport.
Melbourne streetart
I still find it weird, that sushi roles are sold in a complete roll instead of little pieces (the whole hand smells after!), I miss Apfelschorle and Laugenbrötchen and I hate the fact that every coffeedate leads to 1 hour in public transport (one reason, why I left Berlin...) It's way too expensive and let's not talk about immigration! I spoke to a lot of people lately and we all agree: Australia is stupid, not to want us.
But on the other side, people care about each other. I see people
someone put a flower on this
homeless' bed. We should all
do more of this!!!
shaking hands of homeless people, without any prejudices. I see people getting social active, without blaming others. When I walked through Melbourne in a hurry the other day, I still talked to 3 strangers. I love the 7/11 coffee (real Latte for 1$!) and the op-shops! I love the fact that tradies getting a shitload of money for working with their hands. I love the fact, that you can easily make 2000$, if you're working in hospitality or some other job. I love how the houses are low here instead of having skyscratchers everywhere. I love, how the
sky and the clouds and the stars feel somehow closer.
my favorite spot
the little fountain in
princes park
I love the little fountain in the park close to my home and the sound of the nearby zoo if the wind is right. I love the "no worries, mate" and the little chats in the supermarket. There is so much, I love about living here!
cozy backyard and favorite
working space
But now it does happen, I gotta leave and I am not sure, how to feel about it. Yes, I'll be back in September. The question is just: And then? For how long? 2nd year visa? Thanks to my potato crew and Tassie I did manage to get my 88 days somehow. But is that really what I want now? In fact, it's not. Yes, I want to stay here but I'm over jobs. I have done hospitality and fundraising for too long. I know, what I want, what I'm capable of and want to start now.
So I applied for a Master. And for a scholarship (no, I do not have 40.000$ fees... And yes, I know it would be so much smarter to study in my home country Germany, where studying is for free....). And I'll apply for many more. Fingers crossed...

friends from different groups
connecting on my birthday
in my backyard
Anyway. It is a weird feeling to packing a bag without being super excited. It's a new feeling for me. I always thought (and was told so many times) that I am living the dream. And now, I would be happy to swap with anyone living here, hand over my bag and my flight ticket and just becoming super boring.
my room and base
I know, this is not completely true. I will always catch the wanderlust again. But for the first time I really want to have one place as a base, where I can come back to. As we all have phases in our lives: This is my current one. But we remember what 2017 stands for...? Yes: A new beginning. Guess I have to leave to come back in a new way.

wanderlust in Melbourne
with Sarah

My Mom is quite unhappy that I chose Australia as this base - it's hard to find something more far away from Germany...

And I am too, to be honest. Makes things quite complicated. But it is how it is. A free soul, a traveller and nomad found a setteling place. At least for now.
Let's hope that the stupid immigration lets me stay until the wanderlust takes over again.
And for now: Goodbye Melbourne, goodbye Australia, I can't believe, one year is over already. Thank you for this year, you had quite an impact. I love you and all of you and I'll be back. But first: Sri Lanka, baby! And then: Germany! Oh yes, I did miss you, too.. Indeed! :)

Melbourne my love

"arrived". Yes I have.

one last time... Bye bye Jewell station.

Have you ever felt like setteling down or has the wanderlust always been stronger? Or is it the opposite and you never felt wanderlust? What are your experiences with immigration and co.?
Share in the comments below :)