Issue 16/2007, September 20 2007 (No. 244)
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On a hot day in August I drove out to the easternmost suburbs. I eventually landed up in a street in the suburb of Hemelingen which is partly situated near to a railway line. An other part of the street is right next to a meadow. In the middle of the meadow there is the motorway intersection ‚Hemelingen'. The street is the outermost residential area of Hemelingen.
The houses in the street are three-storey monotone blocks. Some flats have a balcony. Several entrances looked very neclected or were even partly rotten. Some curtains looked very grubby, but I also saw balconies with sunshades and nice flowers. In front of the blocks and behind them was spacious green.
Detlef (that's not his real name), an about fifty-year old man, was the first tenant I met. He had a furrowed face and a stubbly beard. He was wearing a police uniform shirt without insignias and old-fashioned glasses. The tar of hand-rolled cigarettes had caused yellow-brown on his fingers. I asked him what he thought about the residential area.
He started to talk without a pause. ‚I'd like to move in with my brother to the countryside, but I don't have the money for the move. I don't have good future prospects. I went into early retirement. I only have a low extra income. I clean up the green and sweep behind the dustbins. This street is actually a quite nice corner of town but people just throw their rubbish on the green. But when I admonish people, I'll need to be worried that I'll have a fist in the jaw. The worst of all are the Germans. I get on with the foreign tenants, but you can't imagine the insults the Germans hurl at me. I am really afraid of coming to blows with them.
Detlef's brush and pan
I used to live in a flat of the XYZ housing society (that's not the real name), but I was kicked out of the flat, because I always expressed my opinion. I come of a good Bremen family. I used to as my mother told me. That's a matter of good upbringing. Many people who live in this residential area don't take care of their children. They prefer to spend hours sitting in front of the telvision or the computer. A young woman lives here who has four children. All her children have been removed from her custody by the youth welfare office. The teachers also often haven't the faintest idea.
You can't imagine how often children come to me with questions 'Detlef, what does that mean?' Take my word for it, I am knowledgeable about many things. I am being as cool as a cucumber, when I am being on a visit to my brother and when I am playing with my nephews. I get on well with the police. I am on first-name terms with them. They know me. They often ask me 'How do you still endure this place, Detlef?' I collect police things. I have a lot of them.'
I was afraid of being invited to have a look at his collection. So I tore myself away from him. I wanted to look at the residential area more closely.
A small path in Detlef's neighbourhood
I went to the back of a block. There was a playground in the middle of a small park. A slide, a pull-up bar and a climbing net were connected with nice little turrets and pillars. But there was not a living soul. I turned round and saw a sign on the outside wall. It read there in German and Turkish that it was forbidden to play soccer.
I met a young woman. She was wearing glasses and a necklace with a ying-yang pendant. She pointed at a window and told me ‚I have decorated my windows with window films. I keep pets, dwarf rabbits. My four children have been removed from my custody by the youth welfare office because I wasn't getting on with my partner. I am allowed to visit only the three eldest children but not the youngest child. I am on good terms with the foster families. that the social welfare office will provide me with a one-euro-per-hour job in a second-hand shop in the suburb.' If I had continued to question her about her life, she would have told me more and more details. But I didn't question her any more and so she was looking at me a little bit sadly and finally she went into the house.
An about thirty-year old man came to the playground with a crowd of children. The children sat down at a table next to the playground. The man also willingly recounted me about his life. He seemed to be quite sensible and quiet. He was working as warehouseman and had a poorly paid short term employment. That was the reason why it was important for him that the rent including heating, which he had to pay, was only about 220 Euros. He pointed at several windows. ‚Over there lives a Russian. He is in work and keeps his flat clean.' The Russian neighbour is standing at the French window and is cleaning the doorframe with a vacuum cleaner. Then he pointed at a window with yellowed curtains. ‚That guy lets his flat go to rack and ruin. The air is thick with smell in front of some flat doors.' Then he pointed at the sweeping branches of the trees. ‚The trees should be pruned. It's bad for the trees and the flats are quite darkish. But I like living here. It's quiet and the rent is low.' He went back to the children.
When I returned to the street in front of the blocks, I ran into Detlef. He was talking insistently to a young woman. When he saw me, he immediatelly started to talk to me ‚You can't imagine, what this neighbourhood had looked like, before I started to clean up the green. Isn't that right?' He adressed the young woman. She quickly admitted that he was correct.
I looked across the street. Two women were getting out of a Mercedes. They wore scarfs and long coats. One of them had driven the car. They entered a block. The balconies of this block looked quite inviting. (My wife Christine helped me to translate the text. Thanks.)
Please also read
Revisited Places 19
Please also read Charlie Dittmeier's diary entry of September 9 2002 about the AIDS orphan project 'Little Folks' in Cambodia.The link leads to the latest entry of the diary. Please scroll down.
The international poster organisation Loesje has started a project to train young people from all over Europe and Asia in how to organise and coordinate information campaigns about the Millennium Development Goals. These goals are set by the United Nations to fight poverty and to improve living standards world wide.
Next issue 'The Daily Groove'
on Thursday, October 4 2007.
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We would like to point out that we translated articles from German into English for the purpose of service. We would like to make it clear that the German translations are deciding, because the articles are directed to users who live in Germany.
Wir möchten darauf hinweisen, dass wir zu Servicezwecken englische Übersetzungen vorgenommen haben. Klarstellen möchten wir, dass maßgeblich die deutsche Übersetzung ist. Grund dessen ist, dass wir uns an in Deutschland ansässige Nutzer wenden.
Please also read Cats Talk (36)
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