Tag Archives: germany

Recommended book: A life Too short, the tragedy of Robert Enke

Robert Enke was a German professional football goalkeeper who commited suicide at the top of his career, on the eve to represent his country at the 2010 World Cup. This book details his life, his career and his struggle with the pressures of professionalism and depression which led to his tragic end.

It is often unrecognized that a person’s mental health is as important as his physical one. Sadly it was only after this event that the German Football Federation started offering counselling to players.


We visited Konstanz in southern Germany for the wedding of a couple of friends. I had never had the chance to visit that corner of Europe, and I would actually quite recommend it during the summer months. The wedding was beautiful and a good time was had by all before, during and after the party. You can find some photos from our visit below. The rest of the pictures, as usual here.

Campiña suiza
Konstanz is right at the Swiss border. Corn growing in the Swiss countryside.
Walking around Konstanz
The Bodensee or Konstanz lake is the main feature of the city. The lake is quite big and is shared by Germany, Switzerland and Austria.
Walking around Konstanz
The town is so close to the border with Switzerland that it was spared the bombings of World War II, making it one of the few German cities which have kept their original old town.
Walking around Konstanz
Cathedral of Konstanz.
Tour por la región de Konstanz
The area is renowned for the production of white whine.
Rhine near Konstanz
The River Rhine flows through the city.
Local Weizen
A local wheat beer. It was excellent.
Imperia, one of the symbols of the city with the Bodensee and the Alps as backdrop.

Don’t accept pirate products: case Salitos

Don't accept pirate products

Found this Salitos pseudo-Mexican beer in the shelves of my local supermarket.  After a little bit of googling found out it is produced in Germany by a company that has nothing to do with Latin America at all.  This is the kind of marketing that I absolutely abhor: when companies find a market niche they try to fill by being something they’re not.  This kind of misleading advertising worked before people had access to information, now with the net everybody can see if the emperor has no clothes.


chat roulette from Casey Neistat on Vimeo.

The video above (via alt1040) explains Chatroulette better than I would.  My experience with it has been mixed, but it reminds me a lot of the old BBS/ICQ free-for-all 10 years ago.  I’ve read metaphors comparing it to TV zapping with people, but I think it’s more akin a people player in shuffle mode.  Some of the nice people I’ve found (after nexting all the flying male body parts) included:

  • A bored Filipina (at 3 a.m. her time) asking what music was I playing (Nortec Collective, of course).
  • A Dutch law student with a great sense of humour.
  • A German dude interested in banking for development (we were chatting about Muhammad Yunus)
  • Random male stranger asking questions on existential philosophy (my conclusion is he had watched The Matrix too many times).
  • A Texan in his 50’s very interested to know my views on the Mexican drug violence situation.
  • A French literature student just interested in a chat, also with a really nice sense of humour.
  • A young Indian female doctor waiting for her night shift to start who gave me a couple of nice suggestions of Indian indie after I mentioned I collect “local rock” from all over the place.

Serendipituous, yes. Extreme, sometimes (but you can also next them or even better report them, jerks!). An interesting study of the human condition, absolutely.

Spanish TV documentary on how people survive real winter

Continuing with the theme of the previous post, RTVE published a documentary where they interviewed 12 Spanish families resident in Germany, Poland and Finland and asked them of their experiences in what has been described as the coldest winter in northern Europe in years.  Funnily enough, one of the families they chose are good friends of mine.

You can watch it (in Spanish) in their website here.

National values and adaptation of an immigrant in Europe

One of the topics I was discussing with friends is how while in the New World being American, Canadian or even Mexican is more than anything else an ideal that can be aspired to and achieved, being Finnish, German or Italian requires you to be born into it.

If this is true, then for the sake of argument we could assume that the current debate about the need for immigrants to adapt and blend into society (what I sometimes jokingly call soppauttaminen, a play on the Finnish words for soup and adapt) is asking for the impossible, simply because the only way for them to be regarded as to be fully part of society is to be born there, which at least their first generation cannot do.  Further down the road it might happen, but is not automatic.

One could argue that this is exactly what happened to Turks in Germany, where until the change of the citizenship laws this decade, the children and grandchildren of immigrants were not allowed to become citizens of the country where they were born.  It is documented that even today they live in very tightly knit communities with little contact with the outside world.

In France, on the other hand  you have the values of liberty, equality and fraternity that are cherished by all and ensure that everybody who adapts the French language and values will be deemed as French at least in theory, but in practice it might be a little bit more complicated, as the situation in the banlieues shows.

Trying to apply this to my experiences, I have been trying to understand if there is an idea of Finnishness that I can make my own, that would also be accepted by society and followed through. If the perunasuomalaiset and other Finnish politicians really want to take the situation of immigration head on, they should ask that question. A person who has no investment in and no part in society will not be interested in his development within it.

Globalisation & my high school class

This week I learned that two of my classmates from high school in northern Greater Mexico City are also in a relationship with Finnish girls and both are also living abroad.  That got me thinking about how many of the guys and gals I used to go to school with back then are also overseas, and the sample is quite broad.

I’m not particularly surprised of this development given that we were educated as the so-called NAFTA generation learning English (and sometimes other languages) from childhood, and given a broader view of the world than people before us (I remember attending lessons on economics, global affairs, the stock market and compared history of North America at that time).

What sets us apart from those before us I think, is not that some of us would go abroad, but that we would not concentrate in the United States as before.  In my sister’s high school class (she is only a few years older than me) most of those who are working abroad are doing so in the US (a couple here and there in Europe, but it’s a minority), whereas with us the geographic dispersion is much broader: I have classmates in Mexico, and all over the US, true, but also in Canada, Spain, Sweden, Germany, Australia, France, Brazil, UK and I believe even a couple in China.  Moreover, many of them who are back in Mexico also have international experience, either as students or during their careers.

I’m sure that this is partly due to American immigration regulations after 9/11, but I believe it also has something to do with many of us wanting to see what else was out there.  I wonder if the Institute for Mexicans Abroad will start tapping this kind of talent network too, as many of us are working for institutions like e.g.  Shell, Nokia, Microsoft, ESA or Volvo or studying at recognised institutions all over the place.  Maybe we should learn something from what the Indians and the Chinese are doing by taking advantage of their expatriates, instead of complaining about the brain drain?

Regardless, it’s good to see that most of them in Mexico or wherever they may be are doing well.