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The picture of this empty Russian train heading from Moscow to the Ukraine caught my eye because it brings back so many memories. Over teh years, I have spent a fair few days and nights on Russian trains and this is not what they should look like! Usually they’re full of life, crowded with people who have brought enough food to last for 2 weeks, rather than the 20something hours the journey should take.
Very quickly, a temporary community is built, food and drink shared. And if you’re lucky enough not have someone near you who has had rather too much to drink, they can be fun times.
Now the trains are empty, no one wanting to head to the Ukrainian coast for a holiday.
The thing is, I have been in that building. And waited in front of it for some considerable time. Years ago, but still. We had taken the overnight train from Moscow to Kiev (see above). Before going on to the conference we were to attend, we had to make sure we would be able to get back into Russia a few days later. Which required getting a visa. So we headed straight from the station to the embassy. For what felt like a very long time, we had to wait for the place to open. It was cold (February mornings in Kiev are definitely not warm…) and I seem to remember there being a lot of annoying dogs around.
At one point, it seemed like we wouldn’t even make it in. Too many people ahead of us in the queue. But then one of the guards realised we were German. He had lived in East Germany and liked the place. So he let us in and we got our visas.
Very strange when the news story we get so used to seeing suddenly feature places we know!
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It was a grey, wet day in May and I was exploring the beautiful city of Dresden/Germany. The Zwinger is a palace built in Rococo style and I was loving the mix of gold, glass and greyish stone.
Suddenly I noticed something extra – the colourful splash of a bright red umbrella! It added so much to the picture, bringing it to life.
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Now you see it, now you don’t. Just a random bit of wall and yet so instantly recognisable. And then it’s gone. An image that tells so many stories. A city once divided, now united. Where once there were soldiers, now there is a cyclist (admittedly, in Berlin they can be rather dangerous as well).
An image that tells a story of courage, of hope, of suffering. Of joy and then disillusionment. The story of a miracle.
An image that for some in this city is just history. For many, the story of something that shaped their lives. For others (like myself) something remembered but only experienced from a distance. Yet still it chokes me up a bit.
The power of an image.
Split-second story. Or long agonising hours, waiting… This time last year, water levels on the River Elbe were rising. And rising. And then rising some more. My friend’s parents live right on the river and it looked like their home would be flooded for the second time in 10 years.
A few of us went down to help fill sandbags. Hundreds of them. It was all we could do. Then the waiting began. In the end, their property was safe. Many others were not.
A split-second story, capturing hard work, friendship and the power of nature.
In an added twist, this boat used to belong to the East German navy and is now (after a stint as a tourist boat) being transformed into a home and a place of counselling and “soul care” (http://www.takkiwrites.com/frau-bord-vom-traum-zur-hausboot-besitzerin-berlin/)!