Posted in cross-cultural, The Grove Velvet Ashes

The Grove: Thank You


As a nation, we are more known for pointing out what is wrong than for expressing gratitude.  Famous quote at the end of an international conference:”You put us Germans in a very uncomfortable position – there was nothing to complain about!” 🙂

So to see the whole country stop just to say thank you and to celebrate is quite something!  Yet it is what happened earlier this month when Germany was marking 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall.  There was gratitude, there was joy, there was celebration.

As I was reflecting on the event, it struck me just how important it is even in the midst of challenges to stop and to remember all those reasons we have to be grateful.  There were and there still are a lot of challenges that came out of the events of 9 November 1989, and they do need to be talked about.  But this was not the time for that.  This was the time to remember the miracle and to be thankful.

The question is: will I remember this lesson in everyday life or will the challenges again crowd out the gratitude?

Velvet Ashes: The Grove



Posted in Reviews

Hannas Reise

HR2Hanna is your stereotypical business student: smartly dressed, hugely ambitious, career plan mapped out and willing to do whatever it takes.  It turns out that “what it takes” to get the job she is after is to show a willingness to be involved with people in need, to volunteer.  Not having anything like that on her CV so far, Hanna is hoping her mother would help her out.

Now mother and daughter couldn’t really be more different and don’t have a good relationship at all. Where Hanna is thoroughly 21st century, her mother appears to be stuck somewhere in the 1970s.  Where Hanna is career minded, her mother works for a charity that organises volunteer work in Israel.

Needless to say, her mother refuses to give to Hanna a paper saying she’d volunteered with them but instead sends her off to Israel for a few weeks to work at a home for people with disabilities. On one level, the story is somewhat predictable.  Confronted with situations and people that she doesn’t really know how to cope with, Hanna re-evaluates a lot of her values and the choices she has made in life. She also discovers things about her mother’s background that help her understand her better.

What makes the film special, though, is that all the characters are multi-faceted. It would have been very easy to portray them as stereotypes: the ambitious German who wants to leave history behind; the slightly cynical Israeli; the Holocaust survivor. And yet it never does that.  Just like in real life, the characters are more complex and complicated then that and you feel like you are just beginning to understand a little bit more of the situation in Israel and how it affects ordinary people and their lives.

The film is full of moments that make you laugh, some that make you cry and lots to think about.

And yes, there is a love story as well 🙂


Posted in Uncategorized

As If These Walls Had Tears: Reflections on Berlin’s Holocaust memorial

This really captures what the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin is about.


Apparently there were only 19 hours of sunshine in Berlin between 1st January and 22nd March – a record low. Such absolute greyness is oppressive. But in recent weeks, there have also been huge snowfalls. The result is an eerily monochrome world. Not ideal for taking sightseers’ photographs. But somehow appropriate for a visit to Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

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