Malte is a DJ. He studies sustainable urban development – that is how to plan the city’s development in order to make it develop more sustainably economical- and socialwise. That simply means – more people-friendly. He currently focuses on co-working issue, a really cool concept, quite close to me at the moment although I have only once worked in a co-working place (maybe you remember, it was in Krakow, late July, and I was writing there a scenario to the video promoting this trip – wow, that was light years ago!). We also went for a walk with Malte and we were checking the co-working spaces in Graz through the windows – they seemed so cosy and nice and as if they were calling: come in! Come in! Eventually we found other windows, quite intriguging ones and we were trying to quess the flags of all the countries, but we haven’t really managed. I’m curious how many can you recognize?
Malte comes from Germany and so does his flatmate Viktoria. Two other students in the flat are from Italy and Brazil. When we were walking I asked him, whether he wants to stay here, in Graz, after completing his studies. He said he doesn’t know, maybe yes or maybe he will go back to Germany. That it actually depends on where he will get a job. But also on where his friends live. This is how our conversation about being away from friends had started.
He still has very strong connections with the friends from Marburg – the city, where he had lived and studied before coming to Graz. I feel similarly about Cracow – the city where I have lived and studied for seven years. So many of the friendships from those times last until now, althogh most of my friends don’t live in Cracow anymore. Including me. But there is still this huge sentiment to the city, to the time in there, to different places that recall the memories, but most of all to the people that have co-created those memories. We discussed with Malte the cost and an effort of keeping the contact with your friends. And that this is so difficult to understand (and explain) for/to someone who has never ever lived in any other place than their hometown and has all friends just around the corner. About the chats, messages, e-mails and skype conversations – that this is never enough. That you have to meet your friends, face to face. For a coffee, wine, beer, dinner. For spending time together. Being with each other. I coulnd’t agree more, it was so accurate!
I have never heard so much good music for so many days in a row! I tried to listen to every single song played, because when a DJ plays the music, it exsists only here and now. Not before and not afterwards. It’s been also interesting to see this passion to music in him. And this huge difference between the two of us. Malte is this guy, who has a passion and develops it. He gets better and better. I am exactly the opposite. There are passions in my life that come and go. I need a constant change.
It was not easy for him to say what home is. It depeneds on a day and on the emotion that accompanies you at the moment, in Malte’s opinion. One day Graz can be home, but the next day he can already miss Germany and Marburg terribly. But home is definitely where family is which is why he likes going home for Christmas, because then at least once a year he can meet them all. Home is definitely a place, where you can just be yourself, no matter what. I told Malte this story I’ve once read that somebody said that home is where the sugar-bowl is (becasue when you already buy a sugar-bowl it means that you think about a place in a category of a home and not only a space, which you are in). Malte turned the question back to me and asked me, what does “home” mean for me? I answered that I actually don’t know, but it looks like home for me is a place where there is a lot of food. We kept talking about those associations, how different things bring different memories – becasue I really have this deep deep association that once I am in a place where there is plenty of food, it reminds me home.
Two days later I have eventually met Alex. Alex from Rwanda, surprised by my knowledge about Africa, although I know just a little bit, that’s true, I’ve spent some time in Kenya and South Africa and have some friends from there, but still I feel like I know almost nothing. It surprised me (and made me feel sad at the same time), that after four years of living in Austria, he said that he hadn’t met a person before who would know about Africa more than me. It’s a bit dissapointing, this ignorance we represent.
Alex laughs a lot (and loud). What he misses the most is the Rwandan food, especially Rwandad fruits, not possible to buy in Austria. When he moved in here four years ago, he was sure that he was going to freeze to death. That it is not possible to survive such cold! Now he just walked next to me, laughing and pushing his bike. I have to admit that there is definitely more people cycling in the winter time in here than in Poland!
We visited a Christmas market, drank a Gluhwein and a tea adterwards inside already, when I couldn’t manage staying outside anymore (I have no proper winter jacket, I only have the skiing one, which is good enough when cycling, but not really for staying in one place). During those four years, he said, he had visited Rwanda only once. “This must be difficult! – I thought – In a way you have everything what you need: studies, scholarship, a flat. But you have no option of seeing your relatives, family or simply your friends”.
Again the same thread of “seeing” that we had just discussed with Malte before. Luckily Alex is going to Rwanda this summer, for the whole two months. He can’t wait!
I’m so grateful for all those conversations I have a chance to be part of during this travel. Sometimes longer, sometimes shorter ones. Sometimes having plenty of time for each other and sometimes in the circumstances that imprint the rythm of the discussion.
Since the very beginning I knew I was going to meet people on this trip, not only to see places. I’ve been to Graz twice already before. It’s such a beautiful city! Malte said that the first records are from around 11th century – the Wikipedia corrected him though saying that it’s been even earlier, already around the 9th century. The city is full of Christmas markets at the moment, filled with this characteristic smell of the mulled wine.
Come here to check it out yourself, it’s really cool!
Days 72-75 (25-28 November 2015)
Graz, 28 November 2015