International Writers Magazine - Our Tenth Year: Bonn
Change has become the fire in my journalist belly and even though
travellers from Germany were being quarantined on their return to
India, I still went ahead with plans to attend the UNFCCC Climate
Change negotiations in early July in Bonn. Taking a nail biting
flight by Air France out to Dusseldorf via Paris, it was a scary
ride from Paris, as the plane was hit by technical snags for over
four hours. Finally we were given a third plane which brought us
quite uneventfully into Dusseldorf.
This was my second
trip to Bonn and this time round, the UNFCCC outdid itself by housing
us in the fabulous heritage Hotel Loreley, on the banks of the river
Rhine. As we were shown into our rooms, Laura a co-journalist from Argentina
squealed with delight racing into my room saying," Did you see
the view from our window?"
It was a view worth all the effort we made to travel those exhausting
12 plus hours to come to Bonn and attend the Climate Change negotiations.
It was a view I never tired of for the entire duration of the week I
stayed in the room. It was a view that soothed me every evening when
I came home from the disappointing negotiations, where countries just
played games, making no commitment towards our beautiful planet. Differing
shades of green in layers, on the thickly forested hill slopes stretched
as far as the eye could see and suddenly in the middle of all that vegetation
the delightful spires of a castle appeared stretching out into the blue
sky. Blackbirds trilled in the canopy of trees with their fresh spring
foliage along the walkway of the Rhine and red geraniums flowered in
picture book Bier gartens as I took an evening walk in the bright sunshine,
we were lucky to experience on occasion. The beauty of Bonn dulled my
senses to the gloom that Climate Change portends, but hopefully governments
wake up and realise that fighting about the nitty gritties may spell
disaster in the long run for life itself on earth.
On my last trip I had been disconcerted when I was told at the Kanzler
hotel reception that, yes it was Germany, but no, one does not get the
Cuckoo clock all over Germany. It is restricted to the Black Forest.
My siblings were keen on clocks after having envied mine which I had
bought on an earlier trip when I went to visit my aunt in Bavaria. My
editor has a penchant for collecting picture pcs from various
countries, so I went in search of one in the lane, with shops behind
the hotel. Picking up one from a stand outside the shop, with the Loreley
figuring prominently on it, I walked in to pay my 40 cents for the card.
Just at that very minute the hundreds of cuckoo clocks in the shop began
a veritable chorus of Cuckoos! I stood still with shock and delight,
it was serendipity indeed to stumble on this treasure house of clocks.
But how was one going to carry home not one, but two clocks all the
way back to India?
The next day we were taken on a field trip to the Deutsche Welle radio
station and from there I was able to buy a sturdy backpack, in which
two cuckoo clocks and a great big heavy beer glass fitted perfectly.
You will wonder at my familys fixation on Cuckoo clocks. Once
you own one you will understand why we love them to distraction. And
they are not heavy to carry home, box and all.
was beautiful in the spring, but it was a weird sort of spring,
with unexpected squally rain showers and overcast skies for most
of the week. However we were blessed with a couple of days of sunshine
and when that is announced by the weather man, the Germans all come
out in strength to sit out in their cafes and bistros and of course
fill up the Bier gartens! Bus loads of tourists come in from The
Netherlands and cruise up and down the Rhine on trips and of course
are game to try out the local cuisine in the cafes along the river.
We had a favourite haunt for delicious Italian gelato. And, being
a fruit freak I would buy bags of cherries and nectarines to devour
instead of meals from the Kaizer supermarket near the hotel.
went off to see the Drachenfels one day which literally translates:
Dragon Rock. It has a historic cog railway and tourists flock from
all over the world to experience it. The cog railway leading to
the top of the rock was begun in 1883. The station is called the
"Bergbahnen im Siebengebirge AG" (Mountain railway in
the seven hills). Take this cog railway to the top of the hills
and enjoy nature and history all rolled into one.
The Climate Change
negotiations being held by the UNFCCC in the Maritim Hotel had us journalists
on the go for most of the day. Migration, CDM, LULUCF, GHGs all
these ackronyms and more filled our minds for the whole day as we chased
our delegates and our stories. However once we had collected our material
and dashed off our stories to our countries on the hundreds of computers
provided, we were free to wander around the town and enjoy the sights.
Most evenings however I liked sitting on the little wooden benches along
the Rhine watching the cruise ships and the ferries pass by. As I ate
my sandwich perky little sparrows cheekily came up begging for crumbs
from my sandwich which I cheerfully shared with them. Every once in
a while the tram would rumble by which would take us into the city centre
if we cared to have a walk about.
is picture book perfect and for a nature lover like me, the flowers
and the scented air made my week seem almost too perfect to be real.
But one can see Climate Change has the Germans worried as well,
talk to an old timer and he will only want to talk about the upside
down weather like the shopkeeper who sold me the Cuckoo clocks did.
de Nazareth June 2009
mde.nazareth at gmail.com
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