My smoking past – Part 1: How it began

For nearly a quarter century, 24 years, I was a smoker. Between 20 and 30 cigarettes per day were my quantity. What had started out as curiosity and joy, has certainly become a habit. Honestly, most cigarettes have not been smoked because they tasted well but out of sheer addiction.

Back in the 1970ies, when my brother and me were young boys, our parents did not mind smoking in our presence, even in the car. At that time, this was not contested, at least not in (central) Germany where we are from. The dangers of passive smoking were not widely debated and smoking was generally accepted. So the parents did it, and with them our visitors at home. (A few years later they quit that habit.)

What had “attracted” me as a young boy was the initial smell of a freshly lit cigarette. It was a smell which I had perceived as kind of aromatic, full-flavored to the nose. Of course I did not think of smoking myself and our parents kept on telling us that smoking is not good, and particularly not for children. So it was never an issue.

Later on there was a first contact. In a prize-winning game by an US-manufacturer of cigarettes, which was held publicly at a christmas festival at the central railway station in the big town of Wiesbaden, I have won a pack of three pieces, that red-white thing which is always smoked by a cowboy, according to advertising (which is forbidden since a couple of years.). I managed to stash it away before my mom could see it and the following days, I smoked them whenever I was out of the house.  Like for any smoker, the first cigarette was not really good, making you coughing and feel dizzy.. But anyway I kept on and finished these three pieces. It was okay, not bad but not too delicious either.  Yet, here and there I fagged a bum in the schoolyard from the elder boys at our school. Gradually I got used to inhale until into the lungs instead of puffing it only.  (Smoking was never an issue for our girls.)  That was very casual, it was no habit.

A few years later I entered our army for compulsory military service. Here and there I bummed a fag from the comrades. When being out in the bushes, lying in the dirt at night and at temperatures approaching 0°C / 32 F this was not exactly comfortable. I remembered the fine fresh smell of freshly lit cigarettes in our home when I was a young boy. And again there was a comrade here and there who was kind enough to deliver. It made this atmosphere more bearable. (Later on I did not give a damn, then I even felt great about that hardship outside, feeling proud that it did not bother me anymore. But as a-boy who enters military service from a more or less protected childhood it was a hard beginning.)

 After six weeks, after the end of the very basic (and tough) training,we have celebrated its end during a company function. Also our drill instructors who used to shout and scream at us all the time were quite affable. We had a great evening together, with much fun and beer. I had already gotten me two or three cigarettes from two or three comrades and then I did it: I threw some coins in the vending machine and got me my first pack of cigarettes. Comrades even warned me not to take this path and if I really wanted to do it and that I should not.  But my decision was made. I was to become a smoker for 24 years.  

…. will be continued.

Veröffentlicht unter A Life in Germany | Verschlagwortet mit , , | 1 Kommentar

Never judge a book by the cover: My „honest dishonesty“ at the International Book Fair in Frankfurt-upon-Main

One of the fixed dates in every year of my girl friend and me, is the sunday, the last day of the International Book Fair in Frankfurt upon Main. As early as at 9 o’clock, we arrive at the premises. This is easy. While many visitors and the exhibitors spend big on travelling and accomodation, my girl friend lives only some four kilometers away. As we like reading a lot, we seize this opportunity every year.

We always head for the international department. There you meet the whole world in two venues only. One of these venues is reserved for British and American publishers. Quite a few are reluctant to take all their books back home again, so it is particularly on the sundays that they sell them on the spot and we can buy them, often for a song.  (In this regard I regret it every year that  French / Swiss / Belgian and Italian publishers hardly sell, and be it for the regular price, although they have got rafts of interesting books to offer as as well. )

Stealing books is never a topic for me. From a previous job which had required world wide travelling as an exhibitor I know that goods on display do have their production or buying cost, too. At the same time theft is an issue at the book fair, and a TV report has it that, by the way, the thieves often know which books to steal, as they anticipate quite well which books are to be hot on the German market.  And the simplest and very most common thing: You simply do not steal from other people!!!

Now there was this situation that blogging has been in my mind for already quite some time, revitalizing an old passion of essay writing and keeping diaries. At one booth of a British publisher, John Blake, there were two copies of a book on display, „Get rich blogging“ by Zoe Griffin.  It was and is  not my intention „to get rich“ with it, but what the heck? Advice for (would-be) professional bloggers should also be at least of some relevance for a beginner or to some“one of here“.

Regrettably, there was no staff in the booth.

So we went for a coffee in a nearby coffee hangout in the venue. After some 20 minutes I came back, over-eager to buy this book. And still no staff in the booth.  So what could I do? Stealing is out of the question, leaving the book, too.

When hardly anyone was around, I took the book and left a 5-Euro-bill on that spot, hiding it behind another book which there was on sale.  Wonder if the staff was honest enough to put that bill into the cash register of the company, but at least I have calmed my bad consiousness over taking that book with me.

My girl friend needed to go to a place where women usually tend to go in two – at least that is their bad habit in Germany – and so I had to wait for her until she came out again. I took the opportunity to do some first readings in this book, and… … … … … … stared at empty pages!

Obviously, the publisher John Blake was well aware of that issue, and that interesting books do attract their audience, in which way ever. So, he was really wise to put a phony book on display only.  And let us be honest – it is a good idea.

So, I did want to return the book and find my Euro-bill but now, very late, the booth was manned. (English language does not have the word „womanned“ as the person in charge was a lady.) Of course, the money was gone. So I have cut the loss and went my way, strolling through the venues with my girl friend, BUYING books, real books from english-language editors and enjoying our time, like every year at the book fair. 

Interesting to get to know a very personal and direct idea of this English saying of „never judge a book by the cover“. Normally meant and used in a figurative way, it was for very real this time.  And let us be honest: It was not really honest what I have done although it was „just“ a paperback. Actually, it is good lesson that dishonesty does not always pay.  At least I can say that during five visits to the Frankfurt Book Fair this was the only time that I did something like that.  In all other cases I bought the book regularly on the spot or not, if they were not up for sale. 

And now, time to go to Amazon to get a copy of the book the regular way!

Veröffentlicht unter A Life in Germany | Verschlagwortet mit , , , , , , , | 2 Kommentare

This is OneofHere

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Hello everybody, 

here I am, sweating over my first words of my very first blog ever!  It is not completely new, however, as in my juvenile times I wrote a dairy during the 1980ies and it is very fascintating to „travel back in time“.Since my times at school teachers and parents alike have found that besides languages, writing is my second talent.  Or to put it in my own modest words, it is indeed one of my likings. To inform you right away on the mistakes that you will inevitably find in my texts: German is both my nationality and my mother tongue, and I live near Frankfurt-upon-Main.  Until to my 11th year -until 35 years ago – I did not speak any English at all!

Oneofhere is not my first choice. It should have been „One of Us“, but system has informed me that this was impossible. No capital letters and only letters, and no space inbetween. „One of us“ is my perspective as being one of us in the world. Nobody really special and not  a rank no-hoper, –  someone like you and me with his or her personality, history, family and cultural background, hopes, dreams, sorrows – all this sort of things that make everyone of us special, particular and unique!

So why write in English? Well, the world has got so  much to discover, explore, offer or see, and interacting in any way with (articulate) people from around the world, people like you, is enriching and broadens the spirituall horizon. For this reason, English will be one of my two languages in which my texts will be written. (Guess what the second language is…)

Jobwise, I work for a small company, and due to its limited size, my tasks are widespread, sometimes a bit too much of this. It includes European regulatory affairs as well as customs affairs,  international distribution, some logistics and management of our articles. Internationality is not exactly what makes up for my job, so here is a chance to make up for this lack. 

My additional languages are French, Italian and Indonesian / Malay, so I am glad to read blogs from all over the world, from different parts of the world, different people(s) and their respective cultural backgrounds, and in their mother tongues. Languages are not only one of my talents, they are also a strong field of interest. The world of languages is as fascinating as can be. (Did you know, for example, that most languages in the world are tonal language, where it is most important to pronounce vowels in perfect length or tone in order not to get it wrong and / or into troubles? And that „the usual suspected ones“ are not only Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai, you name these Asians, but also languages in Africa and indigenous languages in North America?) 

Well, there would be so much more to write about me, but let us see. More contributions ahead. Let us see if and what more I will write. Your comments or messages may be further sources of inspiration.  If this weblog of  mine will develop and in which direction and intensity will be left to be seen.  For now, I look forward that after much more than one year of reflecting about doing it or not, I am glad that I „just start doing it“!

Look forward to get into communication with you and to read your comments. 

 

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