Sunday, 11 May 2014

Two lives: Vienna

IMG-20140422-00610IMG-20140419-00603IMG-20140423-00614IMG-20140423-00615IMG-20140424-00616IMG-20140427-00622IMG-20140427-00626IMG-20140427-00631 More than anything, I now notice how quiet it is when I go home to Vienna. I had noted this before, before I first moved away even: the all-encompassing tranquility in its streets. I walked the streets at night, leisurely, slowly. I sat in parks during the day. I really do the same things wherever I am (walking, parks, bookshops, cafés, bakeries, cinemas, galleries and museums, observing other passengers on public transport, tea shops and COS), but it feels more natural in some cities than in others.
In Vienna, I went to the cinema three, four times. The cinemas are cheap and small and old and I don't think too hard about whether a film is 'worth' spending money on; on Saturday nights and Thursday afternoons there are middle-aged ladies talking right up until the film begins, students, elderly men, couples. I saw 'Her' (excellent, to my great surprise), Yves Saint Laurent (rubbish), The Dark Valley (a Western set in the Alps, highly recommended!). I had some time to kill in between seeing best friends and popped into the architecture museum to see an exhibition about socially responsible architecture. I felt anxious and sought refuge in a bookshop, where I bought my first Robert Walser novel. I sat in my brother's car and he played Haim, he played Mozart's Requiem, he played Britney Spears, all in one seamless playlist.
The city was filled with posters advertising the EU election, advertising the different parties. The radio, the papers all cover the EU election extensively. The parliament is covered in a giant banner: Our Europe, Your Choice. I feel emotionally and intellectually invested in Europe, in the EU; the indifference and stupidity of the general discourse about the EU in the UK never ceases to amaze me, and the basic lack of information or interest makes me sad.
I write this sitting in my kitchen in Walthamstow, E17, London, and Vienna seems like a dream. Yesterday the Austrian performer won Eurovision (not Austria, never Austria: if it had been up to 'Austria', the performer would never have been picked - because Austria is still a conservative, small-minded country, and as a commentator pointed out that no, it wasn't Austria that won but someone who supported the idea of tolerance and 'die Vielfalt von Lebensentwürfen'). Today I'm listening to Simon & Garfunkel, this song in particular. 

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