Salomon: the Pragmatic Realo (Satis Shroff)
Freiburg is a provincial town in the Black Forest and lies in the vicinity of France and Switzerland. We locals call this three country triangle ‘the Regio,’ which is rich in culture and tradition, and there’s a lot of cooperation between the three countries. We have exchange of students school-kids and university students between France and Germany and the younger generation of Germans find it cool to speak French and do the Abitur (equivalent to GCSE ‘A’ level) as well as the French Baccalaureate and possible end their studies in Paris. The German-French School in Freiburg makes it possible. Since we are EU countries, learning Spanish, Italian and Latin declinations at school are tres chic.
The last war in Germany is long over, the one in Afghanistan is merely a conflict as we are advised to say, and a modern city has arisen from the ashes of the ruins with the help of the Trummerfrauen, those dear old ladies who helped to clear the debris left by the Lancaster and other block-busting bombers of the Allies. Despite the modernity, Freiburg has retained its water canals, ‘bächle,’ which run through the middle of the town, ad its cobbled streets. There’s an old saying that itf a visitor should fall into the ‘Bächle’ then he is destined to be wedded to a maiden from Freiburg. The Bertold’s Brünnen which is a modern fountain sculpture and bears only a small resemblance to Bertold V, the Duke of Zähringen. The town of Freiburg im Breisgau was founded in 1091 and it was in 1120 that it received the right to have a market. This act was carried out by Konrad von Zähringen.
Although the Freiburger like to call this town the ‘Black Forest metropolis’ it remains one of the warmest provincial university towns in Germany. Ihringen, a small wine-growing town, is the warmest. The Sport Club Freiburg team which also plays soccer in the Bundesliga, is fondly dubbed as the ‘Breisgau Brazilianer,’ known for the fresh, attractive style with as minimum of cost for the management. But that was a long time back and at the moment it’s fighting for its existence in the first league. It can’t compete with Strassbourg or Basle not to speak of Grasshopper Zürich but it’s nevertheless in the German football news.
Freiburg was, till recently, in election fever. Three candidates dominated this Schwarzwald town landscape. But as far the easy-going, civil servants-type of Freiburger were concerned it was a storm in a tea-cup. Freiburg, it might be noted, is a Black Forest Green City, and when the results were announced Dieter Salomon 49, and his pretty blonde wife Helen Hall-Salomon, were delighted. A Green mayor in a Green City of over 200,000 inhabitants. The best supporters were from the rural suburbs, which are actually CDU territories. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) didn’t have an appropriate candidate and so they opted for Salomon, who with his tailored suit, blue striped tie, white shirt, rimless glasses and pomade in his hair looks like a well-styled Christian Democrat candidate. This political realo has the necessary political acumen to make it big in Brussels as a representative of the green party but he chose to be the Oberbürgermeister of a provincial town, so to say, the head mayor because he feels like a captain on the bridge of his ship.
I know Dieter Salomon personally because we lived in the same hostel during our student days: Thomas Morus Burse at the Kapplerstrassse 57. Wonderful memories of student days. We talked about it in Kappel together after the farewell ceremony of Herr Gross, the local mayor of Kappel, was over. Mrs. Hug and Professor Hug, a well-known historian were also there. I chanced to chat with a CDU official about the elections and he was of the opinion that ‘Dieter Salomon has to watch out for the voters in the west of Freiburg.’ That’s where the poorer section of the town live, like Haslach-Weingarten for instance. Freiburg East, where Kappel lies, is conservative and has more Christian Democrat voters.
Be that as it may, Dieter Salomon attained 50,5 per sent and has been granted another eight years as a green head-mayor. Ulrich von Kirchbach (SPD) managed to get 29,2 per cent and Günter Rausch who was supported by the left-oriented initiative followed up with 20,1 per cent. Rausch, who is a professor at the EFH Freiburg, a dual system university, was very satisfied with the election results. His wife Stefanie Rausch was euphoric and found it ‘sensational toll.’ Her husband styled himself as the Last Mohican, I mean the Last Green, meaning thereby that Dieter Salomon was more conservative rather than a green, and the CDU party even backed him. If he ever crossed the floor, the CDU would greet him as one of their own. On the other hand, Ulrich von Kirchbach, who actually didn’t stand a chance at all against Salomon, tried his best to get past the green candidate but the latter remained adamant with better arguments. Salomon had the better ecological arguments.
Salomon’s serious countenance changed to that of a moderate smiling one when he was re-elected. Only 45,2 per cent of Freiburg’s population turned up at the elections. The rest were busy in their gardens after the long, harsh winter or went to cheer the local soccer team: SC Freiburg versus Wolfsburg. We won 1:0. Salomon said at the Rathaus, which is the town council and not a rat-infested house: Mehrheit ist Mehrheit. Majority is majority. Dieter the olde Burseaner is right.
Meanwhile, this Schwarzwald town has returned to its leisurely lifestyle as can be seen in its many Gästehäuser, cafes, restaurants, the Bermuda Triangle near the university café and wine-stuben. At the Freiburger Münsterplatz you can have your German sausages, in the cute taverns and inns your good bürgerliches meal with spätzle, cordon bleau or steak and lots of salad and a golden glass of German beer or local wine, if you prefer, from loess-laden Kaiserstuhl or the Markgräferland. Ah, ist es nicht ein schönes Leben? Dolche vita in Freiburg.
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About the author
Satis Shroff ist Dozent, Schriftsteller, Dichter und Kunstler und außerdem Lehrbeauftragter für Creative Writing an der Albert Ludwigs Universität Freiburg. Er hat sechs Bücher geschrieben: Im Schatten des Himalaya (Gedichte und Prosa), Through Nepalese Eyes (Reisebericht), Katmandu, Katmandu (Gedichte und Prosa mit Nepali autoren) Glacial Whispers (Gedichtesammlung zwischen 1997-2010). Er hat zwei Sprachführer im Auftrag von Horlemannverlag und Deutsche Stiftung für Entwicklungsdienst (DSE) geschrieben, außerdem drei Artikeln über die Gurkhas, Achtausender und Nepals Symbolen für Nelles Verlags ‚Nepal’ und über Hinduismus in „Nepal: Myths & Realities (Book Faith India). Sein Gedicht „Mental Molotovs“ wurde im epd-Entwicklungsdienst (Frankfurt) veröffentlicht. Seine Lyrik sind in Slow Trains, International Zeitschrift, World Poetry Society (WPS), New Writing North, Muses Review, The Megaphone, Pen Himalaya, Interpoetry publiziert worden. Er ist ein Mitglied von Writers of Peace, poets, essayists, novelists (PEN), World Poetry Society (WPS) usw.
Satis Shroff lebt in Freiburg (poems, fiction, non-fiction) und schreibt über ökologische, medizin-ethnologische und kultur-ethnische Themen. Er hat Zoologie und Botanik in Nepal, Sozialarbeit und Medizin in Freiburg und Creative Writing in Freiburg und UK studiert. Da Literatur eine der wichtigsten Wege ist, um die Kulturen kennenzulernen, hat er sein Leben dem Kreatives Schreiben gewidmet. Er arbeitet als Dozent in Basel (Schweiz) und in Deutschland an der Akademie für medizinische Berufe (Uniklinik Freiburg). Ihm wurde der DAAD-Preis verliehen.