Posts Tagged ‘Czechoslovakia’

Goodbye Suit and Attaché case

June 10, 2015
Japanese Windflowers

Japanese Windflowers

In life we think we make choices that determine our future. Is that true? One could have turned left or to the right. So much is due to the unforseen. The past is never a sign towards the future but only something to mull over in old age and even then it hardly ever surrenders wisdom or insight. That seems to only come about by a presence of mind while doing the dishes or polishing ones shoes or writing a few words.

I do remember feeling euphoric walking to Centraal Station in Amsterdam. I must have taken my suitcase and just bought the train ticket, walked up the flight of stairs to the platform taking me to Italy. It was the absolute right thing to have done. My job at the bank with the daily routine of balancing the books to zero each day had run its course. There is only so much you can do with a zero. It wasn’t easy. I had to make sure there wasn’t a cent in between. This is the essence of good book-keeping. The cost of a postage stamp could throw my day into turmoil and cost me hours of having to work after hours. No one could go home till the books were zero.

Even the director on the swivel chair had to stay back. All the branches had to give the daily figures to head office which would then print the all important statements and post them to the bank’s customers. I often used to offer the bank my own money if there was a discrepancy of just a few cents in order to be able to go home. No, that is not what banking is about. The books had to balance. You can see, dear readers, can’t you, how my career at a bank had to end? To think that at the very best I too could end up a director and swivel around a special chair. Is that what I had to look forward to? Of course to become a director could only come about by appointment. The director at my branch wasn’t too impressed, especially not when I laughed after he fell backwards with a cigar in his hands. It was doomed.

All my sense of importance wearing a finely pressed suit in the tram of Amsterdam had come to not much more than working on the Czechoslovakian Capstan lathe back in Australia, (bar the strange rituals). When my friend Bernard had secured a lovely chalet in the North of Italy I decided to chuck in the job and join him. This decision was made within a split second. The spontaneity of it was breathtaking. I loved it and still tend to act rather rashly which Helvi finds sometimes a bit hard to deal with. Of course, one could question how the bank would feel not even been notified of my choice to leave. I simply vanished.

They must have enquired at my address of the dying uncle. In any case, the book-keeping must have been done by the director till a replacement was found. I never collected my wages or holiday money as I felt it a just penance for not having given notice. The train trip to Bressanone started in rain but ended in glorious sunshine, a good omen. But of that…more to come!

(We will be in Ubud- Bali till the 23 of June. I hope to be able to post but am dependent on doing it on a tablet. I am not sure how that works. We shall see) !

Life Insurance and getting away from Yourself!

November 12, 2014
My paternal grandparents wedding

My paternal grandparents wedding

It is a bit presumptuous to expect people to read everything or even anything that has been put down in writing. I mean so much is put into writing, everyone has become an author.. Could it be or even follow, that those who do, suffer from self-absorption and are delusional of their own importance. Have we all gone into me, me, and more of me?

Take an Insurance Policy. Who can possibly read a document like that? What does the Insurance Company expect? Well, they largely hope you don’t read it, especially not the fine print. Their aim is for you to fork out the moolah and fervently hope you don’t notice they have excluded any claims you might ever initiate. The most interesting part in reading, in large lettering, is where they jubilantly point out the enormous benefits of what you will get when you are dead.

Of course when you are dead they expect you to prove you died of an unexpected accident before any consideration of the payout that you have insured yourself for. Most deaths are pretty unexpected even when the doctor declares, “well, you’re pretty crook, expect not to wake up tomorrow morning Mr Oosterman, good night!” “Good night doc”, the expiring patient sighs somewhat despondently. The door bangs shut.

Of late the TV on the SBS channel has an almost indecent obsession with running many Life-Insurance advertisements. They sometimes show a couple on a grassy knoll lovingly enjoying a pick-nick. He is situated a bit higher than her, she kind of lingers a bit lower between his firm conjugal legs. Children are even lower down, playing with a hoopla or being chased by a slobbering Labrador. The wife is a bit concerned and puckered-up about the future, but he is beaming and says. “Oh darling, I have just taken out an Accidental Death Insurance and we will be fine when I am dead”. The next shot shows the wife, this time, she beaming, and gloriously optimistic, deep baking a chuck-steak casserole. Husband sits on his desk thumping down his paid Life-Insurance receipt on a special sharp receptacle for receipts. He casually leans back in a black leather office chair, as if a Robert Taylor from Quo Vadis just having slain savage lions and obstinate Christians, all at the same time, against a burning background of Rome…The Insurance Company, not unlike the Peter Ustinov, has grown even fatter!

I have always resisted Insurances. Right now we don’t have a single insurance. That’s right…not even one. The compulsory green slip on the car is the exception. Years ago, my younger brother was a sucker for life insurance. The usual ploy of: ‘Surely, you don’t want your parents to pay for your funeral,’ got him each time.” He would keep payments up for a few years and then just let is slip. He did this several times until I pointed out that a payout after death is of dubious use if not also totally un-spendable.

I mean, so what, if in the event there is no money for a decent burial? Do they keep you bolt upright, stiffly sitting in a bed forever? I don’t know of anyone who remained unburied because he did not have the money. Do they say, while wagging a finger at you, a very dead corpse; ‘sorry, no money- no box, you should have signed up a Life Policy?’ That would be so heartless. Still, a great consolation I forever keep in mind…Mozart ended up having a pauper’s funeral. In an unknown grave and very grave but his music still alive, all glorious and getting better.

And furthermore, what about the weekly event sponsored by Ancestry.com on SBS? Whereby someone, often a famous celebrity or sports hero, trying to find out their great, great, great grandparents with endless forefather’s and foremother’s struggles in ancient life’s so lost and forgotten, only to find out a prostitute, single mother or axe murderer, even bearded convict, lurking about somewhere in those dank Births and Deaths cathedral’s archives.

The result is the close-up tearstained or sunny exultant, (depending on the inherited gene) face of the searchers, fumbling through some frayed document or standing in front of a Czechoslovakian village ruin, pondering the hardships endured two hundred fifty eight years ago just to give, after many generations, birth to you, the present ageing celebrity or kicking-ball sports man of yesteryear and still having to go on with the present stage of life. Me, me and more me!

And so it goes on, Quo Vadis?