Search Results For : perspectives

It’s dificult to comprehend that we have already been here for half a year. Even our first Christmas and New Year’s in Germany is behind us – so Happy New Year! It was a time to reflect on 2011 and all the miracles and adventures we have experienced. Making a calendar for my hubby, I realized just how much we much we traveled. We “rang” in (or were rung in) 2011 in a hospital room in Cebu, Philippines – watching fireworks out the window with feelings of desperation. Fortunately, the new year brought us the best news and a speedy recovery for Patrick. With no time to waste, we quickly planned CNY in Singapore, then Taiwan and Zhangjiajie – our last trips in Asia before we began our farewells. And what farewells those were! Our companies, colleagues, and friends were so gracious and really made us feel very loved/appreciated. Our last party in our apartment in Shanghai was Kaya’s first birthday. Just a few weeks after we found out that he would become a brother the following February. How very appropriate!

End of June we arrived in blistering hot Germany and found our temporary apartment (which turned out to be “not so temporary”). July the Culpan grandparents helped out with Kaya while Patrick and I took turns apartment hunting/working. August was Patrick’s last month in China where he returned to the wild & free days of “work hard, play hard” – cut to Kaya and I relaxing on the beaches of Southern Turkey (actually I don’t think I had even a minute of lounging, as I spent most of it running after Kaya on the beaches of Southern Turkey)…

The Fall marked the true start of Scherr family life in Germany – and excellent weather that continued till the end of November. We made the best of those wonderfully colorful heaps of leaves and crisp sunny days on the Rhein. We had many visitors as we also made arrangements to move into our new apartment. By October, we were moved in and enjoying Cecillienallee 33 with my brother and Leigh Ann (sans kitchen for about a week, mind you, but that story deserves a ‘nother post). Being on the continent makes travel to see friends and family so much easier  – we took advantage of that in the Fall with 2 trips to Austria. November Kaya started his new day care – a Tagesmutter who had one other little boy a few months older. We also had the pleasure of spending Thanksgiving with anneanne & dede (Kaya now calls my parents “nani” and “didi”). And before we knew it, we were in holiday spirit – Amsterdam “Maroni” (you know who you are) reunion to kick of December and then 10 calm, cosy days with Kaya’s 86-year-old great grandmother over Christmas. She flew alone for the first time in her life to come visit us. Just before the year was over, we had dear friends from Istanbul visiting with whom we “sightsaw” Cologne. I don’t care what Dusseldorfers say, I like that city.

And for the second time, Kaya slept through New Year’s Eve as Patrick and I watched fireworks from our window – in our comfortable apartment overlooking the Rhein – a far cry from our island hospital experience a year ago. A balmy 10 degrees and rain rain rain…we stepped out on our balcony and recalled the CNY fireworks that would explode on the level of our 20th floor apartment windows in Shanghai. So much had happened and so much yet to come in the new year. More importantly, SOMEONE yet to come. The anticipation as the clock struck 12 – will she be blond or brunette, tall or short, calm or active, like Kaya or totally different…keep reading and following, that chapter is yet to be written.

We left as 2 and came back a little more than 3. 4 years in China and a countless unforgettable experiences later, we are on to a new adventure, this time one revolving around family and children. At least half a year of deliberations where we should go after China, only to see love and that magical baby spark take their course. The new baby has decided for the East-Central corner of Germany. Just a lesson that when a decision is difficult, it’s better to “loslassen.” I love that German word that literally translated means, “let go.” Looking back now, it’s seems like one of life’s many ironies that we even had spreadsheets with matrix point systems identifying the best place for us to go.

Dusseldorf is the closest city to Patrick’s new position at Schaeffler located in Wuppertal. It gives us the green, urban, international, well-connected home base from which to start the next chapter of our lives. It’s no Amsterdam and no Vienna, definitely no Shanghai, but it’s starting to feel like home.

Xmas in China is yet another example of how all the ‘bad’ of a meaningful (Western) holiday can be exported like a commodity and planted into a completely foreign place where it is impossible for the people to understand anything about it. Sorry to start out so negative, but Patrick and I spent the greater part of yesterday shopping, and with every dancing Santa, every blinking Christmas tree, we thought…what is wrong with this picture?!? I called a modern Chinese restaurant to make a reservation for December 24th for a bunch of friends who are in town over the holidays, and I heard “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” in the background. Yes, we are Shanghai. Yes, it is international. Yes, there are Christians living here. But it still makes no sense – all the lights and attraction that this season gets criticized in the West, right here in the East. If you interview a European on that subject, they will grunt and complain about commercialization, globalization and local traditions getting wiped out. But here – I am not sure if folks think about the implications.

Since work has picked up, and I have am in more of a work-home routine than I would like, I noticed that I have not been able to reflect on my experiences here as much as I used to. I wondered if that is because I am getting accustomed to life here and thus not as sensorally aware, or if I just am too tired for analyzation. Maybe both. But I have decided to make a list and so expect a longer entry hopefully soon!

October 12, 4:30pm. Airplane somewhere between Tokyo and Shanghai.

Looking out my window at the clouds below, I am trying to collect my thoughts for this entry. I am returning from my first business trip for PMI – four days in Tokyo. Before we moved to Asia, cities like Shanghai or Tokyo were mystical metropolises, their existence felt only through scenes in films and news reports about economic booms and crashes respectively. I would never have imagined that one day I would be presenting to an audience of Japanese businessmen accompanied by my Chinese boss and Japanese distribution partner. How would I be received? What if I would say something wrong? In order to sell, one has to understand how to tap the needs of the counterpart, but the Japanese are even more opaque than the Chinese – smiling, polite, and gracious regardless of age, gender, status, situation. On the way there, I asked my boss what I should do, and he responded that I best put on my “lamb face,” which then became our inside joke for the rest of the trip. Not too aggressive, outspoken or direct. In the art of being indirect (and I am really starting to believe this is an art form), I am still a novice. During a dinner invitation with our distributor, we were asked if we could eat horse meat. I reacted with a hasty “no!” and firm shake of my head. I saw my boss looking at me, and I immediately understood my reaction was too “Western.” I asked him if I should have declined more kindly, such as thank-you-but-I-do-not-eat-horse-meat-etc-etc. And he said better yet would have been, “I really enjoy eating fish and vegetables.” Lesson 2: instead of contradiction, add phrases like “probably (not), maybe (not), I am not so sure, I do not think so…” – I have experienced this done in China as well, so I believe I have reached decent proficiency (at least in interpreting).

Other impressions in stream of consciousness (due to lack of ability to write comprehensive story at current time): lights, high-tech everything, dark suits, women with make-up, brightly-colored tights, warm toilet seats, sparkling white garbage trucks, taxi drivers with suits and gloves, bowing with arms planted at sides, adding “san” at the end of a name to show respect, long procedure of exchanging business cards, most tender sushi, rice balls, oolong tea, subway maps that look like something out of “Matrix,” boots, sake, tempura, Japanese breakfast, offices with workers packed in like sardines, seating in an office (long rows of connecting desks per department with the supervisor at a separate desk at a 90 degree to the others), smoking everywhere, expensive stores and restaurants, insanely long and tedious negotiations, relationship-building, details, clean streets, brightly marked crosswalks, coffee chains at every corner, aesthetics, beautiful packaging for everything, old women with PDAs, kimonos, sense of tradition, island culture.Tokyo is a place I probably could keep coming back to and never get tired of. I am fascinated by the people and the culture. So much so that Patrick and I are planning on celebrating New Year’s seeing other parts of Japan with my cousin Ece, who is teaching English in a small village there.

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below: