Since Tuesday, November 17th 2020, Austria has been in the second lockdown. But this time it is a little less strict than the first one. Some people are out on the streets going for a walk, playing sports, and some restaurants are open for getting takeout food. Unfortunately the infection numbers are still increasing. I hope that the effect of the lockdown will show in the numbers soon. All of us living in Austria are looking forward to Christmas markets. Previously it was said that despite the pandemic there would be Christmas markets but because of the situation some markets have already been cancelled. Today the preparations for the famous market in front of City Hall Vienna were stopped. Now it is being said it is unknown whether this market can indeed open at all this year. To be honest, I never thought we would experience such a time…
Today the weather turned really nice. After some time I went for a longer walk to Burggarten and a short stroll on Kärntnerstrasse. Due to the coronavirus restaurants are closed except for takeout service. Also because recently there was a very sad incident, not many people were out on the streets. I made some discoveries and my heart could be consoled a little bit.
Pummerin ringing / Mourning the victims / Stephansdom, the heart of Vienna / Viennese call its bell Pummerin with a feeling of familiarity / Now it is mourning / We sink in grief / Its sound also echoes in our hearts / November 3rd, 2020
Now it is pumpkin season. At supermarkets in Vienna many different pumpkins can be seen. From very large ones to small ones are decorated in many colours and sizes. It is entertaining and humorous to watch.
I think what I as Japanese imagine in terms of taste and what local people do could be quite different. Usually in Japan, pumpkin dishes have a very sumptuous taste which is more dense and sweet than Austrian cuisine. A typical pumpkin dish, which my grandmother always prepared, is cooked and sweet. Not only pumpkins, my grandmother also cooked bean dishes with a sweet taste. As a child, such a sweet taste accompanying rice was not something I liked. Now however I enjoy such a taste and I miss it a lot. If one wanted to create the same taste with local pumpkins, one would not succeed. Local pumpkins are much harder and have a more neutral taste. Starting some years ago, a type of pumpkin named “Hokkaido” has been available in Austria. Hokkaido is one of the Japanese main islands. I do not know whether there is a relationship between those pumpkins and the island but I had hoped the taste would be similar to Japanese pumpkins. I tried to prepare it Japanese style but unfortunately just like all other available pumpkins in Austria, the taste did not turn out the way I intended. Nevertheless recently I bought a “Hokkaido” pumpkin and prepared it in different ways as salad, soup and stir-fry and enjoyed it.
By the way, today is Halloween. When I started living in Austria, there was no such thing here. But around the turn of the millennium this custom was slowly adopted here as well. Of course at Halloween pumpkins cannot be missing. This year however due to the Coronavirus, the Austrian government is asking people not to participate in Halloween parties. The government is already preparing the announcement of stricter measures. This year, the faces of Halloween pumpkin decorations, to my eyes appear not to be smiling…
During the night of Saturday and Sunday (this year the 24th/25th of October ) Summer Time ended and Regular Time returned. Surely many people know that it is said that Summer Time will be abolished in the EU within a few years.
I came to Austria a long time ago for the first time in my life in May when there was already Summer Time active. I was astonished that it did not get dark until quite late. Even at 9PM there still was twilight outside. Also in the morning around 4PM there was some light outside. I got a feeling of living almost all the time in daylight. In Winter however it can be felt already around 2 PM that it is getting darker and sunrise is quite late. And so I get the feeling of always living in a dark atmosphere. This difference between Summer and Winter is enormous. In Summer I want to do lots of things because of the brightness and I automatically become active. In Winter because of darkness I easily get somewhat depressed and in order to overcome this, I often eat a little too much. I could say that this is a somewhat dangerous season for me. That is why Christmas market is so alluring and illuminations radiate so beautifully in the dark. At home one likes to light candles and thereby finding joy in Winter.
My hometown Kochi in Japan has no such extreme differences between Summer and Winter. There is a difference but not comparable to Austria. When it starts getting dark, this happens rather quickly. No wonder because Kochi is located on about the same latitude as Casablanca in Morocco.
There is one hour difference between Summer and Standard Time. When Summer Time begings, one hour is lost. When Standard Time returns, that hour will be gained back. For example today Standard Time returned so one could sleep one hour longer. One might think that it is just one hour but it takes some time to adjust. Maybe such a lazy person like myself does indeed have an internal clock.
Recently I had an injection against Influenza. I had heard that this year it would be provided free of charge and so I made an appointment and went to get it. The specially designated location was very well organized and my turn came with almost no waiting time at all. There were some small separated rooms and I entered the one designated for me. In this small room I immediately saw a friendly lady and a heap of colourful lollipops on the desk. This lady from the medical personnel prepared the injection and asked me whether I was afraid of needles. When I said yes, she told me to look at the lollipops while receiving the injection. It was very quick and almost painless and as a reward for my courage I was allowed to take a lollipop with me.
It is true, I really am afraid of injections. When I was a child, shortly before starting primary school, I had to stay at a hospital for a few days. That was not due to some serious illness but I suspect rather a case of Influenza and diarrhea. The stay at the childrens’ hospital was not very strenuous for me, I even enjoyed it because my family was quite nice to me and I felt like a princess. I was even allowed to read a manga book that was actually forbidden by my father. There was only one negative component and those were injections. Those were so negative to me, when I saw the long thin needles, I felt cold and my pain was bigger. One day I realized that I could in fact refuse the injection since it was so uncomfortable for me. Maybe others didn’t realize that I disliked injections so much. I thought I should politely decline and so I took action. The nurse on duty just said “No!”. So I politely repeated my wish. But she was also stubborn and so after a couple of times going back and forth, she pushed a button on the wall. Then a flock of nurses rushed in, turned me over on the bed, held me down and administered the injection into my behind. Since my family was very strict, I was not hysterical or rude but rather I politely explained my will… To such a composed child, should people not provide a sensible and logical explanation that the injection was important for my health?
Ever since, I have never again declined an injection. But I still have not overcome my fear of injection.
Recently at a supermarket in Vienna, I found Kumquats. I remembered that my grandmother always said that Kumquats were good for he voice. When I was about four or five years old, my family lived in a rented house and in the garden there was a Kumquat tree. So I remembered that time back then with a feeling of nostalgia and I absolutely wanted to buy one pack.
In that house, the living room windows had a wide board underneath and one could actually sit on it. As a child I climbed up and often looked outside. In front of that window there was the Kumquat tree. When that tree carried fruits, I was very happy about those yellow small fruits. My grandmother said “That is Kumquat. It is edible.”. I was allowed to reach out of the window and take one of the fruits. They were so cute, so small and beautiful and to a child they looked like a tiny tangerine. Because my grandmother gave me permission to eat it whole with the peel, I took a bite. It was quite a dense strong aroma, tasted bittersweet as though some electrical current ran through my brain. But I nevertheless liked it. My grandmother said that it was good for the voice.
I assume that here in Austria it is not possible to harvest citrus fruits. As far as I know, all the cirus fruits at the supermarket come from southern countries such as Italy, Spain, etc. On this Kumquat package it says that it is from South Africa. That is truly far away. I did some research on the internet about Kumquats and those fruits can mostly be harvested in Autumn. South Africa is in the Southern Hemisphere which means that it is now Spring there. Why can Kumquats be harvested there now? Could it be that the place of origin is in the Northern Hemisphere and they have that harvest season in them? I do not really know. In any case, I find those small fruits so cute and I want to welcome them to Vienna.
According to a recipe I found on the internet, I made some Kumquats in honey. That is only removing the seed, cutting it into small slices and leaving it in honey. Eating this a topping on Yoghurt tasted really good. I read that it can also be used to flavour tea, which I would like to try soon.
Recently the weather in Vienna is not very nice. It rains a lot, not strong but persistently. In Japan there is a saying that in Autumn it rains persisently. Maybe over time I noticed that here in Vienna this could be true as well. But even on such dark, cold and wet days joy can be found. For example waterdrops on plants . I love looking at them a lot. Also leaves in puddles of water… When it gets darker, lights are vaguely reflected from the water surface in beautiful gradations… Every day I would like to feel life as much as possible.