You know how it goes; you see someone in the morning, you say ‘good morning’. The same applies in German. You can say Guten Morgen. But after that… at some point in the later morning, people switch from saying Guten Morgen and instead say Mahlzeit. That means, literally translated. Meal time. Mahlzeit is what you say when you are about to start eating a meal, kind of like the French bon apetite. But strangely enough, it is also used as a greeting. If you pass someone in the corridor at work and they are carrying food, chewing something, or hell, even look like they might be heading to the canteen, you say Mahlzeit to them, instead of hello.
In any other year, a tickly throat or a headache or a strange taste in your mouth would usually be overlooked. I’m just run down, you’d justify. Or maybe I’m getting a cold. Welcome to Corona time, where every miniscule symptom has your guts knotted in a vague but never-quite-gone panic.
Recently, I donated blood, and a day or so later, I got a headache. My standard response to this would be, oh well, something to do with the loss of iron/blood or in fact, just nothing at all. Because… well… headaches happen for multitudes of reasons, and sometimes for seemingly no reason at all.
As my home state, Victoria, warms up and prepares to finally emerge from their strict Covid lockdown bubble (of a crazy 100+ days), Europe heads into winter, and what we all suspect would happen is happening. On Saturday, Austria clocked an astounding 3000+ new infections. There are measures in place, and talk of more, but when I think back to March, when new infection numbers were in the low 100s, it seems crazy that no one is freaking out now in a much bigger way.
I have heard in the last days about some low-level panic buying, but there doesn’t seem to be anywhere near the same amount of anxiety there was the first time… even though things are significantly worse. In some ways it’s good – being prepared and being safe is one thing, but full on panic helps no one. But in other ways it’s terrifying – have we all become complacent – do we not believe there was ever any danger, or are we just adapting to living in a world during a pandemic?
I remember complaining a lot growing up about the constant ‘meat & 3 veg’ dinners served up in our household. That’s not to say it actually was constant… we certainly ate a lot of different meals… one of my favourites being fish fingers, dim sims and chips… but I digress. I think it was more that ‘meat & 3 veg’ was just the easiest, healthiest and quickest thing to fall back on… especially when you’ve got kids to raise.
When I moved out of home, I vowed that I would be different. I was going to make my cooking interesting, and find meals that were easy, healthy and quick… but weren’t basic meat with steamed veg. I was going to cook and eat exciting, healthy food.
I think you’ll agree with me that holidays were ruined this year. There were cancellations across the world from both enforced regulations and personal preferences.
For our team event this year, my colleagues and I had planned a mid-May weekend in Croatia. We’d booked a gorgeous apartment by the sea, and we were optimistic the weather would be warm.
Of course, due to Covid, it got canned. We initially thought the company may reneg on its offer of paying toward a team event in 2020, so we were ecstatic to hear in late August that instead they increased the dollar amount we could spend.
I know what it’s like when someone opens with: I must tell you about my dream! It was soooo funny. Because let’s be honest, for the most part, other people’s dreams tend to be pretty uninteresting. Of course your own dreams are… amazing… mostly because they are… well… dreamy and often shrouded in that mystical light that makes them seem more meaningful.
I don’t believe my dreams are at all meaningful. And I am a frequent and avid dreamer. My dreams are at best odd, and at their most extreme, completely wacky.
I do try to resist the urge to tell people about my peculiar dreams… but sometimes I feel the need to share.
And this is one of those times.
Because recently I had what I feel is the best dream ever.
In my experience it is quite common to be served bread prior to a meal in many restaurants. In some countries it seems almost mandatory (like in Italy), whereas in others it’s reserved only for the finer dining establishments, or it’s charged if you request it.
Back home in Oz, I have to say one of the highlights of a nice restaurant was the pre-dinner bread course – with some delicious salty butter or some olive oil – because I’m simple at heart…. And I love bread!
In Austria I would say that it’s not commonplace, even in the finer restaurants (though of course, it does happen), but don’t worry, you won’t miss out, because they replace it with something slightly different.
Yesterday was my Dad’s 70th birthday. Happy birthday, Dad. My Dad is a kind, hard-working, fit and intelligent guy who can contribute on any topic and can always fit in dessert, no matter how much dinner has already gone down.
Originally we’d planned to celebrate his birthday when they were in Austria earlier this year. Secretly I was entertaining the idea of being in Australia for it. Obviously neither of those things happened. Instead, we had a group Whatsapp call with the family, a mess of technical difficulties and waving kids and laughing and catching up. My mum and I both had a cake and candles to sing happy birthday – and my brother was coincidentally on his way to a birthday party. It was lots of fun. It was also a little bit heartbreaking.
Like many people out there in these times, I am required to take all of my holidays this year. There goes my secret plan of saving them all up and taking 6 months off next year!
This requirement is kind of sucky, because holidays to me generally involve getting on aeroplanes, visiting other countries and changing time zones. And in Covid time there is none of that. I’m used to packing a bag, and packing as much as possible into every day, tasting new and exciting foreign foods, and running on empty. Usually my holidays end with me needing a holiday from my holiday.
I realise it’s a first world problem, because I am thankful to have a job and also to have holidays that I can actually take. So I figured I was better off taking the bulk of them in summer, when the weather was warm.
We’re pretty settled here in Austria – we own a house, I have a passable grasp on the language, and I don’t have much to complain about. But never say never. Because moving back to Oz is always a possibility. So here’s my top ten things I will miss about my life here if or when I move back to Australia.