Life is somehow divided into epochs with fuzzy boundaries and their own aura. Epochs arise and fade away unnoticed, but when I later come across a picture, a song, a taste, a smell, or any feeling from that time, its unique aura arises and evokes a kind of nostalgy. I wonder what defines an epoch. The time of the year, the weather, the mix of feelings in my mind, the people around me. All of it together somehow stands for that time. The aura is a sort of hash value of a given moment. It is the key to travel back to an epoch and feel again how it was to be alive at that instant. Hence the obsession to take pictures and videos of every single moment, wanting to take with us to the future what we cannot. I do that as well. Thousands and thousands of records of everything to cling to past moments that shall not be lost in time. Yet the mind is lossy and no amount of redundant backups can prevent all of it to be gone at some point. Forever and ever.

If a memory shall last for eternity, make it out of stone, not out of bits and bytes


I do not drink alcohol, but I enjoy the culture around it. That culture ends rapidly when people drink too much and the Oktoberfest is unfortunately famous for exactly that. Keeping a balance is difficult, and the more alcohol, the harder it seems to be to not fall for the extreme. It is sad that this questionable reputation overshadows the nice parts of the event. I cannot blame anyone for it, since I am also on an extreme by not drinking at all. Rather than complaining, this year I wanted to get a bird's-eye view of the event. The tower of the Saint Paul church is right next to the Theresienwiese and offers exactly that. The viewing platform is open exclusively during the Oktoberfest and thus I did not want to miss the opportunity. The weather was nice and the queue inexistent on a Monday morning, but I underestimated by far the 97 meters height of the tower. At the top, the drunk and the noise were far, leaving me to a peaceful view of the largest beer festival on earth.

I did not manage to ride the flying swings this year

Symmetric view to the west

The stairs of the tower offer unusual views of the church interior

I regretted not bringing a camera with proper telephoto lenses

In 1960, a C-131D airplane coming from this direction hit the tower and crashed

Mind the gap

The mind is an expert at filling gaps. It has to, because our perception is full of them. In the present, because we are only aware of an infinitesimal fraction of what is happening. In the past, because we love forgetting about the details that do not fit our world view. And in the future, because the future is a single enormous gap. This is where it gets really bad. Instead of meaningful statistics, the mind loves heavily biased intuitions about what may happen next. Like when one is stuck in traffic. Or on a broken train. Or on a grounded airplane. This will never end. I will be hopelessly late. I will be here forever. The mind extrapolates the current situation to the future. The more catastrophic, the better. It typically disregards that something may change because change is unknown and makes it harder to fill the gaps. But change is fundamental. And it is good. Human existence is all about learning, and change is the best teacher. Mind the gap, and fill it with change.

The famous London Tube warning, sometime back in 2006


No matter how much I plan a trip, sometimes I miss one of the must-see places by very little. I check ticket availability too late. I queue at the wrong place. I do not research enough about all available options. How come you visited X and did not see Y? A feeling of frustration comes up. And of wanting to make possible the impossible. What if I wake up very early tomorrow morning and still find a way to go? I frenetically check schedules. Departure times. Distances. All that just makes it worse. This irrelevant first world problem is however a great training for the things that actually matter. The times when we want something important to be in one way but it turns out different. The mental muscle that allows one to let go of that must-see place is the same that later helps letting go of fear, loss, and pain. The moment one manages to be at ease with what is, instead of obsessing about what could have been, is wonderful. Better train that muscle with simple problems.

Sigiriya Rock. We queued at the entrance that included some frescoes we could have skipped. The intense heat and the huge crowd forced us to give up on reaching the top.

Caves in the Gulf of Orosei. I assumed that all boat tours stopped at these caves which are only accesible by boat. It turns out that only some of them do.

Château d'If. I verified that tickets for this castle on an island were available. What did not come to my mind is that the boat that takes one there sells out fast.


I have to admit that smart watches are useful. They are great to soothe anxiety. I can quickly check that no one called. That no message is waiting for a reply. That no email is left unseen. And most importantly, smart watches also show the time. Not just any time, but the reference time from the worldwide synchronized time network. A quick glance at the watch appeases all fears and worries. I am on time for the meeting. For the train. For the flight. A smart watch is the ultimate tool to anxiously confirm and reconfirm that all is good. That all is on schedule. That all is under control. But the other day, it ran out of battery. And what seemed like a catastrophic event, actually felt like an incredible relief. I felt at ease not knowing the exact time. Sure, knowing is important sometimes, but not all the time. As with everything, balance is the key. Not too much, not too little. Unfortunately, lately the trend seems to be to fall for the extremes. In daily life. In politics. In everything.

Paradoxically, timeless sunsets require precise timing to not miss them


I felt the addiction. It was not extreme. But it was there. I spent about 20 to 30 minutes every day browsing Instagram, even though I had a full schedule. It was procrastination. A way to delay the next task, wanting to believe that it was not there. But of course, the task would come back and cost me double the effort. It was a bad habit. It provided me instant gratification, but made me feel bad in the long term. I remembered a technique that I learned from meditation. I never thought that it would work. It is so simple, that it can be boiled down to one word. Enough. The key is to shift the focus from the ephemeral gratification to the subsequent hangover feeling. Once the mind is there, changing the habit is effortless because one does not want it anymore. And to my surprise, it worked. It is widely applicable. Junk food. Doomscrolling. Procrastinating. Being a couch potato. You name it. Once one becomes aware, bad habits just vanish in thin air.

And saving twenty minutes every day, one ends up with time for a day trip :-)

A Rare Event

I guess we both hoped to have the compartment for ourselves. But even the seating carriage on that NightJet to La Spezia was almost booked out, not to mention the actual sleeping carriages. We both knew that a rather sleepless night was ahead, given the limited comfort of the seats. I am not sure how the conversation started, but it got deep very quickly. We talked about many things. About traveling. About work culture. About meditation. About life. While the situation may sound like the cheesy start of a romantic movie, it was not, and that was the beauty of it. Across me sat a guy of my age. No romantic interest whatsoever. It was the perfect example of a yellow soul, as in Albert Espinosa's The Yellow World, who had popped up out of the blue and would disappear to nowhere. An interaction with no hidden (or not so hidden) agenda. No romantic, economic, political, or religious intention behind it. A real conversation with a stranger. Unfortunately, a rare event.

The final destination was Roma Termini, with a change to a high speed train in Padova

Flooded Wall

The wall looked empty. Even visitors said it. The offer from Saal Digital came very conveniently: get a free wall picture in exchange of a fair review. And here you can see both, the picture and the review. I took the picture back in 2019 at Starnberger See. It was a lucky shot. I just saw the scenary, pointed the phone, and got a surprisingly good result. This picture was the perfect candidate for that empty wall in my little apartment in Munich. I just dragged it into the software from Saal Digital, chose the aluminium canvas, and five minutes later my order was out. They gave a quite optimistic delivery date of four days, which they missed by one day. This was no problem in my case, but it may be good to plan for some headroom if you have a strict deadline. Other than that, I am very pleased with the result. Hanging the picture was very easy since it comes with a steel frame attached to the back. Now the wall has a window to a lake that one day may flood it.

The wall picture is 30 x 45 cm


I still recall the exact moment when I said those words to my mother. I said that I would be away for at most two years. That I needed a change, but that I would be back. I landed in Munich shortly after. That was today, five years ago. Five years of waving goodbye behind the security check at the airport. Five years of welcome and farewell hugs. Five years of something that was meant to be temporary. Away, but not away. Abroad, yet still at home. And one broken promise. After all this time, I feel that I arrived at a crossroad with difficult decisions ahead. Staying, or going back. As Mark Manson writes in The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, at some point a decision must be made. Leaving all doors open to do it all is the same as not doing anything. And that is the real danger. Even if the paths at the crossroad are very different, the good news is that most of the happiness they may lead to does not really come from the path but from how one decides to walk on it.

A picture from the day I arrived - an empty desk for a new start (March 31, 2018, 16:39)

Anonymous Lives

"You bought all the healthy stuff". I woke up from the routine check out process at the supermarket and withheld the pre-programmed "with card please" just in time. I managed to produce a "I try to" along with a smile. The cashier looked anxious. "I should too, for my mental well being", she said. A few months earlier, the other cashier of the store had praised the reusable nets that I use for fruits and vegetables. He looked exhausted back then, and still does. Beyond the compliments, which of course felt good, what remained in my mind were the burnout signs. They reminded me how much we suppress those allegedly undesirable signs to the strangers (and not-so-strangers) around us, while the actual solution would be to talk about them. We come across hundreds of people every day, yet are more disconnected than ever. In the few seconds before the next customer arrived, I tried to formulate some encouraging words for the cashier, and went back to the anonimity of the city.

Sadly, some selfish interest underlies the vast majority of interactions we experience, like this letter from a Jehovah Witness, personally addressed to me in 2021