MAY 16, Monday: Fond Farewells as the Laffers Disperse
In the morning, Gabi’s dining table is spread with a hearty breakfast. I don’t see a bowl, so I pile some Muesli (cereal) on a plate. Someone says I can put a “Schussel.” I offer that sounds like what I am wearing, and point to the bottom of my covered foot - the “shoe sole.” For folks who speak both German and English with a certain facility, this kind of “word similarity”-play is very amusing.
Soon we are all well-fed. I accompany Gerli, Dave and Ruthe to the Braunau train station. We make sure they board the train okay, with appropriate. valid tickets… and on the train facing the correct direction! Ruthe’s gratefulness is cloaked in tears, and Dave‘s deep gratitude is also evident. They’ll be back laughing on the sand in Laguna Beach in about 28 hours, but I’m still going to be on European soil for another nine days. As the hour of departure nears, I get out of the wagon and onto the gleiss (boarding platform). The train creaks, grunts and groans, a conductor blows a whistle - and they’re off!
Waving Auf Wiedersehen to my mom and number-one Laughter Buddy, the Laughter Club Bus Tour has officially concluded. Everyone is off the bus and moving on to their next location of choice: Dave and Ruthe are enroute from Switzerland to California; Anne and Celeste will soon be in the air heading for Georgia and Idaho respectively. Driver Dah-veedt is home in Munich (perhaps already on his way to drive another group), Beth’s back in Minnesota, and Marisa is home in Rome.
AFTER the Bus Tour:
Your writer stayed at Gabi’s house in St Peter am Hart two more nights, until Wednesday the 18th.
A special story: for admission to her home, there was a gate, and instead of a key, there was an electronic sensor. You had to place your index finger on the sensor; it “read” your fingerprint, and if approved it would let you in. If you did not have the approved fingerprint, a small red light indicated the gate would not be unlocked.
I asked Gabi, “Is that to protect you in case the Turks attack again?”
After laughing, she replied “It’s to keep the dogs in.” (They have two, very frisky.) “Also, if we don’t close it, the gate gets knocked around in the wind; and if the children forget their keys, they can always get in using their finger.”
I said, “So you must always tell the children, when they leave the house for the day: ‘Now don’t forget your finger!’”
On the 17th I gave two evening sessions, each lasting two hours: #1 Laughter and Creativity; and #2 Laughter Yoga and Classical (Hatha) Yoga. There was an English-to-German translator (ubersetzer) named Cissy - by profession a teacher of the English language. Each workshop had twenty attendees (most were the same for both workshops) and I got plenty of “Thumbs Up” signals throughout.
Thomas and Jeannette (from Gablitz and Vienna) had driven out to take my workshops, and we went together back to Vienna - a drive of about three hours’ duration. One of Jeannette’s roommates was going to be away and he said I could stay in his room. So I had a room in an apartment in downtown Vienna, at no charge! Vienna is usually an expensive city, but I figured I could go to the two opera houses, as well as catch up on some sleep, and it wouldn’t cost too much - not with the lodging at no charge. Plus on Friday the 20th, Thomas would have his regular Laughter Club session (at the same place where we had been on the14th).
I ended up going to no operas, but I did attend a fabulous performance of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony IN the Vienna Staatsoper (the State Opera House, one of the great theatres of the world). I went twice into the Vienna Woods: in the daytime on Saturday the 21st (the morning after Thomas’ Laughter Club) in Gablitz; and again on Sunday the 22nd when Jeannette drove us on her Vespa (motorbike) to a place called “Am Himmel” near Grinzing (just outside the city-proper of Vienna). There I had a fabulous time with Jeannette and friends Monika and Jaro. We joked about the meanings of the words “fahren” (it can be a noun: “einen fahren lassen” = to let go of a fart; or it can be a verb, to drive: “mit dem bus fahren” = to drive a bus). We found chapels and cliffs, as well as laughs, among the trees.
On Monday the 23rd I took the long train ride from Vienna through Zurich and on to Baden Switzerland, where I visited with another Laughter Teacher veteran, Katharina Mies, along with her husband Michael and four daughters. The girls are fascinated by my piano playing, even if they can’t fathom why I don’t understand them when they speak German (Swiss-German at that). Michael has indulged in a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, which we six eat by the tiny-spoonsful. When I praise how it makes me feel like I’m already home (and the girls clearly love the stuff), Michael dashes off and gets another pint - this time of my favorite flavor, “Chunky Monkey.” Here in Switzerland they pay about US $12 per pint. They can hardly believe it when I tell them I get Ben & Jerry’s at home, when it’s on sale for $2.50 per.
On Tuesday the 24th Katharina and I take bikes into the town of Baden. It isn’t far, perhaps ½ mile - but it is much more trouble to park a car than to find a friendly spot to tie up your bike. The neighborhood’s upscale Chocolate Specialty shop is going out of business in ten days, so we grab some goodies on sale at 30% off (but still pricey by US standards). I am playing the piano as the girls come home for lunch; after we scarf down Spaghetti, and a few of the choco-treats, they slowly head back to school.
At 2:00ish I hop on the train to Basel, where Chantal (a friend from the Teacher Training in Interlaken, two weeks earlier) has an apartment she said I could stay in. Her mother (also in that Training) picks me up at the train station, and I find the apartment is just a block away! After a night of catching up on the computer (internet access was not always available earlier on this trip) I settle in. The next morning I take the bus outside the train station to the airport, and head on out. Basel to London, then London to Los Angeles, and home. I departed the USA on May 2; my return was on May 25.
Farewell, Europe 2011. ‘See you next time!
From chats with the Europeans during this trip, I’ve already got my itinerary outlined for 2012. It might look like this:
April 20-22, a Yoga Conference in Meran (northern Italy)
April 23-30, a Laughter Club Bus Tour in northern Italy (Rimini, Milan, Florence, Genoa)
May 1-6, Laughter Conference (and World Laughter Day) in Frontignan, France (near Marseille)
Early- to mid-May: Hatha/Hasya Yoga Workshop in Vienna
AND Laughter Cruise from Venice Italy to Greek Islands
May 24-28, Assist Dr. Kataria at the Laughter Yoga Teacher Training in Interlaken (this will be my sixth time - I love that place!)
May 29-June 4 Laughter Club Bus (and Train) Tour, Rennes and Paris France (via Amsterdam) to Hamburg, Germany.
Do you want to come and play this time?