Trammin’ Along with Hans

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When a tram was first introduced in town of Avonlea, Karl Hans, a retired school teacher, was thrilled to apply for a position of conductor/operator because he had always wanted to become one since his childhood in Frankfurt, Germany, where riding a tram was part of his family life: His father used to take trams to commute  to  and from work; his mother would take a tram to go grocery shopping, and so did Karl for going to and from school. A tram was their paid means of livelihood that spun many a memory with laughters and adventures in the Old Country. So the image of a tram in Avonlea was enough to induce Karl to think of his childhood in Germany and his eyes to be welled up in tears soaked up with a nostalgia of those lovely moments of the past that are now bygone and bygone.

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Naturally, the  news that the city council had finally approved the city’s real estate tycoon John Elephant’s proposal of establishing a tram line in order to accomodate to the increasing number of the residents imbued Karl with a certain feeling of hope that had been buried under layers of time and forgetfulness as Reality Check had called upon through the years. Karl decided that he wanted to become a conductor of a tram in a heartbeat against his wife Hannah’s disagreement. “Why don’t you enjoy the rest of life in the comfort of armchair with books you admire and music you love? We can manage to live quite comfortably with our Social Security Benefits and your 401 K Plan.” Hannah’s remonstration with Karl was, however, weaker than his determination rekindled by his deep nostalgic infatuation with another ew hope in life. “Hannah, surely our income will be sufficient to maintain comforts of life, but it’s what I really want to do, and I want to make it happen. Besides, we will have extra income to double our monthly budget. So it’s a win-win situation! We are not losing anything at this stage of life.” Karl’s reasoning with his dear wife Hannah won her support of the cause, and the rest of it was history.

photo (2)Intelligent, civil, and good-heated Karl is now Avonlea’s beloved conductor of a lovely tram that almost everyone uses  on a daily basis, even if some of them owns a car. Karl operates a tram 5 days a week except Fridays and Sundays from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM. But he does not feel exhausted or overworked. He loves the way his passengers smile back to him and greet him when boarding and getting off his tram. Sometimes, he has not-so-good days for being only a human, especially when Hannah nags for no apparent reason or fault-finds with just about anything with him in the morning or the night before. Nevertheless, the facts that he is living his dreams in memory of his childhood memories that are dear to him and that his age does not mean anything to him to achieve his dream are the mainstay of fulfilling demands placed on his daily tasks at work, at home, and with himself. Hooray for our magnificent Karl and his continuous endeavors in life!

 

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Stardust!

Sometimes I feel like a mad scientist who relentlessly pursues any signals of supernal intelligent being in the universe when I write my book reviews, poems, and occasionally attempted short short stories on my little lonely blog. I do it because for the love of act of writing and the ambition of writing better. Simple as that.

And Voila! At last, I was able to catch such signal coming from the most unexpected galaxy of Great Writers this week: That my book review on a fabulously well-written modern thriller, The Flight Attendant got the attention of its equally fabulously brilliant author, Mr. Chris Bohjalian, who not only read the review but also gave me kindly comments on the review thwarts all of my provisional existential worries like magic.

So I guess my endeavors to improve my writing skills for love of literature and history have not been in vain after all. Francis Bacon’s timeless adage of “Reading makes a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.” has been one of my credos. Now Mr. Bohjalian’s warm encouragement shall be my new, fresh literary memento. What more can I say? I now have stardust.

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Bonbon Brunch Bonhomie

IMG_4017It’s one fine Saturday afternoon, and Hans Bauer and Zeus Magoo are as cheerful and loquacious as sparrows in the morning sky as they are talking away about the weekly panorama of Avonlea,families, and businesses at the delightful brunch hosted by their good business partner John Elephant, who has not only an acute business mind but also intelligence embodied in geniality out of his deep concern for humanity. So as a token of appreciation of individuality, John asked Hans and Zeus in advance  of their choices of brunch rather than deciding the menu on his part (or his wife Rachel’s, to be precise). It’s in fact convenient for Rachel to prepare for the guests’ meals and also interesting to detect a trace of character and personality in each of the meals by its ingredients and condiments it accompanies. As  tree is known by its fruits, a persona can be interpreted by what he eats to a certain extent because people tend to stick to diets of their choice.

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“I must say it has been a fine week weather-wise, ” John says blissfully before having the first bite of his lobster cooked in his favorite vino by Rachel,  “It’s spring in earnest, and we are entering Season of Summer as if we are flying on an airplane! Speaking of which, I am going to California  next week to consider buying a two-story house there. My experience with treacherous weathers on the East compelled me to look westward. In fact, California reminds me a lot of Cape Town, where I came from. But I am unsure whether or not my whole family will have to relocate there. I am thinking of Rancho Santa Margarita in southern California. That’s where I am going to look around first.

IMG_4019Zeus Magoo, who runs a convenient kiosk on 1291 Suhs Avenue, is surprised by John’s sudden intention of relocation to California because to Zeus moving a place of livinghood with a family, let alone his means of business seems to be too risky a business itself. “Well, it’s a nice idea to get away from the grim East, but I don’t think the nice weather should be the alpha factor to make you decide to uproot your livinghood, John. I mean, you can always vacation there with your family to escape from the blustery winter days, but moving there for good may ensue unforeseeable implications you can’t think of. Of course, you have enough resources to officiate a new residential and business addresses in the Sunshine State, but you need to think about this moving there carefully.”

IMG_4022“Yes, I agree with Zeus on that.” Hans Bauer, a tram conductor of thirty years, chimes in with his quiet agreement. “John, you are a man of prudence and sagacity, so it is hardly to expect you to act on impulses or whims. Think again, and think good. We don’t want to lose our trusty John to the Wild West. Surely, the eastern climate is not the most cheerful not salubrious to the sunny temperament, such as you possess, but then it’s not too bad to live here. At least, it’s better than Hanover, where I cam from at the age of eighteen.” Hans is then momentarily carried away by the floaty recollections of his early year with a melody of nostalgia.

The Trio’s brun table is filled with delicious food and general bonhomie air mixed with a certain pang of farewell, expectations for fortuitous future, and memories of the good old days that each of them is feeling at the same time. All in all, there is nothing more like having someone to talk to in times of need. That’s why Epicurus once said,  “We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink.”

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Rational Optimist

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Paul was still struggling to repel a hangover from last night’s spirited social with the town’s business committee chaired by Kohn Elephant at his elegant mansion. It was a nice occasion to meet with other men of his age who owned means of business either solely or jointly in the town. Besides, such evening social could provide Paul a chance to get away from Pula’s tittle-tattling about drudgery of household management, such as a need to have a leaking sink pipe fixed, writing checks for their monthly dues, setting up a weekly sales agenda for their Bonjour Cake Shop. Paula may be an excellent housewife dedicated to the wellbeing of her family with frugality, she seemed to be out of touch with sweet malibriety that had delighted Paul before their daughter Laura was born. That was what Paul was missing from Paula. That was what kept himself away from Paula.

photo (4)“I will have a slice of Pecan Pie and a cup of cafe au lait.” Paul ordered his staple morning diet at La Boum and then started reading the newest issue of the Times. He scanned the front page to see if there was anything interesting except articles regarding sports, entertainment,  and politics – yes, politics, which Aristotle once said that anyone not interested in politics should be either a divine being or a beast. Paul was unsure of which of the kinds he would belong to, depending upon his mood of a day, but it wasn’t simply his cup of tea because it’s all a reality show. Of course, Paul being a good citizen casts his vote in gubernatorial, mayoral, general, not to mention, presidential elections. But the idea of politics as a subject looks too grim and pompopus and prepertorial. Paul’s vision of the world is of a Rational Optimist equipped with bookish knowledge and abstract ideas about humanity balanced with his sharp intelligence.

However, Paul loves to read about those farcical world leaders whose scurrilous remarks on their political nemesis done in equally outrageous gestures or facial expressions all in captured in the eye of camera. At the moment, Paul’s prime interest was fixated on Jong-Un Kim, the puffed up man in anachronistic Mao suit tyrannizing the northern half of the Korean Peninsula.  That fat man sure had guts to defy the international rules and regulations to respect human rights in all defiant manners. Paul thought to himself while reading an article about Kim’s turning surly over the joint military drills executed by U.S. and S. Korea last week. You gotta be kidding, Paul could not believe that this so-called a leader of a nation could possible act like a spoiled kid. And Paul would love to discipline him by every possible civil means of chastisement. For what else can work for such a short-fused, ruthless despot running his country as it were a huge concentration camp – a bigger, more surreal version of Far Eastern Auschwitz camp? Paul was also going to follow up on whether or not the US – North Korea summit meeting on disband N. Korea’s nuclear programs  would be indeed held on June 11th in Singapore, a rich city-state in Far East because he would love to know if Kim would show up in a Mao suit again at such a historic meeting. He would bet $50.00 for Kim’s materialization in the ugly communist uniform.

porky

 

 

That’s what friends are for.

photo (8)Since the opening of a chic French Restaurant La Boum, it has gained a reputation for serving a mune of homestyle dishes at reasonable prices in a very lovely atmosphere. Notwithstanding auspicious popularity of his restaurant, Randy the chef and owner of La Boum is still a simple man at heart, always finding happiness in every little way like St. Therese of Little Flower advised and practiced in the 19th century. In fact, it was Randy’s consistent positiveness and pleasant deportment coming from his heart that impressed highly enterprising and brilliantly intelligent John Elephant,  a town’s real estate developer who owned most of the commercial and residential properties in Avonlea  Consequently, John let Randy rent the restaurant for for an unspecified period on one condition that Randy’s monthly due would always be made on time.

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“Hey, how’s it going, Randy?” Looks like your restaurant is in boom like the name of it, La Boum.” was John’s affable greeting to his new friend and tenant Randy.  “Hey, buddy! Couldn’t be better! I mean. ever since I opened up the restaurant, there has never been a day where there is an empty seat. I did not advertise on my restaurant  on the media myself! I call it a miracle!” Randy’s heartfelt rhapsody of the successful launching of his restaurant business amused John all the more. That’s why Randy was a good friend of him. John needed Randy’s rustic and artless simplicity. Everything Randy said and did was of ingenuousness, which John had scarcely encountered.   Maybe it’s really an act of Providence that Randy and John were good friends.

photo (6)In the meantime, Seraphina and Mathilda were having their afternoon lunch in the restaurant after their fabulous window shopping in Lotte Department Store newly renovated with more variety of selections from apparel to shoes, cosmetics and household appliances, chocolates and restaurants. “I don’t like the new version of the department store.” Seraphina, who was tired of walking around the aisles, confided to her friend Mathilda before her first bite to a Chef’s Sandwich, one of Randy’s specialties. “It’s just all a pompous hyperbole of the same stuff only arranged and called differently. But I have to admit that the whole interior design of the lobby is quite elegant with aromas of sohistacately scented perfume that sweeten the entire floor.

photoMathilda thought that Seraphina was often hard to please, critical of anything glamourous or popular contrary to her fashion-conscious appearance that seemed to belong to a crowd in a Vanity Fair. “I like the remodelled store. It has now a wider aisles to walk around with attendants with more professional but nicer attitudes and more various items to select. It had taken about 8 months for the store to open it again. And I honestly think they had put quite a few huge efforts to make it better to accommodate themselves to today’s demanding satisfaction of us customers. So we should give them a laudable credit even just for the bona-fide efforts. Don’t you think so, Seraphina?”

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Having heard all this, Serapina felt herself a bit ashamed, or modified for being so critical of anything new or modified because a new thing always terrified her; she lacked adaptability. She’s conservative at heart, but thanks to her good and graceful nature, she wasn’t a conventionalist. “Mathilda, I did not intent to criticise the store’s generally improved atmosphere. In fact, I liked how the whole lobby smelled with perfumes of beautiful scents that were totally different from the ones you could get in drugstores or some other shoddy places. Maybe I was just too tired after walking around the store because I get easily peeved for such things… But I am glad to come out with my good friend today and enjoy this moment of repose with this delicious food. ” Upon finishing her apological statement about her abrupt curtness in the beginning, Serapina began to eat her sandwich with pleasure, which made Mathilda smile and start enjoying  her  custard pie with her heart’s content.

porky