Friday, June 20, 2008

How much Bocholt is left in me?

I was born in Bocholt, a small town close to the Dutch border. Frankly, during my teens I realized how much I didn't like living there. I think it was more the circumstances that made me dislike Bocholt. It's a town with a lot of green, very bike- and kid-friendly. But I always felt under siege in this town.

When I visited a few weeks back, I took this shot at 1pm on a Wednesday. All cars parked in order, almost no humans around. Mind you, this is a street close to the town center...

I went to my father's favorite Yugoslavian restaurant and ate a mixed grill plate. 5 pieces of meat piled on top of Rice Pilaf. And I though TGI Friday's had huge portions. I barely ate 1/3 of the meat. But the beer was good.

A window in the restaurant stating: "There's no place better than Bocholt." When we took bus tours with our school or went on summer camps, we always sang a similar song, claiming Bocholt to be the best city in the world. And I always thought: "Is that really true? How depressing."

The small river running through Bocholt, called Aa. No, not AA, just Aa. Don't ask me why they would name a river like a plumber who wants to be first in the Yellow Pages. Many evenings were spent staring at the river. Can I swim out of here?

My elementary school is in the background. I was baptized as a Lutheran, a minority in Bocholt. The school to the right was Catholic. We started religious wars when we were 6. Even though we were in the minority, our Protestant brotherhood lead to many bloody victories. Don't ask me why. I guess just a wish to be different.

That's the view from the balcony of my father's last apartment. Bocholt doesn't have a lot of buildings with these views. You can see the water tower in the distance and some churches. I'm glad he had a way of looking out in the sky. Feels liberating.

The old city hall with the Europe fountain next to it. Originall built in 1618 and restored right before the Nazis took charge. Behind the fountain is one of the best Italian Ice Cream parlors. Or so I felt when I was 6. I didn't taste their offerings a few weeks back.

While walking through Bocholt, I was asking myself: How much of Bocholt is in me and how much did I leave behind? Is it worth continue trying?

1 comment:

Jens Neuhaus said...

A good description of the athmosphere. For years I feld like this on my weekends visiting my parents in Bocholt.