Tonight a ribbon of thousand domino's falling from Potsdamer Platz via the Brandenburger Tor to the Reichstag will symbolize the coming down of the infamous Berlin Wall on the 9th November 1989. This major world class event marked the effective beginning of "Die Wende", leading up to the re-unification of East & West Germany on 31st August 1990. This twentieth anniversary means a lot to many, but most of all that I got a couple of days older.
2nd week of August 2009 we plotted an Italian fun mix of sailing, sun, sightseeing, shopping and sheer slackening. Early morning Saturday 10th at 4 o'clock we finally embarked destination Lake Garda - Italy's largest lakes in the Alps measuring approximately 50 kilometres South-South-West to North-North-East - on eastern shores in the province of Veneto.
110 kilometers from Soissons to Senlis
between the rivers l'Aisne and l'Oise
crossing the forests of Compiège et Chantilly.
Half a year flew by working, while my diary notes covering the week after the Beijing Olympics in August 2008 were left untouched. Back that time, my wife Shanshan and daughter Nicole had returned to Brussels, so did my Belgian colleagues Zhijun and Rik, while my other colleague Fred had hopped to Japan to realise his Tokyo dream.
Seldom in a lifetime one is offered the unique opportunity of becoming the heaven's one and only Jade Emperor (or yù huáng dà dì). This great honour was bestowed on me during the act performed by our first year of the Eurochine Chinese School (Floralia in Woluwe) on Saturday 24th January 2009. The entire crew has been working extremely hard on the play composed and directed by our Li lao shi (teacher Li).
Learning mandarin Chinese (a.k.a. "pu tong hua") is a real challenge compared to most European languages. In some ways it is easy, as words do not change with gender, number or even tense, and there are few grammatical traps. However you got to pronounce the five tones correctly (flat, down-up, up-down-up, up-down, neutral) and peculiar sounds such as "c", "x", "ch", "sh", "zh" ... (as transcribed in pinyin) or you might say very rude or totally absurd things without being aware.
My father was born in Roeselaere on 8 oktober 1933 as the son of Maria Muylle and Maurice Hoornaert, who was a skilled carpenter, crafting everything from coffins to staircases out of wood. His mother Maria got hit by a car in Roeselare when crossing the road and died on 29th December 1960 (his Sailor's book indicates he was crossing the Golf of Mexico that time aboard the S.S. Louis Sheid). His only sister Magaretha died following a cerebral hemorrhage on 13th April 2004.
My father started his career as a sailor 10 years after W.O. II in 1955 at the age of 22. Slowly he climbed up to the rank of "Chef Cuisinier". He stopped sailing in 1969 when he met my mother. Some sections of interest out of his "Sailor's book" below:
My father was born in Roeselare on 8th October 1933 and he quietly passed away in rest home "De Notelaar" in Beveren (near Sint Niklaas in Antwerp province at the South-West side of the Schelde river) on Friday 8th August 2008 during the Opening Ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games (see my blog-entry "8-8-8"). Upon my return to Belgium - after being cremated under instruction of my brother Dieter Hoornaert - the funeral ceremony was held on Friday 26th September 2008 at 14:30 at the "Blauwe Poort" Stationstraat 32 Beveren.
"The day after" all Atos Origin staff working or volunteering for the Olympics was summoned to the Olympic Park for a group picture in front of the Bird's nest. That turned out to be no small feat, because we are talking about 400 heads to be squeezed within a limited angle. With no hats, sun glasses or IDs allowed, and the Sun buring mercilessly, it felt more like a public execution. Moreover the professional photographer must have seen some artistic material in us, as he let us cheer, do mexican waves, close ups, etc ...