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17.08.2019 Feature Article

The Underground Man - Part 56

The Underground Man - Part 56
LISTEN AUG 17, 2019

Irena saw how Anna got up making sure while leaving the Fischmarkt Halle she would not see her. Calmly walked Anna her way up the little hill towards Reeperbahn leaving Schweinske Restaurant to her immediate right crossing over to the other side. Always when she was standing in front of Große Freiheit, a narrow short street open during the day only to traffic, by nights closed to onlookers and tourists in hailing the god olden days passed long time to feel in their mind a world so different from their own, their daily work in mines, chemical factories or standard offices, making money to pay for every day’s expenses, to feed their families, to go on vacations, to have fun in life. Here the world of ordinary people going about their well established and morally correct lives were put to the test, were challenged by others ready to grab deep into the tourist purse and get their money into their hands, the bar owner, the body guards of prostitutes standing by the road side at Davidswache, the famous police station to keep order in the red light district that had changed since Anna was born. At the time of her childhood, she remembered very well, Sanct Pauli and Reeperbahn at its heart, was a place to enjoy sex, pure sex, soft and hard to taste. In the brothels around Hans-Albert-Platz, the square making the center of the area with restaurants, from eight at nights going young ladies in their short clothes blocking the way for the men to walk their way but take their money, the atmosphere was completely different than today. Self-acclaimed body guards of the prostitutes when having problems with other athletic men wanting to expand their business by winning over their prostitutes with only small amount of cocaine in their noses, agreed to meet in The Rize from Kalle Schwensen near Eros Center from Willi Bartels, went down the stairs ignoring the TV with pornos running all the time and had a good bloody fist fight in the sparring ring Kalle Schwensen had set up for them to keep their testosterone under control. When HIV spread and the Berlin Wall fell, gangster groups from Eastern Europe took over control of the lucrative business with girls, sex and drugs. While the Hamburger of the old garde were using their bodies to determine their territory and income with professional contract murderer Pintzner occasionally killing few of them, the East European gangs never spoke but shot people on the spot making their mark in and around the district.

Anna looked down Große Freiheit seeing the remains of Salambo and Safari, once great places for men wanting to be stimulated before using one of the prostitutes with several live sex shows each night sitting around small tables paying highly overcharged prices for common drinks. The actors naked and busy on stage on all body parts had come mainly from South America. Especially the men were enormously stable in their performance to make the female actors shout for lust feeling the men inside them. HIV had all changed the scenery of the place, transformed it into walkways for people from all over the country and beyond to have clean ideas about sex with their partners or partners of their partners. Broadway entertainment style was the order of the time. Clean, neat and impressive building were the beginning of the transformation of a place that had been formed by sailors from far staying in Hamburg until their ships had been ready to set sail again wanting to use girls for a time they had been unable to use their wives thousands of kilometers away from their hearts. Reeperbahn as a street had been used to make heavy duty ropes for ships needed to secure the in any harbor around the world.

Before Anna walked into Große Freiheit did she look at the silver shadowy statues of The Beatles erected in honor of the great band from Liverpool that had started its career in Hamburg sleeping rough in houses for friendly people, singing and composing music for small money, and loved by many while performing in Kaiserkeller and other places of the city. They had never forgotten Hamburg and the Star Club as did Hamburg never forget them and what their contribution had been to a vibrant city, the best in all of Germany.

At the end of Große Freiheit, leaving Dollhouse behind, the place once occupied by Salambo, the Catholic Church opposite Kaiserkeller was closed not able anymore for the day to be used by people from Eastern Europe, mainly Polish worshippers. Grünspann was to be seen on her right hand sight, but she had no interest to cross the street and see that metal music folks had taken over the dance palace before a place after which once Harry`s Hafen Bazar was located, a shop filled with statues endlessly from all around the world, mostly Africa, a place to entertain oneself senses in abundance. She checked out Paul-Rosen-Straße and Seillerstraße only to see more and more sex shops and bars for homosexuals had taken over bars for the ordinary hard working ship builders and plumbers raising their kids with their wives.

Just before St. Pauli Theater, next to Schmidt`s Theater, she had to stop. Her breath was shot. She felt like fainting touching the bricks of the theatre to find hold and safety. Her heart was beating. She turned around seeing that cars came out of the underground garage before Davids Wache Police Station, tried to walk towards the cars for help. Her mind was spinning and spinning. Her heart beat was stopping for seconds before coming back on. She felt fear around her neck, had the feeling someone is about to strangle her to death; but she was all alone by herself, no body near her. Behind Lucullus in the middle of the road selling sausages of the best taste with washroom facility offered for visitors and guest alike, was Anna believing to see a woman hiding that looked very much like Irena. She tried to keep her eyes wide open, tried to control her mind to see the body of a woman very well and identify her as who she was. He head was aching more and more by the minute. Fog came over her eyesight making it impossible to intensify the hidden woman. She spoke to herself that certainly this can never be true as why should her sister Irena be here at this place, around this time and following her; what for? Her mind convinced her what she was seeing could never be what she was thinking, as what is not possible to be cannot be. A police officer on his way out to patrol the district saw she was not feeling well, offering his help.

"Thank you officer", said Anna when he gave her a cup of coffee in the police station letting her rest on a wooden bench aside of the reception area. He had wanted to call an ambulance but she refused assuming the attack would disappear fast. Stepping out of the police station Anna was wondering whether or not to go back to her area and walk around Blankense, the richest district of Hamburg, a city with four Billionaires and three thousand Millionaires be claimed by her sister Alexa as a posh area with snobbish behaving people she herself was regarding them as very well educated and friendly people to anyone that approached them in the same manner, friendly and open minded. The Villa of a rich man along Rissener Landstraße, a man that had established a small empire of car selling companies in and around Hamburg with the help of his much beloved wife, would often be the place she would stand before and remember the story behind the white posh Villa not many people remembered. When the wife had died of cancer, the husband had seen no sense anymore in living, in the money he had, the fame given to him, his children but had hang himself in the attic of his villa following his late wife to wherever she was. Thinking of that story had always helped her in times of her own problems to understand the meaning of life a bit better.

But no, that was not the place she wanted to see, rather to walk towards Heiligengeistfeld, the place on which three times a year the Dom, an impressive fun fair, would entertain people from all over Germany. She entered Planten un Blomen, an aerial once shaped for the International Garden Festival generations ago, a place for Hamburger to enjoy flowers, nature and in the evenings particularly the water fountains with light and music on display during the season lasting for half an hour enjoying all onlookers making them delighted. Anna sat down into the specially designed garden chairs in the rose garden to rest and let her mind flow, her eyes see red and pink flowers as far as her eyes could see. The Heinrich-Hertz Tower distributing TV signals all across the city, rose high into the skies was standing to her right. The restaurant half way to the top of the tower turning tables while guest were eating, had been closed for years without end.

Her memories took her back to the time she was a student studying in Pferdestall, the former horse stable next to Abaton Kino, a cinema premiering alternative movies to the young generation. Across Pferdestall the yellow structure of the Philosophen Tower the place she studied history and philosophy stood massively in the wind look below onto the Mensa catering for thousands of students and lecturers offering a great variety of food for meat eaters and vegetarians alike, delicious most of the time even when eating was done in haste by being asked not to use more than twenty minutes for the meal for others to take their course as well. It was so present always in her mind when she had entered university she was overwhelmed by knowledge from people having had walked before her but a no one had shown interest in what she had done she had only managed to end her studies fighting her way based on her great interest in the subjects having studied. She knew form her own experience finish a study at university does not need whatever that was called to be `intelligence ‘but interest and hard work, that was all, therefore potentially possible for anyone.

"This world is a funny place!" was Anna saying loud checking left and right that no one was near her to hear what she was thinking. "Most people live life anyhow...but they do not think of it or reflect on it, so they cannot progress. They do not see themselves as powerful individuals but follow the instructions of society, their family and friends making their standards and life expectations their own completely or partially...but in the end missing the mark set for them. Life is for fighters only, surviving is for the faint hearted once!"

It was time for Anna to take a walk in the City Center standing before the impressive Town Hall, the third of its kind in the history of Hamburg. Behind was the Chamber of Commerce, a place so vital for the city, so full of history. In the lobby to the immediate right when entering still till date small wooden benches constructed around round pillars were the meeting place for companies of various profession to collect letters send to them and a gathering place for their representatives to close deals. Whenever a deal is negotiated and done among people of the business community it is sealed with a firm handshake, only written contracts in modern times put the icing on the cake. Hamburg is a too small city to step out of line and be dishonest, the business end would follow immediately.

Anna was thinking of walking over to the Speicherstadt turned into Harbour City, once the world´s largest warehouse complex in the world storing coffee, tea and carpets. Many of the impressive old warehouse structures had been sacrificed for modern structures housing people and offices that were of no meaning to the city, faceless and shameless. Once she had been at the bus stop Am Sand seeing the place once so dear to her heart when checking out on carpets inhaling the aroma of freshly roasted coffee and tea brewed for tasting, it all had gone. Brutal coldness of modern facades had slammed into her face and made her angry about politicians and architects alike unable to plan a new district her Hamburg could have been truly proud of. That place now was killing her soul and made her heart stop boiling her blood in anger. It was clear to her, she would never set foot again in that area of her city that was so much part of her being.

"How disgusting", was she commenting thinking of Hamburg Harbour City while walking along Lake Binnenalster passing Hapag LLoyd Headquarters to her right. In the near distance she saw Hotel Atlantic beautiful as ever, shining bright white in the afternoon sun. The Gallery of Contemporary Arts that she had to pass by was a structure that had never entered her mind, a structure she was able to overlook. Across the Außenalster, Hotel Atlantic in her back, the American Consulate was clearly visible sealed off by heavily armed office.

"Wherever I will be in this world, even my end might not be here, Hamburg is always with me!" was Anna saying to herself with tears coming to her eyes. "Home is never a place, home is a feeling and feelings are there, they control our level of comfort we have in this world sure always controlled by our mind as much as we can. They are the underlining force that drives us down or upwards. We can only reach our glory, when our mind is able to control and master our own self, our past, our present, out future, our emotions...our destiny set before us! But in the end, let us be clear and honest about it, we can never win the race we are supposed to run as when we come to the final point to discover who we as humans really are, not what we read in the bible or books of philosophers...further down in our the bible and others do not explain why we are, only that we are and what we have to do...we finally would destroy ourselves by getting mad over it!"

"You are okay, young lady?" asked an old woman taking her seat next to Anna on the bench opposite Hotel Bellevue she had chosen to have a rest and clear her mind. Swans came as the old lady had bread crumbs with her, old bread from the past week collected during the times she had not been well. The threw the bread crumbs closer towards the swans seeing little sailing boats on Lake Außenalster racing against each other with young boys and girls on deck. Being a widow for years the old Lady came to her bench nearly every day except in winter time and time of illness. Fresh air and a strong wind would always low her mind and clean her thoughts, was she laughing sharing her wisdom of life with the new friend she found unexpectedly.

"This world is not funny these days anymore...rather getting more and more crazy, confusing an old lady like me too much!" was the old Lady laughing not mentioning her name to Anna. "Past European Parliament election endless numbers of parties were to be chosen from, parties I have never heard of standing for issues so sectarian, only for limited God have mercy on your people. These had never happen in early times that I can remember and was an active Party Member of Hamburg ruling party myself before leaving it for very good reasons. Everyone is shouting out his small personal problems busting it to a life changing matter claiming not only the main stream problems must be heard, but all corners of the earth have a right to be seen, acknowledged and find themselves again in laws that in the end harm others and their ideas about life...oh, oh God have mercy on your people...where have we gone to as society here and in other places. What does not jump into party politics will form an interest group and organization...each of which has its own moral and ethnical standards fought for with great power dividing our country in a way."

"You mean, when there are only a handful of parties and groups, the world would be a more effective and inclusive place for us all?" challenged Anna the old Lady that had given all her bread to the swans even they were still waiting before her to get more.

"The other day I was overhearing a conversation on the bus of an old couple when the husband mentioned the secret of a successful marriage by claiming, it can only work when one partner holds back his own wishes from time to time, backs down and let the other partner have its will without behind frustrated, without having the believe to be left out and denied its right to see happiness. All he is saying, even when you are single and live all by yourself, compromises must be made in your life...even when you live alone on this planet, as long as you are alive, your own will to the last letter cannot be done."

"Can I advise you?" asked Anna the old Lady with a great smile on her face.

"Yes, please...tell me your mind!" said the old Lady ready to hear whatever was supposed to be spoken.

"Never mention this to anyone in this world, as people will not understand you but call you a mad person and insult you very well."

Karl-Heinz Heerde
Karl-Heinz Heerde, © 2019

The author has 352 publications published on Modern Ghana. Column Page: KarlHeinzHeerde

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