You would never believe what happened to me recently! I was standing in front of the refrigerated shelves of my favourite grocery discounter and nearly started crying. My eyes were already becoming moist and it took all of my control not to stand there bawling my eyes out. The reason? Kärntnermilch cheese. Yes, cheese! Austrian cheese. Carinthian cheese. From home. Ridiculous, right? And it suddenly just hit me! A spout of loneliness and homesickness! For my hometown, I grew up in and where my parents are buried and which I couldn’t wait to escape from during my later school years, for my parents’ hometown and my university town, pictures and memories flooding me. And all that just by seeing Austrian cheese!
Of course, I had to buy the cheese right away, just like I always do when I actually see Austrian groceries here in Germany. Like Wiesbauer cold cuts, Stastnik Cabanossi (hard sausage), Käsekrainer (sausage) during “Alps or Bavarian weeks”, I even discovered my favourite Mautner Markoff tarragon mustard once and immediately bought a few tubes. (Of course, I did!)
My highlight not long ago? And totally surprising? Discovering my favourite Felix ketchup at one of the German grocery store chains. Just to be on the safe side I loaded all five bottles from the shelf into my cart. Not wanting to risk that this was just a one-time special delivery from Austria and I was stupid enough to just get one bottle … unthinkable.
My little homesickness continued when I discovered funny books by Otto Schenk by pure chance, one of the greatest Austrian theatre actors and directors, who has collected and written down anecdotes of his life in theatre with fellow colleagues. Usually, reading German books is a rare occasion to my British and American mysteries. But I totally got hooked and not only ordered some theatre play DVDs from the “Theater an der Josefstadt” in Vienna but also remembered other famous Austrians and couldn’t help stocking up on every other Hugo Wiener book (only used ones available), a famous cabaret comedy writer and author, I could find and some others about Austrian historic anecdotes.
Watching the plays, some of them in Black/White, hearing the Austrian dialect, watching already old beloved theatre and TV actors from my childhood like Peter Alexander, Ossy Kolmann, Alfred Böhm, Helmut Lohner and many more made me maudlin again with a smile on my face. And I wonder … will I return to Austria one day in my retirement? It’s a thought that has been crossing my mind recently. To go back to Styria, if … I don’t know. I will see what my future will bring. But it’s definitely an option, a future I could imagine … to at least be where my real roots are. My family’s roots, my memories … and friends.