Theme: Places

The Street Where I Live

by Satis Shroff
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The street where I live with my family
Is called the Pochgasse.

The Pochgasse lies to the north of Freiburg, In Zdhringen.
There s a castle ruin in Zdhringen,
Which is a tourist attraction.
In the early days they used to dig
For silver ores below the castle.
The ores that were dug were brought to the 'Poche',
Where they separated the silver from the ore
By melting them at high temperatures in the charcoal-kilns.

Our house is fondly remembered
As the milk shop of family Wichmann.
People used to tell us often,
'Gel, ihr wohnt da, wo fr|her die Wichmanns gewohnt haben?'

Frau Sanders, who lives at the charcoal-street, Said to me,
'I went there often to buy milk.'
I tried to imagine our house with cows,
Big milk-cans and haystacks.
At the moment it smells of smoked-fish.
The adjacent barn has been rented to a German,
Who wears his spectacles on the tip of his nose,
He lisps and tells stories
Of the old times in Zdhringen.
He smokes trout from the Black Forest thrice a year.
I think he sells them,
Otherwise he wouldn't smoke so many fishes.
He always hands me a freshly smoked trout
Wrapped on a piece of German newspaper.
I thank him and hand him
A bottle of Weissherbst from our cellar.

My one-eyed neighbour Herr Huber and I relish the trouts.
He drives an old, broken-down car
And has two big, black Rottweiler dogs.
He calls them Zeus and Apollo.
They're nice and always leashed.
At noon, when Herr Huber is away, and they have hunger,
You hear blood-curdling howls reminiscent of the hound of Baskerville.

When I sit and read a book on the terrace,
Frau Keller greets me With a friendly 'Hallochen!' from the street.
She has short, silvery hair
And a warm smile across her face.
She's an ethnic German from Romania.
I like her soft-spoken East Bloc accent.
Her friendliness is disarming
Even though she has a lot of pain.

Then there are two Frau Maiers,
a thin and an obese one.
The obese one is fighting
A losing battle with her breath and varicose veins.
One can plainly see that she has a tough time
Walking up the steep and narrow Pochgasse.
Bur her pain-filled countenance disappears,
When she emits a courageous smile and greets me.
It's like watching the sun breaking
Through the sky on a clouded, winter morning day.

The thin Frau Maier wears spectacles and is over 70,
Likes to chat about the weather and the day's headlines.
She certainly is going strong.
In the afternoon I hear soft piano melodies,
When my son Julian does his music exercises.
The tones of the piano mingle with bird-cries,
And suddenly one hears the loud noise of a lorry,
Transporting either furniture or building materials,
Up and down the Pochgasse.
A lot of expensive villas are under construction.

'Ach, Zdhringen isn't what it was previously' says Herr Flamm,
Who lives four houses down the street.
Herr Flamm knows Zdhringen,
For he and his grandparents were born here.
The entire Music Choir Zdringia, where he's a member,
Has aging problems.
The choir sings only the old traditional songs.
Broadway songs, rap, hip-hop, gospels
Aren't traditional enough.
The German youth just keep away.
The Zdhringer, as people living in Zdhringen are wont to be called,
Are an active folk when it comes to organising things.
Every autumn there's a Hock around the St. Blasius church,
A get together, with Blasmusik, children's cries of joy,
The smell of waffeln, noodle soup, roasted pork, sausages,
Fried potatoes and pizza lies in the air.

The ancestors of the people in Zdhringer were charcoal-burners,
Who lived behind the castle.
One day the coal-burner discovered melted silver under his oven.
In those days there used to live a king,
Who'd fled to Kaisersstuhl.
He lived with his family in poverty.
The coal-burner went and gave the silver he'd found to the king.
The king was so impressed
that he gave his daughter in marriage to the coal-burner,
As well as the land surrounding Freiburg.
The king named him the Duke (Herzog) von Zdhringen.
The Zdhringer duke founded Freiburg and other castles.

Sometimes, we send our children to Herr Laule, the grocer.
The children like doing errands to Herrr Laule,
For he never forgets to reward them with candies.
Herr Laule's face reminds me of Alfred Hitchcock.
The bespectacled Frau Laule, is stout and kind
And they come from Waldkirch.
Hope they'll run the shop for years to come.
The children get a slice of Lyoner as a treat at the butcher Sumser's shop.
My daughter Natasha loves Lyoner.

There's a tunnel at the end of the Pochgasse.
The cars drive below and the ICE and Swiss trains above.
Young and elderly Germans come by and ask only one question:
Wo, bitte, geht s zum Zdhringerburg?
Where's the road to the Zdhringen castle-ruins?

The castle was built in 1091 by Herzog Bertold V.
It was destroyed by war and fire.
What has remained is an 18 meter high tower,
With a commanding view of Freiburg.

Gasse: small lane
Kvhler: charcoal-burner
Kvhlerei: charcoal works
Weissherbst: a German wine
Burg: castle
Meiler: charcoal-kiln
Blaskapelle: brass-band
spanferkel: porkling


More By  :  Satis Shroff

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