Friday, November 18, 2016

Melancholy were the Sounds on a Winter's Night

In Jacob's Room, Virginia Woolf wrote "Melancholy were the sounds on a winter's night". 

For years it has been one of my favourite lines to describe winter. The sounds on this winter's night is Glenn Gould playing the aria of the Goldberg Variations in 1981, "all over again, after 25--26 years" as Bruno Monsaingeon says seconds before Gould pours into the piano and meticulously lifts and drops his long fingers to play one of the most moving pieces of music ever composed. 

Temperatures rose and dropped temperamentally this week: From 12 degrees on Monday, with my light autumn jacket for company, to one degree tonight, two layers of clothes, hot water bottle, and the prospect of snow tomorrow morning. I have locked myself in for the past couple of days and am meticulously ploughing through my to-do list. The luxury of solitude, the good fortune of stumbling upon a novel piece of research, the exquisite beauty of late autumn-early winter, the hint of melancholia suspended in the air, all made me maudlin, and I heaped upon myself the added luxury of not doing the mandatory reading before bed, but rather, watching the exquisite Emma Thompson in Wit. No, I will not write about the film tonight. But, if you know me, you will know how sensitive I am to the use of a good soundtrack in a film. Avro Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel accentuated the melancholia of this evening, making it so palpable that I could extend my hand and touch it. I kept listening to it in a loop, thinking about cold stone, learning, heroes, poetry, and verbosity. If it were still light outside, I would have gone for a walk. To Bole Hills perhaps. No, the beautiful church and cemetery behind my house. Certainly the cemetery, with the the rolling hills on one side. But it is so very dark now, and so very cold. For years I have done walks in my mind, walking in places I have never been to but wished dearly I had, as well as in places I had visited only a few times. Listening to Spiegel im Spiegel I kept thinking about walking in Merton field in Oxford a fortnight ago, on a very cold autumn (? winter?) evening, with evening light threatening to fade, but not going away yet, with the ground covered with dry leaves, with distant houses forming a dark silhouette at the edge of the fields, with ducks on the stream, and with the stone walls of Merton on one side. I had walked aimlessly for an hour that evening, thinking about freedom, and humming Rabindrasangeet constantly, as I do, when I am alone, walking, or waiting. In bed tonight, I was listening to Pärt and thinking about that walk, when I realised that I craved for something else, something different. 
Bach.

Earlier this year, on another very cold evening, I went to a Bach concert. Not simply Bach, but Jeremy Denk playing Goldberg Variations. For a week until the concert, I had constantly, obsessively, listened to Glenn Gould playing Goldberg Variations, both in 1955 and 1981, and had decisively made up my mind that the 1981 version had none of the brashness of '55, and hence was my favourite. (Youthfulness and frivolity, as you know, exhausts me.) I had walked to the concert that evening, trying not to get wet in the freezing February rain. In the silence following the few minutes after I had paused Pärt and was thinking about the Denk concert, I concentrated on that walk, until in my mind, I reached the moment when I had entered the hall and found my seat. Returning from my reverie, I opened YouTube, searched for the aria of Bach's Goldberg Variations played by Glenn Gould in 1981, and listened to it. 

This was his last recording at a studio. Glenn Gould died a year later.

"Melancholy were the sounds on a winter's night."



                                                                                           Oxford, November, 2016.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Midsummer


                                           
                                                                                               View from workplace one afternoon.

Halfway through the course of my first English summer, I came to the conclusion that English summers have been incessantly romanticised for centuries. But it is certainly not half as bad as this sentence sounds. I haven't yet had the occasion to lie down in meadows and read decadent books while drinking Pimms to the accompaniment of the heady smell of English flowers that I had read about for years; but I am thankful that I still often need to carry a light jacket when I leave home; that while some days are very hot, others are cool; and that I am slowly getting used to the unpredictable weather.

I know the precise day when spring started in England this year. It was the remarkable day of the solar eclipse, and I had taken a little trip with my supervisor to my future workplace and clicked pictures of lush gardens belonging to English stately houses. On the other hand, I do not know the exact day when English summer crept into the country this year. After abandoning warm clothes only for a couple of days each month since March, people all around me began complaining about the never-ending chill of 2015. I decided to take a gamble and wore my new blue summer sandals at 6 one June morning, and with a denim jacket over a summery top, started my journey for the south of France. In the echelons of my mind which keeps track of unimportant personal milestones, that day is my first day of English summer.

Contemporary popular culture's romanticisation of summer is very literal. One cannot be more beautiful, more confident, more carefree in this one summer, which is fraught with important episodes. The subjects of such summers are almost always innocent late-adolescents, drawing on their summers of love for future experiences, and life lessons. However, when the subject is a 26-year old woman, the situation becomes problematic. Isn't she too old for life lessons, for sentimental episodes? Very possibly. But when I set sail that June morning wearing blue sandals, blue denim jacket, and pulling a dark-blue little suitcase, I was carefree, confident, and heady with the flush of (what I thought for ten whole days) new romance. I felt the full blast of 30 degrees of warmth when I landed in this little airport in Languedoc-Roussillon, and I know that summer was instrumental in all the curiosity and attention I received over the next five days in Provence.


                                                                                               The Rhône from Pont d'Avignon.

Roughly a month later, Sheffield had an unexpected day of 32 degrees temperature. I was travelling to Baden-Württemberg the following morning, but with the rest of my flat, I lay in the mound of grass outside our apartment, looking at the sky and hoping for a rogue breeze. None appeared, and I left early the next day for four heady nights in south-west Germany: heady with warmth, endless conversations and huge quantities of wine.

One of my major reservations against life in England is how quickly time passes here. I observe time with the passage of seasons. Hence in England, tracking time has been achieved by watching the appearance and disappearance of flowers. With a pang in my heart I realise that it has been over four months since the first daffodils appeared in the village, and I had clicked a very enthusiastic photograph. It had been a glorious spring, and my superstitious mind was wary that it would be an unremarkable summer. The mind has been corrected several times over the past couple of months. Like the weather in this country, life too has taken unpredictable ups and downs. Such an art-imitating-life kind of synchronicity, which I have learnt to accept graciously after nearly eleven months here. In the past two months I have seen my personal life fall spectacularly to pieces, and then attempt to come together again, and then fall apart again. The final time, I bore the falling apart with more confidence. I travelled to work, worked, wrote, read, talked, negotiated many deadlines, cried, met new people, and dreamt, each time having to push myself far beyond my comfort zone. When I tried to explain this to my supervisor the other evening over tea, I realised how meaningless words were quickly becoming, to convey the gist of lessons learnt every single day. It only means that I'm getting used to it all. And like a typical English summer, the realisation has followed a complicated, circuitous trajectory.


                                                                                  Another view from workplace a different afternoon.

I often think about past summers. The versions of summer I enacted in my mind for nearly twenty-five years could only have been made possible by the generous air-conditioning afforded by my parents in their houses in a tropical country; for my version of summer, was a thoroughly European one. At that time, lying in parks, walking in Mediterranean towns, or drinking sparkling wine in central Europe was ahead of me. But what I had longed for then was the feeling of intoxication in languid, sultry days and cool nights. For the rest of my life, that taste of languishing inebriation--that has finally been achieved--will equate with freedom. It will smell of lavender, and will carry with it the serene happiness that I felt as I shut my eyes outside the church at Vyšehrad in Prague on the last day of July 2015, while the church bells rang a familiar tune and a light breeze blew around me.




                                                                                                            Vyšehrad, Prague.

[I started writing this post in midsummer, on a day when I needed to be reminded of aspects of  this summer that were extraordinary. I abandoned writing it soon enough. Nevertheless, I returned towards the end of summer, to reflect on what a rich few months it has been, riding the crests and troughs of emotions and experiences, and emerging as a marginally fuller person. Midsummer makes it sound romantic, and gives even more hope for the rest of the season. That is why, even in the second week of August, I'll keep calling this "midsummer".]



                                                          Gönneranlage, Lichtentaler Allee, Baden-Baden, with the Black Forest in the distance.

Monday, May 4, 2015

How Should the Sun Be?

I like the luxuries of days, when I will not have anywhere to be, and can drown myself in endless cups of tea, going to the shared kitchen every time to make one, and sigh as I read all that I want to, and all that I'd never ever need for my thesis. There is so much I want to write, but every time I try to put finger to keyboard, I cannot think of anything. I am sat here on this glorious Monday morning, a Bank Holiday giving me the legitimate excuse to not go to my desk in the university (but grad students don't have holidays), cooped up in this little room in student halls, reading moving personal accounts in The Paris Review, making a cup of tea every time pangs of hunger surface, reminding me that I haven't had dinner or breakfast, and deriving a vicarious pleasure in drowning those pangs every hour with Darjeeling. How refreshing to break away from my gnawing everyday-neuroticism, which forces me to plan and consume meals, plan work, get about doing work, laundering, cleaning, going to libraries, and cooking. I even have the luxury of being amused at the thought that it will all return with renewed vigour late tonight, and I will spend the rest of the week in exhaustion.

I am still trying to figure out my relationship with the sun. It is problematic at its best: Thanks to spending twenty-five years in the tropics, begging the sun to show some mercy and not burn me down; and spending the last seven months begging the cloudy/ windy/ rainy sky to part just enough to let some sunshine in to brighten up the day; and then asking the sun to take it easy when it blinds every thing on certain spring days. One morning, as I walked to uni, I looked at the sky and confessed to myself that I had never seen such a rich shade of blue. White blossoms from trees stood as a majestic contrast to the shade of blue and I could only look with wonder. Warm days lasted a week, and then temperatures dropped, and the sun vanished. Now as I vacillate between two tabs on my browser, listening to the soundtrack of Mad Men on one, and Alexandre Tharaud's rendition of Chopin on the other, while reading a beautiful, intense article in The Paris Review, I think that the sun too might pattern its behaviour like me, vacillating between gloom and light, giving in to the mercies of its mood every morning.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sirens in Belgrade

Last Tuesday afternoon, just as J and I took the first sip from our glasses of steaming mulled wine, a loud siren broke out. Sudden loud noises have an adverse effect on my nerves -- something that I should have looked into before moving here. I'm usually ashamed of my many frailties, and try to mask them, but the siren that afternoon was unbearable. I somehow put my glass down on the cask, my hands shaking, and looked all around to see most people standing in the middle of the roads, with their hands covering their ears. Still shaking, and with one hand on my chest, I turned to look at J, and was struck by her expression. She looked very disturbed, and seemed to struggle to breathe. The noise continued for a few minutes more, and seemed to approach from a bus, which slowly turned away from the square, and rolled down the road, taking the noise of the siren with it.

Once it had faded out completely, and people started moving about again as if nothing had happened, I tried to look normal, while feeling my still-hammering heart, and my violently shaking hands. I tried to give J an apologetic smile, but she didn't noticed. She looked down at her glass, looked up, and said that sirens make her especially nervous because they remind her of bomb raids in her Heimat, Belgrade, in the summer of 1999.

That summer, NATO bombed Belgrade for three months. J would turn ten in a few days, and recalls the initial days as happy for most little children, as school was suspended and they would spend whole days playing in sheltered courtyards. It was when the bombing continued without any sign of ceasing, that grown-ups, scared for the safety of their families, decided to move. Yugoslavia, before the fall, was one big country, where grandmothers were born in (what is now) Croatia, and mothers would spend all the summers of their childhood in the Croatian farms where their mothers had grown-up. However, the situation in the newly-formed states of ex-Yugoslavia was different. It was nearly impossible for a Serbian to be granted a visa to Croatia, even if he had best friends living on the other side of the border. That summer, amidst the bombing, J's mother went from pillar to post, trying to get a visa for Croatia, and telling the officials how absurd it was for her visa to be refused when her mother was born there; and still owned a farm there; and she had spent entire summers for over twenty years there. She--and many others--were finally granted visa on only one ground: She had at least one parent who was born in Croatia. J's father was not so lucky. Two months after the bombing began, J and her mother, both crying uncontrollably, crossed the border to Croatia, while their father stood on the other side, waving goodbye. J realised that she would spend her first birthday without her beloved father, but that wasn't the only reason why she cried as she stood on the other side of the border. Behind her father, she could see the Serbian sky filled with fighter planes, dropping bombs in her city, and flames engulfing whole buildings and reaching up for the sky. She was leaving her father under that sky.




She celebrated her tenth birthday in a quiet farm somewhere in the heart of Croatia, Her mother and grandmother cooked her favourite dishes, and she woke up to the sound of cows mooing. Her father called later in the day, and she cried for him over the telephone. A month later the bombing stopped, and she returned to Belgrade, and to her father.

All this came back to her after all these years with the suddenness of a siren going off in front of the Christmas market in Sheffield on a beautiful but cold day in December. No one knew what had caused it. But I learnt a little about bombing and sirens in Belgrade in the summer of 1999, and about a little girl's enduring love for her father and her city. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Early Autumn


                                                                                 Autumn by Aleksandr Golovin

Or is it autumn in full swing? I do not know what it is in England. I see pictures of autumn from all over the world in my computer, and then I look out of the window, and see that the trees are still green here. Sometimes I am surprised by a lone tree standing in the middle of the path I take, with its leaves all a fiery red. Maybe it will be properly autumn when all the trees have all the colours that the picture postcards promise.

If this blog were a book, then this would be the first post in this new section. And it would talk about disappointments. But I cannot write about disappointments as eloquently now, as I complain continuously about it in my mind. My computer plays Chopin's Op. 15, Nocturne No. 2 in F Major. It has rarely failed to lift my spirits. I let only the dim light above my study light up this part of my room, while the rest bathes in semi-darkness; and with the curtains drawn back, I can see the green trees, shrubs, myriad lights from the windows of the student halls and the hotel bathing the narrow path outside, by a quick turn of my head. The special arrangement of lights and music is to recreate magic in my room, as it had once accidentally surfaced a few days ago. My attempt today, however, is artificial, because I am trying to recreate that accidental magic with a combination of music and dim lights.

My old friend, depression, sinks in as I realise that all my friends and the people I love are sleeping or getting ready for bed in a different part of the world; it gets a firm hold of me when I look out of the window and see drunken students socialising loudly as they walk down the path in hoards; it clenches its pincers in my mind and body as I pine for fulfilling conversation, and find myself weaving imaginary dialogues with myself.

Darkness descends; cold descends; I make attempts to slowly return to my book.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Rich with Lovers and Tribes

Late one evening, just before my return to Calcutta, I was sitting with my landlady in Altona, and trying to tell her, how Hamburg had surprised me with the sheer number of friendly people I'd been acquainted with. I used the set sentence I had been quoting relentlessly but animatedly to everyone: In Hamburg habe ich viele nette Leute kennengelernt. The adjective 'nett', the use of which I have been teaching batches of young students at the beginning of the session for the second year now, translates to a harmless 'nice'. I was pointed out by someone that just as 'nice' is not so 'nice' after all, 'nett' is also not so 'nett'. But I persisted in using it: what else could I have? Freundlich? Overtly familiar to describe interactions with strangers on a train station; großzügig or kind? Makes me sound subservient, needy, servile, and a multitude of other things I have been warned against from exhibiting. So, nett.

My Gastfamilie was nett. On the day I arrived, my wonderful landlady H had prepared breakfast for me, and we slowly applied marmalade over camembert, and slowly sipped our teas and talked about Heimat. The same table in the kitchen would serve as the centre of discussions on Calcutta of the Fifties, the babysitting policies of Bengali grandmothers, the contents of warm meals prepared every afternoon by a lost generation of German mothers, and the benefits of applying coconut oil to one's hair. The evening before my flight, H, her partner H, and I, sat up until midnight, pouring some dry red wine from Bordeaux, nibbling Lindt, and laughing uncontrollably over the differences of our culture.

A, my Russian-Ukranian (I'm already part of the generation that spots the oxymoron surrounding that hyphen) Physicist classmate has always been dripping with love and energy. We lunched together in the slightly overwhelming cafe of the Zentrale Bibliothek every day, sitting at the eng tables, and talking about Shiva, the Hindu rituals surrounding the dead, and Arkady Gaidar. I would always take some variations of pasta, always supplimented with a generous slice of bread, despite requesting the contrary, and would look curiously at her plateful of salad, sometimes dipped in balsamico, sometimes in joghurt. Some days we would be joined by P, the marketing manager from Stockholm, passionate rider of bicycles, and immensely gifted with languages, who would sit with a Bratwurst, some mustard sauce, and some bread, religiously supplying the needed calories before a cycle trip to (perhaps) Niedersachsen. G, the Latin and ancient-Greek teacher of Cypriot-Greek origin would always take the lift with us from the sixth floor to the Bibliothek in the ground floor, chat with us the entire way, even while queuing, and then promptly disappear with his coffee upstairs. But in the queue, and in the lift, and in the shorter break, and before classes, I spent enough time with him to compare the role of the Chorus in Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripedes; to talk about the enduring appeal of Nikos Kazantzakis and Zorba in Calcutta; the beauty of the newer translations of his former favourite poet Constantine Cavafy; and to attempt to understand the difference in the attitudes to the colonial histories of India and Cyprus.

Then there was J, the Italian from Sicily, who spoke German with a heavily-accented Italian lilt, and whose words sounded like music. V, the intern at the culture department, touched my heart not simply by finding me on Facebook, but on discovering that I'd missed my penultimate class to travel to Berlin, and would potentially not return to the Institut before my journey home, messaged me online, saying that she was sorry for the missed opportunity to say goodbye, but that she hoped I'd have a pleasant stay in Berlin. When I turned up at the Institut straight from the bus station, we hugged each other, and promised that we would say our goodbyes formally after my class that day.

I remember that young man from US, whom we met in Bremen, who guided us to the right tram, hopped into it himself, got down at the final station with us, ran to us, and asked in a single breath if we came from India, what we thought about the election results, if we were happy with it, and if we were Hindus. After returning to Hamburg rather late, and trying in vain to buy a ticket for Schleswig-Holstein the next day at an Automat, we met the friendly, helpful, smiling businessman, taking the night train to Kiel, and finding the Automat so very tedious. Beside him, in a separate Automat stood A, the beautiful German woman from Sweden, speaking with a slightly strained accent, and giving me her copy of the train timetable. We stood talking outside the closed doors of the Reisezentrum for over a quarter of a hour, talking about travelling far away from home, and walking down little, unknown pebbly beaches; finding an accord amongst unlikely strangers, we parted with goodbyes, conscious of the sad realisation that we would never ever meet again. The young man from Lithuania the next day at Lübeck, who guided us to Niederegger, and excitedly complimented our German before correctly guessing that we were from India, made me think of the probabilities of striking up a conversation with so many people from such interesting places in my Heimat.

                                                                 
I do not forget people so easily. The friendly man at Mr. Clou, from whom I'd often buy Biriyani, will occupy the same shaft in my mind with the flower-seller outside Bethune. What marvels me, however, is how quickly other people forget--not every body, but some. I wish I could be a George Emerson and take some Lucia in my arms, give a shake and say, "Something has happened to me . . . and to you . . . though nothing is damaged, every thing is changed."
A friend had once observed that hatred is not sad; the saddest emotion is indifference. I have, however, only now begun to believe that the saddest emotion is forgetfulness. Blessed are the forgetful, for they get the better even of their blunders; and the forgotten are the piteous, for they must forever carry their burden of memories alone.

Yet who am I to complain? For every person who has forgotten the line I had written about the weather, and carefully carried the sheet of paper in my pocket for miles to deliver safely to the recipient, I have two new people--one teaching me to tango under the stars on a warm night by the Spree; the other writing me lively emails halfway across the world, pointing out how no distance or difference in time can disturb the nearness of two souls: so much in a language utterly foreign to both the sender and the recipient.

We die rich with lovers and tribes, tastes we've swallowed, bodies we've entered and swum up like rivers. Fears we have hidden in . . . We are the real countries, not the boundaries drawn on maps, with the names of powerful men

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Flâneuse

In the very last story '14e arrondissement', in the movie Paris je T'aime, Carol, the mail carrier from Denver, Colorado, is on her first European holiday. She has taken a few French lessons, and is travelling alone in Paris. Middle-aged, not overtly attractive in the popular sense, she visits the regular touristy places, and eats sandwich while sitting in a park. When I'd watched Paris je T'aime while in college and university, I was always avowedly moved by the earlier stories: tropes of romance, loss, reunion, sprinkled with a bit of literature ('Père Lachaise', enacted in front of Oscar Wilde's grave) appealed more to my taste. However, Carol's story always stuck a precarious chord because of the last lines:

Sitting there, alone in a foreign country, far from my job and everyone I know, a feeling came over me. It was like remembering something I'd never known before or had always been waiting for, but I didn't know what. Maybe it was something I'd forgotten or something I've been missing all my life. All I can say is that I felt, at the same time, joy and sadness. But not too much sadness, because I felt alive. Yes, alive. That was the moment I fell in love with Paris. And I felt Paris fall in love with me.

It was on a random day probably in Hamburg (or it could have been during the lone day I spent walking around in Berlin) over the past three weeks, when I was suddenly reminded of Carol. But I would delude myself, if I said that I fell in love with Hamburg, and Hamburg fell in love with me. After Berlin, Hamburg took some time getting used to. The incessant rain for the first one and a half weeks accelerated the problems with my hair, and my big wet shoes which squeaked on every wooden floor, made people often see through me to my companion from Delhi. Despite commenting that Barock is a sort of wood, and that Bremen is a "great place" because it has a store called Primark where one gets cheap stuff, she managed to procure a proposal of marriage within two days, and formed many alliances of friendship. I walked around the city with my sticky hair coiled in a bun, and with my big squeaky shoes, and in a classic moment of de ja vu, relearnt the meaning of loneliness. Then I started visiting the museums every day.

It began with gathering enough courage and taking a detour from the Hauptbahnhof to the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe, and walking along corridors adorned with Art Deco pieces. It strengthened when I took another detour the next day, and went to Kunsthalle to see the double exhibition on Feuerbach's muses and Lagerfeld's models. The return to Kunsthalle the next evening after class was crucial in many respects: after one year and three months je regardai the works of the Alte Meister--from my favourite Caspar David Friedrich, to the French Impressionists; and my rant about the brushstrokes and art movements cemented by friendship with my Physicist classmate from Ukraine. I felt a strong sense of Glück, when acting on impulse after learning about a Picasso exhibition on the train , I walked miles to reach the Kunsthalle in Bremen to experience the said exhibition. After a walking tour through the Altstadt hours later, I felt the twin emotions of joy and fulfillment when I took the stairs to the Paula Modersohn Museum and the Ludwig Roselius Museum. At Lubeck, I read with awe, Thomas Mann's notes at Buddenbrookhaus, and looked around me in wonder at the illustrations of Günter Grass in his museum. Yet, the moment dearest to my heart would be when I decided to walk into the 13th century church St. Jakobi, and despite the high-pitched protests of my unfortunate companion, spent a quarter of an hour, listening to the recitals of the twin organs. 

Back in Hamburg, I found my voice and my idiom a little more with every passing day, and used it to make a presentation on Rabindranath Tagore's Ghare Baire (The Home and the World), and to speak with unceasing wonder about the Bengal Renaissance; as well as to form new friendship. I stood in train stations, self-consciously nibbling at my cheese-ham sandwich, looking at the multitude of people walking across the platforms. How thrilling to simply walk back to the Kunsthalle and be transported to the Paris of Toulouse-Lautrec; how thrilling to guide a Brazilian couple in Berlin about the right bus to take to Ku-Damm, and where to sit to get a perfect view of the city; how soothing to sit by the Spree all by oneself, to wait for lunch, and to watch school children and new lovers enjoy the sun; and it is with beautiful sadness, that you return to the Spree again when night falls, perch yourself on top of a hillock, and watch couples slowly dance the tango on a wooden platform beneath you. We all have our moments of weakness, ranging from the uncontrollable tears on holding old postcards of Berlin at Dussmann, to regularly sending photos, long texts, or making very long calls to an innocuous fifteen year old because you are so obsessed with fulfilling conversations--but what is life without some little bashfulness? In Berlin, when I ran after the tram at midnight, with heavy shoes, hair in reckless abandon, and pollen getting into my eyes and nose, and still managed to miss it, I realised that even though the cities did not really love me, they had accepted me. Every day, as I would wait to get my breath back after the long walks and climbing up and down the numerous stairs, a feeling came over me. It was like remembering something I'd never known before or had always been waiting for, but I didn't know what. Maybe it was something I'd forgotten or something I've been missing all my life. All I can say is that I felt, at the same time, joy and sadness. But not too much sadness, because I felt alive. 




Wir sind voller Begegnungen, Begegnungen ohne Dauer und ohne Abschied, wie die Sterne. Sie nähern sich, stehen Lichtsekunden nebeneinander entfernen sich wieder: ohne Spur, ohne Bindung, ohne Abschied. 
Wolfgang BorchertDraußen vor der Tür

We are full of meetings, meetings without permanence and without farewells, like the stars. They bring themselves closer, and yet remain light years away from each other: without a trace, without bindings, without farewells. [Translation mine.]