A Note From Cologne
by Anna Mayr
over the past few weeks, this lovely city got way too much attention.
People sent me messages.
They were like: “Are you alright?” – “What’s happening in Cologne?” – “You think you’ll move?” – “Do you feel safe?”
I had a hard time understanding where these questions came from.
Cologne is not a Parisian Banlieue, it’s not the Bronx, it’s not Aleppo. But in people’s heads, it seems to be a city where women are gang-raped by packs of wild men on a daily basis and you can’t cross the street without getting stabbed while a police car is standing next to you, watching the situation from a safe distance.
People in Germany and everywhere in Europe seem to use the term “Cologne Main Station” as a symbolic figure for all the stuff that’s gone wrong with refugees, religion, racism, sexism, police, crime and integration.
Please. Please. Please. Stop that.
Because fear is the worst basis for any decision.
I live 700 meters from the main station – centre of the cyclone, if you will.
When I step out of my front door, I see a street. A bakery. Houses. A bakery. A kiosk. A weird eso-center that offers some sort of aura-cleaning for humans and dogs. The shop of an Iranian guy who makes clothes. An Indian restaurant. A shop for hookahs. The river. And sometimes, when it’s that time of year: groups of clowns playing drums in front of a pub.
I adore this place.
There are no SEX MOBS which gather for some CRIME COMMITTING on a regular basis, there is no imminent FEAR, there are no groups of ONETHOUSAND MUSLIMS raping WHITE WOMEN, nobody needs to be SCARED, there are no NO-GO-AREAS.
There is no place on earth where everything is perfect. And Cologne is by far not perfect.
But people live. People still help refugees (from everywhere including northafrica), they still donate (money, time, clothes). They still feel as safe as they can in a city that has become an argument in a debate instead of just being a place, an agglomeration, a home.
I live in a city where people can go out on the streets and not be judged, no matter what they dress like or who they love.
There’s German villages where that’s not possible.
There’s countries where that’s not possible.
I live in a city that isn’t scared.
We still go out. We still dress slutty. We make stupid jokes about sexual harassment and one-arms-length-distance (great pick-up-line, btw).
We have a festival where one million people dress up in silly costumes to stand outside, sing songs and catch flowers and candy.
That’s like love in a nutshell.
So, dear everyone: what happened here on new near’s eve sucked. But there’s more stuff happening in the world. Worse stuff, yes, there, I said it. There’s drama, there’s war, there’s people in desperate need of help. There’s people setting fire to refugee camps. In Cologne, there’s not a lot to see. Except maybe for this: