Archive | February, 2014

Last day of February already

28 Feb

How did that happen??? And yesterday evening on my way to dinner with friends I saw a young man in tails on the tram. In Vienna this almost always means the same thing–the young man in question is on his way to a ball. When you see him at 7 p.m. that is a sign that he is opening the ball. I was mildly surprised to see him on a Thursday evening–there are balls every night of the week in Vienna during ball season but the bigger balls, the ones where you are required to wear tails, tend to be on the weekend. Too late in the year for the Philharmonic Ball, which is the only other major ball that is on a Thursday. With a mild shock I realized that it could only be the Opera Ball, that event which for decades has signaled the approach of Lent in this Catholic country. Sure enough, next week on Wednesday the revels end for 40 days.


So much for the sun

5 Feb

Perhaps I shouldn’t have mentioned it. It is overcast again and looks like rain. Oh, Vienna!


5 Feb

The sun is shining brightly today in Vienna. We’ve been having one of those stretches–so common here in January–where it is overcast so long one forgets that there is such a thing as sun and blue sky. Long may this last! šŸ™‚

Violence in the city

3 Feb

Something terrible is happening in this city I love. We are not used to violent crime, or really much violence (or crime for that matter), in Vienna, but in the last few weeks there have been reports of a tram driver being knifed in the back, violent demonstrations against a ball organized and attended by the extreme right wing, a dog (a Pekingese so it was clearly not self-defense) being kicked and throttled on the platform of an underground station, my neighbors were broken into and robbed when they were away for four hours only, and this evening coming home from work I saw two men attacking another man at a major underground station.

At first I thought it was just shouting. Then I saw they were pushing, kicking, and hitting him. It looked as if no one was going to intervene when suddenly four women emerged from the crowd and started to run interference to protect the victim, who was not only one against two but was also so drunk he was completely unable to defend himself. These women kept this up long enough and effectively enough, one on the phone to the police, that the attackers gave up and disappeared, at which point someone from the underground oversight appeared and took on responsibility for the drunken, battered man.

The women went their own ways, obviously previously unknown to each other, having simply stepped in spontaneously together in the interest of protecting the weak.

There is a campaign on in Vienna encouraging people to show more ā€œZivilcourageā€ (ā€œmoral courageā€ according to These women, and not really anyone else in the crowded concourse, seem to have taken that message to heart.

If things go on as they are, we are all going to need a lot more ā€œZivilcourageā€.