Home is not here or there, but inside yourself or nowhere

In 2017 I travelled and travelled. I soaked up culture and history. I met and found friends. I gathered souvenirs, my eyes wide open.

One souvenir is this lake called “Zypressenteich” near Nuremberg (Nürnberg) in Germany: An inviting yellow bench to sit on and just dream and reflect under trees covered with yellow leaves surrounding the mysterious lake hiding its ground.

It could have been here that Hermann Hesse thought about home (or in German: Heimat).

“Heimat ist nicht da oder dort, Heimat ist in Dir drinnen oder nirgends” which can be translated to “Home is not here or there, home is inside yourself or nowhere.” This struck me.

I must admit that, when travelling in 2017, I found my second home in Brandenburg, because everyone around me spoke like my mum. I have never experienced that before. I had found my second home in Brandenburg, while  my first roots are in Basel, the town of my dad, where I live.

Yes, I feel home in Basel and in Brandenburg… here and there… which gives me roots. But nevertheless I sense like Hermann Hesse that my real roots are not here and there, but home is inside myself. He may have used his words to warn from growing nationalism and growing rejection of everything outside.

While travelling, I sensed some signs of growing nationalism which I fear… Hermann Hesse came in right for me and motivated me to work on his thoughts my way, in German first, then trying to translate that.


Heimat ist in Dir drinnen oder nirgends

Warum Heimat da oder dort suchen?

Warum nach Heimat in der Geschichte forschen?

Warum für Heimat verbissen kämpfen?

Warum Fremde aus der Heimat sperren?


Ist denn Heimat nicht in Dir drinnen – oder nirgendwo?


Home is inside yourself or nowhere

Why look for home here and there?

Why search for home in history?

Why fight for home like do-or-die?

Why lock out others from home?


Is home not inside yourself – or nowhere?


Родина внутри тебя или нигде
Почему ищут Родину тут или там?

Почему истоки Родины ищут в истории?

Почему сражаються ожесточённо за Родину?

Почему закрывать Родину чужим?


Разве Родина не внутри тебя – или нигде.


Las raíces están en tí mismo o por ninguna parte

Porqué buscar las raíces por ahí o por allá ?

Porqué investigar las raíces en la historía ?

Porqué batirse por las raíces tan reñidamente ?

Porqué bloquear el ingreso de los extranjeros en nuestras raíces ?

Porqué ?

No es que nuestras raíces están en tí mismo o por ninguna parte ?


Well, for 2018 I do hope that we look for home inside ourselves and nowhere else!


Source: “Demian” (1919), requoted in the anthology about trees “Hermann Hesses Betrachtungen und Gedichte über Bäume” edited by the Insel Verlag.


The Rainbow – the treasures hidden at its end make me dream of conciliation

The rainbow near Gjirokastra in Albania

It rained all day until late afternoon, when I was in Gjirokaster in September 2015. With Ben I followed the tracks of Ismail Kadaré’s “chronicle in stone” – his house, the airport and the castle… (see  “On the tracks of Ismail Kadaré“). Late in the afternoon, the sun started to emerge and we saw the rainbow.


This rainbow linked us up with Ismail’s rainbow. Ismail saw his rainbow in 1940 and he was 4 years old. “The houses in the town made of stone have cisterns to collect rain water… In the morning the river is flooding the road below the town, after having tried to get rid of the bridge. The child sees hatred between the river, the bridge, the wind, the mountains and the creeks attacking from the mountains – and between all this hatred is the town – all lonesome – with their stone walls that the boy loves. In the morning the boy sees a rainbow that makes peace between the elements, but Ismail is convinced that this is only a temporary peace (see my earlier blog)”.

Yes, seeing a rainbow near Gjirokaster linked me up with Ismail Kadaré’s rainbow.


The rainbows in Switzerland point to buckets of gold (Kübeli Gold) or treasure chests (Schatzkisten)

In Switzerland you have to run fast,  when you see a rainbow. Where it touches the ground, there are buckets of gold or treasure chests (depends on the canton; in Berne – buckets of gold and in Basel – treasure chests; I do not know precisely about the other cantons). Whatever kind of treasure, you have to run fast to reach it.


The Swiss – Albanian combination of rainbows made me dream of conciliation

Rainbows and their treasures, this made me dream of conciliation and peace. I wrote down my feelings for the turn of the years 2015/2016, first in German…

Ein Regenbogen…

Die Stürme – vorbei,
Die Kräfte – versöhnt.
Der Bogen verbindet
Zwei Schätze am Boden.

Zwei Schätze – verschieden?
Und dennoch – verbunden?
Zwei Schätze – versöhne,
Was scheinbar verschieden,

Du, mein Regenbogen…


… and then in some other languages to share my thoughts with more friends.

A rainbow…

The storms – passed,
The forces – reconciled.
The arc connects
Two treasures on the ground.

Two treasures – different?
Nevertheless – connected?
Two treasures – reconcile,
What seems to be different,

You, my rainbow.



Бури прошли,
Силы примирились,
Арка соединяет
Два сокровища в земле.

Два сокровища – они разные?
И всё таки – соединились?
Два сокровища – примири то
Что кажется разным.

О! Моя радуга.


Un arc-en-ciel…

Les tempêtes – passées,
Les forces – réconciliées.
L’ arc – relie
Deux trésors sur terre.

Deux trésors – différents?
Et pourtant – reliés?
Deux trésors – réconcilie
Ceux qui paraissent différents,

Toi, mon arc-en-ciel.


Un arco-iris

Las tempestadas passadas,
Las fuerzas conciliadas.
El arco conecta
Dos tesoros al suelo.

Dos tesoros – diferentes?
E sin embargo – conectados?
Dos tesoros – concilia
Los que parecen diferentes.

Tú, mi arco-iris.