Happy New Year 2015

A happy New Year 2015 to everyone!

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BeNicoMa wishes a great start into 2015 to everyone, with a bang, with friends and family and lots of joy!

Germany 2011 Berlin 2011-09 Fireworks 1250x1250
New Years Eve fireworks in Berlin, Germany and many spectators… Enjoy the night!

 

Lots of health, love, satisfaction with what you do & achieve and last but not least, some beautiful adventures to everyone! Celebrate well and get into the new year2015 – safely!

Christmas, time for family

I want to wish a Merry Christmas to everyone reading this blog! The most valuable institution in our life is our family. This is why I dedicate this entry to my family and its history that nothing will be forgotten and the history can be passed on.

I want to wish a Merry Christmas to everyone reading this blog – or in German Frohe Weihnachten! The most valuable institution in our life is our family. This is why I dedicate this entry to my family and its history!

Merry Christmas to all of you!
Merry Christmas to all of you who follow the entries on BeNicoMa.com and many thanks for your support, I am glad to have you here and wish you peaceful Christmas holidays!

Many conflicts divide our society, the different peoples of the world and the family as an institution suffer from restrictions, which are caused by our economic interests and the pressure, built up by our society… This should not be the case since the family is the only institution in life, that is not exchangeable and if you are peaceful and in harmony with the ones you are related to, everything is so much better.

With this entry I want to remember my grandparents, who both were Chinese, coming a long way during the time of Nazi Germany. This entry is dedicated to all relatives, as a source of history that our ancestors may not be forgotten …

Madga 03
The inner family on a glance: Madga with Teh Wei on her lap, besides my father Teh Li, Teh Dscheng (Ted), Teh Ko and Teh Hsing – from left to right. In the back is my grandfather Ting Sheng. The picture is from 1944 or 1945, and was taken in Germany.

The name of my grandmother, Chao Ti Ling (that is her maiden name) and later Ma, means as much as “Call me the little brother” since Madga (mother) as we used to call her, was born into the Chinese part of my family solely with sisters. The name implies the wish for a son. She was from Wenzhou in China and was born in 1916.

Chao Ti Ling, with 16 years in China - We just called her Madga
Chao Ti Ling, with 16 years in China – We just called her Madga. For what she achieved in those tough times, she is one of my alltime idols, may she rest in peace!

My grandfather Ting Sheng Ma was merchant and much older than her. He was born in 1898 in the region Chekiang (Zhejiang) in China but I couldn’t get more detailed information about him from my uncle. Here you see some pictures of family members from China but my uncle Teh Ko couldn’t provide more information about them since he doesn’t know better. The pictures are all what is left as a connect to the Chinese background of the family in China and albeit from him, nobody speaks Chinese anymore, which is a pity.

BeNicoMa
I use the Chinese letter for Ma as signum for my photography and in future I will apply it as a seal in all official purposes.

Our last name Ma is written like depicted here and the meaning is “Hemp plant under the firmament“, if you translate it into a western meaning. The name is rare in the meanwhile, since most Ma‘s are derived from the meaning horse. We don’t know much about our family background in China. My grandparents came alone in 1933, when my grandmother was 17 years old. They came with the Transsiberian train, via Russia, to Dingen in Poland as their first home in Europe. I could not find the Polish name for it nowadays but have the names of the other cities where my family lived in those times. They moved several times in between Germany and Poland.

All my uncles were born in Europe. My grandparents moved from their first destination Dingen to Łódź – which was called Litzmannstadt by that time. In Łódź, which belongs to Poland again after the end of WWII, my uncles Teh Ko (1935) and Teh Hsing (1937) were born. Most of the provided information was given to me by Teh Ko, who remembers lots of details, despite his age. Teh Tscheng (1939) – who was just called Ted later, because he moved to Canada to found his own family – was born in Poland as well. The family wanted to return to China in 1939 due to the ongoing and developing war on the countryside in the East. My grandfather was quite successful with trading by that time but the Germans took everything, which made their return impossible. A relatively big Chinese community lived in the Łódź area and many of them returned to China if somehow possible. In 1939/40 the family moved to Berlin. Their first home in Berlin was in Wallner Theaterstrasse 26, in district C2 in 1940. My father Teh Li was born in Charité in 1942.

Madga in Germany
Madga in Germany, before the times of color photography

In the winter of 1942/43 the bombings of Berlin started and Teh Ko remembers that they have been heavy. He remembers that the windows were clotted and covered with paper everywhere to prevent the breaking glass, due to the bombings, from scattering as dangerous slivers. He also remembers, that he was once hit at the leg by a shrapnel while leaving the bunker. In general he reports that they had relatively few problems with the Nazis. The only thing he mentioned was, that my grandfather should get retracted by the Nazis to fight for the Wehrmacht in 1942/43 – In contrast my father and my Canadian cousin Oliver claim, that my grandfather was forced to leave for compulsory labor in a camp but Madga prevented his vitiation by arguing with the Nazis how she should be able to feed and raise four boys without a father, that’s what she said herself. Maybe the truth is somewhere in between… It will be tough to reproduce the true happenings.

Due to the massive bombings families with many children were evacuated to the countryside – as Teh Ko states on a tractor – in the year 1944 and in a measure called “Storch“. They were moved to Dahlhausen in Brandenburg, about 110 km North-East of Berlin, close to Wittstock / Dosse, and lived initially in the house of Pastor Schmidt in the year of 1944. They were looted again, this time of the Russian red army, although the grandfather had buried everything. On the countryside they were shifted several times and in the same year 1944 my youngest uncle Teh Wei was born in Kutno, which was called Schröttersburg by that time and was part of Schlesien, but belongs to Poland again today. 

Madga 04
On this picture are Teh Hsing, Teh Tscheng, Teh Li, Madga and Teh Ko from left to right and some unknown friends of the family.

After the war in 1945/46 the family returned to Berlin and lived in the Auguste-Viktoria-Strasse in Berlin-Grunewald. The children received Chinese lessons from their private teacher Gau Guan Shi. My grandfather didn’t return with the family, he traded with slippers in Poznan (Posen) of Poland, where he lived and worked in Loketka 26 to support the family, and while in Berlin, he carried luggage and traded carpets and china porcelain together with Teh Ko. The both were hawking, traded in the streets and in restaurants, my grandmother took care of the children by that time and the family did alright – both, my uncle and my father confirmed that, independently from each other.

In 1947 my grandfather moved to Frankfurt / Main and Teh Ko followed him in 1949, while the rest of the family remained in Berlin. In 1961 Madga opened the first Chinese restaurant in Müllerstrasse, Berlin-Wedding. Another business of hers was a shop for Chinese wares in Hauptstrasse, Berlin-Schöneberg…

To be continued!

If anyone can and wants to contribute to add to the puzzle of family history, please contact me via my contact form. The attached gallery shows different members of the family and the names and relations to me are given as far as I know. The idea and task to create this entry was granted to me by my cousins Oliver Ma from Canada. I met him, his sister Stephani Ma, and my little cousins Savanna and Etienne, his kids for the first time (that I remember) in 2013, during my Eastcoast Roadtrip. An awesome experience and we will see each other again! I wish happy Christmas Holidays to everyone and hope to be able to gather some more info during the time. Take care!

Berlin Special: The 25th anniversary of re-unification

The re-unification of Germany is the glorious history of November 9th in German History. There have been different times at this date, but today this entry brings some impressions from my childhood in West-Berlin, some thoughts and of course photography of the 25th anniversary celebrations.

“I’m a child of an island in the red sea.” That’s what I always stated, when we had discussions about East vs West in the past. This is a long topic and the re-unification was not always as smooth as it might seem to you.

We had many discussions with our East German counterparts, because we – from the West – had everything and were arrogant – from the point of view of East Germans. Heard that the last time, when the East Germans behaved exactly like that, getting everything we prepared as group work and being arrogant when questioned for doing so in the studies of Pharmacy in Berlin“Now it’s our turn, you had everything, all the years before” was the unacceptable answer. Maybe they have been right, but it was not my fault or the fault of my colleagues from the West, we have been small children by that time. That’s already nearly ten years in the past – and the sad thing about it is, that all the glory of a moment and all the hope and good will is replaced by routine – getting back to the routes, forgetting what was important, all too fast.

Today it’s hard to distinct who is East and who is West German – it does not matter anymore or the importance vanishes more and more, at least in my generation. It’s good like that, we are one people. 

“I’m a child from an island in the Red Sea.”

By employing this phrase I stated, that I am from West-Berlin, I was born and raised there. Former West-Berlin to be adequate. The place in Germany which was surrounded by the soviet occupancy – the red and since it was a big area surrounding West-Berlin the metaphor “Island in the Red Sea” made sense to me. The DDR (GDR, i.e. German Democratic Republic) was under Russian patronage, but still controlled by their own East German people – the secretary general and his executive the VoPos (Volkspolizei, i.e. peoples police). West-Berlin was a spot of Western life in the middle of the communistic driven DDR – connected to East-Berlin via closed bridges everywhere, with the most prominent Oberbaumbrücke, Bornholmer Brücke in the inner city and Glienicker Brücke towards Brandenburg – those are bridges over the rivers Spree and Havel.

I come from the former British sector, from Berlin-Wilmersdorf. I still remember radio stations like RIAS which means Radio In the American Sector. I still know the surveillance station on Teufelsberg as a guarded stronghold of the American – or allied – forces. I know the term “Rosinenbomber” and connected to that, the importance of the Airport Berlin-Tempelhof, which was the only airport in the beginning, right after the wall was built in August 1961, to bring supplies and food to West-Berlin. Visit the memorial park while you are in Berlin, Checkpoint Charlie and Brandenburger Tor, to see the most popular places, where the separation was obviously visible – and Eastside Gallery to see authentic left overs of the Berlin Wall.

While for us in West-Berlin traveling was possible during the whole time, it was not as comfortable as today. We had to pass the DDR, on the corridors that were open to the West-Berliners and Western Germans to enter Berlin. This act – yes it was! – was called Transit. You had to wait at the border leaving West-Berlin and again at the border to enter BRD, or Western Germany, as it was called in the past. And this Transit was not always smooth, some days you had to wait hours to be allowed to reenter or they didn’t let you at all. I remember one night in winter, when I was a small kid. We have not been allowed to enter BRD and had to wait at the border for ten hours, before it was reopened. The allied forces handed soup and sheets for the people waiting and the VoPos checked every car with dogs for fleeing people. That was reality and I still have this image on my mind of soldiers digging our luggage, a submachine gun over the shoulder, the dogs in the car. On the highways of DDR, the speed limit was 100 km/h, unimaginably slow compared to today – for Germany, that is known for the fun Autobahn experience. When you took your pets, you had to present them to the veterinaries at the border and pay a fee. When you wanted to enter the DDR to visit relatives or friends, you had to pay a fee and change Deutsche Mark into Ostmark. Life was certainly different.

I was six years old, when the wall fell on November 9th 1989. I don’t remember too much anymore. I just remember everyone went nuts. There was a great excitement in the air. My mum went alone, she left us at home on this night. I think it is a pity. I think we would still remember what happened nowadays. But a couple of days after the fall of the wall, we went into East-Berlin to discover it. What I remember: The smell was so different! It smelled like coal, burning coal. The wall must have prevented the smell to come over. And the Trabbies smelled horrific by that time as well. Everything was grey and rundown, compared to today where the eastern parts of Berlin shine so beautiful. You could still see the bullet holes in the walls of many buildings, the holes which date back to WW II. 

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This is a shot from November 9th 2014 in Berlin Mauerpark, exactly 25 years later, on the minute, after the wall between former Western Germany and GDR fell. You see the moment when the balloons got released – they built a wall of light all along the former border of Berlin and in the moment the balloons took off the light faded. You can see this moment in long exposure. Many people have been around to witness this event all along the former wall. A special feeling was in the air, of joy & happiness, as of hope and expectations. ☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆ #ig_worldclub #igworldclub #ig_clubaward #featuremeinstagood @instagood #loves_world #insta_crew #ig_exquisite #ig_masterpiece #ig_costarica #IG_EUROPE #igs_europe #ig_europa #igs_world #theworldshotz #artofvisuals @artofvisuals #timelight @timelightinceptions #worldbestshot #instafameshots #exklusive_shot #hot_shotz #superhubs #superhubs_shot @superhubs_shot #dream_image #jaw_dropping_shots #igglobalclub #iggloballife #tv_longexposure #tgif_longXpo #throughanewlensecontest @natgeotravel #diestadtberlin

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We visited Friedrichstadtpalast and witnessed a suite of Tschaikowski, played by the former East-German variete, and we visited the Naturkundemuseum in Mitte. That have been the first two events respectively places I remember in accordance to the re-unification. And today?

Everything seems normal! Berlin is one, no doubt about that. But I still have the feeling it is different when you hit the East German countryside in Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. But it is good that it is like it is and our children will hopefully realize, that times have been different, will hopefully understand, that everyone can be thankful, this never ending cold-war is over, once and for all. What we should learn out of that? Make Love not war, everywhere on this planet. It might be a special case in the history of Germany, with all the guilt, the forgiveness, the separation and finally the re-unification – November 9th is a dark and a glorious date – has both sides in German history and a date which will always be bound to that history. But the principle I address of making love and not war is the same, no matter about what wall we are talking, no matter which religion we believe in and which economic interests are on our list. People have to understand that, finally, once and for all. 

And to visualize the celebration of the 25th anniversary of this epic event, I took some pictures, mainly in Mauerpark of the event itself, some close to Bornholmer Brücke and some the days before along Oberbaumbrücke and Eastside Gallery, as well as at Brandenburger Tor, where the rests of the inner Berlin wall can be found. I wrote about the area between Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain – including Eastside Gallery – a couple of month ago and you can find the entry here.

Eastcoast Roadtrip 2013 – Boston nightlife, an inner monologue

A small report about my nightlife experience in Boston, where I attended a concert of a faous rockbank, the Two Door Cinema Club.

F*ck, they really start on time… First thought when I enter the concert hall. Today I attend the concert of the Two Door Cinema Club.

WTF a small beer costs $7?! Glad I came here by car. A band plays some decent rock music, a group of about 50 people is nodding to the sound, they form a little block right in front of the stage. This is obviously not Two Door Cinema ClubGoing out in the USA is certainly different. You have to leave the building to smoke and on return line-up again, a good reason to let it be.

By the way, this monologue comes right out of my mind, exactly like that! 🙂

My way here was crazy: I am quite late so I decide to take the car. And have an accident with an afroamerican guy, I hit the brakes hard… but my car touches his, when he suddenly brakes, while I check the way with a quick peek on the map. – He jumps out of the car, I tell him I am foreigner and needed to check the map, that I am very sorry and I could call the cops, if he insists. The magic word, he says I better take care the next time, there is no damage at our cars, and he doesn’t seem to like the cops, so he leaves. Man that was close and I was really lucky…

But back to the happening in the concert hall. It was just a pre game band, but they were good. I ask at the bar, they tell me, there will be two more groups before the main act starts. It’s really weird how the people in front of the stage form this block. The emotions are not yet at climax. It seems a bit like they are waiting to be invited to enjoy themselves.

Besides me sits a kid of 10 years with its mom. Isn’t it a tad late for such little kids? Thought it’s AO in the USA to get into a nightclub, at least in regard to drinking. And the kid really sleeps now on the lap of the mom. It’s so loud in here but it sleeps. Crazy!

Next pre band coming up, it’s getting full. The band sounds like a synthesis of Coldplay and Bloc Party.

Damn, just saw Mount Kimbie hits this place next week, they are really great! Just saying Made to Stray Morning High Remix. I will not make it to that concert, and this is one of their songs I really worship and you should check it out. A pity I will miss that.

The plan is to discover Maine for two days and the wilderness and do some Indian Summer hiking in Baxter State Park. The summit is the aim and without that I don’t want to continue… A preferable plan in my opinion, since the mood it still not bursting and a summit experience beats that by far. Hey but the band has a really hot keyboarder girl! 🙂

Just now a tad obese person gave some ear protections – the ones you put in the ears – to the mother of the little girl. Awww, hope they are unused. The pre-band just finished, I go for another cigarette, the whole lining-up shit included. Seems to me like a musical with plentiful breaks and I hope in that moment, that first of all Placebo appears in concert in NYC and second, that the NYC crowd rocks a little bit more, than people do here. The pre-bands have been Smallpools and St. Lucia, they were actually pretty decent, just for your info, when you want to study Indie Rock that is outta there and need some ideas. And what I notice as well… The floor is covered with carpet, I hate carpets and in a place like that, where thousands of people go around, it’s probably not the best choice.

It’s quiet… nothing goes on stage… And then they start Limp Bizkit from the record with Keep Rollin’ – alright! But not necessarily what I expected.

Harpoon Beer is actually quite tasty… This thought of mine is followed by Nelly with Must be the Money… Alright, what a mix of genres! What’s up in the almighty land of entertainment? Seems to me, Europe is far ahead in the meanwhile in regard to nightlife entertainment – especially Berlin – but even IBK in some regards. When the Two Door Cinema Club does not deliver properly, even newcomer Milky Chance, who I saw in Innsbruck‘s Weekender last week, was better.

The hall is huge by the way… Hope you can see it on those cellphone pictures.

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It’s as huge as the hall Tyrol of the IBK convention center, the biggest lecture hall of Free University of Berlin in Rostlaube or has the double size of our foyer in CCB.Not so easy to draw a comparison here, which will be understood by everyone.

Ahhh Still D.R.E. is played – good old reliable Hip-Hop. And it is still alive in America, which I love. Memories of my time as teenager come up.

And there it plays… Eric Pryde, Call on me… Followed by Darude with Sandstorm. 1999 here we are! Some rednecks dance discofox to that song (!!!), epic fail. On the other hand: For those images alone the admission fee von $75 was worth it! Then: Hedaway, What is love (baby don’t hurt me), back to the early 90’s ya!

Finally Two Door Cinema Club hits the stage, the girls scream, some probably lose their conscious, awesome! It’s 8:05 PM, pretty much on time! I head to the crowd now, to experience this concert right up front.

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The concert is awesome and I am in the 10th line in front of the stage. Party is on and when the concert is over all too soon at 9:20 PM the crowd yells, screams, and due to that asks for another round of concert awesomeness – even without the necessity to ask for “One more song!” – this is delivered automatically by the band. Have to say the mood was really cool when the actual band attended, the wait until they attended, not.

Now everyone leaves the hall all in a sudden, I don’t know why? I look around and walk up to a guy from the security what’s the matter. They tell me, the underaged need to leave and from 10 PM the party starts again, with the door selecting all the underaged, i.e. < 21 years.

I am hungry so I decide to go to Taiwan Cafe in Chinatown, right around the corner. I ride home and get more cash, than I return – and find out that I am numb after this experience.

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After the party, my impressions from the party – it’s 2:00 AM. The club became empty at 1:30 AM all of a sudden and outside everyone was fighting for the Taxis – good to have a car, it started raining as well. And I hope, it won’t rain or even snow, when I go hiking, it’s the least I would wish for.

The look back to this event: 11:55 PM. Now we talk party but truly PAAAARTY! I didn’t expect that to happen anymore – and there are again ladies who heat up the mood of the people in short clothes – to bring the mood to the climax. The music is mediocre but I have a Red Bull, that builds me up after so many kilometers of walking this day. I have some nice flirts, a hot girl pours me a drink, but when I ask her out to talk somewhere else where I can understand her better, she neglects. Strange world.

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The resumee: It was a stunning concert but the nightlife seems so controlled in the USA. You can not just go to a public event / party and enjoy yourself and the fact everything is over at 2:00 AM was not really appreciable. But after all this experience was great and the Two Door Cinema Club in concert is worth to be visited!

OH WIE IST DAS SCHÖN!

GERMANY is worldchampion in football and won the finals against Argentina in the World Championship in Brazil 2014.

This night will remain in our memories. This night caused us lots of worries, lots of joy and happiness. The Football World Championship in Brazil 2014 ended this night, with a close but deserved victory of our team, of my team, Germany, which we lovingly cheer to as SCHLAND – against a very strong and minimalistic Argentinian team!

Me and my friends supporting SCHLAND!

The game was so close and Argentina really played strong, so strong that my friends and I jumped up from the couch several times, shouting at the screen. Imagine this scenery, it is somehow really ridiculous, but that is football! After the game’s end there was no time to waste to get into Berlin’s epicenter to Zoologischer Garten.

Jan and me, not really able to believe what just happened

WIR SIND WELTMEISTER! WE ARE THE CHAMPIONS!

The way to Zoo in the S Bahn was memorable, all the people were singing together and jumping in the wagons. Thousands of people were on the streets celebrating. Fireworks exploded every second. The cops controlled everything, without showing emotions.

WIR SIND WELTMEISTER 2014! Without words! BERLIN!

In the middle of all the festivities a good amount of palestine guys celebrated with us, reminding of the the war which goes on between Isreal and the palestine people. Over all everything was loud, happy and very peaceful, just epic!!! It is an incredible feeling to be part of it and a long time, since 1996, that we were allowed to celebrate our football team again, how beautiful. Berlin is, not just because of the diversity, a great place to celebrate an event like that! Thank you DFB-team, thank you Brazil for all the beautiful images during the last four weeks. May the next Championship be as epic as this one!

Blood Moon, don’t miss the total Lunar Eclipse tonight!

Tonight is a total lunar eclipse and we will have a blood red moon at around 3:45 a.m. eastern time. You find the times of the lunar eclipse in your region of the US.

Don’t forget about the blood red moon this night, when earth darkens the moon and is passing the way between sun and moon. It is the first total lunar eclipse of this year, the times when to observe were cited from the lunar eclipse calender of moongiant.com.

Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) – April 14-15, 2014
Partial begins: 10:58 p.m. – April 14
Total eclipse begins: 12:07 a.m. – April 15
Greatest eclipse: 12:46 a.m.
Total eclipse ends: 1:25 a.m.
Partial eclipse ends: 2:33 a.m.

Mountain Daylight Time (MDT) – April 14-15 
Partial eclipse begins: 11:58 p.m. – April 14
Total eclipse begins: 1:07 a.m. – April 15
Greatest eclipse: 1:46 a.m.
Total eclipse ends: 2:25 a.m.
Partial eclipse ends: 3:33 a.m.

Central Daylight Time (CDT) – April 15, 2014
Partial eclipse begins: 12:58 a.m. – April 15

Total eclipse begins: 2:07 a.m. 
Greatest eclipse: 2:46 a.m. 
Total eclipse ends: 3:25 a.m.
Partial eclipse ends: 4:33 a.m. 

Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) – April 15, 2014
Partial eclipse begins: 1:58 a.m. on April 15
Total eclipse begins: 3:07 a.m.
Greatest eclipse: 3:46 a.m. 
Total eclipse ends: 4:25 a.m.
Partial eclipse ends: 5:33 a.m.

Preparing everything for the lunar eclipse
Luna Eclipse
Lunar Eclipse, 2014-04-15 @ 1:58 a.m. Eastern