I felt like having another few minutes just sitting in front of the Cathedral and feeling its life pulsating atmosphere before my departure.
Just a few moments after spotting and sitting down on a bench at the forecourt, my attention is particularly caught by a male voice, carrying heaviness of many years, yet a refreshing frankness spiced with an American accent. “Do you speak English?”, the inquirer wants to know in delight for a chat. “Where are you from?”
“Are you in the army?” he goes on asking after a very brief pause.
The young man sitting opposite him looks slightly upwards and shakes his head softly in dissent. “What do you do? You take care of her? That must be a full time job”, he laughingly continues asking, while the young man has loosened his grip a little from his girlfriend’s hand in skeptical astonishment about the sudden interrogation. Being dragged out of their cosy tête-à-tête wrap, the couple lowers their gaze to the ground in wordless consent. Less untroubled, the old man in the beige jacket and a round face underneath his red cap keeps on talking “I have seven children and a wife. She is very pretty. She lost a tooth; now she has a gap here”, he resumes while cheerfully pointing with his index finger on his front tooth. “My son is with a famous singer. Her name is Cher, do you know her? … No?!” A pause, then he continues “They live in Beverly Hills. It is full of celebrities.”
Another pause followed by a friendly directed “Goodbye!” to the leaving couple.
I watch the couple walking away in direction to the main station. They have turned their backs to both of us, those who remained seated for a few more minutes of rest or a chat.
The very next moment, a young woman who feels like having a few more minutes to feel the Cathedral’s life pulsating atmosphere before her departure, fills that empty bench.
“Hello, do you speak English?” …
(Cologne, Germany in June 2016)