The world's a village
The World Wide Web has turned the world into a village – "the global village" is a phrase now commonly heard. Theoretically, anyone can communicate with anyone. We're all each other's neighbour. To use the modern vernacular, (wo)mankind can 'chat' anonymously at wire's length to their heart's content – or not, as the case may be. A life of short distances – as far as your PC or Mac allows and you want it to be. It doesn't matter, then, where you live – New York, Tokyo or London – or in the mini metropolis of Basedow on the Elbe-Lübeck-Kanal, east of Hamburg, Germany. Wherever you find yourself geographically, the computer creates a degree of equidistance between us all: it both connects and isolates at one and the same time.
So, in principle, the location I, as a subject of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, choose to conduct my business and to take root is totally irrelevant. The majority of my day is spent at said computer, translating the tongue of the locals into that of my mother – the texts being primarily technical in nature. Despite my northerly location, my clients reside in the central and southerly climes of the Reich. And no matter what their economic and social persuasion – super-capitalist, shareholder-oriented MNC or family-owned, "feet-on-the-ground", socially responsible SME – and hence the location of their production facilities, the village of Basedow provides the bare but essential minimum to enable me to give them what they want.
That said, the decision as to where one settles in today's global village is far from irrelevant. It's a matter of ideals and idylls – and the desire and luck to seek out and find that for which one has been looking. And it was a combination of Lady Luck and following the dog's nose that brought the lady wife and myself to the promised land of Basedow!
The ability to walk the dog in the peace and quiet of Mother Nature without having to start the engine first is something you simply can't get in the city. The landscape is characterised by the beauty of the water, the woods and open space, inhabited by rare flora and fauna – and a plethora of similarly minded canine-owners. A renovated canal towpath that runs from the Elbe up to Lübeck and well-kept trails through the woods and across the open fields provide plenty of opportunity to achieve and maintain the level of health and physical fitness anyone could wish for. Add to this the extraordinary social mix of the village population, founded on the beauty of the location and the proximity to the cosmopolitan inland seaport of the country's second city, Hamburg. Living cheek by jowl with the indigenous one-time farming folk is a large group of well-travelled globetrotters who play an active and welcome role in the village community – neighbours and friends with whom one can discuss the mundane and intellectually stimulating alike, while enjoying the pleasures of the regional, national and international beverage industry.
And then, of course, there's the canal, which widens to form a fair-sized lake on the edge of Basedow. It's this waterway, with its stuttering stream of maritime traffic, that constantly gives one the feeling of being connected with the rest of the world – and not just by virtual means.
What is missing is a cosy little pub* and, for some of us, the cultural life of the city. But you can't have everything! And even the Web can't substitute for everything: yes, even cutting-edge technology has its limits.
But Hamburg, Lübeck and Lüneburg aren't far away and the train connections from nearby Büchen are quite good, that good that we can even send our son to a good school in the centre of Hamburg. And if you feel the need to partake of the cultural delights of the big city of an eve and yet still get back home for the benefits of a few hours shut-eye, you can do so quite easily.
So, thanks to the World Wide Web, 'my' little village of Basedow is truly part of the global village – and home base for my international existence.
* With any luck, this situation has changed as of 7 March 08!