Friday, October 08, 2010


Song Ping just wrote to tell me that Peter died. Peter Pruefert. The director of the International Institute of Journalism. The guy who saw to it that we all had such a lovely time in Berlin, more than 10 year ago. (And then again, a year later, when I was part of the test group for the IIJ's journalism on the net course).

I forgot about Peter. I mean, I didn't think of him much after the course. He was just a nice, slightly older gentleman who made everything so agreeable there. The food. The lodgings. He made it easy for us to travel around, he took us on a two-week trip around Germany, he, I can't even begin to describe what he did for us, in those short two months there. It was lifetimes long.

Every night, a few of us would gather in front of the common tv to watch the free porn (after 11) on local tv. Most of it had stories and most of the stories involved two women and one man. So (and this was very soon after we first arrived) I asked Peter, "how come all German men like to do it with two women at the same time?"

He raised his eyebrows. "Excuse me?"

Anyway, because of my question I got quickly labelled the randy squirrel. (Kind of unfair, because besides enjoying the porn, I didn't get up to anything else - I could have, but I didn't)

Peter spoke English with a posh Brit accent. He seemed to have an uncanny knack of picking good lecturers. (When he didn't, he knew it, cos Victoria's head would fall back in a swoon and soon, she would be snoring so loudly that we would all give each other delighted grins).

I don't really know what happened to all the others in my group. You form these attachments based on being in a strange situation for a space in time. And then you unform them. It's just par for the course.

But I still wish I had thanked Peter, or at least, kept in touch. Written to find out how he was doing. That sort of thing.

Peter's death was swift and sudden. A short, severe illness and then he was gone. He had just been to the IIJ office two months ago for a visit (being already retired). Everyone is reeling from the news.

Last year another trainer of mine passed away. This was not sudden. Lung cancer, two strokes and he lingered and died slowly. I didn't know he was ill, I hadn't kept in touch.

And I regret so deeply that he died not knowing how much he meant and how much I, for my part, owe him.

RIP Peter. And RIP Razman. You both made a difference and you're remembered fondly.

No comments: