The Rabbits of Bessungen

In many places, rabbits adorn windows and bits of landscape at Easter time, but where I live this is a year-round phenomenon.


The white rabbit in this glasses shop is a typical sight in Bessungen

Due to a legendary over-breeding and subsequent infestation of rabbits in the fields of Bessungen sometime in the late 16th century, this region of modern-day Darmstadt and by extension its people, have come to be associated with them. At the time of the French revolution with their occupation of this region and lands west, a term was coined for the Bessungers: lapin (the French for rabbit). This morphed at some point into lapping, the term used today.

So, for spending Easter without family or religions obligations, I decided to shoot some rabbits (with my camera). Of course the area has developed quite a bit in the last couple hundred years, so it’s quite rare these days that one sees a real rabbit in Bessungen. Instead, my tour of the neighborhood would be in search of rabbits in other forms. This would start, of course, with the sculpture in front of the local elementary school, perhaps the most immediately recognizable leporine depiction in town.


Sculpture in front of a local elementary school


Detail of the sculpture

It is impossible not to notice the rabbits in shop windows along the way.


Admittedly the colored rabbits on the left are just for Easter, but the white one on the right has a permanent presence in this window


They’re not just in the windows of quaint local businesses.. this one guards a soulless bank.

And indeed in the very names and logos of local businesses..


Beloved local bakery with a white rabbit in the window and rabbity logo on the door



Beloved local bookstore, with some lapping flair on the shop sign


The best döner in town, with a local mascot


Photo inside Lappings, from this nice article about their reopening

However, the place to get a traditional meal with your non-local friend is clearly at Weinwirtschaft Heiping, where this sign greets one out front:


“Here meet the [resident of the German state of Hessen] and the Lapping (Bessunger)”

My last stop on the rabbit hunt was the mural on my street:


It doesn’t get more Bessungen than this: a rabbit on the left and the coat of arms on the right

The good people of Bessungen clearly like to distinguish themselves from their neighbors in the rest of Darmstadt. They have their own Christmas market, their own spring festival, and as you can see, they also have a peculiar yet lovable mascot to represent all of their quirkiness.

Happy Easter.



First, the updated alternative ‘everywhere I’ve ever been’ chart:

EWIBb2j includes Albania!

To keep this very brief, I’ll list some the nice things I discovered in Albania:

Nice things

I can totally recommend a visit to Albania. I was only there for a few days, but I’m sure I’ll go back again soon. I’m particularly interested in getting out in nature more, hiking in the mountains in the north and visiting the much raved about city of Korçë in the southeast.

Turkish Relationships version.2

After my first attempt to map out the familial terms in Turkish (, I’ve formed a revised edition which I think is easier to read and more informative.

Turkish version:

Turkish Relationships c4

English version:

Turkish Relationships ce2

The major improvement aside from the formatting, is the addition of the terms in blue. Those show the term usage going the other way. So to the husband, his wife’s sister is his baldız. But from her perspective, he is her enişte.

As always.. use it, share it, or don’t.

Where I’ve Been

I love it when I have to update this map:


Because it means I’ve recently been to new places. This is the Where I’ve Been map; green means I’ve been there, red means I’ve lived there.

The latest edits show that I’ve seen more of Germany (where I live), stopped off in Greece for an evening (it counts for my map, but I’m telling you I’ll be back there anyway- I instantly loved it), and I’ve skipped around bits of nearby Europe as well. Here’s a closer view:

WIB 9a1I must say though that such a map emphasizes the geographical size of countries and provinces, which is not significant given what I intend to convey. I think I will therefore adopt a different sort of map. Probably something which looks a lot like this:


With each country being the same size it is easier to see the detail about where I’ve been within them. Left to right and then top to bottom (like you read a book) is also the order in which I visited these countries for the first time. I put the country names in their respective native languages, but here’s a list of them in English, in case that’s a little too confusing:


Turkish Relationships

In Turkish, there are more words to describe familial relationships than in English. This can be confusing for the newly acquainted (and even for most Turkish people). However, it can be fun to use these words, because having a special name for something makes a thing feel more special.

So, what does a woman call her husband’s brother’s wife? In English, that would be “brother-in-law’s wife”, but in Turkish, the word is “elti”. Without further ado, let’s go to the flow chart for this.

Turkish relationships d

As you probably guessed, H=husband, W=wife, B=brother, and S=sister. Every relationship is described from the perspective of the big-H Husband or the big-W Wife. So for example, the Wife’s sister’s husband is her enişte, but she is his wife’s sister, or baldız. For elti and bacanak, they are those words to each other. So you are your bacanak’s bacanak. Another way to put this is that if two sisters are both married, their husbands are bacanak to each other. Or if two brothers are both married, their wives would refer to each other as elti. I recommend that you fill this chart in with the names of people in your own family, to make it clearer.

There are other words for describing uncles and aunts. Here they are:

Amca – Uncle (father’s brother)
Dayı – Uncle (mother’s brother)
Teyze – Aunt (mother’s sister)
Hala – Aunt (father’s sister)
Yenge – Uncle’s wife
Enişte – Aunt’s husband

Notice these last two are also used for the wife/husband of the brother/sister in the flowchart. So enişte is the husband (or boyfriend for that matter) of your sister or your aunt.

Now -just for fun- one more:
The father-in-law or mother-in-law of your child is your dünür. Useful, right?

Cycle Commuting

Any situation where the use of a car is replaced by virtually anything else, wonders are done for the environment. I’m not just referring to the natural environment, though I think we can agree that it is important. Indeed the urban environment is also greatly improved when the danger introduced by a fast ton or two of metal has been removed from the equation. The parking space that is freed, the money saved by everyone, and the elimination of noise pollution are all part of this picture as well. The goal of any environmentally-conscious person living in a city must be to discourage the use of cars and promote the use of other modes, especially bicycles.

I consider myself such an individual, made aware of the potential for the urban environment by cycling in Copenhagen, paddling in Venice, and even walking through the center of Oldenburg, Germany, which is almost entirely a pedestrian zone. Where I am living now, the best way that I can keep my car off the roads is to ride my bicycle whenever possible.

To that end, I have planned a nice route to work:



As you can see, it’s about 14 km and involves mostly riding along pike/ped pathways and residential streets. I think the average speed assumed in the chart above is set a little low to make the cyclist feel better. The ride usually takes me about 40 minutes, though I’m confident I could do it in 30. The ride home of course is mostly uphill, and with a constant easterly breeze my boost in the morning becomes an added resistance in the evening. So it takes me a bit longer to get home, but that’s ok. I tend to enjoy the ride home a little bit more, looking for an excuse to make a detour or stop at one of the several beer gardens along the route. I don’t commute everyday with the bicycle, but every time I do I’m glad I did.

Where I’ve Been (update)

With a recent trip to India, it’s time for me to update the Where-I’ve-Been map. I hit a new personal southern extreme: 12.5 degrees N. While I was there, the waxing gibbous moon was north of my position. So for the first time, I saw the moon “upside-down”. In the northern hemisphere above 29 degrees, one can say that the line on the moon between light and dark moves right to left as the phases progress. So a first quarter moon has the light on the right side and a last quarter on the left. However, this rule is reversed where one’s position is south of the moon. Most people probably wouldn’t notice anything amiss, but I think I got a little giddy when I looked up and realized what I was seeing.  wib-8d