Ildikó von Kürthy at the CHIO Aachen

Saying “Au Hur” and being understood – that is home

It must be that gene of the people from Rhineland: It didn’t take five minutes before it was like I was listening to a good, old friend rather than the bestseller author, Ildikó von Kürthy. She moved to Hamburg just after leaving school. She is very happy there and yet every now and again she likes to return to Aachen her hometown – she loves Carnival, chips and crumble rolls. Over the past years, she has started visiting the CHIO Aachen again. We chatted to her before she attends the Opening Ceremony and the “Media Night” on Tuesday.

Question: When is there going to be the first Ildikó von Kürthy novel that is set against the background of the CHIO Aachen?

Ildikó von Kürthy: Everything I experience turns up in my books in some form sooner or later. That is the unique thing about my profession – that nothing happens in vain.

Question: Is it typical for an author to seek inspiration everywhere and all the time?
Von Kürthy: One could indeed say that I go through life with a sort of utilisation approach. I take in everything around me and memorise it without noticing. Then, when I am writing a rediscovery process kicks in and I remember certain things again that I thought I had forgotten.

Question: What are your first memories of the CHIO Aachen?
Von Kürthy: Friends brought me along once as a child. I remember the hustle and bustle in the village and the many beautiful horses. But at the time I was still very small. That is why it is wonderful that I am finally able to experience this fantastic equestrian show live.

Question: Have you ever mounted a horse before?
Von Kürthy: I used to really enjoy riding. I wasn’t particularly good, but that never stopped me from doing it. And now I definitely want to pick it up again. I always find it really nice thinking about what made me happy as a child. And I’d like to try out these things again. That’s how I got back into swimming. And I now would also like to recapture the joy of horse riding again.

Question: Have you ever used the Aachen phrase “Au Hur” in Hamburg?
Von Kürthy: No, I try to avoid doing that (laughs). I think everyone would look at me gone out. Nobody there would understand it, so I tend to use comparable phrases in High German.

Question: You were born in Aachen. Where did you grow up?
Von Kürthy: In Laurensberg. I always love coming back here. For me it is like a journey into my wonderful childhood every time. I then go for walks and inhale childhood memories at every hedge and every wall. I love doing that.

Question: Crumble rolls or first love? What springs to mind first, when you think of Aachen?
Von Kürthy: Crumble rolls are actually something that I really miss in the High North. But even more than that I love the feeling that all people from Aachen who return here from far away, immediately sense that they belong here. We are all somehow closely related to Emperor Charlemagne, we speak the same language and we have all already eaten in the traditional “Knipp” restaurant at least once. This unites the people from Aachen and simply creates a wonderful feeling of home and community.

Question: What does home mean for you?
Von Kürthy: That I can say “Au Hur” and everyone understands me (laughs).

Question: Do you still have personal acquaintances here in Aachen after living in Hamburg after so many years?
Von Kürthy: Yes, I never lost touch with them. My best friend lives in Aachen. And actually my bond to Aachen has become even stronger over the past years. I am very sentimental person. Since I have grown older and become middle-aged I have become even more sentimental. And this emotionality also includes a feeling of homesickness. And this feeling grows continually, because a lot of things that are melancholic, sentimental or even emotional have something to do with the past.

Question: So what is it like living in the cool Northern Germany with so much Rhenish sentimentality?
Von Kürthy: As a typical Rhinelander I married a typical North German man. So, the talking aspect of our relationship is not evenly distributed. I don’t think I have to spell out who does the most talking. But in a way that is actually a nice balance. I wouldn’t like to have a husband, who talks as much as me, because I wouldn’t have the chance to get a word in.

Question: Do you have any souvenirs of your home city in your house?
Von Kürthy: Yes, of course. I have a real Aachen corner, where I have some tapestries of the Town Hall and the Cathedral hanging and I have some breakfast boards with typical Aachen slogans and a calendar of Aachen that I always like leafing through. And I have even taught my husband and my son a bit of Aachen slang.

Question: Do you have a favourite place you like visiting in Aachen?
Von Kürthy: I even have a favourite walk that I enjoy going on when I am in Aachen. It starts at the cemetery where my parents are buried. Then I walk passed the Kaiser-Karls Grammar School where I used to go to school. From there I carry on to the Elisengarten marketplace, where I always pinch the nose of the small girl at the fountain. Which is really golden by the way, and certainly not because I have been pinching it for 20 years.

Question: That sounds like a very emotional tour…
Von Kürthy: Oh, yes, it really is. It is a whole puzzle of emotions. For example, I am always very sad at the graveyard. My parents already passed away 25 years ago, but I cry there as if I lost them just yesterday. Perhaps also because the connection to my childhood and youth to an extent broke off after their death. But I also experience many lively, happy emotions along my route. Because even though I always try to discover new aspects of Aachen, I particularly love the things I am familiar with from the past.


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