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Talking Germany

Blog with Peter Craven

The privileged Ariane de Hoog

But you’re driven, too 

She’s a bundle of energy. OK, I know, it’s a cliché. But when the cliché’s true, use it. “I can’t stand being in one place. I need to move around. To be doing things, experiencing things,” she says. So has she ever dreamt of settling down? “I’ve dreamt of trying. I live out of a suitcase. I’m going to Cambridge University next week. Then Washington DC, followed by South Carolina. England again. Back to Berlin. And then,” I think she says, “Africa and Australia.” I just can’t keep up. This whirlwind is one of my favourite colleagues at DW – the delightful Ariane de Hoog – and she’s my latest guest on Talking Germany.

She might not look it, but she’s a self-confessed tomboy who even mixes it with the men on the ice hockey rink! In fact, she’s sports mad, doing something sporty nearly every day: “I’m out there four times in a bad week!” Would she, I wonder, describe herself as driven? “I’m one of the most crazy, driven people I know,” she confesses. “But you’re driven, too,” she adds. Me? Really? I’m shocked. Does she ever do yoga, which can be so helpful? “No, too trendy. Lying around and stretching always makes me laugh.”

But, for all her activity, Ariane is very insightful: “I do take a lot of time to think things through.” She’s an avid reader: an addict of The Economist magazine. And, having spent so much time in Africa, one book she adores is Barbara Wood’s Green City in the Sun – which sounds fascinating. I wonder whether her restlessness has anything to do with the fact that, like nearly all her fellow Canadians, she’s from immigrant stock. Her father grew up in a Dutch family that moved to Manitoba. The second oldest of six. And they all made good.

These days Ariane’s dad is in his mid-sixties. He spends a lot of time climbing mountains. Or writing thrillers. A buddy, apparently, of John le Carré. But when Ariane was growing up, he was a diplomat. Which explains the travel. And the array of languages she grew up speaking. I ask her whether she felt that hers was a privileged upbringing? Her answer was very intriguing: “Well, we weren’t spoilt in the traditional sense. We never got a lot of things. But, yes, in one way we were privileged: my parents gave us a lot of experiences.” And I find myself hoping that my children might one day say the same about me.


July 16, 2012