Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Safe! Or: How to Feel Calm in a Chaotic World. (If you believe in Father Christmas)

 


Since two weeks they are here. Hundred silly smiles and two hundred eyes follow you through the supermarket, and no escape: they are everywhere, in Bavaria, in Berlin - all over Germany.  Even earlier than last year. 

What is new: they point with a wagging finger. 

Maybe they will  give us a benign warning: although lots are here there might come the day when a gap in the supply chain of chocolate Father Christmas starts. Stockpile! Hoard! Squirrel away! 

Who knows what might happen? Better safe than sorry

PS: I feel more and more like Moses Herzog in Saul Bellow's wonderful novel "Herzog", written in 1964. I want to start writing letters to everyone - the first will go to the manufacturers of these untimely Father Christmasses -  telling them that I will feel much better if they also put chocolate Easter bunnies there, just in case that the world sinks into even more chaos, or a Rip van Winkle-lockdown



Sunday, 10 October 2021

Handcrafting, Hedgehogs and German Political Correctness

 


First frost at night - a good time to start the crafting-season with the triplets

(In German we use the term "basteln", making little things out of chestnuts, wool or Plasticine - which word do you use? The word "tinker" sounds a bit condescending to me) 

When my son was small, in Kindergarten "basteln" was looked at with the same disdain as measles - we had to do it secretly behind closed doors at home, the same applied to singing beautiful old German Lieder, these songs were replaced by malappropriate "songs" like "Hollebolleplumpaquatsch" which in the ears of the Kindergarteners sounded wildly modern. 

Kindergarteners - honestly! no joke! - you must in Germany now denominate always, always in every line of your text !!  as "Kindergärtner*Innen", to avoid discrimination of the three genders - no joke!!!  

(I do not know what will happen if the German political-correctness-language-police reads this  - this is still a secret job 😂, done by many ranting politicians - sorry: Politiker*Innen - and their supporters, so I might better not use it in my blog but mumble behind closed doors secretly - or sing (piano!) the beautiful old German Lied "Thoughts are Free" in the 1842 version of August Heinrich Hoffman von Fallersleben, - and replace Asterix's "These Romans are crazy!" with "These Germans are crazy!" - but the language police is not good at handling humour... ) 

Back to the roots: yesterday was the first day the triplets did "handcraft". They are now exactly 2 years and 9 days old - and I was astonished (as all proud Grandmothers and parents are 😀), how well they did it. 

Of course I had prepared a technical instruction: 



We handcrafted a hedgehog (or, to be precise: two). 

The funny thing is: one triplet calls herself "Igel" - meaning: hedgehog - because from birth on she had so many long dark hair spikes that everyone cried "Igel!" who saw her. And I was puzzled when she reacted a bit strange when first I called her by her beautiful Royal English Victorian name (guess - my mouth must be shut). Then I found out, that this name is only used when she is given a warning by her parents - otherwise it is admiring "Igel". 

The triplets loved to build those animals, precise and eagerly - and just in time I could save one date - halved and used as snouts, and 4 raisins for the eyes - the rest was quickly munched away. And they admired their very fine work - but the best came later: "Hamm, Hamm!" in German children language: "Eat up! Eat up!" - apple and dates. 

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

And Now for Something Completely Different...

 


Without Monty Python's irony: my life, more than ever, is made of contrasts. 

Yin and Yang. 

In June 2021 Berlin had  3.766.089 inhabitants  (3.880 had left the city at the end of 2020 - due to the now very high rents, and some in Covid-time became tired of city life with their little children in tiny apartments). 

I am lucky to have the cake and eat it (well - it might happen that on a very stressful baking-day you can  hear me grumble over crumb & trifle. What do you expect from the translator of 'LEON: Baking & Puddings')? 

Half of the month - or a little more - I now live in a tiny but beautiful village in Bavaria - together with   511  very friendly inhabitants. Yesterday the desperate customer consultant of a big Sunday paper - which I now have subscribed to - called: "Sorry - we cannot send you our Sunday paper, because in your village we have no newspaper deliverer. We can only send it to you on Monday, by mail".  I said "Who Wants Yesterday's Papers?" - and he answered: "The Postman Always Rings Twice" . 

My sister gave good advice through WhatsApp: "Go to the bakery on Sunday and buy the paper there." 

The thing is: we don't have a bakery here. We have no shop whatsoever. The nearest are 3 km further, in the two little towns near by, but to go there you have to use the sweet red train, if you don't want to run on an A-Road - as Google Map friendly advised me: that road has NO sidewalk - but a lot of quick traffic - and I do not want to reduce the number of Berlin's inhabitants even more...  


Don't get me wrong: I'm not complaining. I am utterly happy here - and I mean: HAPPY - with the triplets and Son & DiL so near, and beautiful nature all around. Bliss! 

And if I want to take a "Walk on the Wild Side", I can do that here too: 





Sunday, 3 October 2021

May I invite you to walk with me through Berlin? (first we visit the Museumsinsel)


 This is ONE of my most beloved places in Berlin: the Bode-Museum in Berlin-Mitte. It is part of the ensemble of other museums on the museum-island, the ensemble is a UNESCO-World Cultural Heritage. 

I go there as often as possible - the flair is Parisienne - many planes soften the light, the river so lovely (sorry, the photos here I took on a rainy day). 

It was built between 1889 - 1904, style new-baroque, and the dome is 39,5 m high. You might have heard about the Bode-Museum when in 2017 the 100 kg gold Big-Maple-Leaf coin was stolen (two suspects of a Berlin Clan-family were Ahmed and Wissam Remmo, they got nabbed, and Ahmed is now suspected to have robbed the valuable Dresdener Green Vault too, while out of prison during appeal). 

But I do not want to give you history-lessons - I just want to walk with you around on the beautiful museums-island: 


  


In the background you see the Fernsehturm at the Alexander-Platz, and yes: the underground seems to go through the museum... :-) 





(The Neue Synagoge in Berlin, built in 1866. Sorry, a mistake, look at Hels comment please) 



The Alte National Galerie (built 1862 - 1876, style Neo-Klassizismus and Neo-Renaissance (inside utterly old beautiful sculptures and paintings!) 


with Kolonnaden-Hof: in summer you can sit between the colonnades and listen to concerts or lectures, drinking a Gin Tomic and watch boats on the Spree.




The equestrian statue of Emperor Friedrich Wilhelm IV, who draw the first sketches for the building of the Alte Nationalgalerie. 


The Fernsehturm again - built by the GDR in 1965 - 1969 is with 368m the highest building in Germany (with a revolving restaurant in the "ball" - malicious tongues say that it turns quicker now since West and East Berlin is reunited, capitalists know how to increase profit :-) 

Here a glimpse into the Alte Museum (as everywhere you have to book "time frames" in Covid-time)


I collect Pegasus with my camera: 


The Pergamon-Museum (with the famous Pergamon altar), the James Simon Gallery is the new entrance building) 



and a lovely sight when you leave the Museumsinsel. 



I know that I only gave you a few superficial labels - you can read tons of books if you are interested - but my intent is to show you why I enjoy living in Berlin so much - and on other walks you will see how different the neighbourhood (in Berlin you call that Kiez) is - it's unbelievable, really. 

Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway (1)

 



I always loved this title of Susan Jeffers' little book. And had to recall that encouragement when in Bavaria I suddenly had to drive again. That beautiful car above - a Corvette, which belongs to my son. 

You might remember that I sold my last car, the cute little red Fiat 500, Knut, because in Berlin I decided in a very environmental mood that I don't need a car: so many subways, busses, trams and S-Bahnen! 

Had I but known...   Covid was putting a stop to all public transport - almost nobody dared to use it. Thus the radius of my movements for a long, long time became awfully narrow - you know I walk easily 10 km, but you have to divide that by 2 - otherwise you can sleep in the subway :-) After getting the vaccine I became mobile again by public transport. When I had to drive the car above, I hadn't driven a car since five or four years. 

I had no choice: to help my son (he waited at an auto repair shop in a city where he had brought the second car, my DiL's Porsche SUV) I had to drive it - this beautiful car! 

I felt timid. Would I be good enough? And could I drive with an automatic? I had always looked down on that, I love stick shift, still think it more sporting. Never had owned an automatic - though I had at least 7 or 8 cars in my life, almost all big and quite quick - my "best" were two Lancia Beta 2000 - and big Volvos, big Audis, etc. I have driven a lot in my professional life. (Later, in the sensible little Fiat 500, I didn't feel safe). 

Well: I arrived well and excited. LOVED IT.    (And had the courage to drive the big Porsche SUV too - here the landscape is hilly - which is a real excuse for the petrol it needs). 

For the Corvette I can't find but one: it is so utterly beautiful! 


And I loved the (only possible) reaction of my gay young friend Michou: he texted me: "What did you wear?"     :-)   









  



Thursday, 16 September 2021

Where do you feel most alive?

 



I found this question in: "How to be a Wildflower" by Katie Daisy. (I wouldn't have ordered it if they had changed the title by using "Wall" instead of "Wild" :-)  

Honestly: I cannot answer this interesting question. 

Coming back to Bavaria yesterday, I felt so alive! 

Despite a remarkable journey by train - we left Berlin at 12:05, should arrive at Nuremberg at 14:48, then I have to wait 56 minutes - YES --- and then the little red train - TOOOT! - drives me in about 25 minutes to my destination.

That was the plan. 

The Deutsche Bahn - formerly an international envied Technical Marvel of Punctuality - has changed its image drastically: from boring conservative to youthful spontaneity - but "Go with the flow!" can become a bit tedious with lots of luggage and No Flow. 
We arrived at Nuremberg 20 minutes late - during the ride they informed us that in Halle they "had to remove" a woman from the train by police - the woman had shown a forged doctor's certificate to avoid having to wear a mask. 
Later we lost another 12 minutes - without a given reason, though we were informed that near Bamberg an overhead wire might be damaged.  

When you know you have 56 minutes waiting time you are not troubled by 20 minutes delay - thus I could fully bestow my empathy on those poor travellers who had to reach a train to Zurich (Swiss) or Wien (Austria). 
With Giovanni Della Casa, Galateo, or, The Rules of Polite Behaviour, 1558 in my mind (thank you, Pipistrello!) at the exit I even politely offered the young man who queued behind me: "If you want you can leave first - I have time. "   "Ladies first", he answered gallantly, and I suspected that he had used the 20 minutes to read page 61 intensely too. 

So: I had earned a Karma-point, I hoped. You guess: Lila, the Hindu goddess, laughed. 

In the Nuremberg Central Station  


there was chaos: the damaged overhead wire had stopped almost every rail traffic. 
No little red train. No way to reach my destination. 
Standing beside this huge building site (they build something in front of the left wing of the central station since I can remember)


I called my son. 
To make a long story short: he saved me, arrived accompanied by The Three Graces, who enjoyed the ride immensely, sitting in their new children's seats (one barefoot, one with one shoe, one in socks - you might be able (though I doubt it)  how long it takes to put on socks and shoes to the feet of very lively young women who just became gorgeous two years old). 

So: here I am. back in Bavaria - in my little Apartment With a View - and am HAPPY. 
Though I am happy in Berlin too - in that melting pot of everything. 

So: I cannot answer the question above. 

And, come to think of it: Why should I? One of the big lessons I still try to learn is the Buddhist wisdom: "Thou shall not judge." 

I try.