Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Friday, 1 December 2017

How to Catch a Dutch Owl (so necessary in December)

©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You, 

for me one of the most fascinating aspects of learning a new language is that it allows me glimpses into the character and poetic heart of another nation and culture.
The idioms, the proverbs, the sayings - daily life dances in new clothes!

So I learned a lot Dutch expressions for "THE NAP". (An endangered pleasure...)
Of course you can use the common word: "een dutje" - BUT: how much more vivid and colourful is the older phrase: "een uiltje knappen" - and though the experts quarrel about the first meaning (maybe something with catching a "butterfly"), there is no denying that "uiltje" is the owl that the exhausted man or woman is trying to catch... feathery...soft...tiny...and evasive...
There are many more ways to say (or hide) how you will spent your time after lunch -
but even my Dutch docent was flabbergasted when I served her my finest find:

"Ik ga een Engelse brief schrijven"
- isn't that a very genteel way to hide the truth of napping?

To write an ENGLISH letter (or better: write a letter in English)
is evidenty such a difficult affair

that absolutely nobody should dare to disturb your concentration!

          zz .. 


Friday, 24 November 2017

Bungee-jumping at the FU Berlin?

©Brigitta Huegel

I agree.
This building looks as crazy (and funny) as my newest project. It is a building on the campus of the FU Berlin. Where I study now:
yes - since October I study at the Freie Universität Berlin.

"What?", you may ask, "what???"

I hope you ask what is the subject of my studies.
It is the philology & languange I think so very cute, surprising, powerful, studded with humour - and very, very sexy. I am speaking of Niederlandistik.
I love, love, love it.
3 times a week (and very early too) I learn to pronounce the "cchhh" and all the other interesting sounds, fricatives and spirants - and that, Dear You, is only the tip of the iceberg - I have to learn many many hours, and you see me mumbling Dutch words in the subway ("Ja hoor" - I use every occasion to practise).

As much as I love (and laugh with) Virginia Ironside, I disagree with her in one point (when she writes in "No! I Don't Want to Join a Bookclub"):

"But it is too late!" I argued. "That's what's so great about being old. You no longer have to think about going to university, or go bungee-jumping! It's a huge release! I've been feeling guilty about not learning another language for most of my adult life. At last I find that now, being old, I don't have to! There aren't enough years left to speak it. It'd be pointless."

She is 59 when she writes that.
I might agree with her on bungee-jumping (though last Sunday I danced together with other models for two hours over the catwalk; will tell you soon) -
but learning a new language is pure bliss!

A whole new world is opening up!

Friday, 27 October 2017

Travelling for almost one and a half month,

... but I do not want to bore you, so just follow me on a little photo-tour!

1. The Narrow-Boat-Tour in England,

         ... beautiful and with a lot of exhausting locks:

                  Big fun with many international good friends,
                                                      and culture as in Cambridge and York:

                       ...and breathtaking landscapes:


2. Then from a cottage in the Peak District

                        Wonderful trips to gardens, castles and parks,

                           ... and an Edwardian Opera House in Buxton:

3. Then visiting the beautiful Netherlands:

4. Followed by the Book Fair in Frankfurt:

5. and a visit to Darmstadt:

6. and the Allgäu:

Now I am home again in Berlin -
and will tell you of my new adventures soon!

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Customer-friendly? I wouldn't bet on it!

©Brigitta Huegel
Dear You,
yes - of course I have a more precise photo for this blog-post, but the proprietor of this shop for framing pictures might complain - he is very good at that.
Never in my life have I met a shopkeeper who repels his customer more than he does.
Three times I have been in his shop - and each time I came out without service or a frame, but half-deaf ears and lost time.
While he was grinning in a way that I can only describe as "satisfied, triumphant".
First time: "No, we could not repair that frame. It would cost you too much."
(Honestly: he only had to paint a bit of black shelack on it - I could have done that myself - and might, come to think of it: a few drops of black nail-varnish might solve the problem).
He did not even name a sum and then ask me, if I would be willing or able to pay it!
Second time: "No, we do not mount (is that the word?) cinema-posters anymore - it is so much work!" (Honestly: in my youth I have learned to do it myself - it is a bit of work, but not that much - and: this is a handyman's shop for framing! He owns a press!)
And the third time he said to a little photo-framing-job: "But you have to come till tomorrow - after that we are away for holidays, hahaha!"
AND THEN he started to complain: that the Internet is ruining his shop.
And that people and times are no longer what they once were...
And that all the young people would learn in a horrible way how their internet-fixation will ruin the world, their life, and then they will see and regret - "too late, haha!"!
(At that time I had reached the door and slipped out of this dear olde shoppe).

I might have mentioned before that one of my favourite quotes is:
"Turdus ipse sibi malum cacate" -
"The thrush shits her misfortune herself", loosely translated -
and yes: it sounds more elegant in Latin   :-)
The quote means, that birds eat the sticky white berries of the mistletoe - and then men make birdlime of this shit and catch them.

He does the same, yet blames the shitty Internet!

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

I Feel Over-Protected!

Dear You, 
in these political hot times it might sound VERY strange to complain "I feel overprotected!" - but I do, in Germany more and more. The "Jugendwahn" now leads to infantilism - and people are treated like half-wits... 

Look at this: 

Speechless... (I just see: it is difficult to read - though: in three languages...). It is a detailed manual how to put on your tights/ pantyhose). 

I am inclined to write a sarcastic Thank-You-letter.  

"Dear Sir, 
thank you oh so much for your help to put on this enigmatic garment! 
Without your instructions I would still be standing in my master's bedroom, vulnerable, freezing, all up in tears! 
"How", I would ask myself, "how will I ever be able to manage this?" 
A thousand thanks! 
A deeply contented customer. 

PS: Might I ask your permission to offer seminars and tutorials on this delicate subject? 

On Facebook I found this (sorry, do not know who did it or where it came from):   

Thursday, 10 August 2017

The Quest for Beauty

©Brigitta Huegel
Dear You,

when I took this photograph in the Botanical Garden in Berlin, I was a bit agitated because a guard of the museum had behaved very, very strange. 

Now Beauty is a wonderful device for me to calm down. 
I loved the clear white of the waterlilies. 
Took a few more pictures of them - and only now, at home, I saw, that Beauty was not alone. 

©Brigitta Huegel

Not everybody is endowed with beauty - (though, as we all know, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder, and maybe the frog here is King of the Pond, and every female frog crazy about him and the deep croaking sound of his ballooned cheeks ) - so the ugly does persue beauty intensely, and tries everything to possess it - look at the waterlily above, up in the left corner! 

©Brigitta Huegel

Well, I walked on, searching for perfection. 

I was not alone: 

©Brigitta Huegel

Sunday, 6 August 2017

You Have to Accept a Low Blow in Order to Survive

... And Stand Up Again. 

Dear You, 

in the exhibition "Third Landscape" by Volker Kreidler they show betwitching photos of the vegetation around Chernobyl.

"Reports of vegetation in the exclusion zone around Chernobyl have been increasing over the last few years. While flora and fauna are apparently returning, paradoxes in the natural gene pool have been observed. Despite the radiation, a self-generating ecosystem with high viability is forming in the area. New, healthy trees are growing and replacing dead forests. Lynx and other rare animal species are settling again."

(See the full quote on this photo):

At home I stirred pensively the girolles/chanterelles in my pan - they were coming from a country where - so they had told us - after Chernobyl the decay period would last for a time with so many zeroes following the 1 that I could neither imagine nor pronounce it...

The human mind and the human heart easily forgets, I mused.
That may be necessary to survive. Sometimes you have to be able to forget (at least: not think about it every day) - otherwise you will go mad.
Of course one can wish and pray that mankind gets more reasonable (though at the moment the world does not look like this - yet: has it ever?).
"The lynx, the wolves, the Przewalski horses, the bison, the moose, the wild boars roam through the area again." 

I might join them - I am a part of nature.

Interesting though:
when I looked closely at a leaf from a "healthy tree" from that area, I saw:
1) it was THERE, the leaf, the tree - and its existence I call a wonder.
2) Yet to believe that it survived without a wound - that would be naive.
You have to accept change   -   you have to change, you have to muster all your strength, you have to get up again, though you are tired - only then you have a chance to survive.
Admittedly: it hurts.