Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Monday, 7 January 2019

Here we are - 2019!

The soft light of the Austern Bank in Berlin on New Years Eve: very becoming :-)
The motto was: "The Great Gatsby".
Later the firework at the Gendarmenmarkt was very impressive, noisy and beautiful, so 2019 was received in style.
I wish that this year brings luck to you, health, love, happiness and the fulfilment of some personal wishes.  Britta XXX

Tuesday, 25 December 2018

"Old and New" - "Happy New Year"!

"Old and New" - that is how the Dutch call New Year's Eve
I like that - and it gives me something to think about. 
Some of you might have noticed that I (megalomaniac as ever) started a new blog - in Dutch
I do it to force myself to write a tiny coherent text (though: coherent...mmmh...) 
I started to learn Dutch in autumn 2017 - and really work a lot to grasp it. 
Reading and translating it is ok (at the university we have to read literary texts that a lot of Dutch people will not know); understanding conversations is ok, though one has to listen very carefully, and writing, well... Very difficult: to speak the language, fluently I mean. 
At the university I wondered: in some language courses we had to discuss (the modern method of learning a language - just jump). I was flabbergasted: we greenhorns (some even from other countries and thus with an interesting accent different from our also interesting German accent) discussed in little groups of three or four - and the teacher often was far away in the seminar room, helping other groups smattering... hahaha, that (and I mean the students, not the teacher!) reminded me of the German saying "The Blind leads the Lame". 

Now, Mrs. Hill - concentrate: why "Oud and New"

Because all my life I tried to keep my "old" friends when Pomp and Circumstances drove me into other parts of the world (I moved 17 times...) - and I managed that fairly well. 

So: I want to have the cake and eat it (oh yes - not only megalomaniac but also immodest! - though this might be two sides of the same coin).

I want to keep you, dear old friends - and the new Dutch ones.
(And there are many things that connect you - think of 1652 - 1654)
(Not only megalomaniac and immodest but also insolent - which reminds me of a politician... what was his name again?) 

Oh: WOW - Google reminds me - the words jumps up in the right corner of my computer display - "Second Christmas Day - Tomorrow" 
Had I but known! Thank you, Google!

I wish you a Happy New Year - Oud en Nieuw - and "Stay with me!" dear friends! 

Britta XXX

PS: If you are learning Dutch too - or want to make some educated guesses - this is my new blog:

Sunday, 16 December 2018

A very special demonstration

In Berlin we have lots and lots of demonstrations. It is the democratic right of persons to utter their opinions - and sometimes you see 100 policemen protect a group of five lonely demonstrators, and the people wait - passengers on foot and cars - to go further, and sometimes we are not that full of inner peace as Christmas promises...
"No!" I thought yesterday - "another one! Right in the middle of the highest traffic, right in front of the KaDeWe!"
And than they came: hundreds of Santas and angels on motorbikes -

                             WHAT A BEAUTIFUL SIGHT!

I wish you a merry 3. Advent!

Monday, 5 November 2018


Since October the new semester at the Freie Universität Berlin - short: FU - has started.
As you know I do "Dutch studies" - the philology of the Netherlands -so  I learn Dutch as a language, but also about history, literature and linguistic analysis.

I love it!

Learning the language comes easy to  me (though of course I have to work a lot - but I enjoy that). Sometimes it is confusing - e.g. when I search for my blog for an English word - but Dutch turns up! (Which reminds me of the fabulous short story Cicerone by Atte Jongstra. He is a postmodern Netherlandish poet, who in that story compares his brain to a warehouse, where the salespersons run to bring him his memories - but they are sometimes unruly - take a long time, get lost in the storeys or the cellar, or turn up deliberately with other items than those he asked for.
Postmodernism wants to show that language or a text is not "plain truth" - every reader puts his own interpretation into a text.
As we all know when we talk to someone, or write something, and are misunderstood. (N'est-ce pas, Tom?)

Arriving at the university on an early (very early) crisp November morning is bliss.

And I am utterly proud (and have to brag a bit about it) that I connected easily with the young students (I was the only silver-back among 22 young people, the oldest (haha) of them being 25, the youngest 18).

That is one of the big nice surprises in my advanced life!

The wooden sculpture of the little fox which you see above - and which I love as a symbol of "intelligence" - has gone. Vanished.
(I will not overdo it - but it reminds me of a book by Cees Nooteboom's Nachts komen de Vossen" - "the Foxes come at Night". I hope this one does it too! )
So the campus looks in the early morning a bit void - but still beautiful.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

"You just can't get decent help these days!"

...says Walter Matthau - and he is right! 

Shouldn't you have told me?? 

I mean: it WAS a mistake when I wrote in my last post that I was reminded of Katherine Hepburn in "Cactus Flower".
Because it was Ingrid Bergman.
Well, well, well - now I know.

By the way: Look at this, please: 

Saturday, 27 October 2018


Honestly: I can't remember when I bought my last cactus.
More precise: If I ever bought a cactus. 
I had one or two as a "teenager" - they were very easy to maintain, but my heart was not with them.
In the shopwindow of "Urban Outfitter" at the Ku'damm stood a whole collection - tiny, very tiny - the photo above only makes it appear big.
I stared.
Went in.
(And fretted about my motivation. I mean: A cactus?!? The thought of a movie with Catherine Hepburn made me think even harder - was it a symbol? Do I become unruly, cross-grained, in my rebellious search for the Holy Grail?).

A cactus is a pricky, evil little thing.
In the store I thought them "funny" - and that is a word I learned to become very cautious of in connection with clothes or furniture, for instance. It always means: "funny" only for a very short time - then regret sets in, because most often it is - kitschig.
This one too.
Look at that pot! (Well, I can turn it around, then it is plain white).

What astonishes me most - beside the fact that I bought a cactus - is, that I even didn't buy the one I wanted (a miniature of the huge proud cacti with "arms" pointing up into at a relentless burning sun and blue sky in the desert Gobi...)
No, I bought that little fat one.

Because I saw that it was the only one (amongst about 50 others) that had little buds.
Pink. (You have to stare very hard to see it).
Sometimes one has to - stare very hard - to find a bud nugget - but it might be worth the effort!

Sunday, 21 October 2018

Enjoy What Is

At breakfast I sit near the balcony, door open, the cool air of autumn comes in (and yes: since a few days I have added the rose-coloured dancer-Warm-up stockings, that have exactly the color of the rose in the photo above, to my dressing gown ).
The rose is "New Dawn", she accompanied me from Hamburg to Berlin, and never complained that here in the Big City she has to live in a huge pot instead of crumbly rich garden earth.
(Maybe you cannot even call it "a life" - but: she exists).
She is a fighter, a tough little person - able to look after herself (with "A  little help from her friends"), so by no means unprotected.
And this morning at almost the end of October I discover a new blossom - porcelain rose-coloured as always.
Wonderful smell, light shining through.
I think that this is how it should be:
Be tough, but also gentle, accept where you are (I am not talking about me - I WANTED to go to Berlin!) -  and let the light shine through, do not harden your heart.
Yes - I also see the little brown spots at the outer petals - but which life is without bruises? I see much more beauty, and willpower - signs of life, signs of braveness, signs of triumph over circumstances.

                                                     It's  LIFE we're talking about!