Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Wednesday, 29 June 2022

The Joy to be a GrandMa


I love to be a GrandMa, a Grande-Mère. The triplets call me me "Nana", and look blankly when some of the village people speak of me as their "Oma" (and I am not amused - "Oma" makes me feel a hundred and two years old). 

I only see advantages over being a parent (though I was an utterly adoring mother of One): 

I feel that I can give unconditional love. 

(I know that this should be always and everywhere so, but I confess: not always easy for me). 

If you know the Moomin novels by Tove Jansson, (if not: hurry and buy a book - preferable "The Memoirs of Moomin Pappa" or "Tales from Moomin Valley", or "The Moomins and the Great Flood"))" - you also know the "Hemuls" - the ones that always try to better children,  doing "educational games" with them, always watching out that the small orphan moomins hold their little tails in a 90 degree angle,... Hemuls paint the rooms of their strict Bauhaus houses in a "Pisi-brown" (Moomins love little turrets and many angles and curlicues) and play in the brass orchestra. Shudder.   

I do not want to play "educational games". As a GrandMa I am allowed to be childish, giggly, forgiving and utterly adoring. And to smell good with a powdery rose perfume, wear bright colours (preferably pink) and say in the evening: "More fun tomorrow!" 

Parents, even if inside they still are a poetical freedom-loving Mumrik, have to change a bit into the despised "Parkwächter" traffic wardens - parents have the heavy "Pflicht", duty, to educate their child (in our case three at once) to become happy social beings. 

I want that too, of course - but although I obey every rule my son and DiL give, I am more lenient, and more relaxed. 

And that is such a joy! 

Friday, 24 June 2022

Strolling, walking, a walk in the park...


I do not know whether the German painter Carl Spitzweg (1808 - 1885 - late (German) Romantik & Biedermeier) is well-known outside Germany. 

He very often did his paintings tongue-in-cheek - though in such a gentle mocking way that nobody felt hurt. 

Above you see my photo from a newspaper, Die Welt, which offered an interesting essay on the cultural history of "The stroll". 

You might call it "walking", if you are more athletic. Or call yourself a "Flaneur", who is more elegant than an athlete. A famous example of a flaneur is the Berlin-author Franz Hessel (1880 - 1941) - a silent observer. 

In the pandemic strolling in the park or woods became a new popular sport. The remembrance of the oh-so-dull Sunday-strolls you had to do with your parents (of that I have drawings in my early diaries when I was about 12 years old) vanished in the pandemic and gave room to a sort of "Lebenslust" - joie de vivre - zest for life - though I have qualms over the term "zest" when I look at Spitzweg's painting "Sunday Stroll" - that family seems more sedate...  

Maybe they are complacent antecedents for the Western discovery of Zen and the Art of Walking

Yours Truly - as you know by now - enjoys her brisk morning walk up the high route - through fields and hilly landscape, which gives me time enough to reflect about "Being Seen": only when I changed my clothes to a fashionable sporting outfit, the inhabitants of the Bavarian village, where I spend great parts of my life now with the triplets, noticed and talked about (and with) me doing "Walking". 

I did it before - in Jeans and a T-shirt - but the phenomenon "Who is she?" when seen WITHOUT the triplets (a phenomenon I noticed too when I was a mother)  - or without sport-dress came into the picture again. 

I miss being a Flaneur in Berlin (nowadays the word-police "created" the "Flaneuse", which I detest) - with little excursions into cafés where you can sit and listen (same blip as with the users of cell-phones: both believe they are invisible and inaudible :-) 

Well, I'll pick a quote from that essay by Claudia Becker in DIE WELT: 

"I can only think when I walk. If I stop my thoughts do the same; my head moves in unison with my legs." Jean-Jacques Rousseau.  (my translation - and hopefully that sentence is only a half-truth) 

If in doubt: Snatch your trainers! 

Sunday, 12 June 2022

We've been there, to celebrate them: The Rolling Stones in Munich!


It was such a great show! A travel through time - and the Flying Dutchman and I enjoyed every minute. 

First it seemed that we would not be able to go there: over Munich ramped and raged a storm rainfall. I said: "I won't go if that continues - even the Stones are not worth as much as my health." 

The organisers posted that because of the rain the entry gates would be opened an hour later. 

And suddenly the rain stopped, and the Flying Dutchman (for once much more optimistic than I) said: "Let's go - and when we are at the Olympia Stadion, we'll see if we want to go in or not." 

(= "You can't always get what you want - but if you try some time - you get what you need!")

And so we did. 

At the moment to use Underground and city railway in Munich is no joy - and that will remain so for the next five years - construction areas everywhere. 

The 9 Euro-Ticket (I will write about that mad invention in another post) didn't help: more people on trains, busses and trams than ever. (Though it has funny aspects: the woman sitting beside me in the concert told me: "We came from Hamburg to Munich for 9 Euros - today! - and tonight we'll go back at 4 o'clock." You are allowed only to use the very slow trains - so they got very much travel for their money :-) 

In the stadium: masses of people - many wearing T-shirts from older Stones-concerts, and lots of grey hair - but a third of the fans were really young (and NOT daughters or sons). 

Munich's sky, which had sulked before, suddenly sent a beatyfying smile at the Stones when they started: 

And Yours Truly sang for two hours with the wonderfully alive Stones - bliss! 

And all evening it remained dry!  

Sunday, 15 May 2022

Visit in Hamburg & Berlin

Two days in Hamburg, where I visited my friend Michou and his husband - we hadn't seen each other since two years! 

I did NOT spend the nights in the famous Hotel Atlantic above (yet love my photo so much that I wanted to show it) but stayed with them in the vivid quarter St.Pauli - you may have heard from the Reeperbahn? There a normal supermarket looks like that: 


You see Olivia Jones, glittering German Drag-Queen on the Kiez, making a pun. 

The weather was fine, and the inhabitants of Hamburger are very ingenious to add what might lack - one glance at the Elbphilharmonie (in the background) and you know: Hamburg doesn't lack anything. I lived there for eight years and still miss it - though it was me who decided that we go to Berlin. 

And in Berlin I stayed for a whole week - so many friends to see, so many restaurants and exhibitions and shops that I almost felt like a tourist. 

"So happy it hurts!" (Couldn't get the original Brian Adams version in the last post, thus I deleted it). 

And after seven happy days I sat at the Victoria Luise Platz two streets away from my apartment with a glass of Rosé and thought: "What a beautiful city! I am so glad to live here. "


Yesterday (after an odyssey with the train) I came back to Bavaria - which is also a sunny dream at the moment: 

(When I've landed on my feet again I might write something more substantial about an exhibition or the moral of the odyssey - but at the moment I am so happy it hurts!) 

Monday, 2 May 2022

Snippet: Sketch Journal


NOT an example of art - but I like the text of William James (yep, interesting brother of Henry) which I found on a page from my sketch diary on 4.9.2020: 

"To get into a good mood, one has to straighten oneself blithefully, and act in a way as if the good mood is already there."  

For me it works.  

                     What do you do to lift your mood if necessary? 

(PS: Question: I wrote  "as if the good mood were almost there", but autocorrection stubbornly underlines that with red. Would my word be wrong? Should it, good mood being singular, be "was"?)  

Wednesday, 27 April 2022

My everyday walk in Bavaria


My day starts with a nice breakfast - and everyday I admire the view from my balcony. I invite you to accompany me on my walk - as you see on the photos of today the weather is fine, so when I'm ready with everything I start my (almost) daily routine: 

down the road I walk, 

pass the church on my way left, then I walk through the village. 

The village is very neat, very tidy - though some old houses decay - the costs for renovation under monument protection are sometimes so high that people build new houses, and the old ones look picturesque, but are lost forever, I fear, like the one below: 

Then comes the sporty part: 

Up, up, up! 

When I am here, it gets easier.

Then down again - you see the bench? Hear the little wellspring? On some days I sit here and read a few pages on my Kindle.

Then down to the village: 

Then up again, and almost home.

I enjoy that every day very much - and make about 8.000 steps, and then from 2 o'clock pm I am with the triplets. Great! 
And in the evening I have a stunning view. No cinema needed. :-) 

Sunday, 24 April 2022

"Such larks..."


The last days Yours Truly felt a bit under the weather - which, by the way, is exceptionally sunny and mild and so full of Spring. 

I tried almost all of the remedies I know for getting over the blues: take every day a long, long and brisk walk over the hills, eat healthy and well, e-mail or telephone with friends, read (last reliable resort: children books), make the household neat and organised, talk to my plants on the balcony, listen to the jubilating birds, write into my gratitude book and my diary - and, and, and... 

I see three reasons why it only helped a little bit - number four is a sort of solution: 

One every Sherlock can find in the text above: "e-mail or telephone with friends": for an unusual long time I felt lonely (the luxury version, I know: almost every day I enjoy the triplets, and the Flying Dutchman came over for a week around Easter, and I always have a long To-Do- list that makes people exhausted by just reading it. Yet...)

Second is a thing that maybe doesn't exist or only in my imagination: a few weeks ago I got the fourth shot of Biontec - and though I never suffer from side effects, (and am thankful for being protected), every time I feel LOW after it, really low in my soul and spirit.  

I noticed the same reaction in friends who got their yearly flu-vaccination. And I think: well, well, well, a vaccination rehearses in your body the - mild - form of the sickness it should afterwards protect you against. Right? Wrong? 

Third: the state of the world IS a reason to feel low. But then: I may ask my fees back from the studies of literature if I hadn't known that before. It seems nearer now - and thus more dangerous - but not new under the sun. Maybe some of my rose-coloured bubbles were bursting. Which normally is called growing-up

Fourth: An insight which led to action: 

I tried to adjust and stare bravely back into the face of my reality. It took two years of Corona-prison for making me willing to admit for the first time in my life: I am getting older. 


Yesterday I even tried to tinkle this platitude into the Header of my Blog. 

And then this morning I found the remedy. 

Laughter. Not taking myself so serious. No drama, please. 

I read Pips answer to my comment - and laughed heartily. 

And laughed even more when I looked at my honest attempt to accept reality by admitting that even I get older. I had  typed: "But older now" - and then I saw that Google had changed it (in very tiny letters) to: But Older No"

Hahaha. It made me think of the Sanskrit Leela (or lila) - "God's play- which should not be confused with reality. 

In the Hindu view of nature, then, all forms are relative, fluid and ever-changing maya, conjured up by the great magician of the divine play. The world of maya changes continuously, because the divine lila is a rhythmic, dynamic play. The dynamic force of the play is karma, an important concept of Indian thought. Karma means "action". It is the active principle of the play, the total universe in action, where everything is dynamically connected with everything else. In the words of the Gita Karma is the force of creation, wherefrom all things have their life.— Fritjof CapraThe Tao of Physics (1975)

I thought of a (a bit superficial) book I own by Maigret/Mas with the fascinating title: 

        Older, But Better, But Older. 

Nothing to add.