Saturday, January 26, 2008

Berlin is a Grower, not a Shower; Brushes with Fame

This was pointed out to me by an Aussie lad I met recently, who asserted that Berlin is "the best city in the world, a real grower." I have to say that each day I find something intriguing about this fascinating place. Although the weather is brutally cold at times, I am told that it has been unseasonably warm, due to a few inconvenient truths. But it seems damn frigid to my delicate constitution.
Naturalische, as the cold has been permanently etched into my bone marrow. I was locked out of meine Wohnung (flat) for 2 days, which was quite a miserable experience. This sent me into a downward spiral in which I was rent with homesickness, for obvious reasons. I was able to spend the night at Assaf's, but not before I was unceremoniously dumped at Potsdamer Platz at the stroke of midnight when the UBahn stopped running. This was several miles from his Soviet compound at Heinrich Heinestrasse, and the night bus system was difficult to navigate (although user-friendly, I got off course twice on the triple-bus route), as I tend to launch into panic mode when a situation is out of my control. Vielleicht this will help me get over my control-freakishness and realize that control is always a total illusion. I finally ended up at my buddy's place at 3 am, shaken and refrigerated. The following day I was deflated, but still made it to language school.
After this mishap I finally accessed meine Wohnung when my flatmate Amandine arrived . I had dinner with her and her charming Freund and we spoke German together and all was well. The following day I was looking forward to some some r and r, and having the place to myself for a while. Unfortunately, Amandine arrived home early and informed me she was having a dinner party for 6 colleagues. Where had she been before? Christ. I decided, though, to rise to the occasion, pull myself up by the bootstraps and don my best party shoes and use this as a chance to polish my admittedly meager skills auf Deutsche. However, as happens so often here, English became the default language, as it was the common denominator amongst the Turkisch and Francozich company. The meal was lovely, I made my excuses and decamped to my room to do my Hausafgabe (homework).
After being upbraided by Fraulein Buschmann re: losing meine Schlussels (keys) I was feeling a bit harassed (she felt I should have called her in Turkey, but I saw no reason to drag her into it). It didn't help that in the interest of not hearing her grousing I went ahead and agreed to water the plants in the Erkerzimmer. I stole into the room the day after my return to complete this thankless task (esp. since the consensus amongst my colleagues is that I'm being totally ripped off by the exorbitant rent), and I realized that the entire room had been jerry-rigged into this elaborate Rube-Goldberg-esque deathtrap. As I began to water the plants I realized that almost every flowerpot was festooned with spiderwebs of electrical cords. Some of these plants were teetering on speakers and other live objects and if you even touched one thing it would set off a terrible chain reaction. Although I am realistic and understand the maxim that one should never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by simple ineptitude, the paranoid side of me wanted to believe that there was some kind of conspiracy on the order of Roman Polanski's The Tenant. At any rate, I was livid that Frau Bushmann would ask me to risk my life in order to water her ugly-ass plants.

I did have high hopes for a place I had seen online in Prenzaluerberg, in the city East Berlin. But when I went to see the digs today I was crestfallen to find that it looked like a squat, with coal stove you have to start yourself. Although this may be preferable to the situation I have now, and it's cheaper, the current inhabitants kept mentioning how the phone was broken, the Waschmachine was broken, the wireless was broken so you had to use a cable, etc. None of this, of course, was mentioned in the ad. So for now...better the devil you know, I guess.
After all the trouble I forgot to mention my brush with "fame" the other day. Assaf and I had gone to the beautiful Jewish quarter to look for a kosher bottle of wine and decided to stop at this dramatic-looking old dance hall called the Ballhaus. After entering and admiring the ancient wooden floors, mirrorball and stage, and querying the hostess on duty about the different theme nights (jazz, swing, etc) I noticed a diminutive fellow in all black enter with his partner. The note of familiarity struck by his appearance was stereo-ized when he opened his mouth, but rendered dissonant by the fact that this was an actor I had seen on screen many times, seen in the flesh. At that moment I realized it was Willem Dafoe, the Green Goblin from the Spiderman films.

No comments: