Saturday, May 3, 2008

Berlin, die Tolle Stadt

The experience of coming to Berlin in the harsh forbidding clime of winter and seeing it slowly blossom into a gorgeous green paradise replete with beach bars on the Spree is singularly exciting. (Not to mention the fact that I was unceremoniously dumped into the most brutal part of "native Berlin", Moabit, into an unsavoury situation with the schmutzig Frau Blucher, out of which I had to claw myself, relocating to the more youthquaking area of Friedrichshain). Unfortunately it's days like these which make me question my stamina in the writerly arts. I'd rather be outside in the Volkspark Friedrichshain, but no, I'm sitting here with my snout stuck in a steaming hot computer. Christ.

Oh well, at least I can weiter uben my Deutschsprechen with the denizens of gayromeo while I work. It's very good practice, and it's the premier website for trefs for tandem partners. Sehr wichtig. Of course I have had plenty of serendipitous meetings with volks of all stripes. The German hauteur and coldness is really a myth. I have watched the sang froid of many a Deutscher melt before my eyes in in the course of a meaningful conversation. They just don't go in for all that obsequious two-faced American arsch-lecken (don't want to shoot myself in the foot there).

Interestingly, I have had several conversations with the Deutsch regarding the universal proliferation of stereotypes, or what is know here as Vorurteil, which literally means "judge before." Apparently I challenge many of the stereotypes of Americans not only by being slim and svelte , but also by virtue of being thoughtful and considered, a critical thinker, and not wilfully ignorant. Who knew? The clincher was, in a reflection of my overdeveloped sense of American irony, when an obnoxious Deutscherin backhandedly complimented me for the above traits while pointing out that a picture in our language text was proof positive that Americans are considered fat and loud. The pic featured a chunky teen in a NY Mets baseball cap, big gut spilling out onto the page, pommes frites in hand, ineptly trying to navigate a Berlin map. The kicker was that this salvo was issued from a rather portly and loud German teacher, who, when not eating, seems to confirm every stereotype that she holds dear about the offending country. This is always the love-hate thing people have with the US, right? This Lehrerin pressed on about her continuing fascination with New York, how she was at first overwhelmed by its glittering skyscapes and "glamorous" life, but after visiting three times she realized it was a place "just like any other" and that its denizens were "just normal people." Yes, we all go to bathroom. But not all of us have shelves in our toilets which allow us to scrutinize their contents with scientific zeal. Vive le difference!

Gestern abend I met some friends for a performance of my friend Miguel, a pianist, at the Zebrano Theater in Ostkreuz, just a hop, skip and a jump from my flat (which I have to give up in June, but more on that later). He and his accordionist accompanist perform a sort of hybrid of classical and modern styles, name of "Kunstango". Last night was a bravura performance in a cute little kniepe/theater, which featured the additional doodlings of a post-modern dancer, who seemed to be essaying a bastard offspring, the consensus in our kangaroo court was, of bellydancing and flamenco. Sehr verschieden! She also wore a distracting skirt made out of packing material. I forget what that stuff is called, the kind that pops when you squeeze it. Eigentlich, she slightly undercut Miguel and his partner's brilliance, but it was worth going, and it's important to support each other's endeavors in the big city.

Also yesterday, I surprisingly had my first experience with Shisha. There is a restaurant here in Friedrichshain eponymously named Shisha, so with some of my colleagues from the Sprachshule I went there, with a view to having our Arabisch friend interpret the menu and flexing those newfound Deutsch muscles. Unfortunately it was hard to learn about the dishes because apparently they had brought in a Deutsch translator, who had given the proper Arabisch names to the various dishes, but neglected to ascribe them to the correct dishes themselves. Z.B, you would have the name of a breakfast dish attached to a description of something which was actually an appetizer, and so forth. At any rate, the food was fully endorsed by our Arabisch friend Suliman, and the strawberry shisha was delectable and mild. The lassi was a bit bitter for my taste, though.

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