Art, Music, and Fresh Figs…Among Other Adventures

Monday was pretty uneventful, after the unexpected excitement of Sunday night. Really the only highlights were me buying a German SIM card from Aldi—I did my research more effectively this time, and found an Aldi very close to work! In the evening, Ayse began to knit her first hat.

Tuesday evening I cooked some lovely potato soup (it is really handy now that I know there are grocery stores much nearer than the Aldi I went to last time…) and had a glass of wine while my soup simmered. I then had juuuust enough time to finish my homework for the next day. I am really liking this routine of being pretty much done at 5 with the things I really have to do for that day. I hear that is kinda maybe sometimes what real life after college is like…hmmm, interesting. Compared to my college routine I do miss the idea that maybe I could take an afternoon nap, because I don't have class again till the next day, but I really don't miss having to stay up till 3 AM doing my reading for the next day's class…

Wednesday's highlight was the meeting with all of the speakers and workshop leaders for the conference I am preparing for at work. The first hour was a lot of running around and frantically calculating how many registrations we had actually gotten, and how many were in each workshop, and then cutting up all the catered quiche, and a frankly absurd quantity of cake.… It was really interesting to hear what each group had planned for their workshop, and to see the faces that belonged to the names I had gotten so used to seeing in the program.

It was also "Fête de la Musique" in Berlin on Wednesday, and after much texting between the other interns, I ended up going to a concert here in the neighborhood alone. Part of me felt lame or self conscious going alone, but when I got there I realized that everyone was just there to hear the band, and I can dance and listen just as well by myself as with a group of friends—and then I could leave when I had had enough, without worrying about anyone else! The band, "Rupert's Kitchen" was described as "funk, soul, groove, hip hop, jazz" which meant I had no real idea what that actually meant, so I had to go and find out. It was only a couple blocks away, and I had a great time laughing at their funny lyrics and banter (My favorite song's chorus was "smell my socks, smell my socks!") it was very random and funky to be sure, but I had a great time. On the way home, I was lured over to the tail end of another concert a few blocks away, so I also heard that before drifting home with the last rays of the solstice sunshine, around 10 pm.

In Thursday's German class, as a writing exercise we each started a story, then passed it on to be continued by the next classmate. It was quite funny: the little girl who was running away from home at the beginning of my story ended up getting abducted by some music-loving aliens, and then at the end she was politely sent home after having sung "Mary Had a Little Lamb" satisfactorily.

Because I had been too lazy to pack a lunch that morning, I ate some delicious fresh gnocchi with pesto at a tiny restaurant around the corner from school, before heading off to work. The good food trend continued after work, as I bought some jewel-like fresh strawberries from a little stand on the way home. When I arrived, Ayse told me to keep my shoes on because we were going out to eat Thai food. After our delicious noodle soups were slurped all the way up, we ventured over to a Turkish grocery store to pick up a couple of things, fresh figs among them. I had never had fresh figs before, and the crunchy seeds with the soft flesh and subtle flavor of the fruit was pretty great, I'll have to get some more before I go… We finished up the evening sitting at a cafe at the end of our street, as Ayse educated me on the delicate art from of gently cracking open roasted sunflower seed shells with your teeth, and fishing the little seed out with your tongue in one graceful maneuver. It way not sound that hard, but it definitely took me several tries of ungracefully picking shell bits out of my mouth, and occasionally ending up spitting the seed itself out onto the ground in the clumsy process. She says I was getting there by the end of the night, and if I keep practicing then I will be adept at it by the time I go home. I so enjoy this sort of lesson from her: learning perhaps more about the traditional Turkish way to spend an evening, than about the German culture, but at this point, the two are very intertwined for her and so many other Berlin-ers. I have also already lived with a German family, so it is a wonderfully fresh new experience to learn about the Turkish perspective in Germany from this amazing woman.

Friday we said goodbye to the students who would not be back to language school the next week. It was actually pretty sad to see them go, since we had spent all morning with each other for two or three weeks by that point, and we had become somewhat of a crew. We shall see who comes next week though!

After work and some relaxation at home, I finally got moving again and headed over to "Magic Mountain" climbing gym. I had a wonderful time doing some bouldering routes—I love that feeling of trying a new route, falling off the wall, but knowing that I will eventually be able to do it, if I keep working. The feeling when I then do finally finish one of those routes is really wonderful, and worth the sore back and arms the next day (although if I keep this up, they may not even be as sore pretty soon!) It was dark by the time I got back, and Ayse was already asleep. My much needed shower and glass of wine with strawberries and Camembert was a beautiful finish to the work week.

Saturday I got a later start than planned, so what was originally going to be breakfast at Irving's apartment in Buch (about an hour north, but somehow still in zone B, so reachable with my public transit card) turned into lunch. We made some delicious spaghetti, chatted a bit, then headed to Neuköln, to see some art.

Luckily, my new SIM card finally decided to start working, so we could look up the different venues for the "48 hours of art" festival. The first venue was pretty hilarious—I think it is the actual origin of the phrase "hole in the wall." We saw the poster outside: "Hier ist Kunst" ("here is art") and so we went in. We first wound through a courtyard that was clearly part of an apartment complex, then past a table full of empty beer bottles, with people outside chatting, who completely ignored us as we walked inside. W exchanged glances, less and less sure we were in the right place. There was indeed art there…among the chaotic piles of paper, art supplies and random junk…the paintings were well lit and interesting to look at, as were the video pieces, but I don't think I have ever seen a "gallery" quite like that. We wondered if they just put it together quickly to have something for the festival, or if the chaos around the art was part of the statement. Still not sure…

We went on to see a couple other venues; one interactive installation involving mirrors and pendulums that drew on a waiting piece of paper when you set them in motion. It was mostly fun to watch all the kids playing with it, and dancing to the live music on the square. The third one was an interesting sculpture collection with lots of detail and interesting color—also in what appeared to be someone's apartment, but with more of a tidied-up gallery type feel to it…

Since we were then in the neighborhood where Tempelhofer Feld is, we decided to check head that way, since Irving had never been. This is the same park where I had been the last couple weekends with Ayse, to lie in the sun. We came in from a different side this time though, and since the former airport field is so massive, it was like seeing a whole new park that I had never seen before. We stumbled upon an adorable maze of a community garden: benches and pots and raised beds overflowing with flowers, herbs and vegetables. There were small beer-drinking groups, or giant- watering-can- wielding toddlers, and we wondered through soaking in all the green and deciding it was the perfect spot for a future picnic. We walked (and walked and walked) past a prairie preserve area for endangered songbirds, past the now empty temporary refugee housing, past the airport building itself, and eventually to a Biergarten, where we had some tea, and the most delicious, fresh, soft Brezel I have had since being here (not sure I can go back to those €0,50 corner bakery ones anymore…)

After yet more walking, we decided we would try out a Mexican restaurant in the north of the city, which was conveniently on the way home for Irving. He (a Mexico City native) did not really quite approve of the food's authenticity, but said it was alright. We were glad to have tried it, and decided we really just need to find the right ingredients (including a blender) and then he would cook the real deal (no Tex-Mex either) some other time. We then parted ways for an early night.

Today (Sunday) has been a glorious and much needed lazy day. I woke up around 11, just in time for Ayse to be ready for breakfast. I really love our long, discussion—filled Sunday breakfast ritual. Olives, good cheese, good bread, eggs, and tea are a great way to start of a Sunday. I am now quite proud to finally be up to date with this blog again, so it has already been both a productive and relaxing day, as I am still in my PJs at 4 pm.

Photos #

Panorama view of the street
View of climbing gym (1)
There are basically some really cool gyms here…
Looking down into the boulder cave
Looking down into the boulder cave
View of climbing gym (2)
So much to climb…
Outdoor climbing wall
Even outside!
Local bus
This bus is proud to be "almost as long as the Kreuzberg nights" I guess I need to get out more and experience the apparently famously long nights in my neighborhood!
Street art next to a pile of junk
This is what I mean…are they actually going for the "art among the chaos" aesthetic, or is that just where they though this painting would shine the brightest…?
Posture that reads: Here is art
Here is Art
Abstract sculpture
I love the colors…