Wednesday, 30 June 2010

:-)

By the way, I am okay, too. And thanks for the inspiration to continue writing (this). I wish all this writing was as easy stream-of-consciousness-like as this. The next weeks will be so busy and I am bit scared and sceptical of myself.

Oh and if the time comes, Zo & I might move to a flatshare, leave our little ivory tower and see what's out there. For now, we won't though. I like my space. And even though there is no visitors at my house and I vowed not to take in anybody for the next month facing my workload - there will be another dog (Barnie) visiting for the weekend.

How many Berlins does it take to raise two dogs?

How many Berlins does it take to raise me?

Move into the country....

Zora and I travelled the world in the past weeks. We met a felt million people and are happy to be back home now.

Travelling by ICE with a dog can be so much easier (and quieter!) than with a child. Actually travelling in an ICE with a child in the same waggon that is constantly crying & screaming at a high pitch voice might inspire some people to have some really bad thoughts. Oh well.
When we were on a very small train from one little town to another somewhere in north rine westfalia, we met this guy. He was wearing big sneakers, all white shorts and shirts and a cup... a very stylish young person.. not really the type I generally chat to on the train as most of the small town boys wanna beat you up for looking strangely at their girlfriends or they give their girlfriends the task (as guys don't hit girls).
So that lad was chatting up to Zora (it is a general feeling of mine that Zora is much often hit on than I am. I wonder. And no, she won't get her own facebook profile), wondering what type of dog she was (here it was my turn to answer), making assumptions... I always find it very funny that people interpret the types of dogs they like / own into Zora. And I still can't tell, but my usual answer "Berlin street breed" couldn't be applied here as I was 700km away from Berlin.
So when he asked me where we and our enormous luggage were heading to and I named the little town, which he didn't know, I felt oblige to be cool myself and claimed, "Actually, we are from Berlin". Sounded very exotic in that tiny train and I felt really good about it. Funny enough, they guy looked at me and asked "Where??" and I said "neukoelln" and he replied "Pankow!". Apparently he had only moved to the little town a couple of weeks ago and we ended up chatting quite nicely about life out in the country. There was this instant feeling of connection - and none of us would have ever guessed if it hadn't been for Zora...

This happens to me all the time. Sometimes I don't feel like chatting though. But most of the time it is very rewarding. After the 4.5 hour ICE ride everyone knew us when we got off the train in Duesseldorf (not too sure if that was a good thing though).
On the little trains that we took travelling within north rine westfalia we also met many people who came and chatted to us. Or very very young ones who were super brave and pettet Zora. (Yet she barked at them when they were pushed past her in their prams).

I did find it quite appalling that out in the country surrounding the little towns there was lots of space, but people were very uptight about their dogs. Leashes shortened as soon as they spotted us on the horizon. Little dogs lifted up into safe arms, being rescued from my bloodthirsting beast... I liked the smell of the forest so much. It is very different from Berlin's parks or forest, it is so fresh and real and... true. But having a dog is so much easier in a city, where canines meet four times a day, get to run and play - and the owners chat away over a bottle of beer. I was a bit insecure whether it was actually appropriate for a rather medium sized dog (who even keeps growing, think about it!) to live in the middle of Berlin. If it wasn't nicer to have fields and forests to play and run in. But I think a dog's life here isn't that bad after all.

And now we're gonna bike off to Tempelhof, bike around it for 8km and then stop at one of the three dog running areas to meet the dog friends. It is freaking hot here these days, so we need to do it eeeearly in the morning (uhum) or late in the evening (my preferred choice). Life is not that bad after all.

Tuesday, 08 June 2010

Learning

Zora learned how to spring into the lake at Treptower Park today, full speed, off the edge :). She learnt how to swim on the weekend at Grunewald, it was fantastic.

I am learning how to blog :). So watch this place. In a few days, it might look awesome. I am so excited to have followers. :-D I'll post some infos on dogs in Berlin soon, like how to watch for the Ordnungsamt or where you can let them play best. neuk├Âlln is my home, but I love to disappear from here once in a while.

My greatest achievement is to make links. Thank you Steven! I might annoy you with that for a bit in the near future...

Woohoo! Blogging is fun. What did you learn today?

"Some people just don't know how to behave"

I was on the train (on my own) to go to the Zimbabwe Arts Festival [Which was by the way, very much inspiring, shocking at times, sad, funny and yeah, I was soo happy to be actually living in Berlin and to be able to just go there and drop by. So I felt really local]

I was reading Denis Goldberg's autobiography [in German or in English] on the train, which was very recently published and since I am at it I might tell you that it is a fantastic book to read a new perspective on the struggle against apartheid and it is very well written and informative. I had been invited to the launch of his book at the South African Embassy and ever since I had gotten my hands on a copy I had been reading it wherever I happened to be.

Anyway, here I was, sitting on the wonderful multicultural U8 which starts deep down in neukoelln, then passes through Kreuzberg (my favourite stop is the notorious Kottbusser Tor) and then takes you out to Mitte and godknowswhere. One stop or so after our departure, a big group of boys with either a Turkish or an Arabian background got on the train. They were really loud, while I was somewhere in the middle of South Africa of the 1960s. One of the boys said, "I'll sit down next to this nice lady" and he did. The rest gathered around us, me reading. Then another one who approached the group challenged to beat up yet another one "right here and now". I looked up. The boys pushed each other around a bit. They were between 12 and maybe 14 and they really needed to prove their coolness. It was a saturday, so the train was not really that full, nobody seemed to be bothered the slightest bit. The boy next to me, shook his head and said, "Some people just don't know how to behave". I chuckled.
Turned out, this group of young apes was on their way to the swimming pool. It was one of the hottest days so far. But they didn't actually know where to go to. I don't think they had ever travelled there before. none of them had a clue, which station to go to. A friendly passenger then helped them and advised them, also making peace among them. It was a funny ride.

I cannot believe that for some people travelling 5 stations by train and leaving their "Kiez", their immediate environment, is often an unbearable challenge. Talk about integration, mixing, equal chances... And these were young boys, there was not a girl among them. I am sure it might be even more diffucult to leave your kiez as a girl. I know through my work at Hueber for German as a second language teachers that there are many illiterate, mature women who have lived in Berlin for several decades and have heard of the subway as a rumor. I find it incredible.

I feel like I sort of missed my point here, there was some good twist I had to that story. But it is late and I forgot. Hope to edit this post tomorrow.

Monday, 07 June 2010

Finally!

Hey hey,

it is June 7th and while I should be busy doing other things, I have enjoyed a marvellous, yes marvellous, day out in the sun with friends. now I have finally initiated my blog, a thing that my two contemporary Aussi and Irish roomies have encouraged me to do ever since I have been nagging at them with my stories. And here we'll go, writing away, for the whole world to read or not, it doesn't matter.

Design is far from perfect as I have no clue and it is not the point, i want to write.

Zora, my dog as of 2 months and a week maybe, has made me leave my appartment so many more times and has let me explore all kinds of areas in Berlin. It is a wonderfully bewildering dog society down here in the heart of neukoelln. And you need a dog to see that side.

Just today an old retired punk in a wheel chair stopped me to tell me a (highly inappropriate) joke. Was something about an old blind lady and a young guy and a penis. Oh well. Where else do you get that before breakfast?
The other day I had somebody threaten me to shoot Zora with his gun (secured in his belt, so who knows if it was actually a gun) if I let her off the leash.
I have had an hour and a half long talk with a wonderful old man on the new dog ground of Tempelhof whose father had worked on it and became exactly as old as the former airport (105 years). What an inspiring encounter!! (Whilst Zora was playing with his 8month old Labrador and the two crashed into me at full speed... My full front leg is still purple and blue).
I saw a Turkish mother in her traditional outfit and veiled and her three daughters sit in the middle of a park and she sat them down with their toys on the bench while I was playing with balls and Zora. A few minutes later she had started to jog in large circles around their children, following the way around the small lawn in the park, waving at them behind every bush. Talk about trying to get fit and yet keeping true to your culture. And she had her eyes on the girls at all times, who would giggle and squeek at her whenever she came out behind the bush. It was priceless.
In the very same little park, I have met a bum, Jacob, who is Zora's and my friend now :) and greets us very enthusiastically every time he sees us, tells me about his life in France and loves Zora.
I have had a guy give Zora the dog biscuits his own dog didn't like and then eating them himself, pointing out to me that they are the best quality... (Glad he didn't offer me one!)
We have spent hours in the middle of Tempelhof airport, all alone, believing we are somewhere in the prairies...
I got cursed in what was presumably Turkish two days ago by a mother two days ago because Zo looked at her children. But over the two months so far, we have had many children of diverse nationalities come up and pet her, proving that she's actually not that bad though ;).
Oh, there is McGuiver, a guy who got a puppy, the same day I got her. Yet he knows so much more about dog training than me and he has all the tools :). (He's awesome). Zora has a couple of dog friends already, generally speaking, she's much more popular and cuter than me ;), I am trying to keep up though.

I have met beautiful people through her who are starting to become friends.
This blog is about all of them and about Berlin, the city we live in and that I love and hate so much at the same time.

More to follow after the next walk.