Freitag, 31. Dezember 2010

Winter in Spandau

Mittwoch, 29. Dezember 2010

New Year's Resolutions

I hope to write some more posts in the next two days, but for the moment I am in the perfect mood for writing some resolutions. For me, as a Foreigner in Berlin, my wish list is:
- To explore every single interesting corner and to find the hottest and extraordinary stories from Berlin
- To share them online and turn this blog into an important source of information and fun
- At the end of the next 12 months, to finish the manuscripts of two small but sexy books about Berlin, one in English and one in another language
Need to go now, Berlin is calling me!
Have a great time you all!
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The most important snow in the last 110 years

This is a real pleasure to live in Berlin at this time of the history!
Let it snow!

Sonntag, 26. Dezember 2010

The mysterious fox

I've heard first about her when I moved in the area: there were a couple of articles in the media talking about her. Once, I was told, she was quietly waiting the green light. I must confessed, I never read myself those stories.
This summer, late after midnight, while looking for a parking place one street away of my house, I saw a shadow of an animal which I took for a dog. It was looking as a dog, but with a big fury tail. "Are they street dogs in Berlin?", I asked my boyfriend. "What a thought, no, of course, why?". "Look there", and I showed him the wandering shadow. "I can't be a dog, maybe a fox", he said apatic. "Can't believe it, this is the fox", and jumped out of the car to catch the real thing. But it was already out of my poor sight.
Today, I've heard again news from her/him: there were some traces discovered in the garden, fresh in the snow. A discrete presence during the night. I was warned to forget about the idea of living some food during the night.
The other fresh news is about the wild boars you could see around Tierpark, and not only in the Gruenewald area, where I knew for sure they can be found. 

Sonntag, 19. Dezember 2010

Better stay home?

BERLIN - JANUARY 08:  A train of Berlin's comm...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
I am not the winter type. Not at all. I don't like the cold, the snow, the ambush on the highways, the loads of clothes. Nothing of this. I like the sunny days, the long days, the light. 
I don't drive too much while in town. During the normal seasons the public transportation is working well, and I don't need to commute, as my usual interests are maximum 45 minutes away of my headquarters. 
But today, I had to experience fully a messy transportation: long delays of U-Bahn and S-Bahn, wagons overcrowded with people, tourists or people like me, hurrying up to reach the center of the city. If the last Thursday I had a bliss looking at the snow falling on Ku'damm, today I needed to yell effectively for reaching my exit and to wait in the cold for an unknown number of minutes before the train was coming. Everybody is talking about weather, about the suspended flights on Heathrow, about what we have to expect in the next weeks and when the first sign of spring will be delivered. But the tourists continue to arrive in flows and the Weinachtmarkt are a successful attraction for people all over the world and the city. 
It is a good time to look around and keep writing.

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Mittwoch, 8. Dezember 2010

Montag, 29. November 2010

I was at Expolingua

From a month to another I discover again that I can make connections and follow events from a year to another. Given my fascination with languages, I run in one Friday afternoon to see this year edition of Expolingua. It was held in the same place, with the same angry bodyguards scrutinizing the language lovers. The special guest was the Chinese language, with lots of interesting events organized by Chinesisches Kulturzentrum Berlin , where I attended a couple of cultural gatherings in the recent months. As at the last edition, there were several offers for the fans of the Spanish language - with tempting exchange courses in Latin American countries, the best occasion to get immersed not only in the secrets of grammar but also for experiencing directly the culture and the society ambiance. The newest offer was represented by many opportunities to learn Arabic and it might be a good incentive for increasing the multicultural skills of the Berlin puzzled society.

Sanda Weigl and Herta Müller, a special event

The two special women had an artistic meeting at the Akademie der Künste, the 17 of November. When I first saw the announcement of the events, I thought it will be a duo with the laureate for the Nobel Price for Literature talking with the musical background. It was not. First, Herta Müller made an introduction reading from her writings and explaining the Romanian popular poetry sung by Weigl, that she translated into German. After, Sanda Weigl offered a regal of special music, with selected instrumental choice of traditional Romanian songs interpreted by Japanese artists. And you don't need a crash course in Romanian for feeling the music, you just have to open your heart. 
Here is an example of one of the songs included in Weigl's repertoire.

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For natural-dreaming actors

The great think with Berlin is that you have here a high concentration of creative people from all over the world, short, medium or long-time or for ever residents bringing their cultural habits, experiences and ideas for change. You have the offer tailored for specific needs, or you have the needs requesting the adjustment. Because of the flexible working program - at least for the case of the capital city - people have many free time and because the costs of living are not high - money to spend.
As for me, if I will have more time for the next six months I would be delighted to spend my money for a class of theatre, and to act in a performance for educated theatre amateurs as the one I attended the last week at Buhnen Rausch, near Schönhauser Alle. Maybe I will book something the next year, I always wanted to be an actress. There are classes for kids and adults, with various prices and interesting offers.
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The Kölsch carnival

11 of November, late in the evening, I celebrated the Kölsch carnival in Die Berliner Republik. Although it was the middle of the week, there were lots of people celebrating, not necessarily tourists. Carnival dressed people - but in comparison with Cologne where you can assist to one of the biggest street parades in Europe - all the activities focused indoors (and it was the perfect weather to stay in, anyway) - dancing, drinking Kölsch beer and singing local songs, many of them probably with roots in this part of Germany. A couple of hours of fun and beer.
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Two weeks ago, Französische Straße

Back on track!

icon for mailing listsImage via Wikipedia
Or at least I hope I am on the right track.
It was a very busy writing month, with various emergencies and do-it-now-or-never obligations, when I also finish writing a short novel - my first literary contribution - at the NaNoWriMo competition. But, in the same time, I was out very often, took pictures and in a couple of seconds you will have the wonderful opportunity to see and read about my wandering and wondering experiences.
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Dienstag, 16. November 2010

Donnerstag, 11. November 2010

Travel Writing: My feedback

Today, it is a new misty grey day, I started working extremely late and I can't bet for how long I will resist in the front of the computer. And, keen to take the advantage of the last drops of writing energy - to be balanced by my thirst for reading Dreaming in Hindi - I will shortly share my impressions and thoughts about the challenges of travel writing, the subject of a booklet I've wrote at the beginning of the year and I will self-published in the next weeks (or at least I wish to, once I will have some time to work on an acceptable variant of cover). My past, present and future experience in writing about Berlin is the main source of inspiration:
 - Address direct and specific questions about the place you are writing: How is the public transportation? How is the weather? What languages are mostly spoken? What the main attractions are? What about the security? 
- Use visual illustrations - video and photo - as a direct proof of authenticity. It will help the reader to understand and have a broader image of your words.
- Be specific and targeted to the special context of the place. If in your area and in your city are taking place elections, write about this, about the politicians' local meetings. Is this a strike in town? Go to take some pictures, talk with the people and share your impressions. - Make selections and classifications: Which are the best ten places to go out during the week-end, or to do not put your feet in? Which are the hottest events in the next months? or The most dangerous places to go during the night? 
- Interview people, your neighbours, some important personality, people with the same experience as you. It is another domain when you can put on trial your authenticity. Be personal and direct and...cover as many areas as possible. Find the newest trends in haidressing, the fancies bakery or the most populated playground.
- As many areas? For example: cultural events, housing - the prices for housing, the real estate, the quality of life, education - the best schools, kindergarden (if you have children, of course, you have direct sources of information, lucky you), hospitals, the specificities you observe as an outsider, to the educational system, the night and day life. Maybe a personality originary from this area will visit the place soon. Find it out and stay around to feel the news by yourself. 
- Never forget to look around you: the information you are looking for may be around, waiting for you to be discovered: an add about a concert taking place right around the corner, the opening of a new coffee house, an event hosted by your local library. 
- Connect the local issues to the general context. The strike of high-school teachers in your area have to do with the central politics and, from the testimonies of those involved in those actions you have to continue the documentation about the reasons behind this insatisfaction. Inversely, try to see how national or central events are reflected - or not, and if not, why? - at the local level. See, for example, the local traditions for celebrating a big holiday. 
- For improving your audience rate, find specific titles - as referential as possible - using top-words helping you to appear rapidly in the searches. 
Now, after upgrading my wisdom resources, it is about time to finish my writing schedule for today.
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Mittwoch, 10. November 2010


Meeting Jonathan Coe

A couple of years ago, I discovered through a dear friend the works of Jonathan Coe. The first encounter was powerful and definitive: I liked the style and the ideas of this writer and spent hours discussing about his books. My expectations about life then were modest and I was not expecting or thinking about having him in the front of me, listening him writing from his works. 
But, thanks to Berlin and my courage to go beyond the bourgeois comfort, I had the occasion to see him, at the Steglitz-Zehlendorf Library, reading from and talking about his book, The Rain Before it Falls, in the front of an audience who studied it so deeply that they identified precisely how often the author used the word "to occur" (but the author himself was not able to specify the reason behind this apparently serious phenomenon from the point of view of some readers). 
It was a very good incentive to start my writing week.
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Color Fields exhibition

It was free entrance Monday at Deutsche Guggenheim and a new exhibition opened. I visited the place the last week, around 15.30, and the hall was full of tourists, visitors and young students. The exhibition is including works of Frank Stella, Gene Davis, Helen Frankenthaler, Mark Rothko, Hans Hoffmann, Kenneth Noland and Alfred Jensen. Good distribution of the paintings and lots of very nice young guides, ready not only to show you who's who but keen to start a very deep conversation about the nature and messages of the paintings. For more than one hour I felt like being part of the colorful artistic enthusiasm of from New York City, the place of birth of this abstract expressionist artistic movement, in the 1940s-1950s. 
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Interested in Indian spices?

Order online here.
Enjoy your food!

Amir Katz @ Konzerthaus

A wonderful Saturday evening at Konzerthaus, for Amir Katz's Chopin piano recital. The concert hall was full of people unsuccessfully trying to be quiet. The interpretation was wonderfully mesmerizing. And because I discovered this morning that I am unable yet to write about music, here is an example of Amir Katz's miraculous work, from another concert.
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Samstag, 6. November 2010

Shopping Sunday

Berliners, are you ready? For spending your money and shopping as crazy? Here is a short list of the shopping program for this Sunday. Despite the opposition against this practice expressed by religious leaders, there are still opportunities to enjoy the lures of capitalism. 
Good luck and inspiring shopping, Berliners!

Freitag, 5. November 2010

A week in words or how to survive the weather in Berlin

PointedImage by hint of plum via Flickr
Another week is about to finish - in almost two hours - and nothing new to share about Berlin? There are many things to say and write about the city and, as usual, I carefully documented the outposts of interesting life. More posts and pictures to come in the next week. 

After some intensive party-time at the end of the last week, I needed more than 1 day to recover - blame it the age, or blame it Berlin and my entourage. And when rehab was over, the to-do-list was already twice overloaded with emergencies, deadlines and missed opportunities.

The week was generally quiet, with many free days, when theoretically I was able to set up my writing plans. But, it was the first week when the clock changed to the winter hour and I am hardly getting accustomed with the long nights with evenings starting around 15.30. I need some light therapy, but what you can do when the light bulbs from your home, for reason of energy savvy, are offering beams with the same intensity as the candle-lights. Very romantic, but not when your boyfriend is out of town - to the volume of daily work you add the usual house management plus a kid - for a week and you spend more than 10 hours in the front of the computer.

Anyway, I was hardly going to sleep before 3 o'clock in the morning - the most ridiculous was a couple of days ago when I was up at 5 o'clock and until the kid went out to school I already finished to read three articles on foreign affairs and a book. The wonderful bad weather - rain, wind, rain, rain, rain as now - kept me away of wanderings on the streets and for good shoots I need to have more time during the day, when I am usually working. Others complains: the traffic is messy, the gym is again overcrowded even after 21.30, when I am in a bar and want to smoke I am freezing. 

I wish all the Berliner a creative indoor party week-end and will be back with fresh new posts by Monday.
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Freitag, 29. Oktober 2010

The jazz singer

Intercultural shaking (hands)

Last week, I was happy to meet over a cup of coffee at Hackescher Markt my Brazilian friend. Short academic updates and experience sharing of our lives at the opposite corners of the world. We left together, direction Muji, to meet a German friend, with whom established to shop together from Muji. I found her already in the front of the shop and, as a polite and well educated person, made the introduction. My Brazilian friend, jumped naturally to kiss her. My German friend made two steps behind, also very naturally and starred at her very coldly. We chit-chat for a couple of seconds and before the good bye shaking hands and, with a gazelle unpredictable jump, my Brazilian friend hug and kiss on the check the German friend. And smiled. Me too, observing all this civilization ballet. I like my Brazilian friend, she is a good strateg, not only a lively conversation partner!

Lazy writing week

It was a very professionally busy week, with not too many interesting places to see, but many ideas to think about. Big place, big events, with top personalities from the cultural and political world. Another serious reason to refuse thinking about leaving this city - at least for the next year. My week-end looks very quiet, with a party tomorrow night and a lot of time dedicated to my professional projects, books and movies. Expecting only some visual updates.

Dienstag, 26. Oktober 2010

Mustafa Gemusekebap

An awesome website, you (at least I) cannot resist the temptation to visit the place and do some food shopping:

Samstag, 23. Oktober 2010

Salty Monday

The last Monday, curious but not well informed enough, I hurried up to see the newest exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum. If I had less impatience and more interested to check my schedule, I would discover that it the new exhibition is not yet set up. I bit disappointed about my cultural desperation - and the time lost, in a day when I was under pressure to finish some delayed projects - I X-Ray-ed the neighbourhood, for a new intellectual challenge. And found, unexpectedly, at Automobil Forum Unter den Linden, that it was the last day of an exhibition about salt - Faszination Salz. 
Photographies by Fred Lange, a famous German photographer, a salt igloo, various presentations and introductions about the role of salt in providing wealth, building adversities and supporting the various economies. Lange is a well experienced artist, covering aspects from the life of mining communities all over the world. 
An old saying, I remembered while watching the exhibition - together with many kids ready to experiment the salt igloo, a quiet place to rest and touch the crystals - written on a wall is: "You can live without gold, but not without salt". But, at the end of my tour I realized that salt is a gold in itself, and a very valuable resource. And, also, a very tasty resource, at in a corner, at a counter, I had the marvelous occasion to taste various salts, with vanilla, rose, mint...I used to be very proud of my Corsican salt, but after this, I am unhappier than ever as the exhibition is over and I didn't have enough time to buy at least two new salty samples, to change my food into gold. 

Piano City Berlin

One of the events taking place this week-end: Piano City. Events for families and children and all those in love with good classical music! And, at least for today, the weather is encouraging the going out. The good mild autumn is back. I am feeling very optimistic today.

With a little help

A couple of days ago, almost at the beginning of the evening, I was wandering lost in the area of the Freie Universitaet Campus, in Dahlem. I needed to go to a conference with Mona Ozouf, an intellectual event I was very excited about, as I studied and read a lot about her works. And now, thanks to the wonderful chance to live in Berlin, I was able to attend a conference of her. Of course, if I was able to find the place...

My advantage when I am lost or looking for a street is that I can practice my wonderful clumsy German. It is what I did while getting more and more nervous as the hour scheduled for the start of the event was getting closer. First question addressed to the shopkeeper of a Delices Gourmandes didn't help me too much. Went back in the area and asked two students - the university year already started - and one of them, told me immediately (in German): if you don't hurry up, I will drive you there. Surprised, asked her if it is not a problem: and she said back (still in German): of course, not!

Entered the car, had a 4-5 minutes basic conversation - where are you from? what about you? what are you doing in Berlin? - entered the place I wanted to go, say good bye and thank you. The conference started 15 minutes later, enough minutes to think that life and people, in Berlin, can be very friendly. And, two hours later, I left this student area with a refreshing feeling that I would like to be a full time academic again. Maybe soon.

A bit of Kreuzberg