Sonntag, 28. Oktober 2012

Fresh from Expo Lingua

The residents of Berlin love to learn new languages
The same space, a different audience
The 25th edition of Expo Lingua ended today, but for me it was only the second experience.

The same place - the Russian House of Culture and Science - but a different audience compared with the last year. For instance, I missed Rosetta Stone that gave me a coupon for some introductory lessons in Chinese.

There were many offers for learning English, not few for encouraging people - like me - to improve and learn a better German, and many offers of linguistic travel - you not only go on a trip, but you take the advantage of immersing into the local culture - especially for Spanish and Chinese/Mandarin. 

New for me where: the offers of Japanese classes and the stand for study in Israel, where Ben Gurion University of the Negev was included. I did not observe if it was any special guest this time. 

A quiet Sunday afternoon at Expolingua
Probably because it was the last day, it was not very crowded and the scary guy that was checking  the bags the last year was replaced with someone less obviously careful to scan the shy girls and boys passionate about languages. The overall interaction was not so great, but I supposed that if you were really looking for something, it was possible to find it. As for me, I did not find too many new opportunities to improve my languages, but I prefer to calm down and work hard my poor German. 

India, Panoramen eines Landes

The Volkswagen Forum on Unter den Linden is an interactive place, where you can find a nice place for a cake and icecream, the latest models of Volkswagen, but also regular exhibitions, mainly focused on photography. 

As the company has a factory in India, they went in contact with the local people and entrepreneurs. The beautiful architecture and mysterious colours are the subject of the current exhibition, that can still be admired - for free - till 18 November.

Welcome to the Indian labyrinth
India's most important cultural and tourist objectives are featured in very inspiring photographies that invite you to include this destination as one of your favorites for the next year. You will not see exposed too much the poverty - that it is mentioned though in some of the descriptions of the photographs - but only what will attract anyone curious to find out more about this amazing culture. 

The future is somewhere in between and I know that both sides of the coin are a good lesson of life. The photographs are offering serious reasons to discover India and a good start into a different world. 

Singing in the street

Ansamblul Oltenilor din Berlin

There are many bands and individual singers on the streets of Berlin, mainly during the summer time - when the living is really easy. When the bad weather is back, you can find them in the S- and U-Bahn, singing for a couple of coins some Italian or French music. Those influences are the result of the relocation of many Roma from Eastern Europe - Romania, Bulgaria, Macedonia - to Germany, after being expelled from Spain, Italy and France.

This funny band I saw a couple of hours ago, when it was still sun on Unter den Linden. Introduced as 'Ansamblul Oltenilor din Berlin', they were selling their CDs and singing various American rock'n'roll songs. What made me stop to see and photograph them was the expression on their faces: absent, focused on some outside points, the lack of interaction with their public and with the outer world in general. Each of them was looking in a different direction looking like their hands were doing the job more automatically, without any emotional implication. Singing human statues.

Two hours later they were still there, singing frenetically almost the same songs. People were coming and going, a big group every 3-4 minutes, but they were still there, doing their daily job.

Working around Unter den Linden

I have not been in the Unter den Linden/Friedrischstrasse area for a couple of weeks, but I noticed some massive works around. Practically, due to the works at a new/old U-Bahn station, you will cross the Unter den Linden direction Galeries Lafayettes, near the construction works. There is always something to build in this city but especially in the domain of transportation. Even though they found some creative pavillions allowing you to go safely to do your shopping without looking around at the construction site, it is still not a good memory for someone visiting the city for the first time. 

Startups on show in Berlin

Was a long way to go from Tempelhof airport to the hangar where the fair was hosted,
I've read several times various news and features about how Berlin is the hot place for startups in Europe. I have a different opinion, but I am still open to any change of opinion, and this is one of the reasons I've visited at the end of the last week the start-ups fair that held in the old Tempelhof.

The first hand conclusion: impressed. Maybe I was disconnected from the local realities for a couple of months or maybe I am more used with the Berlin culture, but now I must say that I give more than one chance to the German startups than 6 months ago.

Doubtful taste, but still funny
Lots of interests and interesting people
First, the organization of the event was very good: a lot of info and guidance offered in English and German. The space was not very big and somehow crowded, even though it was 2pm when I visited, but there were events going on permanently: seminars, workshops, free consultation, advice, presentations, discussions with the media.

After, there were a lot of materials and media products, including a variety of publications and reviews, completely for free. Each company with a stand was able to offer not only a business card, but wanted to get involved and interact with the visitors. Practically, even if you did not want to talk with the representative of a certain company, at least for politness you might be requested to have a basic exchange. 

Another aspect that I appreciated was the diversity of participants: from banks to chambers of commerce and associations of ethnic minorities. Overall, an interesting experience for both companies, and people looking for ideas to finance and promote their small companies or startups. 

Busy days of networking
As usual, Berlin continues to surprise me from time to time. 

Autumn in Dahlem

Dahlem-hip with autumn reflexes

Dahlem-Dorf the country life in the bourgeois milieu

If it is something I love about autumn, this is the diversity of natural colours
A curious eye around the campus of Technische Universitaet
One week ago, the weather was gorgeous: mild, sunny, and if not the yellow leaves all over the place I would believe that it is spring. But it was clearly an illusion, as yesterday evening and today I started to read more and more news about the snow in the South and even in Cottbus. I do not have too many plans for the winter - at least not in Germany - , but I wish that the weather will stay for a couple of weeks sunny and pleasant enough to continue my active work as a photographer and Berlin chronicler. 

Freitag, 26. Oktober 2012

The golden eye

Wherever you go in Mitte, you will easily see the profile of the Oranienburgestrasse Synagogue. For Berlin, it could be considered a symbol of both the past and the present. Jewish life, and especially observant Jewish life is growing up again, despite the dangers, anti-Semitism and willingful assimilation. 

Even though the synagogue it is on the other end of the town and was there only as a visitor, each time I go around, and see the profile of the Maghed David in the area, I think that we are more powerful that our haters.

Sonntag, 21. Oktober 2012

The festival of lights: A bit disappointed

Back in the business of the busy city of Berlin, I decided the last week to have my usual late evening tour on Ku'damm in order to observe the latest colours of the festival of lights. My enthusiasm for those events faded slightly compared with my first edition - when I run for 10 days all over the city to picture the beautiful lights. 
As I was more than usual out of time and not too mobile, I only wanted to take a tour around my lovely Ku'damm. Besides the pleasant walk, I must confess that I was not impressed at all by the offer: compared with the last year, there were too many commercial outlines and almost any free creative lights. 
Thus, I prefered to do not continue the exploration and only take two pictures from this year's edition. I have no idea where the wind will take me the next year, but I already have some elements of comparing the various editions. Could be interesting for the sake of the writer. 

Rolex was one of the many shops featured this year. Spectacular solutions unexpected too much advertising. Should I read some message about the economic crisis here?

The entrance to the Zoo, late in the evening when the animals are enjoying their privacy.

Dienstag, 16. Oktober 2012

Back to the Berlin life!

I did not have too much fun to update the blog in the last months. And, in fact, did not went too far with the discovery of Berlin lately. The spring was fast and rainy, the summer non-existent and now I am already in the middle of the autumn not ready to welcome the winter.

I continue to protest against the bad weather and the scarcity of jobs, and when I was in the city, spent a lot of time reading indoors or in the garden or by learning something new. A quiet coutryside life in the middle of the big city. 

However, at least for the next 3 months, will continue to post more often, mostly pictures and stories about the city. My book about the travel adventures is advancing little by little, and the photo book will be ready probably in one month. 

Thus, I should have a serious motivation to increase the number of posts and to write more about Berlin. 

Keep in touch!