März Madness

Posted on March 18th, 2012 by

Classic Prenzlauer Berg

Throughout Berlin, you will notice one odd addition to parks. Stone ping pong tables. The stone bit serves two purposes as far as I can see. One is that these tables are then resistant to whatever nature can throw at it, and two, even Arnold would struggle to steal something that heavy. Well, I went to one of these parks with some friends this weekend and holy crap was this place packed. I swear, all of Berlin’s three and a half million inhabitants must have been there. We were unable to find an open table, so we had to venture off. Eventually, we made it to a school ground where we found a place to play. And now let me tell you, street pong is crazy. First you have the elements to contend with (aka wind), and then there’s the metal grate that serves as the net. So in the event that you want to smash a ball, you had better be certain that thing gets over the net or it’s coming back real hard, real fast, and in all likelihood right at your face. As we were playing this most dangerous version of tischtennis (tisch= table; I think you’ve got the rest figured out), one of the German guys (he’s super blunt; the first thing he said to me before I had said more than a sentence was, “You must speak slower. Remember, slower.”) explained that the school we were outside of is some kind of alternative learning school. I must have given him a confused look because he then said, “You know, one of those hippie schools where they teach children to dance their own name.” I nearly died laughing. I just picture a redheaded five-year-old doing an Irish jig (his name is Seamus obviously). I wonder how one would dance out Hasanga? Anyway, this school is in the area of Berlin known as Prenzlauer Berg, which makes sense because that’s where a lot of young, freethinking families live. So it’s also not surprising that there are a lot of hipsters. Berlin hipsters, which I’m pretty sure have got to be the most hipster of hipsters. For example, small children here wear v-necks (yeah, starting them early). Also, another observation based off of this locale. Canes may become a hipster style in the future. I’m not quite privy to the working of fashion, but I’ve got a hunch.

I obviously didn't take this picture

Our class went to the Jewish Museum for a tour this week. While waiting for the tour to start, a girl in my class from Ghana came up to me and, while reaching out to touch my “beard,” said, “With your beard, you look like a Jew.” I couldn’t help but start laughing. The only response I could give her was, “I’m pretty sure I’m the poster child for Judaism” (Alisa, wouldn’t you agree?). Anyway, the museum seemed really nice, but our tour guide put me to sleep within the first 30 minutes. In her defense, how was she supposed to top the “you look like a Jew” comment?

Part of our lectures this week were on nutrition. The most random tidbit of knowledge I came away with is that the German food pyramid is 3-D (German engineering: always a step above).

March Madness has arrived. The first day I was so excited, because I was able to stream the games through the internet. The second day, absolutely nothing worked (CBS giveth and CBS can taketh away). Apparently, it took a day to realize that letting me watch college b-ball is illegal. In the end though, it’s probably for the best. I don’t know how much schoolwork I realistically would’ve gotten done/sleep I’d be getting if I was able to watch every game.

I made an interesting observation this week. People who take the tram are much more attractive than those who take the u-bahn. I had never used this form of public transport here before, but I have now decided to make it happen as often as possible.

Luckily, you can't see the pool of saliva right below me

Nepalese food is magical. I tasted this for the first time this week, and I’ll definitely be needing to head back. You should know, it’s also for more than just the great names (although it’s hard not to love something called a momo). So the way this worked out is that we have two Nepalese classmates who were itching to try this place. A big group of us (like 15 crammed into a booth area meant for no more than eight) thought this sounded like a great idea. And it was. We went absolutely crazy on that food. I’m pretty sure I ate two separate meals. Also, it was interesting to listen to our Nepalese classmates speak to the servers. Their language at times sounds Chinese and then, the next moment, sounds more Indian. It’s so cool how cultures really do blend into each other based on geography. Anyway, after dinner one of the girls was planning on riding her bike home. As we go outside, she crosses the street to get her bike and it’s gone. We all start freaking out. She’s telling us how it was attached to a small bike rack (which is also gone), and now we’ve all got an image of some lackeys in the u-bahn lugging around a bike rack with the bikes still attached. Then, out of nowhere someone asks, “Is that your bike inside this shop?” Yup. Turns out the shop owner takes in the bike rack every night regardless of whether there are bikes attached to it or not. You’d think there should be a sign stating that, but apparently not. At least it wasn’t stolen.

St. Patty’s Day isn’t exactly a big deal here in Berlin, but considering my Irish heritage, I felt like championing the cause. So on Saturday a group of us went out to an Irish pub. The first one was so packed that they had stopped letting people in for the night. The second one should’ve stopped letting people in for the night, but welcomed us with open arms. Once through the door, I felt like I was a sardine and had no ability to dictate where I was actually moving. Luckily, we were able to make it to the back and snagged a table right as some people were leaving. Score. But then I realized one possible explanation for their departure. The massive head of a bison with red laser eyes that seems to always be staring no matter where you move. It took a while, but eventually I was able to break his gaze and hold a regular conversation. I was proud of myself. Even with this demon bison watching over us, the night was a success.

Now, on to a week of nothing but schoolwork. Yay.

Hugs and hand pounds,



  1. Suzanne Johnson says:

    Hassie – I enjoy reading your blog. Keep up the stories.