Due to Easter (yeah, that’s how far back we’re going; sorry), stores in Deutschland close. I understand, Jesus is rising. Kind of a big deal. But then comes Monday. By this time, I’m pretty sure Jesus has successfully risen. Then why are all of the grocery stores still closed? This is a problem when mine has now been closed for four days. That’s over half a week. And I did not prepare for this turn of events. I didn’t realize I would need to live off the offerings of the Easter bunny, and he isn’t nearly as generous when your mother is across an ocean. But seriously, I’ve been having noodles and pesto for the last seven meals. Can a brotha get some fresh produce up in hur?!?!
Anyway, moving on and completely changing gears (if you knew I’m about to talk about bikes, you’d realize that’s a terrible pun). In Berlin it is quite common to ride with two people on a bike. This is possible because over the top of the back wheel there’s a little rack type of deal which is perfect for a basket or a human. From experience, riding on these things is not the most pleasant of experiences. My bony butt can never seem to find an effective way to sit without a lot of pain. After one of these excursions, I’m outside the climbing gym with my roommate and some German “gangstas” walk towards us. Jassi is locking up his bike, so they walk up to me and start saying something. I genuinely cannot understand a word. Since my brain seems unable to determine whether or not they’re speaking German, I proceed to just stare at them blankly. Not my best move. At this point, they start to get a bit angry and aggressive. Does that wake me up? Not really. I’m still just standing there like a fool. Jassi then comes over and tells them what they wanted to know (where the entrance to the skate park is), and all is fine. Turns out they actually were speaking German. How this is possible I’m not sure, but apparently a mixture of accents and slang make things real difficult. In the end, my ineptitude almost got me a beating. And to think, all I had to do to avoid this was point.
In class we’re talking about disaster medicine, environmental issues, and other such things that have to do with health and its environment. One of these topics is global warming, and speaking about this with people from around the globe makes it almost embarrassing to be an American. Don’t get me wrong, I love the US, but its politics can be maddening. Half our country doesn’t even seem to think global warming is real. But then you look at Germany. Here people are extremely conscious of their carbon footprint. They drive much less (undoubtedly due, in part, to the fact that gas is around $8/gallon). Their garbage production is minimal (nearly everything is composted and recycled). Renewable energy is everywhere. And their society actually believes in the phenomena of global warming and sees it as something worth tackling. What a concept. Yet even with all these efforts in Germany and many other countries, it’s all for naught in the end if America and China continue as though nothing is wrong. Obviously, Americans have reasons and excuses for living the way we do. The country is extremely large, so a car is necessary to get anywhere. We don’t see the effects of what we do to the environment nearly as starkly as those living in places like the Maldives (which will completely cease to exist). There aren’t nearly the same government incentives to pursue green technologies. So on and so forth. But even so, there’s so much we can do and don’t. For example, just don’t eat as much meat. Or think about what you’re throwing away. I guarantee you that a good deal of it could be composted (like any organic material such as food) or recycled. Yes, it makes life slightly more complicated, but isn’t a healthy environment for our future generations worth it? Okay, I’ll get off my soapbox now. I just don’t like being ashamed to be an American.
A German friend of mine is opening up a swing dance studio, so in celebration there is a huge party full of dancing. Legit dancing. I can dance well enough to impress people who don’t know anything about dancing, but then look like an imbecile with real dancers. Oh well, at least I can embrace it and show where my real talents lie. Stupid dance moves (ex: the lawnmower). Anyway, while there I end up chatting with some people about world politics. This discussion is all in German and leads to the necessity of knowing a lot of words I simple don’t know. A slight issue. But in the end, I struggle through and come out with a pretty awesome sense of accomplishment. One guy even said, “I’m pretty sure your German is better than my English.” That probably has more to do with how crappy his English is, but it feels good nonetheless.
German movie theaters. A place I have not experienced until now. I go to watch The Hunger Games (or as my Middle Eastern friend accidentally called it, The Hangover Games) at a cinema at Potsdamer Platz. This is a huge square on the western side of Berlin where they only show movies in their original language (granted, hearing Lenny Kravitz dubbed into German may have been entertaining). A few interesting things about the movie-going experience. First of all, your seats are actually assigned. When you get into the darkened theater, you can’t just plop down wherever. Next, you oddly get a free newspaper when you walk in. This, to me, seems like a very peculiar add-on, but I guess Germans like their Zeitungen. This next one may exist in some theaters in the States, but Nodak is a bit too conservative for me to have seen it before. There are actual date seats. The middle arm rest is taken out between the chairs and they’re made into a love seat. Those Germans, always practical. Then, the final thing that gets me is one of the commercial deals before the movie. It’s a really well-done quick story of this boy and girl who meet as children, grow up, get married, have a kid, etc. They somehow did all this in about 30 seconds and made you really care about this new family. Then all of a sudden, the father gets hit by a car and dies. The screen then flashes something about life being beautiful and needing to be careful. Not exactly the way I was expecting to start this experience… in the end though, the movie is pretty decent and a good time is had by all.
Wrapping it up a bit early, because well, I’m behind and there are much more interesting stories to tell about the coming weeks. Next on the docket. Ma and Pa come to Europe.
Hugs and hand pounds,