It was a chilly January in Berlin with the grip of winter still keenly felt. The days are lengthening but the darkness still falls as quickly as a curtain across the front of a stage.
Since I don’t wish to be knocked down by a rampaging cyclist as I leave the house in the dark at around 6am (seriously this city could rival Cambridge for bike enthusiasts), for my own safety I’ve bought a high-visibility backpack featuring a giant glowing Pokémon! The glow is so strong it reflects on white walls under direct light. I really like it, it keeps me safe and it seems to be a hit with random people as I have heard many times the excited yell of Pokémon from the people I pass by.
Garden City Ideals
My kiez (neighbourhood) is located within the Fox village and is every bit as sedate as an area like this could be expected to be. But unfortunately time catches up to us all, as the new flats down the road attest. The house just across from me is up for sale, most likely a developer will buy it and expand the property. According to our neighbours they could knock it down and form up to six flats out of it. Our district, Hermsdorf, is in many ways like a garden city but it has normal federal planning regulations. The residents tell me they wish it was like the district of Frohnau, founded in 1911 by the Landowners Association. It has stricter guidance, a lot more like a garden city and you would not be able to build up to your boundary nor up to three meters high.
I have been to see Dr Who with two new friends, Sinjita and Pauloa. I thought it was quite interesting; the pacing was slow and there was a deficit of action which I believed worked. But others may not agree with my assessment, do you? Sinjita had watched series 10 so she knew the characters and was able to enjoy it without needing much explanation. While Paulo was stunned and not sure what was going on as he had never heard of the TV show. I also got to see the new Star Wars film with a group of about 20 in the fancy IMAX cinema in 3D which was just as epic as it sounds. It was a great movie, though I do not personally believe that it captured the spirit of the previous Star Wars movies. What do you guys think, does it work as a middle point to a new trilogy or is it just a bit confused?
All things Japanese
Federico and Olha joined me at the Japan Festival which was an amazing experience as it covered so much of the artistic and cultural diversity of Japan. There was so much cool stuff available to buy including soft toys, intriguing food items, figurines and other marvellous merchandise. There were also more than 400 artists, musicians and actors, such as the light artist Riuchi with his unique Art of Light show. This takes place on a darkened stage and he takes his astonished guests into a world of ancient Japanese rituals, art and technology, blending tradition and futurism. Other highlights included Taiko Drummers as well as Cosplayers and manga dance- anime acts like Shirouku, the Pastel Girls and Otome no Timing.
I make the news!
I had an exciting invitation this month to join nine other members of my board game voluntary organisation one Saturday evening when the RBB, the national news station for Berlin, came to film our group! I volunteer on Saturdays when we run gaming days in our club house and the news report looked at how board games were taking off again in Berlin. My family and friends were chuffed to bits to see me on the German Saturday night main national news!
Green Week volunteering
Towards the end of the month I received a notification that there was a shortage of volunteers for Green Weeks weekend sessions and while I was not quite sure what it involved I signed myself up for a Saturday evening session. What it turned out to be was an organisation called Berliner Tefal e.V. who collected food at the end of each day of a week-long food fair so no food went to waste. Look at the pototoes in my photo up the page! Even though I only personally met a small group of them I know that they recruited around 250 volunteers with an astonishing 12 tons of food collected over the week, distributed to 24 organisations who in turn fed 5,000 homeless people. It was cool to be a small cog in such a fancy clockwork organisation.
Top Tips for Berlin
1: TBD is a fantastic site to hear what’s happening in the social/community sector, events, conferences, NGO jobs and free opportunities
2: Learning German is proving hard especially as everyone wants to practice their English with me, but two good free sites are Duolingo & Dutche Welle
Until next time.
Read Immy's previous blogs below.