We went to Istanbul. We found some familiar places.
And some less familiar ones.
And there was always time for some port-y guys and their music.
Part of what has been enjoyable about attending the Jewish Folk Highschool, is that I have been able to meet some fun new Israeli friends. And one or two meshuggenah ladies who won’t take off their sunglasses in class, but that’s more of a laugh-at rather than laugh-with situation.
I was introduced to Pini by these real mensch (that’s right, I’m Woody Allen now). Pini is an Israeli guy, just looking to have a good time in London after military service. Israel seems to have an even stronger tradition of young people travelling for a year and ‘letting off steam’, or ‘puking on unfamiliar beaches’. Pini, surprise, surprise, is no exception, and gets into some hil-arious situations, many of which feature East London landmarks. Check the counter in Bow! That’s where he works. Most of the jokes are about cross-cultural confusion, and direct translation from Hebrew to English, but I think there’s something in here for everyone.
All of the episodes are here.
Today I went to a demonstration in Friedrichshain, not far from where I’m staying with Beeke. Wenn du deutsch lesen kannst, sind hier mehr information. Although it is obviously completely untrue.
Thousands of people were demonstrating against the eviction of the inhabitants of a long-standing squat in Friedrichshain, Liebig 14. A girl on my German course used to live there! There are a lot of long-standing squats in Berlin, as a result of a strong radical left-wing culture, German tenancy laws and minimal land/property value. As land values rise, and Berlin becomes more gentrified, more pressure is placed on the government to normalise building tenancies [brutally evict long-standing tenants from empty buildings that would otherwise have posed a risk to the public]
The demonstration started at 8 on Boxhagener Platz. I was meeting Beeke and a friend, Katze, on the corner, but as they moved on when the demonstration started, I had to jog down the famous (puke!) Simon Dachs Strasse, weaving in and out of hundreds of armed police-men and -dwarves. When I reached the bottom I met up with the two, and we continued with the demonstration up Warschauer Strasse. The demonstrators were much more militant than the ones I’m used to in the UK; there were a lot of people pretending to be in the black bloc, and according to the police reports there was also a black bloc present. As we walked up the street people started to let of fireworks; my German friends were unphased. This is normal! they said, the police won’t get hurt, they’ve so much protection they look like turtles. Apparently, this is normal.
At this point the police abruptly cancelled the demonstration: forming a line across the street, they cut it in two, and moved north and south creating a sterile zone- we were south of the border.
The two Deutsche Maedchen went to the toilet in a shitty kniepe and I waited outside. A line of police separated me from most of the rest of the demonstration. A hail of eggs rained down on them, followed by bottles. Ooops, I thought, better move to the side. Someone aimed a firework into the police, and they closed ranks like Roman Centuria, deflecting it with perspex shields. This provocation seemed to be the sign they were waiting for, and as one they scrambled over the verge and across thetram tracks, slipping over and fighting with demonstrators. They had grabbed one or two, and dragged them back to a Black Maria.
The rest of the demonstration proceeded a lot like this; however, German police, unlike the rather cowardly in comparison British copper, are quite up for a bit of street fighting. They moved through the crowd in groups, funneling it towards Kreuzberg and waiting reinforcements, stopping now and then to bash some black-clothed adolescents.
After we had crossed the bridge into Kreuzberg we got into a little game of what I like to call, cat and mouse. Eventually, we got tired and picked up some beers in the banally pleasant capitalist cave of the Ostbahnhof. As we walked north to Karl Marx Allee, we saw the hundreds of shops and advertising kiosks that had had their glass kicked in. I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole thing; although individual violent motivations seemed petty and mean, it is amazing to see people risk a lot for idealistic abstract concepts of how we should live. It was also fun and cool.
NOTE: All pictures are stolen from news websites, uncredited as all are lying too much about the protest. Also, the title is a chant that translates roughly as: “What have we brought you? Hate! Hate! Hate!”
Hello, this post is a little late I’m afraid, I was slightly overwhelmed when I first got here, and have just managed to get ‘on track’. Here are some things I’ve done since I last saw you:
I’ve enrolled on a German class at the Jüdische Volkhochschule, a kind of community centre in ritzy Charlottenberg. It is mega cheap! And I will be studying with many Israelis! Apparently, I am between levels A2 and B1!
I have also bought a bike. God, this whole thing is so inane! I will try harder for next post. It was 45 euros, and it has some kind of electricity printed on the side of it. The brand is YiYang, which is good, as the Chinese make the best bikes in the world.
I’ve spent time with some friends! You’re probably thinking, WHO CARES. But actually I only mention this in order to contextualise the main subject of this ‘post’. Me teaching you something. VOCABULARY.
FREMDSCHÄMEN- literally, foreign (or alien)-shame, fremdschaemen refers to the feeling you get when someone embarrasses themself in your presence. It is directly analogous to the English *cringe*. Almost everyone I have met has explained it to me. Apparently, it is a central component of German culture- embarrassment at the degradation others put themselves through in your presence.
ARBEITSLOSENWISSEN- literally, unemployed wisdom. Another central part of German culture (amiright Merkel?). This is knowledge that has a value, but not one that international capitalism recognises. It might be funny and interesting, but not quite enough for anyone to actually pay for you to acquire it.