Archive for November, 2006

Berlin days

Getting used to using a German keyboard.

I got very wet on the first day and am now fighting a cold. L is giving me drugs. Yesterday, we spent the morning talking, so I rushed off late to see the German History Museum and ended up at the Rebecca Horn exhibition, a spontaneous change of plans on the train as it closed later. I loved and hated it, understood it and didn’t have a clue. The building though, it was in the Martin Gropius Bau, was stunning. I tried to get to the German History Museum again today and ended up at the Jewish quarter instead. The Neue Synagogue is beautiful – from the outside – of course I would choose Saturday to go there. At least I knew it would be closed and I have a good excuse to go back. I got emotional at Der verlassene Raum [I’ll add the photo’s when I get back]. And at what was Berlin’s first Jewish old people’s home, which was where deportations to the camps started from and next door to it the Alter Jüdischer Friedhof (Old Jewish Cemetery) which was completely desecrated. Then I went to an opening of a modern art exhibition – sort of by chance – it was a bit extreme self-harm, filming shooting yourself kind of art – I didn’t stay for long. I finished the day with Pumkin suppe, which was reviving and the worst Apfelstrudel I’ve ever had, or at least I remember having… Oh and somewhere in the middle I saw how hard sweets are made… which was fun.

We are off to see the newly found ‘cousin’ tomorrow…

Berlin – First day

Faces that look oddly familiar walking down the street, dark hair, half sentenses understood, a smile on my face, chickening out of trying to use my rusty German. So far I feel comfortable, even a New York kind of comfortable, I’m thinking about that. I walked through the Brandenburg gate, which I remember stopping in front of in a bus the last time I was here, when the wall was still up and Unter den Linden was in the East. I had the most divine hot chocolate at cafe Einstein and people watched. Friedrichstrasse, Alexanderplatz, Oranienburg names which seem to roll off my tough with ease. I went to visit the Pergamon Museum (like the British Museum) which my aunt had recommended, the last time she had visited was in 1937. I got a little emotional.

Windfalls

Just in case you are wondering… I didn’t win the lottery, but finding out about my ancestors and discovering a whole new part of my family does feel like another kind of windfall.

(Dis)connections

I’ve had a serious family contact / finding out my ancestors sort of weekend. I met someone who knew my grandfather last week, brief conversation, which covered concerts and being chased by a colleagues husband sometime back in the 1950’s, the latter I assure you nothing to do with my grandfather. Later in the week I was thinking about this grandfather again and catching up on some emails to family, which were so overdue many apologies were needed. I did a quick Google search and came up with a site, which rather amazingly had loads of my family tree on it. I’m in two minds about this, obviously it’s exciting, there are many generations I didn’t know about, but then it’s my family tree and it’s out there in the ether. I sent more emails out and received one back, which began Dear Cousin; so on the eve of going to Germany, I have found a cousin there, quite surreal. I then forwarded the email to a cousin in Israel who also wrote to him, so I think we made his weekend… I’m still not sure how we are cousins, have no idea who he is, but he knows exactly who I am, which has to be said is a little unnerving.

The family tree covers one branch of my family and goes down one particular line and this line goes very far back, quite excitingly along the way to Portugal, seemingly those listed having fled westward at the time of the Portuguese Inquisition (I have been reading up!) So suddenly I am partly Sephardic, having never been interested in the whole Sephardic/Ashkenazi thing, now I want to know more. The family tree continues going back and back – we are talking biblical names here and I don’t really know if that’s really possible to go back that far, but it’s a nice idea and very intriguing.

A first

I did it, I braved the torrential rain to buy my first ever lottery ticket. I’ve already set up a Foundation and allocated the money. It’s an odd sensation to be part of something like this, I along with millions of other people across Europe, all of us believing there is a small chance, actually one in 76 million, of having our lives changed for the better by the numbers written on a single piece of paper. We and I can now officially include myself, believe that this would be a good thing, buying into the myth, despite the fact that often such a windfall results in tragedy.

Of course that won’t happen when I win.

Golden ticket?

I’m thinking of rushing out and buying a lottery ticket – it would be a first.

A trip

I’m going to the land of my forefathers next week; I’m nervous and excited and a little worried, because everyone keeps saying how cold it’s going to be and my bones get cold. I need to make a trip to M & S, I hope they still do thermals.

Art and understanding

At the last minute I got to a couple of films at the Jewish Film Festival, both really interesting; Another Road Home and Knowledge is the Beginning – I’d recommend both. The latter is about Daniel Barenboim’s and Edward Said’s [this only seems to be in Spanish?] wonderful Middle Eastern Youth Orchestra project , a really heartwarming endeavour. [This is the official site.]

Small, but powerful

I took this a while ago, but kept forgetting to ask permission to post it. It’s an anti-slavery purse, it would have been carried by women as a protest against the slave trade, before they had the vote. Quite amazing.

Hits

Hey, the counter for Frizz went over the 10,000 point when I wasn’t looking. I had to double check it was 10,000 and not 1,000.

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