Archive for 23rd June 2008

Archive

The Road Out

A fond farewell in the form of sugared strawberries to the host signals that it is time for me to leave Hamburg. But not before I took a ride around the neighbourhood in that bicycle that’s been the most solid thing I’ve ever ridden. There is much I am going to miss in this place – the bewildering slower pace of life that I’ve been leading for the past month, the fretful weather (though gorgeous when the air is cold and the skies are blue), the beautiful scenery and its varied suburban areas. Learning a foreign tongue for so long and for so intensive a period here has momentarily left...

Down the Red-Brick Road

Brugge without the sandy footpaths, Brugge with the cold and volatile weather – that was Lübeck at first glance. Günter Grass, many turquoise church steeples, the Hanseatic League, extraordinary architecture, Thomas Mann, and…marzipan – if I could only sum up Lübeck with several key words. A Schleswig-Holstein Ticket took the 3 of us to Lübeck during the second weekend of the course – the once-mighty fortress and capital of the Hanseatic League of merchants that has been remarkably restored and is now a UNESCO heritage site. Lübeck lost its greatness when the politics of the 16th -17th centuries overran the Hanseatic League’s political and economic influence, but not its shape. Characterised...

Whizzing About

The architecture found in this place is enthralling, and the mood of the city changes according to the volatile weather. There are places in Hamburg pretty enough to visit multiple times – Blankenese, Altona, St. Georg and the Schanzenviertel being some of them – of which I have done a fair bit by harassing store-keepers with my grammar errors and abysmal pronunciation. The days slowly fall into a routine – until the discovery of a half-a-century-old bicycle that sits in the open garage opened a world of speed (next to the car of course) and exhilarating freedom that I have so intensely missed. There is a curious thrill present in...

A Slow Reacquaintance

A confession: I have mixed feelings about the first week of the course. Some participants appear to be caricatures. The Spaniard Jose M. (or rather Catalan – as he hails from Barcelona) in my class breathes alarmingly heavily, and looks like an emaciated, unkempt, unshaven, skinny and wavy-haired version of Cesc Fabregas. He speaks in a lackadaisical manner, but with amazing pronunciation, and developed a skin allergy on the third day. The American Jakob S. speaks too fast with a Texan drawl. The Spaniard Maria T. from Cadiz, in contrast, looks like a full-bodied flamenco dancer. The retired Dutchman Willem U. appears to be always red-faced, and has brought his...

Hamburg for Beginners

The 5-hour long journey to suburban Hamburg (Othmarschen) proved painful in the heat that seemed to follow me from Heidelberg, but was repaid in full by the hospitality of my host – HD, a divorced architect with an easy-going personality, 2 sons and a fat grey-brown cat (named Mollo), with a penchant for everything organic, even toothpaste. It seems thus, that my apprehensions about a repressed, curfew-loving and jail-oriented Gestapo-like person were for nothing. After a time spent orienting myself, I did find Othmarschen is indeed a pretty and peaceful place; a walk in the heavily tree-lined lanes along some impressive houses is nothing other than pleasant. For the umpteenth...