Went to my first demo (do they shorten it that way in English, too?) today at the instigation of an old friend, who picked me up and drove me there. We stood a bit in the rain but the skies soon cleared. I think about one hundred people were there. The mayor of Pegnitz (assumed: whoever it was, he obviously needed no introduction) spoke very passionately about the FIGHT -- for real renewable energy, for the beauty of Oberfranken, for the economic viability of the city, against the devaluation of our houses' economic worth, against big corporations who make a profit on the back of the taxpayer, against the health risks of such huge power lines. Very stirring. The Landrat, Hermann Hübner, introduced the idea of Northern Bavaria being 'verarscht' (i.e. exploited) by the rich south, and with that an element of class warfare and regional nationalism into the mix. The execrable band 'Bieramisu' could hardly contain their greed at perhaps being able to sell a few copies of the world's most badly composed protest song and gave TWO performances of the SAME song. Between the two performances, the president of the regional Bund Naturschutz poured a lot of cold water on the idea of ever being listened to in Berlin. Left at the beginning of Bieramisu's 'encore' and had a coffee at the pizzaria on the square. When we came out, the protesters had dispersed and
Talked to a woman about my age who has lived in the village all her life, as has her husband. "Oh," I enthused, "I think it's wonderful when you share childhood memories."
"What do you mean?" she asked.
"You know, like memories of school together."
"Oh, no," she said, "There's nothing like that. I was in the class ahead of him."
Today at the doctor's office I saw quite a conventional letter announcing the departure of one doctor to set up a private practice and introducing the new hire. What was odd was the request at the foot of the letter, underscored in pink fluorescent pen, "Bitte ersparen Sie sich und meinem Team unnötige und zeitraubenden Diskussionen bei der Terminvergabe!!!" (!!! = sic. Both receptionists of the 'Team' staring off into space as I read this, which is posted three times around the practice.
I guess the question was, do they want to avoid time-consuming discussions about the new doctor specifically, or just chatter in general. I was afraid to ask, obvs. A very clear directive not to engage in small talk, which Germans find superficial and therefore a waste of time and is discouraged in general, although rarely so specifically.
A friend reminded me of the sign issuring clear discourse directive posted in our local charity shop in England: "Please do not embarrass the staff by asking for a discount." Always wondered who would ask for a discount at a charity shop -- although, strangely, that sign brought up the idea of a discount, which I'd never before considered. It may have suggested the idea to the staff, too: I had one woman regularly give me discounts on 1 pound books that looked a bit ragged at the edges.
Meeting of the Kukuk board in Bad X in their "malerische' /picturesque location, above the rooftops of their beloved city. The table for the meeting had been set up outside on the patio, and it was nicely decorated with vases of roses, plates of pretzels, and drinks of apple juice and sparkling water. For once, people were coming up to me an introducing themselves (not that I had any chance of remembering their names). One spritely woman simply replied "Popp!" when I shook her hand and introduced myself. She didn't let go, so I repeated my name. Someone at my elbow added helpfully, "Das ist die Mutter von XXXX Popp." "Do we know each other?" I wondered aloud. Still no help, still the woman stared penetratingly at me... "Spielt er Fussball?" I hazarded, wondering if this was a team mum who wanted acknowlegment that our children were on the same team.
"XXXXX Popp ist der 2. Bürgermeister," I am told.
My second grader brought her 'Friendship Book' to school. Under "Woran erkennst du mich?" her teacher wrote, "Meine Tattoss
On the very first day she came to our house to play, our neighbor girl was asked to write in my daughter's "Friendship Book". In answer to the question, "Wohin willst du reisen?" she wrote, "Ich will gar nicht verreisen, weil ich immer bei dir bleiben will."
(I don't want to go anywhere, because I always want to stay with you)