Thursday, September 28, 2006

Sporty spice

After a series of not very hilarious mishaps, including back problems and an improbable summer cold, I've started doing tkd again at another school. It's a family school, run by a bloke and his brother in law, and most of the students seem to be related which at least solves the problem I had at the other school of the trainer shagging the students. I hope.

The best part about it is that it's full of kids, German kids obviously, who seem to be somewhat different to the ones I'm used to. Firstly they aren't afraid of being cheeky to adults, one kid told me I had a big bum without us even being introduced. Another looked at me in shock when I turned up with my black belt and asked incredulously: how long have you had that? Conversely they seem to love orders and are actually pretty good at hitting the targets, unlike me. They also don't seem to understand that although my German is good, it's not good enough to understand a ten year old with a sqeaky voice making what they consider to be small talk. I just nod and smile and hope they're not saying anything about my bottom.

The other thing about it is that after not having done any sport regularly for about six months, I'm utterly exhausted after two weeks of training three times a week. Today I could barely keep my eyes open while my students were talking about a data quality managment and non-reurning loans. Although actually reading that sentence again I'm a little worried that this is not the normal state of affairs.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Handy German expressions

A list of things that you can say with one verb in German:

fill your car with petrol tanken
get to know someone kennenlernen
take the piss verarschen
change a nappy windeln
crack onto someone anmachen
drink to get drunk saufen
go out/ have a party feiern
get dressed anziehen
bitch and moan zicken (literally: act like a female goat)
go in the wrong direction verfahren

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Danish delights

The exit of Christiniania, where EU and Danish laws don't apply, a wonderful place full of American tourists, happy hippies, big dogs and the occasional police raid.

Two happy tourists on a boat trip.

A church and fountain near Mary's- I mean the Danish royal family's- palace.

Our groovy Copenhagen apartment.

The church from the other side, it backed onto a moat around the world's oldest still used military fortress.

A photo exhibition around town: Images of the Middle East.

Hanging out after a stint of frisbee in the park.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


Our last day in Copenhagen; heading back to a new house and job (officially) in Kiel. Just read this piece in the SMH; I loved it. I agree utterly about hope and the role of government being there to provide it, at least foster it. I look around the streets of Copenhagen; hope is what you see on the faces of the smiling, happy, healthy people. The belief that it will get better, not worse. A group of older Asian people drinking in the square, looking happy and hopeful rather than the bitterness I see on the faces of many Germans (but that's changing too- what was the joy in the World Cup if not hope?).

Yesterday we saw two men fighting drunkenly on the street, one calls the other a Muslim cock-sucker, tries to beat him with his belt. The other lifts his crutch to fight back. People stopped to watch. I wondered why, what's the point? But it's better to watch than not, just watching shows you expect something to change, to at least witness the worst rather than run away in fear of it. It's hope again, that in watching you will help, somehow. The fight broke up pretty quickly after that.

Friday, September 01, 2006

C for coincidence?

It just occurred to me that one interesting thing has happened to me since I've been wallowing in Copenhagen's delights. Perhaps it's just because I watched V for Vendetta and am in the throes of, admittedly pretty justified, paranoia but I don't think so.

The day before yesterday I went into a random bookshop, desperately attempting to do something with my mind, or at least try to convince myself to. After about ten seconds we both got bored and my mind, clearly trying to assert itself through the fog of decadence, grabbed a book from a display and so I bought it. The book, which was shortlisted for The Orange Prize, is called A Short History of Tractors in Ukranian by Marina Lewycka. I loved it, it's funny and sad and well-written, and quite exciting in a family drama kind of way. All that aside, because this is a book about family secrets they mention the war. And a labour camp in Germany, where Ukranians were sent.

The camp was called Drachensee. In Kiel.

I couldn't quite believe it when I came across the name. Mum told me there was one there, and I meant to follow it up and I didn't. It made me think: why didn't I follow it up? Why haven't any Kielers (people from Kiel) mentioned this to me? And even more importantly, if I am living in Germany, I need to confront this. I need to understand more than just the beautiful side of Schleswig-Holstein. Because if I don't it's a betrayal of myself.

So we'll see where that takes me.

Danish dreams

Take one designer flat. Add two Aussies, a laptop and a fridge. What do you get? Sloth.

We've been in Copenhagen for one week and seen a total of zero museums, been to no famous landmarks (apart from sailing past them on a canal tour) and even fewer famous restaurants. In short we've been utterly lazy and spent a lot of time sleeping, eating and playing frisbee. This could be a sign of Europe fatige.

Copenhagen, on the little that I've managed to pick up, seems to be the coolest city I've been to so far, although this is pure speculation. I think if I could speak Danish I'd get more out of it. That being said, everyone, from the guy at the bakery to the random helpful at the train station, seems to speak perfect English. If everyone in Germany was this billingual I'd be out of a job in no time- and it's no wonder the Germans are embarrassed. The Danes are damn good.

The city is easy to get around, a bikers paradise, full of trendy little shops and cafes (and *sigh* museums) and happy, smiling, good-looking people. There seems to be a lot of multiculturalism, I've seen girls in veils on bikes, which I'm pretty sure I haven't seen anywhere else.

The other aspect which I find quite charming is the fairy tale heritage; they really seem to take it seriously and a lot of buildings, public art and space seems to be influenced by fairy tales. Yesterday we stumbled on a gorgeous park in the middle of the city, long avenues and fountains and sculptures everywhere. The old stock market has a tower of four dragons with their tails intertwined.

And of course the one place we did manage to visit is Christiania, the squat community tunred tourist attraction full of peace, love and mungbeans and a lot of lovely hippie housing on the side of a canal in the middle of the city. The kind of place every big city needs.

Today is our last day and I'm pretty sure we have a full plan of riding our bikes, playing frisbee and maybe, just maybe, seeing the last sights of lovely Copenhagen.