Friday, February 27, 2009

Weird and Creepy Scenes in the Toy Museum

Of all the world-class museums and art galleries in München, my favourite, without contest, is the Spielzeug Museum - The Toy Museum. Housed in a strange tower with dizzying spiral staircases, you begin on the 5th Floor. To get there, you take a lift which seems to have been built around the time that lifts were invented. This is thrilling, as it seems like it could stop any moment, and it is about as big as a small wardrobe.

From the top, you trip down the spiral staircase to view the history of toys and playing. The staircase is almost totally enlosed, apart from a few tiny, barred windows looking out onto a snow covered München. There appears to be no one else in the building, but you can hear the faint laughter of children.

These photos are best viewed with a circus soundtrack.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

War Heroes on Ordinary Days

This blog is a little retrospective although it relates to my current situation also. I am living with my Opa (grandfather) in a large house, covered with snow, beside a Bavarian forest. Today's blog is about my Opa and how funny he is. Also, about my days.

I'm having the kinds of days where it takes forty-five minutes to have a cup of tea. I make everything perfect: tea, saucer, teaspoon, honey, music, magazine and then I finally settle down with a magazine full of photographs of Mount Everest and the people who have climbed it, and I day-dream about difficulty.

As for me, difficulty is the furthest thing from my reality. On my first day in Germany Opa sat my down over lunch and gave me a finances talk. Namely: 'When it comes to finances, I don't want you to stress yourself out, I will take care of it.' I wonder what miniscule percentage of the world can say they are facing the economic collapse with that kind of security. In fact, if this crisis is as memorable as the Depression and my grandchildren ask me - 'how was it for you?' I will have to confess to spending it eating luxury European cheeses, drinking mineral water, driving a beautiful Mercedes and living in a house with an average of three rooms per person. *
Regarding the big fall down, Opa says 'God gives, God takes away, I actually couldn't give a toss.'

When I was younger, I found numerous habits of Opa's annoying - sometimes even insulting and infuriating. I think this is because I was a teenager and teenagers are simply too simular to old people to really get along with them - both groups refuse to compromise their way of life, even an inch. As an 'adult' I am finding him endearing and hilarious.

Everytime he finishes a task - however small - he says 'So!' and looks satisfied. I smile and say 'mmhm!' - mostly because I don't know what else to say - congratulating him would surely be patronizing. This is not to say he's a hopeless old man, quite the opposite. For example, he just picked up the phone: 'Frau Kessler! ... Hallo! Now, tell me, did I stand on your toes in some way or what?! You have been impossible to contact!' and then the sound of laughter.

His Humphrey Bogart brand of charm is certainly having a time-warp effect on me, where I actually enjoy cleaning everything up, setting the tables, being sweetly cordial and grateful, because his appreciation for all this is so evident. I can see how men of his generation convinced women to stay in the kitchen! (This, incidentally, is something he greatly regrets, saying he should have convinced Renate, his wife, to return to the workforce after the children were older. He said it was one of the biggest mistakes of his life to talk her out of it).

This rabbit lives on the shelf and I often admire him (I love Lindt Gold Rabbits) and ring his little bell. Opa noticed and said 'you can eat him if you want' and I was horrified! Of course not!

Sunday breakfast. Notice the lovely German buns Opa goes and buys for me and Burkhard.
* My finances are still dire, despite everything. I basically drive Opa's Mercedes in order to kid myself that things are fine. Also, I can't stay here much longer, so I will need to join the workforce like everyone else. Incase any of you were hating me for being so bourgeoise. It's all I deserve for having so many Marxist friends, no one to brag about rich cars to...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

And now for the weather...

Above: Sunday morning after breakfast, Opa and Uncle Burkhard deep into their newspapers.
Below: the snow lately. The next door neighbours (dogs) enjoying it. The backyard in the afternoon.

Imagine it is so quiet you can hear the snow falling from the trees, from inside, and that is my life. On Saturday I spent several hours baking a New York cheesecake in these conditions.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Retrospective: How Indie is Qatar Airways?!

Contrary to the prim apearance of these cabin crew, Qatar Airways is actually down and hip. Maybe not with regard to aesthetics, but certainly when it came to their inflight entertainment. Their available 'Best Albums Ever' collection could have been plucked staight from - including such greats as 'Is This It?' by the Strokes, several Radiohead and Blur releases, more than one Beck album, 'Melody A.M.' by Royksopp and an album 'Welcome to Mali' released by West African sensations Amadou & Mariam (their song 'Sabali' is #15 on pitchfork's best tracks of 2008, they were earlier produced by Manu Chao and now Damon Albarn - aka hottest man alive - has his fingers in their pie. AND I had never heard of them - thanks Qatar).

Apart from addressing my numerous shortfalls in music knowledge, I also spent many hours watching films and television. Copying Jenna, I have rated the shows/ movies.

  • The American Office - I
  • Flight of the Conchords - I
  • The Doha Debates - *****
  • Vicky Cristina Barcelona - ****
  • Nine to Five - *****
  • Mamma Mia! - ******

I = Irrevelant. You all already know it.

***** = fantastically entertaining and awesome. May I make a special mention of Nine to Five starring: Dolly Parton, Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda. First of all - best casting ever, and secondly - most hilarious, insane, third-wave feminist film I have seen in my life.

**** = entertaining and interesting. Woody Allen's new film with, of course, Scarlett Johannsen. Also: Penelope Cruz. Now, these are two actresses with whom I am not enamoured (especially Cruz who is beautiful but stupid) but this was actually good (and embarrassingly filled with steamy sex scenes... I kept thinking I caught people looking at my screen).

****** = so bad it's good. Meryl Streep and Pierce Brosnan singing ABBA songs to eachother. In Greece.

So if you are taking an indie sweetheart on a trip overseas and are afraid of them spending the entire 15 hour flight scoffing at the lame music and film choices available, safe yourself an earache and book a flight with Qatar. But remember: skinny jeans are not sensible wear for flights longer than two hours. I wore: grey tights and my cute green puff dress from Hanoi.


p.s. Photos/ rants/ etc coming up about Germany.

p.p.s. Big question: Is it that Qatar Airways is hip or is it that we are getting so old that we are now the 'young professionals' that major corporations are aiming at? Are we the new powerful group? Will airlines soon be playing the soft sounds of Sufjan Stevens while we board the plane?!

A terrifying thought.