Kiwi in Berlin

I'm just one of the 250 (registered) New Zealanders living in Berlin. Here I try to answer pressing questions such as: What are the Germans like? What happens in Berlin on a day-to-day basis? Why is NZ so far away? What does "playing the offended sausage" mean?

Sunday, January 23, 2005

New Blog

For those who want to read about the mad hijinx of my life in New Zealand, head to Restless Kiwi. As we say here in NZ, Bring a Plate.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Last Post

This is my last update before we get up very early tomorrow morning and start making our way slowly back to the other side of the world, trying not to watch too many crappy aeroplane films on the way. I'm sorry that I'm not staying longer and getting more settled so I could keep writing, but it's time to go back for a while. This is the third time I've lived overseas though, so I'm sure it will happen again soon in the future.

For some reason German has many different words for pain. For example:

Heimweh = "home ache" = homesickness
Fernweh = "far ache" = the yearning for somewhere far away
Nahweh = "near ache" = the feeling of sadness that comes when you return home to find it is not as you remember it

When I am not in Berlin I feel Fernweh and there are lots of things I miss, and it's hard to explain but it's like the more time I spend here and learn about Germany then the harder it is to go back to somewhere where those things aren't really relevant. A friend of mine told me your nationality is not just your passport but where you have lived and what's important to you, so I do feel a little bit German. But then of course I am a Kiwi, a sixth-generation one or something like that, so that part of me is important too. I can look at it positively and say that there are two completely different places that I love and feel at home in.

Back in NZ I plan to find someone I can practise German with, so I don't lose it, and I'd like to be able to do some more translating too, because it's fun and challenging. I will have a new blog and I'll post the link here when it's up for those who want to see what I'm doing in NZ (for those who want to read about Berlin, the two blogs I like are Berlin Blog and Berlin Bites.

So thanks for dropping by and sorry I have to rush off, but feel free to hang around and turn off the lights on your way out.

Auf Wiedersehen.
Haere Ra.
Kiwi in Berlin

PS For those of you who blog, this article is kinda scary - someone fired from moaning about his boss on his personal blog.
*looks back nervously through blog archives*

Sunday, January 09, 2005

What the...?

I know you're all just dying to hear about the weather, which is, like, the most exciting topic ever (well, it can be with natural disasters but my post won't be so dramatic).

It has been over 10 degrees C every day here. It's just madness - normally such warm temperatures don't come along until March or even April. It should be freezing, with biting winds, gloves, hats, thermals!

But don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. Since it was clear no snow was coming, I like it warm. And when I'm in Singapore next Friday it will be about 30 degrees, which will be a shock for my sun-deprived body. I'm starting to look like Keanu Reeves at the beginning of the first Matrix movie when his face had taken on the neon glow of his computer.

Yes, just like that.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Souvenir time

I bought some DVDs today - Gloomy Sunday, Herr Lehrmann, Goodbye Lenin and Das Boot. All in German. I was especially pleased with Gloomy Sunday because it's really hard to find.

I've been working on an article today about a New Zealand cafe in Berlin. I've been there twice and the food is really good - fresh fish and chips, pavlova, kiwifruit drinks. The owner was nice and invited me over for drinks, but it's only a few more days till we go now (sniff).

With my friend Louise from England I went to a big art exhibition and bought a poster to take back to NZ, which shows a big Gothic painting by a German artist called Schinkel. It also says which gallery it hangs in so I will be able to look at it on my wall and remember being here.

I'm starting to feel a bit sad about going actually, although it's time to leave and do something else for a while. It's hard to explain to people who haven't been to Berlin, but it just feels like home. If only I were British and then it would be a short flight away instead of two very long tiring ones. Anyway, I should stop feeling sorry for myself. Lots of people don't even get to travel, or when they do they get knocked over by tsunamis and stuff.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Funny German translation of an English title #27: The American TV show Murder, She Wrote, which is about a middle-aged female detective, becomes Mord ist ihr Hobby (Murder is her hobby), which sounds like she kills people the way others collect records or play tennis.

I was in a bookstore on Friedrichstrasse today, looking for some German DVDs to take back to NZ, when an announcement was made on the intercom: "Dear customers, please observe a worldwide three minutes' silence for the victims of the tsunami in Asia. Thank you."

It was like someone had zapped everyone with a stun-gun. Everybody not only shut-up, but froze in their tracks and barely moved a muscle for the full three minutes. Touching, but I don't know - isn't donating money for the still-living more helpful? Oh well.

After resuming motion, my visiting English friend and I went for a coffee. I'm going to miss the coffees in funky Berlin cafes, chatting on old sofas in the hazy, smoke-filled air, surrounded by cool artwork and music.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Hallo! Hallo! Get naked!

Deutsche Telekom have probably driven more people insane than they care to admit. It doesn't help that they have a special English phone number which they never answer and which has a horrible message looped telling you to "please hold za line" with a permanent "Hallo!...Hallo!" in the background. Richard was tearing his hair out as he waited for them to answer (they didn't). Well, it at least spurred him on to brave their German number for a monosyllabic conversation with a patient DT employee.

In other news, I went with an English friend to Stadbad Neukoln today for a swim and spa, but never made it inside. It wasn't the mixed pools I objected to, it was the enforced nakedness. Now, I am not a prude - if other people want to get naked in the pool, fine, and I have swum naked in Krumme Lanke in the past. But compulsory nakedness? Not actually being allowed to wear a bikini if I felt like it? So I said a firm Nein.

Monday, January 03, 2005

My time in a nuclear bunker

Because it's less than two weeks until we leave, I've been doing a few more touristy things that I hadn't done before, like visiting museums. The one I went to yesterday was called The Story of Berlin, and I'd avoided it because it sounded tacky and unnecessary, but after a few people recommended it I decided to go. It was actually really good - a multimedia tour of Berlin's history, not just of the past century, but its whole history back to 1245-ish.

At the end everyone also got a tour of a real underground bunker, which is one of the few bunkers not built to hide from World War Two bombing, but from feared Cold War bombing. It was built in West Berlin in the '70s, in Ku'damm which is one of Berlin's more touristy shopping streets near Zoo Station and the half-bombed relic of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.

We all descended into the bunker, which was silent and dimly lit. An odd, creepy shelter - no one ever used it because there was no nuclear attack from the Soviets - but it's all set up "just in case", and could still be used today, although the nuking would have to be about 5km away and the bunker only fits 3,000 people (it would have been first in, first served, apparently).

Bunk stretchers took up most of the space, but there were bathrooms and a kitchen. The guide played a tape with atomic blast noises to help us imagine what it would be like during a real attack - the booms made the bunker vibrate. "Es ist nicht echt (it's not real)", he reassured the wary-looking kids in our group.

Everyone was relieved to get out and back to the real world.