May 25, 2013 by anelim
Turns out there is a Gorki Park cafe in Berlin. I sat in it last night, therefore it exists. It is at Rosenthaler platz which also exists. it reminded me of the Scorpions’ song “Wind of change”. I could write a PhD thesis about this song and its meaning for the events around 1989 in Bulgaria. But the video is not available here in Germany, so I’ll have to leave it at that.
Gorki Park cafe is a pleasant place with lovely multi-lingual staff and Russian-style cuisine. The walls are full of witty Russianisms such as “кто не работает, не ест”, old posters and various Russian items. Definitely a tourist staple for visitors of Berlin (esp. for those tourists who did not live in the soviet bloc before 1989). I have to admit that to my taste the mix between pre-socialist, socialist and post-socialist generic Russianness felt a bit jarring. I get it, the six gypsum mini-busts of Lenin standing on the top shelf and lit up by differently pink lamps are ironic. I’d have enjoyed this light-hearted irony more if it were warmer, or my friends and I hadn’t ended up having a phone-miscommunication (or, rather, a lack of phone communication). It was a pleasant evening, though. I had a Weizenbeer with chebureki (see this post on Everyday Russian for a recipe & photo of this Russian staple), read the Spiegel and observed the chief bartender/waiter teach two new members of staff at the same time while the place was still running at full speed. Pretty impressive.
This was also a full-on German day. I still have to read things several times before I get the meaning. When I write German, I’m just slow and incoherent. But when I read or listen to or speak German, I’m literally thick. But it is getting better. Today I managed to communicate in German with medical staff (first time visiting a GP in Germany), and also a nice random guy in the street. The nice random guy was just getting into his car and looked local, so I asked him for the way. He not only explained to me how to get to Rosenthaler platz, but then also decided to give me a short lift because it was on his way and he was just driving off. He was from Hamburg, been in Berlin since 2004, and works in retail (I think? I don’t remember what word he used, though, so I might be wrong). It was nice to speak a little and be able to understand most of what a random person says to me in German. It was also nice to be spoken to in “full” German and not its simplified slower, helpful but condescending version which you so often get once people figure out you are a clueless foreigner.