Having done all that housecleaning on Saturday, I took Sunday off to do whatever I felt like.
I can’t express enough how wonderful it is for me to have these days here in Berlin to myself, and to have the choice of doing EXACTLY what I want. No obligations, no commitments. What a utopia. I know this won’t last, it can’t last, and it doesn’t have to. Life comes with its commitments to other people and activities. But the commitment to oneself is often shortchanged. I would encourage anyone reading this to give yourself the gift of a day just to yourself once in a while. Solitude is completely underrated in our culture. It can be scary at first. Suddenly you have to listen to the constant chatter in your own head. You may have to confront yourself. You may have to realize who you really are. It can be unpleasant at first, it may take a while, but in the end, you will realize that you are just fine. At its best, it is in solitude where one can experience some of the most amazing hours of one’s life. That has always been true for me.
So much for solitude. I headed straight for the Berliner Weihnachtsmarkt on Alexanderplatz which was brimming with people. I felt happy walking through the crowds, experiencing my deep, satisfying solitude. A Glühwein stand beckoned. I did not walk idly by. “Ye shall stop for Glühwein when it is on offer and Ye have gold in your satchels to trade for it fairly.” Next I came upon roasted almonds, and a red caviar canapé at a Russian booth, both of which went down well with the Glühwein. I stood at a table and watched the skaters on the ice rink in the middle of the Weihnachtsmarkt. The rink was cleared and an Austrian Zamboni-type vehicle came out to smooth the ice. The machine made me think of my far away country and I got a bit glühwein-sentimental about Canada.
After the Glühwein was tippled, I walked to the German Historical Museum to visit an arts fair. At my age, gender, and disposable income, I am the perfect target market for arts and crafts markets in museum courtyards. I saw about 50 different pieces of jewellery, hats, scarves and wooden or metal decor like candelabres or vases or bowls that I would gladly own. I did not buy a single item, but took about 20 business cards of crafts and jewellery stores with me. There may be one pair of earrings coming out of this as a souvenir. Jewellery is small and light. But relatively expensive.
As I overheard a woman yell at her about 5-year-old daughter as she tried to drag her past glittery knick-knacks at the Weihnachtsmarkt: “Wir können nicht alles kaufen!” (“We can’t buy everything!”)
I had hoped to make it to one more more museum, but decided to take it easy and instead went to see a German movie titled “Sushi in Suhl”. It’s loosely based on the true story of a famous chef in former East Germany who runs a successful restaurant. He becomes interested in Japanese cooking and starts making Japanese dishes with the limited means and decor available to East Germans at the time. Even soy sauce was hard to come by. But his restaurant was a success and started attracting the negative attention of his local superiors. The fear was that certain aspirations were created in people with all that exotic food. At the same time, the East German government was trying to improve diplomatic relations with Japan, and the reaching-out across cultures represented by this restaurant suddenly becomes an important diplomatic tool for the government. Conflicting emotions abound, and the movies wastes no opportunity in delivering cultural and political satire.
The contrast to Western economics highlighted by this movie is great; the desire in our economy is always to create and promote aspirations, not to squash them.
Although I wouldn’t say it was the most amazing movie ever, I thoroughly enjoyed it. It’s of a certain genre that I like: one of those quaint, quiet foodie movies with the message that good food will melt hearts and bring people together.
Now I have this inexplicable appetite for sushi.