Deutsch Chroniken, Teil 1

Thanks to some exceptionally warm weather day this week (where temperatures nearly went over zero for one hour, around noon), a frozen hand sticking out of the snow holding what looked like a note, was sighted by a passer-by. Although the thawing did not last long enough to consider excavating the body before the end of Winter, the note was recovered and is faithfully transcribed below.

Liebes Diary,

It has now been 15 days that the great yellow star has vanished from the sky. Ancient ones have prophecised that it shall return one day if we make the proper sacrifices to the gods. Then again, ancient ones will say anything for a chance at skinning a dozen virgins high on mystical plants. According to German news, such a dark spell had not occured since 1964. I liked it much better back when meteorological records involved “longest dry spell ever recorded on a rainy season” or “warmest autumn since the invention of thermometers”. Now that we have successfully debunked the liberal global warming hoax, can we go back to abnormally mild winters, exquisitely hot summers and dangerously rising sea levels? That Siberian datcha I bought last year is not gonna become a waterfront on its own.

As predicted last month to easily amazed Japanese friends, our German flat comes with such marvels of 19th century technology as central heating and double-windows. Unfortunately it also features 10ft high ceilings, which sorta defeats the purpose. Something is not quite right when the longest dimension of your bedroom is height. I assume, however, that my no doubt imminent transformation into a blood-sucking creature of the night will solve this issue by making “upside down, hanging from the ceiling”, a perfectly natural sleeping position.

Although technically “in” Berlin, my laboratorium sits in the middle of the German tundra. Access requires usage of the entire bahn alphabet, followed by a vivifying walk through neighbouring parks and forests. I spotted a couple wolves in the distance, on my way home yesterday night. They fortunately seemed too busy fighting over the remains of some unlucky coworker to notice me. I did notify the lab secretary this morning that I did not think Hans was staying home with the flu, as was initially assumed.

My German is slowly crawling back to the satisfyingly mediocre level of my high school years. I still tend to answer all questions with “sou desu ne“.

The Fall of the Berlin Wall, German reunification and ensuing economic and sociological challenges of the early 90s, are expectedly way less popular a conversation topic than may have been implied by 7 years of high school language classes relentlessly covering the subject. Had Frau Wagner spent just a little less time obsessing about Wiedervereinigung, Ossis, Wessis and balloons coming in easily roundable numbers, I might actually know how to say useful everyday things. As it is, I am now known in my social group as the guy with a surprisingly rich German vocabulary pertaining to the plight of disenfranchised and politically disillusioned East German workers confronted to consumerist and individualist values inherent to the capitalistic system of the West. Also known as: that guy with the tedious conversation who can barely order for himself at the restaurant. Fuck you Frau Wagner.

Linguistic limitations aside, and despite the equally unsurprising lack of opportunities for congratulating one’s interlocutor about the cuteness of their monkey in casual bar conversations (“Was fur ein süße Affe!” — year 1, lesson 1), people are friendly and fun to hang out with. Sadly, my considerable repertoire of Hitler jokes remains largely unappreciated, strangely enough.

I have an increasingly hard time repressing the urge to punch newly met acquaintances who mention how great and enjoyable Summer in Berlin is. Which they never fail to do. Preferably shortly after it has been announced that the negative double-digit temperature is likely to last until at least the end of February (“When did you say you were leaving again? Oh… I see… sorry”).

I must now step out to go replenish our survival chocolate supply at the store across the street. It looks like there’s yet another small snow storm outside. Where did I put the damn polar bear gun.


  1. Yesterday was a sunny 12° in Sendai, you know, this cold city in the northern area of Japan…

    Oh boy, how I envy you.


  2. Sorry to tease you a bit, but it’s about 35°C here. No aircon, so I sometimes put my head in the freezer…

    By the way, my first German lesson was: “Wo ist meine Pfeife?”. Almost as useful as your monkey thing.

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