Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I want to go to England to see how my old masters live now.

It has been nearly 2 weeks since I let you all know about my time in Kassel and so I thought I'd fill you in with all the gory details. It has relatively eventful, involving an almost broken foot, alcohol, kebabs, taxi drivers who rip people off, a Polish boy and an Indian legend, an Irish pub and a performance in a pub quiz that makes Laura look good.

I shall start with my nearly broken foot/ankle. It was due to alcohol and running, the two should never be mixed, I think that I should tell you all this now, as a word of warning. It is nothing like cycling drunk which is great fun, until you come off and put your hand through a shop window. No, drunk running is dull and not in anyway liberating. I was running for a tram at 1am, the last tram of the night, my long legs were carrying me as fast as they could and for moment I thought I was Morice Greene, I really believed that I was unstoppable and uncatchable by anything or anyone. What came next was agony, and an inability to walk let alone run like Morice Greene. I had fallen down a curb, which was stupidly high and unexpected, and had landed badly on my ankle. I hobble onto the platform, where the tram was just leaving and all I could do was watch in awe as the passengers who had made it went home. One taxi journey later and I was in bed passed out. My foot was unusable for the best part of two days and had a nice glow to it from the swelling.

All of this happened after the pub quiz at the Irish pub, which by the way, is an amazing pub, unlike any Irish/English pub I have been to abroad before. This feels like a good pub, I have described to some as The Black Boy but tidier and to others as a more cluttered O'Malleys. Our performance in the pub left much to be desired, coming last in an quiz that was in English was bad enough but the fact that we were the only English team was a blow upon a bruise. We did, however, win a bag of hot chocolate drinking powder.

As in freshers, the majority of my time has been fuelled by alcohol, but only because it is so stupidly cheap. A 6 pack is 3.99 and a pint bottle is 1 euro, I even discovered Kassel's very own cheap cider, it feels more and more like home as time goes on.

The Indian legend I have saved until last because he deserves more than a fleating comment in the middle of this. Supreeth, pronounced soupreet, has said some the greatest things I think I have ever heard and wears the greatest jumper imaginable. He is hilarious and has no idea he is even slightly humorous. Supreeth is the genius behind the title of this post, it was one of the first things he said to me and he said it in all seriousness and didn't see why I found it so funny. His jumper is a tight white v neck with an inch of hair coming out of it, it's as if he is always holding one of those static balls that you have at school. Radek, the Polish boy, and I find great amusment in winding Supreeth up. On this trip to a monument we went one, everyone was grouping together and taking photographs and Supreeth was given all of the cameras, this was my opportunity, I gave him my phone (for those of you who don't know, my phone is as old as the hills and hasn't even got a colour screen, let alone a camera) he spent the best part of 3 minutes trying to work out how to take a picture on it. As you can imagine, I found this very funny and eventually he realised that I was winding him up and laughed too. On the same trip he saw that all of the leaves had fallen from the trees and turned to me and said 'In England, do the trees have leaves or not?' Another quality question by an Indian legend.

I hope that you are all well and enjoying your reflective journals.
For now, goodbye.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The calm before the storm.

Today has been somewhat of a bore, but it is only 2.41, things may pick up. I didn't realise that it was good Friday and therefore didn't realise that everything is shut, apart from the odd newsagents, or kiosk as they are known here. I travelled into the city to try and find the gallery I missed out on yesterday but couldn't and then went for a coffee and it was then that I noticed the lack of people and amount of shut shops.

Now I am off to find a pint of Guinness at an Irish pub I saw yesterday. I know that this is tragic. I hate going abroad and resorting to Irish or English pubs, but the beer here is all lager, which tastes better here than in England. But the offer of having a pint of Guinness is to good to refuse, even if it is an offer I made myself. The sun is piercing through my window like Hamlet's dagger through the arras, just ask Polonius. It is a beautiful day, in contrast to yesterdays small interlude for hail.

For now, goodbye.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lost in translation, atleast 3 times.

Second day, first morning. I decided to have some breakfast, something I don't normally partake in but I didn't know when I would eat and it was free with my room. So that was nice, some bread and jam was about all I could stomach. This was shortly followed by getting incredibly lost. I headed towards the city to go and see a new show at the big gallery that is just about to re-open, they have a preview show which looked good. I decided it would be best if I headed down the same road I had used yesterday which had taken me to the tram station. But clearly my sense of direction that I was relying on is not all I thought it was cracked up to be and I wound up in fuck knows where, but it was very pleasant, as is the majority of Kassel, as I see it anyway. Once my barings were at last found, I got onboard the tram to take me into the city. Three stops down, this woman was speaking to me, I tried to explain I had no idea what she was saying but eventually I realised that she was the ticket inspector and I had thought she wanted my seat. So I stood up and started going through my pockets, looking like an irratic, scatty excuse for a man but it was no-where. It was what happened next which most surprised; out of no-where, this man said 'passport' so I looked at the woman and she seemed to know who this man was (he shall remain 'this man' as I didn't get the chance for introductions), so I got it out they looked at it then began discussing it, all I could understand was the word police.
By this point they were looking somewhat disgruntled by me and began pointing at me to stay seated as we ride down the line, through and out of the city to what looked like some sort of remote barren wasteland. Here the police were waiting for me/us, they then took my passport into their car, made a call whilst reading my deatails. What they were expecting, I'll never know, I don't think I look too threatening, if atall. He then asked if I'd slept on the tram all night, well no of course I fucking havent (I don't know the german for that and didnt know if he knew the English for it). Anyway, this sort of stilted conversation went on for about 5 minutes before they said I had to pay 40 euros, cleaned me out. What made me smile though was that I was given a piece of paper saying id been fined, afterwhich the policeman added 'that gives you one ride for free' as if it was some sort of conselation prize!

Anyway, my brush with the law aside, today has been another enjoyable one. My flat is fine, as in Winchester, I have landed myself a big bedroom but no living space and it's opposite a kebaby. It may just be me, but I cannot remember having a hail storm in England for atleast 5 years, today we had one, it was fucking awesome, until the wind changed and it was hitting my face.

Further translation differences have come on shop names ie; Cocklock and the bank Sparkasse. Both of which provided a smile.

For now, goodnight and sleep well.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Day one of expedition. Captain's log.

Seeing as I have been awake since 4am and running on endless cups of coffee I feel I am in a suitable position to write my account of my first impressions of Kassel. Firstly may I say that I wish I was cool enough to just slink away and come back, that I pull of such style but, alas, I am not, as you all know. I shall keep this fairly regularly for those of you who may be interested, those of you who may be bored of Final Fantasy, or just fantasies, this may provide some light hearted reading.

So, 4am up, coffee, dress, in car, out of car, coffee, on plane, coffee, land, on train, arrive, coffee, find hostel, 3pm. Having done all of the travelling and booking in and attempting German, I found out that I have a few phrases up my sleeves but no idea what their responses are! This is where confusion kicks in on both sides of the conversation. I explored Kassel, there was a purpose, to find an adapter, but I used it as a reason to leave my hostel room. Which, by the way is like the rooms at Erasmus Park, but how they should have been, ie; clean, tidy and spacious with a working shower.

Kassel is lined with cobbled streets, in a much nicer way than Corrie is, it's beautiful, the houses have really well thought out brick laying, I know that sounds trivial but they're clearly old but the bricks still look fresh. Furthermore, there are so many of Joseph Beuys's trees, for those of you who have no idea what I mean by that; Beuys, towards the end of his career became very concerned with nature and preservation and decided to plant rows and rows of trees in Kassel, all with a block of stone next to them, this was in the 70's?. Well, now the trees are huge and they form a sort of canope over much of the city and the stones sit next to them looking rather inferior. As a Beuys lover, I find it great to be able to see all of these.

I found the shops, which werent of too much interest, but I did count 3 H&M's all within ridiculously close proximity of one another. And, the highlight in the shopping, an open Woolworths! It may be a mere distant childhood memory to us but over here it is very much in the present.

That brings us up to within about an hour of now so I shall go and dig out the bar and sit with a beer and maybe a book, depending on how pretentious I want to seem to strangers. I'll probably leave the book behind.

For now, Gut tschüs.