I know, I know, it’s no good being over the moon on day 1, as you can only fall off. Can’t help it!
I spent quite some time yesterday finding my bearings. It sounds obvious, but knowing where the supermarket is, how and when the tubes/tram/buses operate, getting to know the places around takes a few hours – and I haven’t finished yet. Did I feel a bit unsettled? Yes, of course. So, early night, to compensate with the lack of sleep from the night before and get ready for the real start. And what a start.
Slightly grumpy because I had overslept a bit and still haven’t secured a gym willing to accept short term contracts (no comment, of any kind!), I jumped on a tube to Alexanderplatz. Luckily enough I went on recce so I knew where to swap for the tram and finally for the bus. I sat down in front of a nice looking couple, and smiled, thinking ‘I’ll be damned if they are not going to the same place.’ They got off at the same bus stop, and walked in the same direction. But stopped a few meters away from the entrance. Ok, I’ll be damned!
Climbing the stairs in a deserted building. I’m tempted to claim that the squealing of my shoes was reverberating agains the concrete walls, that would sound good but would actually not be true. Not a soul. Nobody to be seen, or heard. Spooky.
I was getting grumpier, as it was already 10:45 and the lecture was supposed to start at 11:00 (yes, that’s my German side, I’m quite keen on being on time). I looked at my emails, and called the reception. I imagined the phone ringing in an empty white space. Answering machine.
That when I got it. The whole thing was a scam, I knew it! And I had been stupid enough to give them my money! What a mascarade, I’ll call Interpol and the FBI and get them arrested, tortured, annihilated! (Yes, I know, I can sometimes slightly overreact.) I find the mobile number, rang, someone picked up the phone with their voice echoing strangely. I introduced myself (like I used to do when I was working for a call center, I noticed dreadfully) and for an answer simply got: ‘Why don’t we talk, instead of speaking over the phone?’.
You know, just like in the movies, when the timing is so spot on that it looks like a cliché. That was it, a car literally stopped right next to me, with my correspondant on board. We laughed, they parked more properly and that’s when the couple I spotted on the bus passed the gate, speaking, laughing and gesticulating at me, as amused as I was. Couldn’t get a word, but that was clearly a ‘haha, mate, so funny we were on the same bus!’ My face apparently gave away that they might want to switch to english.
I’m not good at chit-chat but I’m learning the basics – what do you do, where do you live, which one of the royals do you know personally, you know that kind of stuff we’re supposed to ask during diner parties – and opted for the wrong one:
– So, when did you join? I’ve just arrived.
The guy, in a fantastic hat in printed Burlap, looked at me, confused:
– erm… We’re doing the presentation.
(to be continued)
“Rabotnika”, collage paste-up, New York 2010 (photo: Just / 1just.de) – Various&Gould