Changing Things in German

September 20, 2012 by nicolas

The girl I’m living with is not feeling gorgeous this morning, and a light blue to electric blue wallpaper-worthy gradient of a sky is showing through the windows of our living room.

The music collection I gathered digitally for a quarter of a sub-saharan african’s life, including a number of dearly loved unreleased tracks disappeared four days ago in a puzzling software mishap.

As the month of September is turning to a close, it’s a good time to make a little personal update here.

On April 2nd I left a flat in northern Prenzlauerberg to walk towards the office of my new employer in Berlin. Had it been April 1st, I would’ve come to this music software company’s office dressed up as a banker, in order to shake up my new colleagues a little bit.

I had moved two weeks earlier from Paris, doing a little bit of tourism and showing the place around. Berlin was already by then quite familiar, having visited friends a number of times the year before, in part due to mistakes made while booking flights. For a month or so I lived with the ghost of an actress-in-making, surrounded by photos, books and weights in a sublet behind the Mauer park. The location was perfect with a 24h Kaiser’s, the park and its flea market and at walking distance from work.

Living in someone else’s place and having to know their lifestyle choices is not particularly enjoyable, and the only contacts with her were through anxious emails repeatedly asking me if everything was ok and if I could forward stacks of mails to her current address, since she was too cheap to ask Die Deutsche Post to do it.

Living in someone else’s place is also not ideal when trying to open a bank account or subscribing to a mobile phone service. Well that latter part went quite alright actually, Simyo delivered the SIM card promptly. ING-DiBa however was another story. It has been a very German experience of exchanging dozens of letters with what claims to be an online service.

To assure a future client’s identity ING-DiBa uses Deutsche Post’s authentication service called Postident, where you are expected to stand in line, walk to the woman in her 50s who will then proceed to give stern looks at your passport, your signature, and your face. I had to sign twice, since my first signature was not similar looking enough, and she did complain about the beard I’m displaying nowadays and which is absent from my passport’s picture. For the first time I had a glimpse at how diligent people here can be when following rules.

Shortly afterwards, it was time to look for a real flat. The plan was easy to figure out: search for 2-rooms south-facing top-floor flats on immobilienscout24, draft emails in the most perfect german I can write, visit appartments. I signed at my third visit. Not because the place was perfect. Rather because it was perfect-enough. It came as is often the case with an entirely empty kitchen, and for those that don’t know, empty in Germany really means empty. It took me three long visits outside of town to settle on a cheap, easy to install kitchen sink, one that would require a minimum amount of sawing/cutting/drilling to setup. Only after drilling the stainless steel surface of my UDDEN sink and assembling its tap, I started to feel I got ahome again.

Until our real move in August I lived in between Berlin and Paris, with minimal furniture and a lot of Skype sessions. A choice I originally made so that I could judge my new city and company and decide whether it was right for me, and also to leave enough time for her to finish what she had to do in Paris.

In the end my 6 month trial period was confirmed and I was more than willing to continue working here. My work colleagues all have different perspectives and personal life stories, coming from very different backgrounds and histories either as choreographers, artists, sound engineers, demo-sceners. Many come from outside Berlin either in Germany or outside (USA, France, Taiwan, Sweden, Spain, Canada…)

Making the most out of what I have at work is motivating. A short 25min walking commute makes it easy to get away, and I like the relaxed atmosphere of Prenzlauerberg. Exactly what I was looking for in the first place. Finding excellent cheese is not easy, and we are under the Bio/Organic cult’s regime, which makes it hard sometimes to get excellent tasting vegetables (my contrarian self loves the look on people’s face when I tell them I’m actively looking for non-bio products) however nothing’s really difficult to find. Besides a good bakery close-by. Oh and don’t get me started on the “Asian” food culture here!

By the way, if like me you are trying to recover some deleted files, give PhotoRec a shot. It’s an amazing little piece of software.