So it’s been yet another busy week in the life of Marcus. The Christmas markets opened all over town so what better excuse to get some Glühweins in? The big news is that I finally have a new roommate! Read on to find out more!
The first exciting news of this post is that Hugo (from the Yacht Club) is officially in Europe. He has set up a base in Austria and is doing a ski-season out here! As if I needed any more excuses to go skiing. I wish him the best of luck, mainly with the Austrian dialect, and I have every faith that he will love his time in this neck of the woods.
Cast your minds back to last week Friday. For you it may have been an evening of maiming farm animals, knitting, praying or possibly catching up on Breaking Bad, but for me it was the day for action. It was decided that drinks at Barney’s were in order. Jean-Remy & Juliette, Ludo and his classmate Ben were amongst some of the VIP guests. Ben is another Oxford chap like Barney, but goes to a proper college, namely St. John’s (where my brother Alfie has just completed his first term). Ludo, as usual, insisted on bringing some absolute randomers along. You’ll realise soon that it’s not at all unreasonable for me to say this. Barney and I are international men of course, but still firmly of the opinion that he should introduce us to a steady flow of European babes. With this in mind, Ludo thought it would be a great idea to bring some Taiwanese girls along. That he met in a Jazz Club. “Seems legit”, we thought to ourselves. Upon arrival they walked through the door (pretty standard arrival) and introduced themselves. Considering my Taiwanese is not what it once was, I felt they were pretty unforgiving. The first target greeted me with a big smile, declaring her name was “Pee-Pee”. I repeated: “Pee-Pee” (whilst nodding, obviously). She then decided to change her name to “Bee-Bee”, which I felt I then adapted well to, considering she didn’t take the time to fill out any forms. “Bee-Bee” I then pronounced, keen to nail it this time. We finally agreed on what her name was for the night and I finished with, “Oh, right…like BBC”. She wasn’t too impressed, having been compared to a news channel (girls apparently prefer to be compared to things which smell nice like flowers and nature and stuff, rather than huge International Corporations). I can confirm that I would have rather spent a year watching BBC News 24 than listen to her poor English and even worse German. Anyway, the time had come for “la victime prochaine“. At this point I was thinking who the hell will be next? Russia Today? Al Jazeera? And then the second tasty Taiwanese treat trotted over to me. This specimen seemed more certain of her name, and having initially maintained good eye-contact we proceeded to exchange syllables. “My name Ceen-Dee like Cindy”, of course I thought, a classic Taiwanese name. Having received a positive overall response from my most recent News Channel joke, I decided it was time for another shameless crowd-pleaser. “Oh, right, you mean like CNN”, I explained. At this point the International Biffs were on the floor laughing, they just were just lapping up my whole Hugh Grant/James Bond crossover character. How brilliantly British.
So the night progressed as most nights tend to, with the facilitation of communication & conversation via lubrication of the liver. Barney kept the Spaten beer (Spade) flowing and generously shared out his vodka, even to these girls, who had properly made there way to Germany in strange circumstances and may have been lacking a visa. They were what Dad would refer to as “dubious characters”. Naturally, I thought up a funny thing for the girls to do. And when I think up a funny thing, I find it difficult to keep this funny thing from other people. So after a few drinks, yes we did indeed have them singing the Taiwanese version of “Call Me Maybe” on the table. We managed to make this look like we were trying to learn the language when what we were really doing was trying not to burst out laughing the entire time. I felt we performed moderately in the respect. These poor attention-starved far-eastern girls, they’re almost a bit too enthusiastic to get up on the podium – not a particularly attractive quality. These were just some other hilarious events that occurred during the evening:
- Jean-Remy getting chewing gum up both nostrils. If there’s one thing that I’ve learnt from my time in Germany so far, it’s that the French have a great sense of humour.
- Me trying to shove 15 Gingerbread biscuits into my mouth and then spitting most of the contents out.
- Barney promising to down his drink if he rolled a five. Needless to say, he did roll a five, obviously. Otherwise why would I bother telling you…it wouldn’t be a story.
So the night came to a natural end with surprising another kebab and another chat with the Kebab man. Yes I am tall and Caucasian and yes I am speaking Turkish. Without hanging around for too long we left the restaurant and made our ways home.
“I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library” ~Jorge Luis Borges
Well the little Argentinian was wrong. What paradise is in fact is a German bookshop. The entirety of Saturday morning was spent sitting in Hugendubel. To describe it as a bookshop, though, is like referring to the pyramids as the ancient Egyptian equivalent of Cooperative Funeralcare. (To my lovely Canadian readers and also those pesky Americans who may possibly still be in the process of learning to read: that’s what you would probably refer to as a “Funeral Parlor Service Provider”). For those of you yet to encounter this most sacred of places – it is like Waterstones (N. Amer. Engl. – Barnes & Noble) but you are actually encouraged to sit in peace and read brand new books for free! This is in stark contrast to the UK, where it’s very much frowned upon – but you still do it anyway. The only price you pay is to live in a society in a permanent state of awkwardness and live unhappily ever after. Deal.
So having returned home from Marienplatz in the early afternoon, looking forward to a lazy day of bacon & eggs, Peep Show and just generally wallowing in my own filth, you can imagine how my heart sank when I turned the key in the door and was struck by the sight of a mysterious black suitcase centered ominously in the heart of the room, a hefty winter jacket making itself feel at home on what happens to be my favourite chair. Questions came immediately to mind such as where was he from? How did he come to be here? And how long would he last?
I then turned to my BMW Babes Calendar (a present from my boss) and realised that November was no more. It had been manhandled and flipped onto the next page by my new housemate, in a well-meaning but disastrous move to “help me out”. Unfortunately, he wasn’t to know that I don’t like help. It’s not in my nature. It was then that I began to dread the Monday morning wake up, the not-being-able-to-do.exactly-what-I-want-when-I-want, the hostile force that had infiltrated my camp, the poison in the water, the arsenic in the cornflakes, the sawdust in the juice, the crude oil in the shower gel, the Germans were here. If I had paid slightly more attention to detail when inspecting all his stuff (yes this is standard drills when trying to understand the natives), I would have worked out his nationality easily. However, I briefly looked at the OCD order in which his briefs were arranged, the immaculate state of his shoes and working clothes, the Swiss flag logo on his suitcase. To me, it seemed obvious that I was doomed to another spell of sleeping with the Stasi. I thought of last year’s Berlin trip to the Stasi prison and remembered the brutal wake-up calls, enforced meal times, the unreasonable efficiency, the hot room, the cold room, the water torture. With pioneering torture methods in mind, it turned out I was to be exposed to a representative of another left-wing nation, more mightly, more powerful, perhaps more fearful and the country with the most interesting future: Communist China.
Statistically speaking, I was always bound to have a Chinese roommate – it was literally just a matter of when. Despite being two very different people, Felix and I are getting on great – we are agreed on many things and we fit well together much like Jack Sprat and his Asian wife. For example, he showers in the evenings and I shower in the mornings. After discussing which time of day was best to shower and for what reasons, he ridiculed the Japanese because they apparently shower not only in the evening but also in the morning. Madness! At this early stage in our relationship I decided it would be sensible, even advantageous to pretend to also hate the Japanese. Then it would become something we could bond over. So I then did my best to laugh at his joke. So yet another poor soul’s name is to be etched into the Miserable Motorstraße Hall of Fame. Felix is actually his Western name. The breakdown of his name is as follows:
Yu (Family name; no real meaning) Xiao (First name; “Sunrise”) Jun (Second name; “Warrior”)
Yu Xiao Jun: So he is essentially called “Warrior of the Rising Sun”. A pretty cool name, I think you’ll all agree.
Order of play as it stands:
1. Macbook Matthias (Sep.)
2. Reini der Schweini (Sep.-Oct.)
3. Bavarian Ben (Oct.-Nov.)
4. Far-Eastern Felix (Dec.-Mar?)
A few fun facts about German-speaking Felix:
- His favourite British bands are Westlife and the Backstreet Boys.
- He maintains that British people are mostly 18th-19th Century gentlemen who wear top hats and carry big umbrellas.
- He loves BBC Chinese (a suspiciously good answer).
- He knows that in China, Britain is famous for the Industrial Revolution.
- He has a cool Chinese knife.
- He studies Mechanical Engineering (Maschinenbau) in Karlsruhe.
- He now loves David Cameron, having read my letter from Downing Street.
- He hates “the Chairman” (presumably Mau).
- He hates the Japanese (apart from anime which he loves).
- He finds Americans annoying and lacking in culture.
Once I’d acclimatised to sharing my room with a stranger yet again. On Saturday, I went with Robert to the Tollwood Weihnachtsmarkt and had a Glühwein and some spicy sausages. Afterwards met Sky and her friends at Milchbar. It was a fun night.
On Sunday, I decided to get rid of the hangover with a 2.5km Swim at the Olympiaschwimmhalle. In the last 400 metres severe cramp kicked in in my left calf and I lost a bit of dignity as I ended up hopelessly splashing like a dying sea mammal at the 25m mark. In the evening, I headed into town for a nice relaxed coffee with Nath and his girlfriend Hannah (visiting from Verona) at Starbucks. We even went for a Glühwein in Marienplatz and of course bumped into a girl who I was in halls with in Leeds first year. Small world.
On Monday evening I returned back to the flat after a good day’s work expecting to find Felix pinning up his communist flag on the wall. As a matter of fact, he was preparing dinner. What a nice surprise! We then ate what I assumed to be a Chinese dish (mainyl because it contained rice) but which then later turned out to be in fact: paella. He had managed to fool me though and had me fumbling around with chopsticks. I am happy to confirm that the first five days with Far-Eastern has been so far so good. However, the burning question remains: how will we cope living on top of each other until March?
On Tuesday evening we had the work Christmas do and we spent it in a great restaurant called Görreshof which I can highly recommend. Of course, all the lads (Myself, Florian, Ingo and Jean-Remy) all ordered Schnitzel!!! And it was some of the bestest Schnitzel I ever ate. My favourite German quote of the night came from Ingo, who declared: “So jung werden wir nie wieder zusammen kommen“. This roughly, but poorly translates to “We will never again be together at such a young age”. Afterwards I ended up out on the town with some colleagues (incl. Prince Charming amongst others) for a few cheeky beers. Emphasis on the cheeky. A few people were a bit worse for wear on Wednesday but I was for some unknown reason feeling fresh as a daisy and made it into work for 09:15 which was a strong effort.
This upcoming weekend bring the glorious year of 2012 ever closer to the end. It’s the moment we’ve all been looking forward to: the annual Leeds University German Society Trip featuring the Berlin6. If it’s anything like the past two years, it promises to be a good one. Very much looking forward to celebrating Nomadic Nonie’s birthday and generally kicking back with some of the actors who I cast in the tragicomedy that is my life story. Characters making guaranteed appearances will include: Alcoholic Adi, Slothful Scouse, Semitic Simon, Serious Sam and Golden Graham! Stay tuned for next week’s post – it will be a good one. In the meantime, have a nice weekend!