It’s the little things in life you treasure. (Booyah, Galaxy Quest quote)

Look at this graffiti. Isn’t it fantastic? Hilarious, pun-tacular and inexplicably written in powder blue liquid chalk. That’s what I love about this place: every day I find at least one little thing that makes me grin stupidly in public, usually in front of a mass of people failing to see the humour in a small dog carrying a Brötchen or a man accidentally throwing his phone onto the train tracks immediately before the arrival of the S-Bahn. Odd considering this is a nation that invented the word ‘Schadenfreude’. 

Every little weirdness is like a little present and now, as I come slowly to the end of my year abroad, they are becoming a little like the chocolate in an advent calendar; I’m excited to see what’s coming each day, and excited about the thing they are leading up to, but I really don’t want the days of regular pre-breakfast chocolate to end. For this post, here are a few of my favourite little ‘Berlin Niblets’ thus far. 

It was hot. No, she’s not dead. 

Everything was dead in the Botanical Gardens except for a few flowers in a perfect queue. How come inanimate plants are more willing to get into a straight line than all the children I teach? I know that English people are renowned for our love of waiting for things in an orderly row so much that we invented the phrase “after you” simply to perpetuate the pleasure of queuing for as long as possible. But to German kids the idea is simply alien; one can rephrase the request using all vocabulary available, one can mime standing in a line (admittedly hard if you are one person, but this is why everyone ought to study interpretive dance), one can offer bribes of smeary green stamps to the people who get the concept of one being behind another, but it just doesn’t work. I have achieved the greatest amount of success by making the kids get into a snake behind me and follow me for a bit, but they often like to take it a little far by hanging onto the back of my cardigan and attempting to “water-ski” around the room with my propulsion. One kid is particularly obsessed with simply placing her hands on my buttocks as we wander around the room. The things I do for teaching.

Outside of the Kindergarten, waiting in Germany often is made easier with numbered tickets which mean at least your disorderly rabble has a hidden sequence. This is great in places like the Bürgeramt where the waiting list can grow so long that people start to trade and sacrifice their tickets (“I…I’m not going to make it, sport. Take my ticket; it’s number 84. And, son? If you get in there…tell them…Uncle Klaus ain’t paying his Hundesteuer this year…*cough*”). I had been waiting for an hour and a half once and gave my ticket to a newly arrived couple who looked so grateful I managed to keep going for the whole rest of the day just on my misplaced sense of righteousness.

Yes, this is both a wine shop and a driving school. BEST COLLABORATION EVER. I honestly would give anything to meet the person who thought this was a good idea. Frankly I’m glad that I took a photo because otherwise I would have convinced myself this was one of my brief S-Bahn-nap ironic dreams. And yes, that is a drunken bunch of grapes as its mascot. Does that count as Suicide Food?

Look at this beautiful gay pride boat on the Treptower Park riverbank.

 This really is Germany’s most-loved game. And unlike England’s most-loved games like Monopoly and Risk, people actually play ‘Mensch, ärgere dich nicht’ and really genuinely enjoy it. Having this and a couple of other board game staples in your house (a pair of dice and a real, hopefully leather, dice beaker for a start) is absolutely essential in this country and people react to the prospect of playing board games the way other people might react to the suggestion of a cake-and-free-money party. To clarify this for my German readers: most British people resort to board games when all other forms of social interaction and entertainment have been exhausted and the only alternative is glaring bleakly at each other across the starkly empty dining room table. Germany, I love you for your appreciation of board games, for the fact that this essential of the board game canon was on proud display at the flea market as one seller’s most treasured ware, and for the fact that about two seconds after I had taken this photo the game was being gleefully bought.

 Well, this is a picture of my dad’s legs; I know it’s nothing to do with Berlin but it popped up so unexpectedly when I was browsing my memory card that I spontaneously guffawed my chewing gum out of my mouth. I’m going to allow this.

Rose T