Tuesday, May 09, 2006

The Bubbling Banerjee's Besuch Berlin

I have the honor of being the third stop on Anuradha and Pia’s trip around Europe. They arrived on Sunday night and we have been giggling ever since. We spent Sunday afternoon catching up over Apfelschorle on the balcony. For dinner we walked to Weyer’s, a popular (very Wilmersdorf) restaurant on the Ludwigkirchplatz. Anuradha had Maultauschen (German raviolis) and Pia had pasta with asparagus—how very German of them!

Yesterday, armed with Lonely Planet Berlin, bus directions and a cell phone, the girls set out to explore and I went to work. I had a very productive day refocusing my project and confirming a “business” trip I’m taking early next week to DAAD, IFA and the Goethe Insitute. The plan was for me to work and then for us all to meet under the Brandenburg Gate at 4pm. My timing would have been perfect had I not left my cell phone on the bus when I got off at the Zoo (%*!&). Luckily the BVG office was able to call the bus and determined that the phone was still on board! (Germans rock in the honesty dept! I don't think I would have seen the phone again if this had happened in DC.) I had to cab it the B’burg Gate to tell the girls what happened, then take the bus back to the Zoo and catch the 249 bus as it finished its loop. I am sure the driver was thrilled that "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" played on the phone everytime Anuradha called trying to find out where I was! The whole ordeal was a bit stressful, but all’s well that ends well, and the phone is safely back in my possession (though no longer being kept in my shallow pants pocket!)

I met back up with the girls at the Gendarmenmarkt and finished the rest of their walking tour with them. I was very pleased to hear that Berlin has made almost as good an impression on Anuradha as Freiburg did (if only Berlin had fries with good garlic sauce!) We saw the memorial to the 1933 book burning, the Neue Wache memorial to the victims of war, Humboldt Univ, Deutscher Dom and Palace der Republik. But I think we would all agree that the afternoon’s highlight was the “City Toilette.” Simply put, it was an amazing experience! You put 50 cents into a slot outside the pod and the doors automatically open. Sensors know you are inside and the doors automatically shut. Then “elevator music" plays as you are TCB! The soap, water and dryer are all controlled by sensor too. The only scary part is that you are given 20 minutes and told that the doors will open automatically after that time. Should the need arise, you can press a button next to the toilet to give yourself an extra 40 minutes. After that, the doors open regardless. (If you are in the bathroom for 60 min., the doors opening onto downtown Berlin might not be your biggest problem!) My favorite moment of the whole experience was hearing Anuradha yelling from inside the pod, “hurry, hurry, we are running out of time!” Between each use, the floor, sink and toilet are automatically washed and dried. For 50 cents/person, the visit to the city toilette will be cheap entertainment for all future visitors. My guess is that this automatic everything bathroom is a German invention. Germany really is “the land of ideas!”

Knowing that the excitement of the city toilette would be hard to top, we decided to end the day by walking through the Hackesche Höfe and then met my German-English tandem partner for dinner and a drink. The three of us being silly might have intimidated by tandem partner a little bit, but heh, he wants to improve his English (which is already very good) and learn about the States. What better US ambassadors are there than Anuradha, Pia and me?!

This morning, the girls were heading off to Leipzig to see the church where the love of their lives, Johann Sebastian Bach, was the music director. They plan to sing on the stairs on the church in memory of him. I can’t wait to hear all the details!

Here's a picture from New Year's so you can put a face to the stories. Pia and Anuradha are on the left. More pictures to follow soon!


At 2:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Erin, pleeeease take down this terrible picture of me!!! I promise I will send you better pictures soon :)

Miss you!

At 2:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, for the interest of blog readers, Piya and I did sing before our great love, Bach. We sang "Bist du bei mir." Luckily they were doing construction nearby, so people walking by couldn't hear us over the construction din; if they could, they probably would have thought we were crazy!



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