Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Less Pretty Entry About What Else?

Well, another week in Berlin, and I htink we know what that means.
-Did you forget to bring the camera to a series of interesting happenings?
Well, yes, but that's not the main thing.


This time I was a bit more engaged than just stumbling onto it. A dude in my French class, Stefan, invited all of us to the most unobjectionable protest ever:

Like, yes, I am pro-education, like almost everyone else on the planet, certainly in the western world, and it's Amnesty, so no semi-legal funny stuff, so why not? I ask Stef for more info, and he seemed thrilled that anyone was coming.

"Well, it's at 10:30, and we'll have a few theater pieces, snow predicted, so dress warm and there will be drummers, and we're all wearing yellow and I can't be there until the actual march is done, so at the rally. We have bread and ponchos too!"

Ok, well, what else do I have lined up? Nothing, so at 10:30 I was at the Hackescher Markt to meet a squadron of German university and high school students in yellow ponchos.

A word about Amnesty International members, having been to a few meetings at NU in my time, they seem to be the same everywhere, even the ones who are just taking part for the sake of having it on their CVs. There are the hippy souls who legitimately care about all the beautiful creatures of...yawn...what? Oh right, and then there are the more liberal minded types who simply want to make a diference and find the less well established groups on campus (DieLinke.) not organized enough, and then there are the ones who are working "within the system to change it," the ones who wear button-up shirts and study pre-law, and they were all out en force.

They started in the snow with a little skit, in which the tired-looking faculty adviser, a man of about 50, "violently blocked the doors of education" and thus prevented a dread-locked girl from taking part. The problem was he clearly wasn't an at all, so he kind of woodenly stuck out his arms, took one step to the left and right and said " come in." I found it rather funny.

Then we were off for the march, which was of some distance considering it was snowing, and we stopped for a while in front of Humboldt. Because I wasn't really informed on the topic, and I'm not in their Amnesty chapter, I was more of a walking spectator. I didn't take a poncho or plackard, but I set off to learn as much about what was going on as I could while wandering through the crowd. It was through this moseying that I made the acquaintance of a girl who had organized the benefit concert accompanying the march, and the maybe president of the chapter. Both girls were really sweet, but wearing tragically thin shoes (chuck tailors), so after talking to them about German feminism for some time, I ran off to a nearby bakery on a coffee run. This was of course to warm/caffinate us for the rally, but it was also a chance for ME to get the feeling back in my toes as well. The concert organizer was studying "Amerikanistik" which is what it sounds like, and she was planning on spending some time working in Wisconsin.

QUICK WISCONSIN PAUSE: when she said this she was really excited, like "I'm going to WISCONSIN!" and not to offend any of my loyal readers in the Cheese State, but I found this rather amusing. A scene from Love Actually came into my mind, appropriate at this time of year, in which dopey English "Colin Frissle" tells his friend that in order to improve his chances of finding his love, he's "going to a wonderful place...called...WISCONSIN!" You should all see the movie, great Christmas music, and wonderful utilization of Alan Rickman's acting and Jodi Mitchell's songs.

So we ended up at the Brandenburg Gate, where I finally waved at Stef, who was insanely busy and a little irked that the state representative for Amnesty hadn't shown up yet, so I stayed in the crowd, petting the Beagle this woman had brought. He was a leftist Beagle to be sure.

Then they did another sketch which involved my favorite thing ever: Germans speaking English. The idea was a classroom of students conjugating "to see" as "We DON'T see, We DON'T Look, It is not our business!" as one by one the girls in the classroom are covered in black cloth and hauled away behind a chicken wire barrier. This was actually a really good idea, but the Beagle was so alarmed at this injustice that he proceeded to flip his little Beagle lid and barked furiously. The speaker then showed up and gave a speech that I found rather lackluster considering that it was snowing outside and our numbers were thinning. I think that for such a situation you need a really good high school football coach, pepping up his team for the big game. This American Life had a great example of this pep talk in a piece about a voter registration drive on UPenn's campus.

But we all survived, and it ended rather anticlimactically with the student speaker somehow trying to get us to do "air raid," the game in which someone yells "AIR RAID" and you fall on the ground, and then you get up, and then AIR RAID again, so you get down, etc etc. This time, however, he didn't' yell but instead just like motioned for us to get down. I don't think anyone had any clue what the kid was doing (maybe he's in training to become a high school football coach?), but we played along, the 100 or so yellow ponchos flapping to the wet ground. When it was all over, Organizer Girl invited me to the concert, but I couldn't actually go on account of a meeting I had with one of my French crew...let's call them the Baguette Brigade!

I managed to go 2 hours in French without saying more than 2 English words next to each other at a time. Isn't that amazing?! It also reminded me how frustrating learning a language can be trying to figure out how to say something you don't have the tools for.

FYI: The entries now have less bells and whistles because I am writing them on my laptop during my downtime in Venice with mom and dad. This entry, however, was drafted in the Berlin airport. Happy Turkey Day y'all!

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