Sunday, March 8, 2009

Canadian embassy--why the heck not, eh?

If you have 15-20 free minutes, and you're wandering around Potsdamer Platz, you will no doubt notice the "Entdecken Sie Kanada!" signs all around the embassy. We sure did, and rather than ignoring Canada as most Americans are want to do, this time I was feeling free-wheeling enough to, as the poster prompted, "Discover Canada!" and Philippe was feeling patient enough to indulge me.

The security guard greeted us at the small entrance and said "Can I help you?" in German. "We want to discover Canada!" I said with total non-sarcastic enthusiasm. "Right this way!" he responded, like he was about to burst into a song about the joys of Canada. Then came a cursory wanding ("You beeped? No, it must have been your buttons, forget it. You won't get into trouble, eh?"), which was pretty great! Then the woman at the front desk, who you could kind of tell didn't get much new company at her job (I don't know why the rest of the world isn't as keen on entdecking Kanada) started to show us around. There was only one room that was open for visitors, and apparently one third of the screens in it were broken, with no "fix date" in sight.

The biggest deal was being made of presumably one of the most influential Canadians of all time. Gretzki? No. Mike Myers? No. Alanis? No.

Marhall McLuhan!

Way to lead with your best foot there, fellas!

As explained to me he was a "media critic from the 50s whose work is very relevant to us in this day and age." errrrr... We messed around with the screens, which displayed such media classics as "McLuhan lecture at Ohio State University." That isn't even IN Canada! It got better though; the headphones for the movie clips came from a circular black leather couch with headphone jacks; these jacks played music from Canadian artists and such radio news classics as "poor grammar in 1940s youth."

The grammatical crises of Saskatoon's teen set were gripping, don't get me wrong, but we were looking for something a bit more interactive. Thank gawd the embassy had thought of this and come up with a really cool touch-screen map game about Canadian states (it's available online too...right here), led by a bouncing graphic we came to discover was actually Bernard the Bilingual Canada Map Beaver: he speaks Quebequois AND English! This information, I have to say, could not be verified, since it came from the two front-desk-minders on their shift-change. He was in reality quite cute, a credit to whatever graphic artist firm invented him.

A-door-bell! And bearing a passing resemblance to Olive the Other Reindeer

Just for comparrison's and cuteness' sakes, I present: Olive! -->

So we messed with the Canadian provinces, killed some time with Bernard, and left, but I would here and now like to give an online "shout-out" to the Canadian embassy staff:
Thanks for being so pleasant, you guys!
Sorry your spokesman is a media critic from the 50s!


Steve E said...

There is some kind of canada discovery center in Berlin. That is too strange...

Steve E said...

Ah, it was the embassy? You made it sound like some kind of amusement park :)

Kate said...

oh, but it IS an amusement park! Just not the kind with rides...more like with media critics from the 60s. They also have a fountain that is supposed to be reminiscent of Niagra Falls (it's a wall with water falling down it)

Kate said...
This comment has been removed by the author.