Friday, August 17, 2007

Half-day off

Had a beer with Ingrid and AY at his third-favourite restaurant late last night, sitting outdoors under a clear, starry sky. The curators were decisive and un-farty and generally pleased with the project and our work, all systems go but my gods what a lot of going remains. AY saw the extent and quality of our work for the first time yesterday, and declared himself to be highly impressed with both. And it was indeed impressive even to me: we produced an inch-thick pile of drawings from a standing start in three weeks. Pats on the head and skritches between the ears all round.

We talked about "home" and what it means to feel "at home" in a city (we are all new to Hamburg, AY and I are from Stuttgart and Ingrid from Kiel): finding five or six places to which one can return, "my" newpaper stand and "my" cafe and "my" grocery store; being recognized and greeted by someone who is already at home in the place; being able to give directions to someone who asks for help. And of course, having a familiar and comfortable room of one's own to stay in.

Yesterday was spent principally in dodging sudden, violent rainstorms and basking in the quarter-hours of brilliant sunshine that followed them. The weather up here is strangely rapid: one might forecast "overcast with clear skies, bright sunshine and heavy rain" all summer long, and be right nearly every day. Ingrid and I sometimes walk to the Bootsmann for lunch in bright sunshine, huddle against the rain under an umbrella while we eat, then walk back to work in sunshine again. The rain is often of a kind previously unknown to me: nearly invisible tiny raindrops barely the size of a pinprick in paper, almost undetectable on the skin but which still soak you to the core after an hour.

I walked downtown, browsed in a few bookshops (but bought nothing), visited the Speicherstadt office (very dubious wall-to-wall carpet reeking of industrial chemistry), and took a canal boat tour which I am sadly unable to recommend. There are at least two different tours; that which I took duplicated the Alster boat trip on Saturday with the addition of two smaller waterways. Don't take that, it adds little to the experience of the Alster trip; search around until you find the tour that goes along the Goldbekkanal and take that instead.

Today will be a half-day only, which still means about eight hours' work; we will meet at noon to consider how my remaining three days are best spent. The programme is unlikely to include "biting her arse."

Something else that I've been meaning to mention concerns a bit of self-knowledge, always a good thing, which I have acquired through this project: I miss cooking. (My sister is now laughing hysterically.) I almost always cooked lunch for myself when working at home, and after three weeks here I'm getting quite sick of bought food. I shall be glad to be home and pottering about in my kitchen again.

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Blogger Jean said...

"Finding five or six places to which one can return, "my" newpaper stand and "my" cafe and "my" grocery store."

This reminds me of a book by the Swedish social anthropologist Ulf Hannerz (a lovely man - he visited the university department where I work - the kind of academic who writes from his own emotional as well as intellectual experience, as well as from the recognised 'sources')about Cosmopolitans, where he talks about precisely the ability to do this in a new city one has moved to as part of the definition of a cosmopolitan.

August 17, 2007 at 11:49:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Anonymous sis said...

No, not laughing hysterically. (Oh, all right, maybe smiling patronizingly just a little.) I fully understand the need for both the comfort of one's own food and routines of making it, and the need to just do something for yourself and not have to rely on others to do (prepare) it for you.

August 17, 2007 at 2:39:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Udge said...

Jean: interesting comment about cosmopolitanism, which is in a way the opposite of tourism in that it seeks to make "knowns" rather than looking for the new. It's always been my habit to find nice places and return to them.

Sis: yes, it's the doing as much as the food that I miss. But good, natural food is definitely part of it: I wasn't aware that I eat particularly well (naturally, healthily) but after three weeks here I feel as though I've eaten nothing but sugar and processed flour, and am heartily sick of both.

August 18, 2007 at 9:25:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Lioness said...

Am only skimming bcs no time for more but DID HER ARSE GET BITTEN THEN?? Should I get excited, what are you not telling us?? Or at least, me?

Also, I'll have the world know that Udge sends the best mizo soup. Laugh at that.

August 21, 2007 at 12:22:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Udge said...

Lioness: there's still one more day, and hope springs eternal etc; but the running count of arse-bitings to date is zero.

August 21, 2007 at 8:50:00 a.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Lioness said...

Weeeeell... Did you make a move then?

August 23, 2007 at 11:32:00 p.m. GMT+2  
Blogger Udge said...

The move was made, but she dodged it.

September 5, 2007 at 4:10:00 p.m. GMT+2  

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