Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Life in a fishbowl

A year ago we moved into this flat, leaving behind a cute one room flat with awkward mezzanine levels and deadly stairs. Note that I said one room. Only one. Not one bedroom. Just one room. Spending six weeks living in the two square metres of a VW bus was noooo problem for us, we´d had a lot of practice.

So we hunted for a larger flat. One equipped with doors and walls. To our great surprise we discovered that - hey, most flats seem to come with them! Automatically! At no extra cost! Who´d have thunk it? We took a flat we fell in love with immediately because it is extremely long and therefore feels more spacious than it actually is, has 3.6metre ceilings and a bizarre round walled kitchen jutting onto the servants entrance stairwell. Helllloooo, servants entrance. How could I turn that down? I send DrH out that way to throw out the rubbish because just making someone use it while doing menial chores makes me feel as if I´m swanning around in floor length dresses and demanding mint juleps on the balcony.

Several people tried to talk us out of this flat because it is on the ground floor. To which I would point out, actually no it´s hoch paterre, which puts it a whole half a storey off the ground. That way people can´t see in quite so easily, but man do I see a lot of hairstyles bob past the windows. Don´t forget that it isn´t as if we have front gardens here. The footpath is directly in front of my windows.

My desk is in the window of one of our street facing rooms and sitting here all day I have the chance to see some of the finest examples of modern Berlin life. There´s the old guy from the back house who comes out every morning and stands in front of my window smoking a cigarette for ten minutes before disappearing with his shopping trolley. There´s the old woman from across the street with the amazing collection of hats who walks her cat on a lead twice a day up and down the street. There´s the DHL delivery guy who I´m almost on first name basis with as I end up taking all the deliveries for those who aren´t home at 2pm. The second floor across the street has a teenager who spends a lot of time on computer games and directly him below is a middle aged couple who´ll have dinner on their balcony even if it´s sleeting.

And I imagine they know me quite well. I´m the daggy woman across the street with the mutant dog and permanently messy hair who sits at her computer and watches the street all day. You know, the one who really should buy some curtains because we just know waaayy too much about what happens in her life.

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