Diary of an Expat, Part 32
The weather! Protesters! Light!
So one of the interesting things about Berlin, I have found, is the way in which it fails to feel, much of the time, like a Big City.

Not all of the time, mind you. Berlin has its homeless population, and the streets are littered with broken glass if you find the right ones (streets that is) but for the most part it has what I would describe as a perversely small-town feel. The traffic is generally not bad, because most people take trains or bike, so it sounds much less full of bustle than, say, New York.

It also, for reasons that are not clear to me, smells a lot like a small town. By this I mean that the smell of the cars, and the people, is tempered heavily by the smell of the fact that every building in Berlin has a courtyard, and trees, and there are parks everywhere.

It is these parks, actually, that I have had cause to be examining in slightly more detail. Why?

Oh, right.

The answer is because it's been getting light at 5 in the morning, and it doesn't really get dark until 9 or so at night. Therefore I can leave work at 7 and spend a couple hours out in the soft evening light of a spring that, at the moment, feels increasingly like summer.

It got up to 30 degrees today, which is treating that line at which things start to become uncomfortable, particularly if you are a person like me who tends to wear layers. But I'm willing to put up with this, for now, because it is absolutely glorious to be so readily and so frequently soaked with sunlight.

As a result I've been trying to amend my schedule — I've been getting up at 5:30 in the morning, generally, and trying to be in bed by 10 or so. This means that I spend all of my waking time without the need for a lamp, which is fortunate because I still don't have one.

I made another brave attempt today, but I'm quickly discovering that the cheapness of Berlin runs head-on into some weird hedonistic tendency the Germans apparently have to spend lots of money on home furnishings. Ikea has a Sunday shopping day tomorrow, and as I have a friend of mine who's fond of their cafe I may swing down and see what's happening.

That might also allow me to acquire blinds, which is an issue of increasing importance on those rare occasions when I feel like being asleep past six o'clock in the morning. It happens, sometimes; you know how it goes. You have to keep your energy up, so that you can enjoy those parks. Or a good protest or two.

I don't know if there is a protesting season in Germany; it wasn't so common back in the winter but people were definitely getting out in the fall. We had our first protest of the season Friday; as near as I can tell it was really just a protest about "things aren't all that good" and "we want things to be less bad," chiefly in the form of asking the city to please not gentrify so much.

Good luck with that one.

The protest, which drew a couple thousand people, shut down the road outside my house and drew the attention of the police. Unlike in the United States, the police do not respond to young protesters by handcuffing them and then beating them up (strange, I know). Instead, they get all their vehicles out, and they line them up by the side of the road, and then the officers kind of lounge and wait for something to happen.

It didn't yesterday, or at least it didn't by the time I got there. At that point, one of the protesters had rounded up a truck with a decent speaker system, and people were playing loud music. I saw a lot of beer in play. It may be that they simply felt that they had accomplished their goals ("there are a bunch of us here, and please stop making our city attractive to rich people who come and buy apartments") and could kick back and relax a bit.

I don't know

I may try some of that tomorrow, the kicking back and relaxing thing. As long as I'm home before nine. Wouldn't want to stay out after dark.
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