Diary of an Expat, Part 65
New Years :D
Last week I chose to write about trains, because I wanted to wait a week to write about explosions in order to see if that changed anything. But it didn't, and the explosions stopped.

Berliners really, really like explosions. To an almost unhealthy degree. When Germany was involved in some football match or another over the summer, the sound of fireworks rang through the streets of Berlin like... something that rings. Bells, I guess.

This, as it turns out, is nothing compared to what happens on New Years.

I got back to my apartment at about 17.30 or 18 on New Years' Eve, enough time to run to the last store before it closed and pick up some food (on the — correct — assumption that everything would be closed on the following day). When I got back, I heard a few explosions in the distance. But I paid that no mind.

They started in earnest at perhaps 9 or 10 that evening, a pleasant evening, slightly crisp and just begging to be filled with the scent of cordite and the sound of deflagration. By thirty minutes to 2013, the air was a constant roar of explosions, the sort of sounds you'd associate with stories set in war-torn cities like... uh. Well, like Berlin, really.

There was convulsive roar just about at midnight, which I naively assumed would mark the end of the detonations. It did not; nor did 12:15, nor 12:30, at which point I decided it was time to explore a little bit, although I was still a bit discombobulated and rather heavily jetlagged. My reflexes, not terribly good at the best of times, got an immediate workout when I opened the door and watched a roman candle fly half a meter in front of my face.

Now, the extremely inebriated man holding the firework was not trying to hit me, nor laying down suppressive fire on my apartment block. In fairness, I was not the target at all. It seems that the target was a taxi cab further down the street and, also in fairness, he did hit it. Causing no damage — or perhaps the driver had nothing to reciprocate with.

There were no real cars on the street, probably because this was something very much like suicide. I walked for a couple of kilometers through Berlin, discovering by degrees that literally everyone joins in this magical orgy of explosions and bright lights. I witnessed a young child toss a spinning firework under a passing police car; I watched multicolored sparks shower over the revelers at a functionally closed Rosenthaler Platz. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, c-beams glittering in the dark, etc. etc.

Germans have a reputation for being staid that, so near as I can tell, is completely undeserved. They are not always outwardly boisterous in the way that Americans can sometimes be, but even without the assistance of ethanol they can be pretty crazy... and they do drink a lot. In the same way that the notionally religious "Christmas" has in Berlin mostly become an excuse for mulled wine and hanging out in Christmas markets, I'm reasonably certain that "New Years" is just an excuse to blow things up and get drunk.

But really, what else do you need? After all, literally the first thing that happens after a New Year's Party is you wind up in a brand new year, and really, what the hell are you supposed to do with that?

I got a German phrase-a-day calendar for Christmas. From "Happy new years" to "I have good intentions," by which I presume we mean resolutions, the phrasebook has progressed through "I want to lose weight" to "I gained weight over the holidays" to "I want to take up jogging" to, now, "I'm not very good at skating." I guess all of these are true?

Either way it was pretty cool, and pretty crazy. And good weather for it; after a brief flirtation with snow in November and December, the latter bits of that month and the early bits of January have been generally quite pleasant. And being back here reminds me of just how much I love Berlin, the answer to which is "a lot," maybe even with an emoticon. "A lot :D"

Next week maybe I'll write about Nazis.
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