Friday, October 13, 2006

POST Titled: NEUE WELT (foto to come)

In an attempt to stave-off jetlag I walked around the new neighborhood and was completey enamoured. (I also discovered that I now live in "Neukölln", not "Neu Köln" as I thought- which wouldäve translated to "New Cologne" which was particularly to remember)

I am a minority in this area as far as I can tell, the neighborhood is bustling with Turks, Arabs, indians and white folk all pretty well integrated. Most of the kiosks have small froups of middle aged Turks chatting loudly and gesticualting, and there are doyens of cafes and bars full of old men talking and smoking over tea or beer. I know it is a commonly accepted theory that the native German people are breeding themselves into extinction (or un-breeding, that is, NOT having children at a high enough rate to equal the death rate) but I donät really think that can be as dooming as it has been made out to seem... (more on that later after I do a bit of research)

Pretty much everywhere you look there is someoine riding by on a bike, people of all ages going about there business calmly crusing by on large-wheeled street bikes, which is ideal. All the streets have a bkie lane between the sidewalk and actual car-street. In Seattle (or much less, NYC for example) biking was like war, the cars ruled the streets and getting anywhere was borderline life-threatening but here I haven't seen anyone wearing a helmet, but there doesnät seem like a need for them. It just doesn't feel as dangerous...
This morning Nadinechen and I took Charley (the 7_year_old English≠German girl whom she looks agter 2 days a week) to the centrally located and very old≠famous Zoologischer Garten (the Berlin Zoo) which was basically mindblowing as far as Zoogoing experiences go. From the getgo the proximity issue comes to mind again: the animals are CLOSE, I've never been 10 feet from a rhino or a dwarf-hippo before today, but the small plots where the animals live/graze are only separated from the visitors by a 4_foot deep dry moat. You can view the creatures up-close and personal...
However I'll have to admit that many of the living environments for these animals were sub-aub par compared to what seems humane... the monkeys and chimps in particular are stuffed in spaces that look like huge gym showers with toothpaste-colored tiles completely lining on all the three 15-foot walls, a few thick ropes for them to swing on and a beck or two,(the orangutan was obsessed with trying ti unscrew the bench and kept sucking on locks and metalwork) maybe an array of industrial-looking seatbelts hangning from the ceilings and some fluffy straw on the floor but these animals look more like they are being kept in a high-security asylum (think Arkham) as opposed to a friendly zoo. Come to think of it, there isn't a trace of nature in the entire monkey house, which may account for the impression I got, namely: that these monkies would be suicidal if they only had a smidgeon bit more self-awareness...

Most isteresting was the petting zoo section. It is full of goats, sheep, ducks, donkies, geese, human-children and is completely unsupervised. not a single zoo-worker in sight for the entire half-hour while kids were hugging creatures with horns. I couldnät possibly fathom this ever existing in the united states: imagine the chaos, kids and animals alone in a ring... (Ultimate Fighting Kindergarten Version?) it's just uintinkable, but here it worked. Kids discovered boundaries with the animals and were learing to respect their autonomyö but there was the occasional goat fight, horns clashing and ramming and wrestling adn all, I just watched wide-eyed waiting for a baby to be gored, but it never happened... and once again somehow I don't think it would. No helmets, no supervision, what's going on here?!?! Oh wait, people are actually humane and fairly reasonable here- whew, I almost forgot. not to sound too much like a Euro-supremacist (because there IS a lot to complain about as well) but I love the way many things just work here, they function without fire-codes and lawsuits and kids fall down and scrape their knees but thatäs the way itäs always been, well- except in the USA since the last few decades of the 20th century. Normally I wouldnät bother writing these thoughts, but it hit me pretty hard today... couldn't help but notice...
ah, and now a funny subtle little topic:
brutality. In the wild cat house the animals were fed whole (were they live?) rats and mice, which they proceeded to GORE and drag all over their pens right in front of dozens of small children. I watched an adorable "Sandkatze" (looks like a cartoon-version of a house kitten, small strawberry blonde with a disproportionately large head) slurp rat intestines as if they were spaghetti, then cough up a sandy hairball. The tiny jaguars did the same, ripping apart the mice and dragging the innards all over, chewing and regurgitating several times over. I've never seen this at a US zoo, do they do this stuff in the back feeding room or what? Or do we just take death to the back room overall? (Thinking slightly jokingly "Before 6-Feet Under it was almost like death was imaginary..." yea, thanks roomers!)
ah, ok, thatäs enough for now. Iäm in the slightly chilly but lovely old old aparment room with a great view of the neighbors apartmets , the sun is down, and Nadine just walked in the door with chilled skin from the walk-U-Bahn farht home. We might head to a little arabiian spot down the street, get some falafel or something with the old men... or make the couscous I bought adn just hang out here and listen to music and goof off all eveing,... either way: bis bald.
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