There’s an old saying that “a rolling stone gathers no moss”. Arguably, there could be a Nordic equivalent to this, by saying that a flowing stream does not freeze and perhaps there indeed is one, but I have not just ran into it yet.
This photo I took earlier today, reminded me of the aforementioned sayings and how they apply to both nature, business or any private life issue, for that matter. One should always try to strive forward and of course this is easier said than done, but if one reminds himself of this at least weekly, if not daily, it can slowly become embedded into our self-image. Seeing oneself as one who always goes forward, develops and adapts to new challenges will help to not perhaps gets so easily stuck in routines and habits. Routines and habits which could arguably not always be for the better, when thinking in a business sense. At every turn (easier said than done yet again) one should ask oneself “how can I push myself further? How can we make something that’s “good” into something that’s “great”? By trying to do this, one can avoid becoming the moss covered rock or, if looking at the picture, the water that has frozen still.
Last year I befriended a lot of Irish people, supported Ireland at the European Football Championships in Poznan, saw Ireland get beaten by Italy 2-0, drank like an Irish man and yes, even sang like an Irish man (although mostly football songs). Having gotten to know the Irish culture a bit, I hadn’t had the chance to actually visit the green island itself, that is until last weekend.
It took me 2, not pleasant, hours on-board a Ryan Air aircraft to get my Finnish Ass to the land of Guinness and supposedly Leprechauns. Now, I could go on and on how much I dislike Ryan Air, but that seems to be rather pointless, but at least they’re affordable… What struck me initially as I got off the blue and yellow coloured “cattle” carrier, was definitely the weather. I as a Finn hear often that I shouldn’t complain about it being cold somewhere, but in Ireland I complained like Dudley in Harry Potter(which is a lot). I already had a bit of a cold as I flew to the birthplace of Bono and sure as Summer follows spring, my flu didn’t get better…even with the help of Guinness.
I had the pleasure of staying throughout my whole trip at my friend Daragh’s place as well as having him as my personal guide to the city founded by Vikings in the year 840. Having met Daragh basically the last time at the Euros in Poznan (and a bit after that in Berlin) we had a lot of catching up to do, so the first day went by fast, just talking about things that had happened in the past months. We had previously met in the Spring a couple of Slovenians who had now also traveled to Ireland to explore, like me, the Irish culture. It was no accident that I happened to arrive in Ireland on the 26th of September. The next day was a day that has in the recent years received a nearly national holiday status, due to excellent marketing, it was the birthday of Arthur Guinness.
On Arthur’s day we headed down to the downtown pubs to enjoy a drink derived from roasted unmalted barley, a drink that is almost synonymous with Ireland… Guinness. To be honest, before I moved to Berlin I wasn’t a big fan of the dark strong flavoured drink, but as I got to know the Irish, I got to know their drinks as well, and now I can honestly say that I am rather fond of the beer that is thought of as one of the original stout beers. “Sláinte!” Was heard on the 27th day numerous times as our Pints went up to knock on the pints of others as if to say “we’re in this together” and indeed that is how it was, from pub to club the dark pints found their way in groups onto our tables and as if by magic the content of the glasses vanished nearly as quickly as it had been poured into the glasses.
After a few “casual” drinks, we made our way to a bar/club called the Village, which had a nice atmosphere and seemed to be popping. Last year my friends had introduced me to an Irish comedy/rap group the Rubberbandits, whom I had been listening to also before I left for Ireland and as if by the luck of the Irish they happened to playing at the Village that very same night. I couldn’t have been more pumped, I was with my good mates enjoying Irish beverages and now I was even going to see the guys who’ve made songs like “Horse Outside” “I wanna fight your father” and more! (If you haven’t heard of these lads, at least peep them on youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljPFZrRD3J8 , they’re grand!) As we walked up the stairs to the room, where they had just started playing, I could already recognise familiar lyrics ” …I wanna fight your faaaather…” and I knew that this was definitely a great night!
Those of you who might not know Guinness ,alongside having a strong taste, also contains alcohol, which can tend to cause “sluggishness” the following day after being consumed. Having slept a bit longer we decided to continue with the Guinness theme of our visit and head to the St. James’s Gate brewery, or as it is better known as, the Guinness Brewery. Our housing was rather far away from the brewery itself, thus it would take us sometime to make our way there, which meant we had to be swift with our moves and cut our “breakfasts” short and head towards the bus.
As we made our way to the brewery, I could see a clear change in scenery, from pubs and houses to more industrial style buildings with a main colour of gray. After numerous walked blocks, we made our way inside the brewery area, where we were greeted with the surprisingly friendly ticket staff. I have to seriously tip my invisible hat off to the whole Guinness brand for doing such a great job of ensuring that each and every guest felt welcomed to the brewery, as most transactions started with the phrases “where are you from?” following the staff small talking and even in my case switching to German to serve me (after which I did say that being a Finn, English’ll do). As mentioned earlier, I had a ongoing flu which basically took a lot of my energy out of me and at times it was really hard to stay concentrated during the tour of the home of the dark nectar of the Irish. Having survived to the end of the self-guided tour my energy was restored by seeing the amazing view over Dublin from the Gravity bar on top of the brewery (whilst obviously enjoying a complementary pint of the Arthur’s world famous stout). We spent a good while taking pictures and enjoying the view from the extraordinary glass bar packed with other tourists after which we headed home like boring old men to heal up so as to still be able to do something the following days.
The last day we decided to go check out the seaside of Dublin (to be honest can’t remember what area it was), if I had thought the inner areas of Dublin were windy, boy was I in for a treat. Yes, I should know that on the shore of any sea it is going to be windy, but still, you never really are prepared for it. I felt like I had someone pointing a hairdryer at me constantly, blowing out nothing but chilly seawind, nevertheless I had a nice day with my friends and was able to take a couple of nice pictures as well, before heading back with the DART train to the city. As it was our last night in the Irish capital, we decided to go out with a bang and head to the clubs, ensuring that my flight the next day would be one of the worst in my life… I did indeed survive the flight and am now happily back in Berlin writing this blog. I will for certain visit Ireland again in the future, but I will first have to rest for sometime to recover fully from this trip to the island that is Éire.
In the modern world work is often associated with stress, however for me the past few months have been everything else than stress! I have enjoyed my work a lot to be honest. Now even though I cannot say I share the stress phenomenon with my fellow workers in the world, I can still say that I have become a nine to six worker, meaning that most of my days are spent at the office. Those rare days, sometimes referred to as the weekends, when I do not find myself drinking coffees at the office, I try to make the most of my free time i.e. spend it with friends and perhaps enjoy the night life of Berlin. This is a rather fun lifestyle, have to admit, however the lack of spare time has led to my camera feeling (if it felt anything) lonely on these cold autumn nights. Like a bad lover I had neglected my camera for a long time, but luckily for my Sony, I had enough energy on Sunday to actually go and take a walk in the city and try to take some decent memories of the darkening September nights.
After meeting a couple of good friends for a Sunday drink at Alexanderplatz and having a must have Döner at Mehringdamm (Mustafa’s to be precise), I took the U-Bahn towards the RingBahn which I would normally use to get home a bit quicker. This time however as I reached S-Bhf Tempelhof, I decided to walk outside the ring (funnily enough probably the first time in a month that I step outside the ring) and see if there would be anything of interest to take images of.
Having walked for 15 seemingly long minutes, I hadn’t seen anything that would have sparked my interest…that is until I saw a van, an old neglected delivery van. Perhaps it’s the fact of seeing too many shiny things that made that rusty old van seem like a cool target for snapping a couple of quick photos, or then it was just the fact that I wanted to photograph just basically anything so that I wouldn’t have to go back home empty carded (see what I did there..) . Snip Snap went the shutter and back went the camera into the bag, I was done with the van and moving forward like a determined bargain hunter at post-holiday sales destined to find something cool.
I came to a seemingly normal looking crossroad and just for the fun of it took a couple o’ images to go, before continuing to the normally crowded, but now what was like a wasteland, parking lot of Ikea. There wasn’t a lot of things to take photos of, since the tumbleweeds were moving too fast for me, but I managed to get a couple of pics of the empty lot that belonged to the Swedish Adult-Lego store.
As I came closer to the highway, I already knew that I wanted to take a couple of images having the shutter open for a longer time, and even though it is in nooooo means original to take pics like that… I still think these few highway photos turned out to be the nicest of the bunch, making my Sunday worth while. Having no other pedestrians bothering me as I set up my camera to capture this chilly September night in the form of a couple of flashing photos; it was perfect.
I could now simply put my camera back in my messenger bag and head home, knowing that I at least had one decent pic to take with me. So as to not overwork your imagination, I have attached the photos of the night in a chronological order below so that you too can take a short virtual walk between Tempelhof and Südkreuz on a fresh autumn night.
Even though I had mentioned in the previous post that I would be posting pics of my time in Finland, in the next few posts, I have to break that promise. You see, Berlin is just too tempting to capture on a memory card (wouldn’t it be so much nicer to say on film), meaning that I had to go and take a couple of pictures of the capital of the country that I myself have dubbed the economic lungs of Europe. Oh and on another note, last week I finally started my internship, here in the big B. Having hunted down internships like Robin Hood the rich, I am so happy that I ended up where I did. Each day so far has been filled with humor, fun and even work, which has felt more like my thing than padding down people at the airport (ref. to a previous job).
During the weekend I tried to go and take some pictures while the sun was up. My task was seemingly difficult, seeing that it was often rather cloudy and thus the sun was starting to at times feel like a distant relative who never visits, even though you might like to see him/her. I ended up taking a couple of “quick” photos and to my surprise some of them seemed to have turned up to be rather ok. Do check them out and I’ll be adding some Finnyland Fotos (had to continue the F- theme) later on.
Every spring when the sun has started to become a frequent friend and the temperatures are rising like a souffle in an oven, Berliners living in Kreuzberg clear the streets of cars, not in fear of them getting burnt as usual, but to make space for the 3 day street party that is the Karneval der Kulturen.
I could go on and on about how the whole carnival got started, but to be honest my timetable doesn’t really enable me to research the party in too detail. All I can say for sure is that it started in 1996 to celebrate cultural diversities or a multicultural city as it is. The concept seems to be that people of different unifying factors form floats which then parade through the streets of Xberg and spectators walk along the roads digesting culture through every single sense they can.
Whistles, techno, samba, hiphop, punkrock you name it, you heard everything whilst walking behind other people as if you were a big herd of happy zombies enjoying the awesome weather and good company. Since I’ve been here in Berlin I haven’t seen a gathering of people so large except at Brandenburger tor during the Einheitsfest, but even there people weren’t filling the streets in such lengths as they did this weekend in Kreuzberg.
If you happened to have Kohle (trying to be hip and use German lingo for money) there was sure enough places where you could get rid of your excess cash. Cocktail kiosk, beer booths, grills and obviously the most necessary kiosks of them all: the funny hat/wig stands. Personally I only used the services of one grill to buy myself a big ol’ steak in a bun. Sadly though, I ended up having a rather bloody steak which was impossible to eat thus ended up enjoying a mere “steak flavoured bun”, which I kept telling myself was all I actually wanted and didn’t care for the steak anyway.
The numerous “official” parties were also accompanied by seemingly popup house parties on literally every corner, and yes these parties were not invite only! Not only were people jamming to their pop tunes coming out of their home stereos, own grills were also set up on the street or porches near the said parties, giving the mini-fests a nice smokey aroma.
If you happen to be a more of a “I know I can dance guy”, there was plenty of room on the streets to get “jiggy with it”, as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air once sung. Probably one of the coolest streets was Zossnerstrasse, just off the main parade road. At times it truly seemed there that we were in a massive outdoor disco, it was ridiculous, in a good way!
The fact that people can have so much fun, without causing disturbances or trouble even when enjoying alcohol, is for a Finn almost unheard of. During the whole time I was there (roughly 8hrs) I did not witness a single fight or other violent behavior, maybe it was just luck, but I’d like to imagine it’s something else, it’s the culture. I believe this to be the best part of the Karneval der Kulturen that if it indeed is possible, Berlin felt even just a notch more tolerant than normal which is really impressive seeing that this is by far the most tolerant and peaceful city I’ve been to so far. During these 3 days people could not only come to the streets and be themselves to the fullest, but furthermore they were encouraged to do so, which I can only say is pretty damn awesome.