October 3rd, 2010
Berlin, Germany

Chris’ appointment with Worldbridge went more smoothly than expected. The guy who did the interviews was a lot more helpful than the woman at the front desk, and reassured Chris that most applications he receieves are from people without six-month residency or properly signed bank letters. He doesn’t know if they actually get accepted or not, but it seems more reassuring than the alternative.

Of course, to get there, he had to get past the woman at the front desk.

“We need your application form.”
“I filled that out online.”
“You need to print that off as well.”
“What? I submitted it online.”
“Yes, but we need a hardcopy too.”
“…Why? What is the point in doing it online if I have to give you a hard copy as well?”
“That’s just how it is.”
“Well, can I use your printer?”
“No.”

Fuck Worldbridge. Fortunately there was a Ritz-Carlton across the street that promptly let him use their printer free of charge even though he wasn’t a guest. Now that’s how private enterprise should be!

I’ve mentioned this before, but if you ever find yourself in government, please do not privatise services that are natural monopolies. I cannot stress that enough.

Now we’re just waiting “an average of 10 business days” for it to come through. We’re mostly just huddling in the apartment, since early October in Berlin is as cold as a Perth winter, but occasionally we’ll rouse ourselves to go do something touristy. We went to the history museum a few days ago, which was interesting. Several people in historical portraits looked uncannily like contemporary actors Sean Penn and Robert De Niro.

It was also amusing to find examples of prejudice randomly scattered throughout the informational plaques. “Jews were not permitted to own property… Jews were not full citizens… as knights sailed for the Crusades, many Jews were slaughtered in celebration.”

“Man, what did the Jews do to piss everybody off?” Chris wondered.

“I think they killed Jesus,” I said. But, hey, that guy had it coming.

The World War II section was obviously the money melon. Germany – unlike SOME Axis countries, not naming any names – doesn’t shy away from admitting that it was the bad guy in World War II. It’s disturbing to watch Hitler gradually rise to power, but at the same time, Year 12 History wasn’t that long ago and I found myself skimming over a lot of it.

More interesting to me is the aftermath – not the Cold War stuff, but the way a society comes to terms with what it just did. According to polls taken during the postwar trials, most Germans wanted to just forget about it and move on, which I suppose is understandable but also just a tad cowardly. Similar to, say, not prosecuting your presidential predecessor for establishing a worldwide network of kidnapping and torture.

We also went to the natural history museum, which had dinosaur skeletons and such.

We’re getting pretty bored here.

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Well, Chris is. It takes a few weeks for me to get cabin fever, as long as I have books and Internet access.

He left his underwear hanging on the balcony the other night and both pairs fell off. One was irretrievably lost to the sidewalk, the other landed on the sattelite dish belonging to our downstairs neighbour.

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He managed to rescue this pair using a coathanger tied to his laptop charger, to the great amusement of myself, Essi, and the assorted crowd sitting outside the bar across the street.

Essi is one of our new roommates, and the only Finnish one – the other, Ruth, is actually Irish-Canadian. Since their arrival I’m once again bunking in a tiny room with Chris. Why, it’s just like being on the road again! Except even Vietnam had better bathrooms than this place (refer to previous post for detailed bitching).

Now that we’re living in our own apartment we’re cooking our own meals, by which I mean Chris is cooking our meals. (I am also forbidden from food shopping, after I returned one day with a hunk of frozen vegetables and some nearly-expired sausages that tasted like I imagine a dead body to taste like). Every night at dinner we watch an episode of the Simpsons for old time’s sake. Last night, particularly nostalgic, I cued up the Channel 10 News theme on Youtube directly beforehand.

Not that I’m particularly homesick or anything. I mean, it would be nice to feel the warmth of the sun on my skin, but I don’t really miss Perth. I visited the opinion section of the West Australian yesterday and was reminded of what a provincial backwater Perth is.

This is the only daily in a state of two million people. Here is a summary of the ten most recent opinion articles:

1. Teaching
2. WHATEVER WILL WE DO ABOUT THIS MINORITY GOVERNMENT?!
3. Australia’s Next Top Model
4. A meandering review of a paperback thriller, the writer referencing Sartre and randomly discussing his cats
5. Mining
6. Mining
7. Right-wing Alston cartoons
8. AFL
9. Canada should host the Commonwealth Games on account of not being a shithole
10. A collection of Youtube music videos

God strike me dead if I am making those up. I presume all the talented journalists flee to the eastern states. Or the UK.

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