The problem with a conference organized by men is that they don’t realize that visitors need time for shopping. Male scholars brought their wives who shop while men talk. And I’m here alone with nobody to send shopping. Even if N were here, sending him shopping is like asking me to spend a week without reading.
Today we started at 9 am and finished at 9 pm with an hour-long break for lunch. I had to sacrifice lunch because what am I supposed to do, show up back home with no gifts? Besides, I got my compensation for the conference and the euros are burning a hole in my handbag the size of my head.
I was reduced to buying a packet of Putenfleisch – just the name is priceless – and eating it in rapid gulps in my hotel room.
At 9 pm people decided to go out for dinner but I frankly can’t stand any more human company. I mean, these are all amazing people but I can’t stand human beings in these quantities.
I also discovered that Apfelstrudel contains everything but Apfel and Strudel. It’s a huge ice-cream that floats in a sort of a compote with blackberries, strawberries, and elderberries. And there are two tiny bits of dough stuck in it. Please don’t blame this on my faulty German. I pointed the word out in a menu.
A German colleague extolled the virtues of the local schnapps, so I decided to try it. When I asked for schnapps, the waitress beamed, “Oh, schnapps, gut, gut!” and offered me a Bailey’s.
It was really funny when I asked a German person to explain the word Kurbis that appears everywhere on the menu.
“Kurbis! Halloween! Ummm, scary! Scary Halloween!” he explained. “American? You know Halloween! Many many Kurbis.”
Before you think the worst, it turned out to be a pumpkin. I didn’t order it because at this rate a pumpkin can turn out to be anything whatsoever.
Visually, though, Germans seem to identify me as one of their own and address passionate monologues to me in the streets. There’s an election on Sunday and different political groups try to attract passersby to their cause.
There is a lot of Russian-speakers but I wear neither sports pants with white stripes on the sides nor peroxide, which remains the invariable uniform of Russian-speaking women abroad.