Empty Days

Thursday, October 30, 2003

Berlin 1936 & a nice cup of tea

Turns out the most common and therefore nondescript title for your blog is... *Random Thoughts* of course. What this conceals in each particular case is a great and opaque mystery. I wonder who owns the original sites randomthoughts.blogspot.com or, say, myblog.blogspot.com... On the other hand, there are plainty of Johns and Janes out there, so *Random Thoughts* must be the John Smith of the place. A hidden genius or your regular Joe, or both. Baffling.

***

Happened on some blogman raving about Leni Riefenstahl (isn't everyone? even Letterman got down to it - as soon as the old woman passed away of course). Leni or not, it certainly brought back to memory a highly unauthorized visit I once made to the old Olympic Stadium in Berlin. I don't know what bit me. It was closed for renovations and I just knew it was my only chance to see the original "as is" - so I fooled the guard. In the end I was stuck in this huge fenced out space for a number of hours and had to leave with workers and engineers, under escort in fact.

What can one possibly do in an empty Nazi stadium? Well, climb the tribune and imitate Hitler ( O ja! Ich war da... ) or sit in the stands and imagine the pride of the nation(s) out there in the green arena. Or get lost in the repetitive circular corridors and very square staircases. Or walk a few miles from gate 7 to gate 21... I must admit the architecture does succeed in conveying grandeur - unreal, because it's actually a rather small structure by modern standards but you still feel like an ant in there, whether proud citizen of the Third Reich or a mindless 21st century tourister. For some reason I particularly enjoyed the humble weeds growing through the old stone blocks in the open stands in the back. Signs of time bygone but not all gone - as yet. I have no idea what it will all look like after the works are completed a few years from now, but judging from the slick glass-and-metal look of Berlin Reconstructed, there won't be much of that retro feel left. Not to worry - I won't be there for the opening ceremonies.

***

What killed Orwell? I think it was too much black tea. Maybe it will kill me too. In the meantime, I have to say that his extremely minute and slightly obsessive essay on the art of tea-brewing is still the only real thing out there, especially if you can't really afford very expensive and fragrant brands and have to do with hard twigs or tasteless dust or both. Of course, all this is not for the eyes of the tea-bags people - unless they really care to ruin their stomachs for a change. Here is an excerpt:

..."Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference. Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle. Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one's tea is always half cold before one has well started on it." [ more.. ]






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