@germanforayear: Travel and social media won’t change you

Transitory, on ice and breath, a sweeping movement of a coffee-stained Frankfurter Allgemeine. The check-in announcement screams at me as I exit arrivals, stone faces, no signs. Where is my welcoming party?

Thirty hours of cracking your bones in seat 32F and this is what you get, though it might be what you deserve. Nobody’s going to come to get you in GMT+1 except the stipple dreams that you coloured for yourself when you thought it was OK to exchange everything that defined you for a one-way ticket.

@germanforayeaTaxi smells like pretzels. How do u say ‘I need a f**king smoke’ auf Deutsch? #jetlagged

Continue reading “@germanforayear: Travel and social media won’t change you”

A Breath of Fresh Tokyo

As Karen pushes through the revolving door the air begins to thicken with the tang of incense and soy sauce.

Sparkling neon lights flash blue and green and yellow messages against her white-shorts and t-shirt; in bold, red characters, a sign forbids a certain action, of which she is unsure—not to park, or spit, or linger too long in one place perhaps. She thrusts her ticket into her pocket and edges into the current of bodies. Continue reading “A Breath of Fresh Tokyo”

Reflections on Berlin

It’s 8:30 in the morning — a summer morning if you want to be all chipper about it.  I’m strolling up the main street in my neighbourhood, sunlight filters through the elms onto the newly laid cobblestones.

I notice a man in paint-splattered boots enjoying a breakfast beer on the park bench. His arms are covered with faded dragon tattoos — the kind that indicate age and lack of foresight. Around him, a flock of sparrows bounce to and fro like popcorn on a grill, suggesting that he or someone else occupying that bench before him had started the day with a flaky mound of dough from the bakery across the street.

Whether he has just finished work or is on his way isn’t clear, but when he rises to leave, he places his bottle neatly underneath the rubbish bin at the end of a row of empties. Someone will be along shortly to collect them for recycling money. Continue reading “Reflections on Berlin”

Memories of a large city

I’m in the vein of the city: the Tube. I’ve grown used to the faces. They stare and bore into your soul. The never-ending eyes that surround you, and judge you in the millisecond it takes for them to disappear.

Men with strange cranial growths and eastern European girls in fashionable sneakers line the tops of double-decker buses, fast-food wrappers and softdrink cans blend into the ghostly walls of a twilight city theatre like stubble on the giant face of old man London. Continue reading “Memories of a large city”

Down and up in Brighton

Sounds
of Brighton
lure me with romances
sand down my apprehensions where it counts
inhales me into its belly like a whale does a plankton.
Air rots my throat, I wait for open sun
with open umbrella,
why am I
here?
A
man finds me
listless, down at a pub
along the Ship Street. Shakes my hand and smiles
his eyes and I smuggle hushed stories, of truth in beer and tea
he leans across the bar and points a while, nods as he orders my favourite whisky.

On arriving in Amsterdam

So I moved to Amsterdam a week ago, I’m already mobile and there’s a chill in the air. Aside from the peculiar Dutch language, Amsterdam beguiles with its horseshoe streets and baffling harmony between people, trams, cars and bikes. Even close to the centre where I live there’s a weird silence,  like when a cat gives birth; something is happening in this city right under my nose, and it’s up to me to find it.

In the streets,  flocks of confident, well-dressed Dutch people flow past on bicycles as graceful as gazelles, as I struggle with a chain that is heavier and more expensive than the bike I’m attempting to secure. They look upon me with those judging, fair eyes – eyes that quash the impulse to spit in their perfectly groomed hair. I wonder where they are going. Clearly to a modern, city apartment, filled with other handsome, smiling people eating fresh bread, smoking and drinking delicious wine. How gezellig. I make myself a reminder to penetrate their secret society and dismantle it from within.

Meanwhile, grim clouds chase the sun beyond the horizon. The world looks as if it has been bit on the arse by a black hole. I wake in the mornings questioning if my watch had stopped at eight the previous evening or if there has been a total eclipse of all light in the universe. People use the word midday but I’m sure they’d have no idea of what or when it is if no one had invented clocks.

The lowlands deserve a chance however and I’m looking forward to unearthing every morsel of it. Preferably with tablespoons of mayonnaise.