Thursday, September 25, 2008


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Deutsche Welle

Like I said, It’s everywhere the same. Don’t expect It’s better on the other side. It’s just that the cliché makes it, that you expect in a land like Germany, with all those big pictures of natural ordering. Everything should be so tidy and you never get any issue with administration or providers. Wrong. It’s even worse than you think. If you were leaving here, you'd forget very quickly your clichés and you'd be very disapointed. My family and friends, do not believe stories that I tell. Only my colleagues here and even locals know what I am talking about. I asked beginning of august the transfer of my telephone line together with internet. The provider scheduled it and so at the very date the line was cut off at the old flat. What you have to know is that the German telecom company has the monopole of the connections in the country and if they don’t show up, you have no connection. So I lost it. 4 weeks and half. 5 appointments. Actually, they did show up. I was in the flat without the hands because of the work in the new flat. They had something to bring from their truck and they came back with a note, glued on my mail box, saying that because I was not there, telecom could not put me the line ! So you take a new day off (because they only come from 8:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m) and you wait the whole day in the flat. Same thing happened again. Starts the crisis time and the third appointment (one week after, new day off) I waited outside ! so they can’t tell I’m not there. Nobody came. “Lucky me”, the weather was good. I screamed on the phone to the provider but It does not help and because “customer service” is an unknown world and word in this country, the agent just hung up at my nose. Nevertheless, after some other phone calls, another agent asked me to do a test because I was connected. Of course I am connected from their side but I can’t use the system because the connection is not made. So I have another appointment but this time next day afternoon from 1:00 p.m to 5:00 p.m. because I stayed outside too long waiting for them to come I was sick, went to the doctor and waited again outside at the front door and again nobody showed up. Reaching the limit I called a last time just to say in a very dry and angry (but calm) way that It was enough. The agent answered he will call me back as soon as he will get the feed back from the telecom. Guess what ? 20 minutes later the ring belled and the technician was there and made the connection. I’m writing you from my computer, in my home. This is the way It goes here. So I am newly connected to the world, after a bit more than 4 weeks, 19 packs of cigs, 36 gums, 2 condoms (with lub), 1 angina, 1 headache, 1 picture in the local paper (but who is this attractive man waiting since 2 days outside in front of the door ?), 1 identity crisis at the internet provider company, 1 suicide by defenestration at Telecom, but I did well and I wanted to thank you all for your never ending support, I will remember, you were by my side when I needed it the most.


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We all complaining about our administration. Everywhere we live in the world, I never met someone who is satisfied about this octopus you just can’t fight against. There is a inertia with the people working at those places, only the idea to have to go there, because you have no choice, makes it an adventure. Even a coma looks more fun. I will give you today an example from France. You can find on the web thousands of examples from the whole world but of course It’s “funnier” when It happened to you. I am talking about the French railway company. I planned in the beginning of the year to take 2 weeks holiday in August in France. It’s not a big deal but when you live abroad you need to organize the journey. Internet helps a lot and booking my flights with Air France was piece of cake. Because I was traveling from Paris to the country, I needed to book train tickets. So internet helped again and although the multiple choice of proposals, I succeeded and made delivered the tickets to my parents address so they could send them to me. But … I had to cancel the whole thing. I moved and could not travel anymore. So I started to cancel. Air France, no problem (again). A phone call is enough. I knew that even if you booked a “dry” ticket (no possibility to change or to get the money back), the company gives the money back for the ticket. You only loose the taxes of the airport, which are the most expensive in the fare. The phone call was barely finished that I had a confirmation on my email and then the money was on the account 2 days later. Then the train tickets : because I booked on internet with credit card, I was expected to be refunded directly on it if I cancel. I must say I booked tickets that are refunded. But every time I tried to cancel, the system said that I had to bring back the original tickets in any train station in the next 6 months. How do I do that from abroad ? Not understanding why, I tried to locate a phone number I could reach to ask. This is a challenge you have to try to achieve because when you live abroad the phone numbers provided by France regarding customer service do not work (there are those special numbers with special fare you can’t use outside the country). So the task is to find one 1) you can use from abroad and 2) which is relevant for your request. You can look anywhere on the website, you will find none of those information. Big issue. Finding nothing, I decided to look at any available phone number, to call and see what happens. I must have landed anywhere in France and explained briefly what I needed and been forwarded in the limb. The guy on the phone was particularly unfriendly and said that he was not responsible for the fact I had so many worries to reach him. Then I asked what I had to do and why the money could not been transferred to my card : just because the tickets have been printed and I have to return the originals back. Of course. He gave me an address and I did send the tickets. A few weeks later, I received a new letter from the same company, asking me to provide my bank details. It’s as if they can take the money from your bank account but they can’t put it back. On the letter, only a reference number, no phone number, only an address. I did send the letter days ago. I’m checking the status of my bank account but nothing moves. Of course I would love to call them but without phone number, I am afraid that I lost purely and simply the amount. Making quick research on internet, I noticed a lot of groans from customers with more or less same issues. It can last months !

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


A new step

It's when the weather is bad that you appreciate to work not far from home. Especially when you don't use public transport but only the bicycle. This happens to me today. I had this morning an early appointment in the center of the city and It rains cats and dogs since last night. I arrived to the appointment completely under water and came back the same way, even more. The rain went through all my clothes and I needed to make a stop home to change. It means that Berlin is changing its clothes as well. From beach bars which are almost all closed for the season now to the terrasses on which you see outside gas heating appearing, we can positively say autumn has officialy made its entrance. There are less and less bikes on the road, we go outside with coats and scarfs, maybe a hat, not yet gloves but not far. We never have enough of accessories here and you're just happy to come back home to cook you a nice meal, enjoying your interior listening music, drinking a glass of wine.

Monday, September 22, 2008

People like you

I saw somebody who
Reminded me of you
Before you got afraid
I wish that you could've stayed that way
I saw a little girl
I stopped & smiled at her
She screamed & ran away
It happens to me more and more these days
And these songs that you sing
Do they mean anything
To the people you're singing them to
People like you
I saw a photograph
A woman in a bath
Of hundred dollar bills
If the cold doesn't kill her, money will
I read a magazine
That said by seventeen
You life was at an end
I'm dead & I'm perfectly content
And these songs that you sing
Do they mean anything
To the people you're singing them to
People like you

Songs That We Sing


Found in the paper today, this article of English Adrian White from the university of Leicester : He made a worldwide map of the happiness in 2007, with 5 criteria : health, wealth, education, national identity and beauty of landscape. France is behind Mongolia and Salvador. Spain and Italy have 28th and 29th position, Germany 20th and Switzerland 2nd. Do French have to work more to be happier ? Research make it that a higher salary does not bring necessarily happiness. But why putting only those 5 criteria to study happiness ? and how can you explain that even if France has good results everywhere, the rank is 62 ? How do you explain that so many English move to France (just compare the health system !) ? I am positive saying that France is a very nice country with a lot possibilities. Only the French like to groan all the time (which is not true, of course).

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Chi Sing

I went 2-3 times already to this newly not long ago opened restaurant Chi sing. It could be an alternative to the crowdy famous institution mr vuong because both are not far from each other. But far enough not to see the same people. I would say that at Chi sing you don't meet as many tourists and It's more local people who want to have a good time enjoying the food, see and being seen but not as much. It's all decorated in grey, white and gold, a mix of ancient style furniture and easy to use tables. It's crowdy all the time but we never had a trouble to find a table free. When the weather is nice, you have the possibility to eat outside but mostly if you are two. More I guess you need to book a bigger table. Service is quick and food very tasty, although the menu is a bit complicated to understand. I would recomment to focus on the day suggestions which are almost always the same but you get what you expect. I was a bit dispointed by the noodle soup because my taste goes to disches like Bùn ( amix of meat, vegetables, noodle and spices). Because it's asian food, avoid the red wine. The choice is small and only one sort is allowed to order for a glass. Otherwise you have to order the bottle. Have a nice dinner and go in a bar to have a drink afterwards. Don't forget to go downstairs to wash your hands. The toilets are all black painted. It says on the card "Huê inspired cuisine", meaning Huê is the capital city of Thua Thiên in Vietnam. Between 1802 and 1945, it was the imperial capital of the Nguyên Dynasty. As such, it is well known for its monuments and architecture. The cuisine of Huê draws from throughout Vietnam, but one of the most striking differences is the prominence of vegetarianism in the city. Several all-vegetarian restaurants are scattered in various corners of the city to serve the locals who have a strong tradition of eating vegetarian twice a month, as part of their Buddhist beliefs.

Friday, September 19, 2008

State of the art

There is a new space for modern art that I discovered a few weeks ago. This is the Berlinische Gallerie where I went for the photographer Herbert Tobias (1924–1982). Mostly black and white, his work in colour was mostly for fashion or gay magazines. The gallerie, from its creation, helped the photographer to carry on his work and that is why you find there an amount of his pictures. All beautiful, but some subjects I was not comfortable with or something disturbed me in a way with the subject or the way It's been made. I didn't follow the nice guy who made an explanation of some of his work, first because of the language and secondly I let myself go wherever my steps bring me and obviously not in the way It should be. If you are interested with the artist, please have a look on the text of the gallerie, It explains better than I can do. A place to discover.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008


On the 6th of September took place in Berlin the Folsom Street "festival" and at night the Pig party. Friends went to the street event and they also pre-bought months ago the tickets for the party. One of my friend called and asked me if I wanted to go to the party. Because I am curious, I said yes and we met around midnight to go there. The journey took a long time with the bike because It was quite far from the center. That night It rained cats and dogs so It was no fun at all. Previously planed with leather trousers and half naked, we changed our mind and went with cargo army pants and T-shirts, which was really enough for what we had to do there. Because I did nothing. I was so disapointed by everything. I remember the same kind of party (Snax at berghain) was great fun but there It was total failure. First the weather, of course. Then the organization of the party, even worse. Once arrived, we had to go inside, go out again because the "wardrobe" area was outside at the end of the park. Then cross again the park back under the rain, then try to get a drink at the bar. No fancy bartender but students wanting to make little money. But before, we learned we had to buy plastic coins to be able to "pay" our drinks. So again queueing a long time to get the plastic valuables. 2 coins for a gin tonic, when you get five coins for 16 € was a bit too much. So waiting again for the barman to deliver the drinks. At one o'clock, the music stoped (technical issue I guess) so the mood never took of. Friends started to go in the darkrooms, some other fucked in front of everyone without even getting a hard on. I went upstairs to make a tour and looked in the eyes of some guys having a blow job or fucking any kind of buddy just laying there, ass opened. Their look was so empty, I guess due to drugs or being bored. I felt so angry and disapointed that I decided to go back home, under the rain (again) and stayed in bed thinking : was this all worth ? Definitely not what I expected.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

With music

Upstairs at Eric's... just because.


The title changed. I felt the need to name the blog with something more related to me nowadays. I am very lucky to live now top floor (without elevator, don't dream, but they say It's good for the health, especially with packs of water !), I can look directly in the sky and Eric is my first name. I am pleased to meet you today.

Upstairs at Eric''s

Moving is always a big adventure. I moved so many times in my life that I sometimes have the feeling I never stayed long enough in a place. Every time I say “it’s the last time” because It just exhausts me to pack all the time but I keep on doing it : I stopped moving by myself or with a little help from my friends and prefer to call professionals. At least, I don’t kill my back anymore. It seems that I have finally found a place to stay. Here in Berlin the offer exceeds the request so It is never difficult to find a new place. What is not that easy is to find a place you like. German standards are not what you expect sometimes and the flats you find do not match your priorities. Most of the time I found flats sad, without feelings, and I do not feel the will to go inside. Nevertheless, after months of patience and research, after phases of ups to downs, It’s done. Of course there are things you are always ready to cancel on your list, meaning you never find the house of your dreams. I was ready for this eventuality and I do not regret my choice. I am not staying in Mitte anymore, but in Friedrichshain. It’s called the “Late Machiato” area because more and more people are moving in. It’s based on the east of Mitte, belonged to ex East Germany and you still find everywhere traces of this period, though it changes very quickly. Friedrichshain is a part of Berlin's borough of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. From its creation in 1920 until Berlin's 2001 administrative reform (remember Wasserschlacht, I talked about previously) it was a freestanding city borough. Formerly part of East Berlin, it is a inner city locality, adjacent to Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg and Lichtenberg. Friedrichshain is named after the Volkspark Friedrichshain, a vast green park located at the north border to Prenzlauer Berg. During the Nazi era, it bore the name Horst-Wessel-Stadt. The largely working-class district was created in 1920 when Greater Berlin was created in a referendum, incorporating several surrounding cities. Friedrichshain united the Frankfurter Vorstadt, already part of Berlin, and the villages of Boxhagen and Stralau. It took its name (meaning "Frederick's Grove") from the Volkspark (People's Park), which was planned in 1840 to commemorate the centenary of Frederick the Great’s coronation. Much of the district was settled in the rapid industrialization of the 19th and early 20th centuries, led by growth in manufacturing and crafts. It owed much to the opening of the railway line between Berlin and Frankfurt (Oder) in 1846 (which terminated near the site of today's Berlin Ostbahnhof), and the opening of the first waterworks in 1865 at Stralauer Tor. In the early 1900s, the district's largest employer was the Knorr-Bremse brake factory; the Knorrpromenade, one of Friedrichshain's most attractive streets, was built to house the management.
When the
Nazis came to power in 1933, the district was renamed Horst-Wessel stadt after the street fighter and writer of the Nazi hymn whose slow death, after being shot by communists, in Friedrichshain hospital in 1930 was turned into a propaganda event by Josef Goebbels.
World War II Friedrichshain was one of the most badly damaged parts of Berlin, as the allies specifically targeted its industries. After the war ended, the boundary between the American and Soviet occupation sectors ran between Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg. This turned into a sealed border between East and West Berlin when the Berlin Wall was built in 1961. The Stalinallee (now Karl-Marx-Allee, where the CSA Bar is and Frankfurter Allee) was built in Friedrichshain in the late 1940s and early 1950s as a prestige project; its architecture is strongly reminiscent of that of Soviet-era Moscow boulevards. It was also the scene of the 1953 uprising, when a raised work quota led to protests throughout East Germany that were only put down with Soviet intervention. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 and German reunification the following October, Friedrichshain began to develop a reputation as a young, dynamic district, thanks in part to low rents and the many empty apartments that also attracted the attention of West Berlin squatters. Alongside the neighboring districts of Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, and Kreuzber, Friedrichshain is now considered one of Berlin's most fashionable areas, and is home to numerous design and media companies including MTV Central Europe. It is known for its many bars, clubs, pubs, and cafes, concentrated in the vicinity of Simon-Dach-Straße and Boxhagener Platz. There are numerous squats in Friedrichshain, particularly in Rigaer Straße. In contrast to the more gentrified and expensive districts of Prenzlauer Berg and Mitte, Friedrichshain has a slightly run-down atmosphere, and its lower rents following German reunification attracted students and artists. Nowadays numerous restoration works are under way and Friedrichshain is developing on a fast pace becoming more and more gentrified itself. I wanted to stay in Mitte first of all but It went too expensive for me and I wanted to have a bigger place to welcome friends when they wish to spend some time with me. Mitte became also too touristic and not being able to be part of the real Berlin life was no fun anymore. I wanted to be a bit nearer from work as well so this area came very quickly in mind. Not many places are renovated so I was ready to do some work. Though I spent a lot of time organizing the work to be done inside the flat, the result matches my expectations. Then the rest of the decoration belongs to me and will take some years. Of course, like it happened when I moved last year here, I had no internet/phone connection for 4 weeks. Not because It takes a long time to get an appointment but because the german phone company has the monopole, their employees just don’t care and do not ring your door but just leave a note on your mailbox, saying you were not at home when they passed by. You, getting nervous with the 8 hours waiting time, you only wish to be able to use your phone. So, It’s a new life again. Secured with the job, money and friends and the discovery of a new area that will be my world for the next (many) years, if I remain here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008