02 September 2010

Rain, and successes and failures and what-have-you

In the time I've been in Berlin, it has rained pretty often. Quite often. I was getting really tired of it, until it became clear to me that the rain barely ever lasts for more than half an hour. If, then, you are walking along with street and it starts raining, you can duck into the nearest business and avail yourself of their services. So far, rain has forced me to drink both a delicious beer and a Vietnamese coffee. It has also forced me to buy black beans and a Turkish bagel-pretzel thing. So that's pretty great. Unfortunately my current neighbourhood also has an enormous number of depressing electronic casinos and at least one brothel. So I am being pretty careful about where I walk when it's cloudy out.


The day before yesterday was an interesting day. My friend Daria is moving to a furnished apartment, so she decided to give me her old furniture. I, in turn, decided to help her move all of her non-furniture belongings to her father's car. In order to do this, I had to get to Potsdam. Normally, I would buy a ticket for this trip without incident, but this time I bought my ticket with incident. You see, Deutsche Bank just sent me a new debit card, and I decided to use it to buy my ticket. Unfortunately, the machine in the subway would neither accept this new card as a payment method, nor would it relinquish the card. I pressed every button on the machine, but the card would not come out. Many passersby, curious as to why I might be standing by the ticket machine looking distressed, heard my story. They pressed buttons and pulled on the card, but to no avail. Finally, I went down the platform in search of an employee, and found instead a post with an "information" button on it. The information man told me to wait five minutes; at this instant, the machine gave up its hold on my card. So I thought that was pretty okay, but I still had to buy a ticket. 

I attempted to insert a 5€ note into the machine. No dice. It wouldn't take it. So I still didn't have a ticket, and I went to another machine. This next machine didn't take bills at all, so I decided to try to use my card again. This time, the process went flawlessly: I typed in my pin, the machine printed out my ticket and my receipt, and then...refused to relinquish my card. So I went to talk to Information Man again. Information Man told me to call customer service. So I called customer service. While I was spending some time on hold, more passersby inquired after my welfare, most notably a girl about my own age. She fought with the machine while I talked to Customer Service Man. Customer Service Man told me (surprise!) to talk to Information Man. When I protested that I had already conversed extensively with Information Man, Customer Service Man reiterated his recommendation that I talk with Information Man. So I talked to Information Man. While I talked to Information Man (for the third time), Helpful Girl guarded my card, in the process missing at least one train, but maybe two.

Information Man told me I had two options: either wait up to 90 minutes for my card to come back out of the machine, or leave my card in the machine's grip and pick it up at the lost-and-found later. The second option seemed pretty improbable to me (how would the card get to the lost-and-found?), but I seriously did have to go to Daria's place to help her disassemble furniture and carry it down four flights of stairs. So I made no resolution, instead returning to the machine and to Helpful Girl and explaining my plight. At this point, Helpful Girl really did have to get on a train, so she wished me luck and bid me adieu. I should have asked for her number. She totally would have given me it; I imagine there's something irresistibly attractive about the struggle of man against the unstoppable force of technology in our increasingly roboticised world. Yes, I imagine this to be the case. In my imagination.

Then, a few minutes later, technology succumbed to my relentless assault, and I had my card. I was more than an hour late for my furniture-moving appointment. Fortunately, Daria's dad was a full three hours late in arriving to pick up all the furniture we had moved, so my adventure was pretty harmless. And I got a desk, a wardrobe, a coffee table, and a shelf out of the deal. A success.

The next day, I went to the bank, and explained that my new card was possessed by demons. The woman told me I should give it another chance, as I had known she would. So I sighed, and agreed to try one more time. But I did have an idea about why my card was behaving strangely: Deutsche Bank thought my name was "Dustin Douglas Heestand OT Golm." Golm was the Ortsteil (district) of Potsdam that I lived in last year, and somehow OT Golm had been added to my name when I wasn't paying attention. Bank woman was very glad to correct this error, and after she had done so, I went back to the subway. I figured: if I have to wait for 90 minutes in a subway, it should be now, when I don't have anywhere to be. But my caution was unnecessary; the machine showed no particular attachment to my card. A success!

After this adventure, I decided to attempt to obtain my Russian visa, which was meant to be ready by the 1st (that is, yesterday). I will spoil the suspense:

Notice the awesome spelling of my name. Awesome.

Anyway, there isn't a story here. There is kind of a story about how difficult it is to find a phone book in Berlin (hint: don't ask the phone company, because they won't have any idea). But basically there isn't a story.

Chickpeas take forever to cook if you start with dried ones. Forever.

I just roasted some sesame seeds, but I burned them. They still tasted okay, but not great. Actually, they tasted a lot like burnt popcorn. 


  1. no photo? aw. but "dastin duglas histend" is a win. :)

  2. Soak the chickpeas overnight, change the water, and boil for 45-90 minutes. Proceed to next culinary hurdle.

  3. "I imagine there's something irresistibly attractive about the struggle of man against the unstoppable force of technology in our increasingly roboticised world." I would have given you my number if you didn't already have it!!!
    This entry made my laugh a great deal. Thank you, I needed that.

  4. What Trevor said. Or buy a pressure cooker. Or by canned/bagged chickpeas that are sitting in water - less appetizing, though. But soaking them is kinda cool - most beans grow considerably, and it's like having a bowl-full of those shrunken dinosours that grow in water. Except that they're beans, not dinosaurs.