While spending a week visiting my most adorable little niece this spring, I was introduced to the concept of "baby tv," wherein the adults all sit around and stare at the baby, because it's just so entertaining, and did I mention that she's ridiculously cute?
Back in Berlin, it's summer, and we're actually home instead of travelling, which means time on the balcony and wide-open windows to try to beat the heat. You know what else I have discovered is entertaining? Eavesdropping on your neighbors! No, I swear, I mean this in the least creepy way possible, hence my attempt at re-branding this activity as "neighbor radio." Spotify can't compete.
Last Saturday morning, we were sitting at the kitchen counter with coffee in hand, the windows wide open trying to catch a breeze, and what we ended up catching was the loud, amusing, hungover chatter of our neighbors, who were rehashing their antics from the night before. "But that's only because he wanted sex from you." And "Man, I've said it before, but it's not a good idea to get wasted the night before leaving on vacation." Ha. Apparently there was a taxi waiting for them rather impatiently downstairs. Charming, right?
This Saturday morning, on the balcony, I was listening to the opera-singing of one of our cul-de-sac neighbors. In our little street canyon the acoustics are such that I couldn't really tell which building the singing was coming from, but it was lovely, and strong. Also charming, right? (An aside - I have met more opera singers in Berlin than anywhere else I've lived, though it's still only a handful. The internet tells me that Berlin is behind only Moscow and Vienna in terms of cities with the most opera performances, and I believe it.) There is also an excellent piano player on our street, whose recitals I quite enjoy. Or maybe it is just someone playing a recording? Now I'm not sure. There is also the 10-year old in our building whose piano and recorder exercises we hear...not quite so excellent, but endearing.
Lately I spend a lot of time thinking about my relationship to city life in Berlin. I have always enjoyed living here, but nonetheless have always felt slightly mismatched -- a feeling largely fueled by the fact that the most dominant cultural understanding of Berlin is as a city loved for its techno music and all-night party scene, which is totally not my world. But these little moments lived in close proximity with my neighbors -- this is when I think, Berlin is something special. So on these lazy summer mornings, I am trying my best to soak it all in.