one day at a time

day 106: circle of candles

circle of candles © Verena Fischer

circle of candles © Verena Fischer

Yesterday I ventured out of the house with a plan. I wanted to do something that I used to do when I was a student in Düsseldorf. Every now and then I would go to my favourite bookshop, the Sternverlag, buy a book and sit with it in the next café reading the first 20-50 pages sipping a coffee. That bookshop is just fantastic, it’s really big and where ever you wander you will find a book worth picking up, even in the self-help section. Sure enough, I still haven’t located a comparable bookshop in Berlin and, no, I (sadly) don’t drink coffee anymore, but there is a bookshop not so far from here across from the court house on Turmstraße. And it has a café right next to it.

When I entered the shop I wasn’t sure whether I would find something worth getting, since I don’t like reading books in translation unless I don’t speak the language and contemporary German literature doesn’t really peak my interest. Still, I gave it my best shot, browsed through the big art section and even looked at the little yellow Reclam paperbacks that every German kid knows from school reading. Even when I still went to school I used to pick up a play or a short novella for a few euros thanks to these cheap Reclam paperbacks. I skipped the Fantasy and Science Fiction shelf and unexpectedly found myself in the poetry corner. And there, right in front of me on eye level there was my new book: Mascha Kaléko “Die paar leuchtenden Jahre”.

Back when I left for England a good friend of mine gave me a Mascha Kaléko book to pass the time on lonely evenings in exile. And quite a few evenings I didn’t spend among those “weird Brits” but with some of these German exile verses in bed. There it was, the longing for a long lost home that is for the most part only a longing for lost years (an approximate translation of one of the verses from memory, actually). And back then I didn’t quite understand yet what it means to feel like an outsider in a place that you still somehow consider to be your home. That only came later. Nowadays, as much as I sometimes wish that I could go back, I know that I can’t pick up my old life where I left it. Sometimes you have to leave to be able to come back. And sometimes you can never come back at all.

With my new Kaléko book I sat in the café next door and read the first 50 pages while sipping a fresh mint tea with brown sugar. Maybe that’s what I’ve been doing wrong over the last few months: Instead of just picking up my old habits in a new city, I’ve been trying to “get a plan” of what to do next. Maybe not the way to go.

On the way back home I ran into a protest against domestic violence in front of the Rathaus Tiergarten, i.e. the city hall of the area. Part of it was this circle of candles which these two kids obviously enjoyed very much. I was lucky to catch the scene when it was illuminated by the headlights of a car. The illumination gave the shadows of the candles a somewhat surreal feel.


9 responses

  1. A wonderful story of discovering yourself anew and recording the discovery in a photograph of candles in a circle.

    November 27, 2011 at 3:14 am

    • Thanks Thomas! And thanks for stopping by.

      November 27, 2011 at 10:09 am

  2. Love the Black and white effect of the candles. Beautiful and stunning…. Even mysteriuos and playful. Thanks for sharing a beautiful post!

    November 27, 2011 at 8:34 am

    • Thanks island traveler! I also found it to be a somewhat mysterious scene. I doubt that kids that age really grasp something like domestic violence when they’re not victims. For them it was just a nice thing to do, like a lantern walk for example. Thanks again for your comment.

      November 27, 2011 at 10:08 am

  3. Great shot and a lovely story. (despite labelling us Brits weird) haha

    November 27, 2011 at 9:12 am

    • Thanks Johnny! Haha, sorry, but that label was actually a technical glitch 😉 It swallowed some quotation marks when copy & pasting. Although you’re right, I could have just as well labelled you Brits weird 😛 That’s only normal when you move somewhere. The people who are already there always seem a little odd especially when you move to another country. I definitely felt the same way when moving from my hometown to Düsseldorf. The people there have an entirely different mentality. I remember ranting about them for hours too 😉 It’s the price you pay when you “go into exile”.

      November 27, 2011 at 10:01 am

  4. A beautiful picture of a serious subject. The light is gorgeous and the black and white tone so sharp and full of nuances – in the darker end. There is indeed something mysterious about it. Or maybe me for it’s more like an open story, not necessarily about domestic violence. There is a strong tension in the picture, though. The kids seems to enjoy themselves. At the same time the dark feet of the grown-ups in the right corner feels almost threatening. It’s a well captured picture, beautifully processed and a story nicely told – even if it not necessarily literal as to what you photographed.

    November 27, 2011 at 5:41 pm

  5. Beautifully captured, Ms. F…
    (as you’ve said the lighting is very interesting…)

    November 28, 2011 at 4:13 pm

  6. this is great as a black and white…nicely captured

    November 29, 2011 at 12:25 pm

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