Thursday, September 04, 2008

Hamburg, noch einmal...

It has been almost two years since my last visit. As soon as we landed I felt the familiar cold again. That formal and mild cold that reflected from the coats of the mid-30's businesswomen or the cold the university student brought into Bus 39 in the evening's setting darkness after her gym workout in her jumpers. That cold at the platform of Ohlsdorf Station or the cold sound of slow escalators at the Lutterothstrasse U-Bahn exit. Escalators in the London Underground always run smoothly and are refurbished once they get a little old, but not here. The cold of the fugitive eyes in the carriage and on the heavy door handles that you have to pull aside to make your way out.

The cold immediately filled my lungs but did not make me feel sick, in fact, the contrary. It would be unfair, to summarise my feelings with cold here, as most of my experiences are warm and homely. I had a relatively warmer welcome from the Passport security. The more Schengen visas I have on my passport, the less they deal with me: Benefit of the unjustice for Rights of Travel. It did not feel like a lot has changed since my last visit. A lot has changed with me but not with this city. Young bikers on the side of the street passing by our bus, the Turkish bus driver helping out an elderly on where he has to leave the bus, evening lights on the shaking leaves of trees, empty beer bottles on the pavement and "├╝bergang zu U2" at Schlump.

S. immediately recognised the change in my hair as H. opened their doors to welcome me once again. They both looked healthy despite H.'s own claims against it. We caught up since our last meeting from over a year ago in Istanbul, and updated each other with whatever was left to say outside our e-mail conversations. H. has been like an "aunt" for me ever since we met, and that's how I got attached with this city... The first time I met with F.A., or when I came down from Denmark to the coldest winter's day in 30 years of history, or spent a weekend with J., or with S.Y. and S.I. watching out for the ticket inspectors on our free rides, or when I met my family after a few months' separation, or when we drove from Berlin with A. to her first visit here. Each and every single memory just flashed back as I was gazing at the pictures on H.'s walls of her family and the other familar faces, including one photo I had taken, she framed of my own family.

After the previous night's long sleep, I had another good 11 hours of rest, pulling my weekly average from 4 hours to 6. Smells of nearby linden trees, sounds of the cheerful schoolkids playing, and the taste of "Wald Honig" fill the early afternoon. A warm shower, a stroll on the street and a ride down to the Hauptbahnhof and I will leave here briefly, to go on with the journey. It feels good to be back... and this time around, I am paying for my tickets on the U/S Bahn regardless of inspections. I guess I have more responsibilities now and there are other excitements other than watching out for the ticket inspectors. Maybe they will get also the escalators fixed with a little help from me... or maybe they should leave it the way it is, so I can feel once again that I missed this city.

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