Montag, 25. Februar 2008

May Kafka be with us!

Ok, it's official now. The German state has taken our cash and will, in turn, send one of its officials to the Freischwimmer - one of our favourite Berlin locations ... - at 12.30pm on the 16th August 2008 and have us married. So far, so good. But getting here was not easy (and we are not talking of finding Mr or Mrs Right; that's a whole different story ...). We are talking of the surreal hours we spent at the Standesamt Kreuzberg-Friedrichshain. They would have made Kafka write at least another novel, we think. They left us baffled and mouths wide open. We faced incomprehension in a manner we had not experienced since High School Maths. Oh, and we had to jump a fence, literally. - Rushing from work to take advantage of the one time in the week when the Registry Office (Standesamt) opens in the afternoon, we first had to get a waiting number (see picture) and wait for over an hour in a drab room full of toys (what are they getting at???) - and other couples ... An old man marrying a young girl; a young Turkish couple, who were so much cooler than us; a guy who'd come straight from his corporate job and his blonde. People we would never meet, and never will again. People all united in trying to not be as unromantic as the room that we were sitting in. I (Daniel) was nervous; afraid we had forgotten something. A feeling that was strengthened when we finally were called by a 'pling' of a machine to 'station 4' in room 8a (why not 9?). Here was the most curiously inefficient creature Kafka has never written about. A lady that asked us all sorts of questions the sense of which we could only guess at - and looked at us disapprovingly if we confessed our puzzlement. Staring at Kathrin's PhD certificate she informed us that "you have gained the title" (as in the PhD) but you have not achieved the "academic grade" (akademischer Grad). A few days later, we still don't get it, so if you do, please enlighten us. And don't be surprised if plain Kathrin is getting married on the 16th of August. We gave up arguing after being informed in several ways we did not understand that the Standesamt is a different kind of "Personenstandsbehoerde" than the Meldeamt and that whatever is written in one's passport is not at all relevant when it comes to the special business of tying the knot .... The only thing we did understand was that this woman was only there to tell us that really we must go and speak with the woman next door. The lady next door will do the "schreiben" (writing) - but she can't read, somehow, so we had to come back to the first lady for her to read everything the other one had written out to us again. Whatever. - The 'typing lady' was friendly, though. And all went well - until we had to state our "profession". Daniel stuck with the truth: "Greenpeace activist". But he was swiftly informed that "mentioning Greenpeace in the ceremony would constitute advertising". Of course! What a clever way to fundraise (and Daniel does feel bad for not thinking of it): "Hey darling, Greenpeace needs some money. Shall we get married?" ... - Anyway, talking of money, after two hours we finally got a chance to pay loads of it. But only because we told the first lady what everything costs. She had tried to calculate it on a post it note and got a little lost. Ah well. - With much relief and some pride at having completed the task in the first sitting (most couples we know had to come back several times to hand over the correct paper work ...) we left the building with a spring in our step. Only to realize that we were actually locked in between the building's door and the gate. It being after 7, no janitor could be found. No bells were answered. We were trapped. Hoping that this sense of imprisoment is not somehow symbolic of the married journey we plan to embark upon, we did what we had to do. We jumped the fence - and smiled. Somewhere in the Kreuzberg night, we think we heard Kafka laughing ....

Kommentare:

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did you hear me laughing as well ;o)
that was surreal indeed...
well as a consolation that won't be the last fence to climb.
see ya in berlin my dearest couple.