(last updated October 22, 2013)
Workmen using our balcony as a staging area for repair work on a balcony a few floors above.
A very flattened blue-striped work glove, obviously run over multiple times.
Crows, or maybe ravens? I don’t know which but I would like to because sometimes they quite companionably hang out on our balcony railing and I feel it’s rather rude not to know their proper name. I’ll try to get a picture and then maybe you can help.
A mother stopping along the sidewalk to take a picture of her toddler walking between his grandparents, his tiny arms outstretched to hold their hands.
Trumpet vines with beautiful little orange-red blossoms.
A FedEx truck.
A moving truck unloading crates from Austria.
The flickering light from unseen TV screens in faraway high-rises.
A man on a higher floor of the building next door standing in front of his window eating cereal and peering quite inquisitively into our apartment. (Our new curtains arrived shortly thereafter, thank goodness.)
(last updated 10.9.13)
A spirited, high-volume rendition of the Rocky theme by a twenty-something guy running down the block.
“You touched my shoe!” -An indignant young boy to his friend as they walked home from school.
A hawk, really rather upset judging from the length and volume of its shrieking cries.
The echoing “deep-doop deep-doop deep-doop” of the audible crosswalk signal from a major intersection a few blocks away.
“If she pulls away, you pick her up. We need to establish some guidelines.” -A young woman talking to her walking companion, I believe about their dog.
The crashing of construction refuse down a trash chute.
The cawing of crows. Or ravens.
“Ahhhh, I’ve got a date! AhhBAH!” (or some other similar-sounding expression of what seemed to be triumph, accompanied as it was by a fist pump into the air.) -A casually-dressed young guy in a silver BMW convertible as he pulled away from the curb after dropping off his friend at 2:30 pm on a Monday afternoon.
A variety of motorized vehicles driving over a nearby manhole cover.
Sirens. So many sirens.
The grr-grr-RUMBLE of a UPS truck engine starting up.
A twenty-something guy in big, neon-orange (I’m talking, REALLY orange) headphones singing (yelling, almost) along to whatever he was listening to. I couldn’t make out the song, but from how enthusiastically he was working his hands as he walked, he was clearly enjoying it.
An owl, early one morning but not again since.
Crickets. Cicadas, too.
No churchbells yet, but that doesn’t stop me hoping.
An answer to my Tuesday morning musical mystery!
I’ll save you the suspense right now and say that none — that’s right, not a single one — of my theories was anywhere close to correct. I’ll save you even more suspense by telling you that I found the answer to my question as soon as I stepped out of our courtyard gate the following Tuesday morning. It turns out I didn’t need to walk down the block to investigate after all!
While a small part of me was disappointed that the quest I’d been anticipating all week was over mere seconds after it began, the rest of me was at first gobsmacked (how obvious!) and then delighted by the truth I at last found.
Have you guessed what I was unable to figure out on my own, even after posts like this?
You’ll always find the most recent additions at the top of each category – my last update was 14 July 2013.
On an S-Bahn (train)/U-Bahn (subway) car:
- NEW! A solo acoustic guitar player on the U3 line, one of the quieter U-Bahn lines (it’s mostly outside the main part of the city) and one whose trains musicians rarely ever board to play. Too bad, because the guitar player I heard the other day was not only one of the most talented, he was also one of the most delightful I’ve yet encountered (and quite the contrast to Mr. Surly Accordionist below). After an incredibly beautiful performance that stretched the distance between three stations, I gladly gave this musician a 2 Euro coin and was not at all surprised to see almost every other passenger give a little something, too. This should have surprised me because the typical percentage of “paying” passengers is usually quite low, but in this case, his talent was too hard to ignore, as was the genuinely warm and grateful smile he gave each and every one of us, whether we added a little jingle to his cup or not. Truly a highlight of this past year of public music…
- Another first! While the instrument was familiar (accordion) and the playing was only so-so, the musician bearing said instrument was not only completely aggressive in his demand for money (leaning over the seats of my visiting parents for a full forty or fifty seconds while pushing his plastic cup for donations practically in my poor jet-lagged father’s face — a behavior I’ve never before seen in Berlin — yet somehow still continuing to play), he also cursed at me and then gave me the finger after I gave him a firm “Nein, danke” in an attempt to get him to leave. While some of the musicians we see on the trains aren’t very “good” in a technical sense, they do follow a fairly established etiquette of moving on after just a second or so if you don’t make eye contact or start to reach for money. I suspect this (not quite a) gentleman figured we were a sure thing since we were speaking English and I was showing my parents a map of the transit system when he walked up. At least my parents now have an exciting story about their first full day in Berlin, and I now know to get up and switch cars if I ever see this particular accordionist again…
- A very talented trio whose instruments included an accordion, a violin, and — a first for me on a train — a cello! Their rendition of Johnny Cash’s I Walk the Line was fabulous and I happily added an Euro to their outstretched cup.
- Melodica with egg-shaker/amplified recorded music (My all-time least-favorite performance ever – both lazy and derivative, and the two “musicians” were part of a roving pack of similarly outfitted buskers hauling small amps on luggage carts from one subway car to the next at each stop in a clearly organized strategy to score the most amount of coins with the least amount of effort.)
- Accordion (a few too many times, but only because that’s one loud instrument in crowded quarters!)
- Spanish Guitar (only once but so beautiful – one of my favorite performances yet)
In an S-Bahn (train) or U-Bahn (subway) station:
- Country Western Guitar (once)
- Harp (only once so far, sigh)
- Classical Guitar (once)
- Blues Guitar (once)
- Electric Guitar (once)
- Accordion (a few too many times)
- Keyboard (a bunch of times)
- Violin (too many times to keep track of)
- Cello (once)
- Banjo (once)
- Flute (once)
- Saxophone (at least twice)
I should add this category while I’m at it…
Musical-y sounds I’ve heard from our apartment window:
- NEW! Car horns, from a procession passing by (a wedding, it looked like)
- Recorder, being played by either a young neighbor or a student at the Montessori school nearby (hard to tell because of the way our building echoes)
- Church Bells (daily at 8:15 am, noon and 6 pm, Sundays off and on all morning, lucky me!)
- Trumpet (almost every Tuesday, mid-morning)
- Operatic singing (just once so far, coming up through a basement-level apartment building ventilation grate)