not a tourist

Being at a flea market is always a good cure.

And going to Mauerpark always does it all. I once made a so-called photo essay about this place. So today was sunny and warm til like 25°C, and the only crowded place I’m likely comfortable in is here. Wanted to find for myself a good old brown leather bag I went browsing through 3 to 4 stalls. I’m lousy at haggling, probly because (1) I rarely practice (2) I’ve never lived in India (3) I’m doomed with an ego bigger than my head (4) I’m hardly ever desperate for something. At the first one I asked how much and the man said “fünfzig Euro” then I gave him a “pfft” chuckle sound. The second bag I found at the other stall was a dark brown and a more compact size. I asked the lady and she said, “fünfundfünfzig”. I asked my friend and she said, “gila kumuh banget nih tas”. I replied, “perumahan kali”. My passive attitude got its reward as the lady asked me back, “how much do you want?”. I put some assertive tone to my bid, “fünfundzwanzig!”. She laughed. I grinned and waited. Waited. And waited, and walked out empty-handed.

Next, we ended up finding this old german guy sitting on his fishing chair. He apparently got some good sunglasses that don’t look like one of those trying-too-hard-to-look-vintage glasses. So, known as *clear throat* a remarkable eyeglasses/sunglasses advisor among friends, I was trying to convince my friend that these particular sunglasses with reddish tinted lenses look good on her. She seemed convinced and as she asked for the price, the old man said surprisingly in English, “twelve”. I told her, “lumayan, tawar aja”. And that’s where the misunderstanding began. The old man thought I said “teuer” which means “expensive”. Out of nowhere he went snapping at us, “you want these things for 1 euro? it’s euro because it’s Europe. Why don’t you just go home to your homecountry and buy those there?” and blablabla. We stared at each other and was confused huh?! what’s got into him? So I got quite emotional and snapped back at him, “excuse me, what did you say? we didn’t say anything at all just incase you misheard something.” He continued, “you think you guys Asian tourists can come all the way from the Museuminsel to this place and buy these for 1 euro”. I raised my voice, “we didn’t even say anything about the price, mister. And just because we look Asian it doesn’t mean that you have the rights to generalize us and put some prejudice on us like that.” I think because everybody around us began to notice the loud argument he began to be aware that he might have misheard us saying, “oh okay sorry, I must have heard it wrong. I thougt you said “teuer”" while pointing to his right ear. I added, “und wir sind gar keine Touristen” “Okay, okay I said sorry already, it’s just sometimes difficult to face asian tourists coming from museuminsel who expect to get things cheap here in Euro”. My friend replied again, “so how much?” He said, “okay, it’s 10 euro”. We ended up buying those glasses and he kept complementing on my friend’s necklace and asked where we’re from. My friend answered and he said, “oh sorry I thought you’re from Japan or China” My friend went like summing up everything wisely, “the same thing applies that we asked you first about the price and you ask a person where she’s from are reasonable enough before you generalize people”.

We joked a lot about this as we still circled around the Mauerpark and each time we seemed to be passing by his place again, like wanted to wear a typical tourism cap and haggled the glasses for 1 euro but strangely we couldn’t find his stall again.

Anyways, on the way to somewhere else from Mauerpark we bumped into this beautiful girl who was performing under the bridge of U-Bahnhof Eberswalderstrasse. She got a powerful voice and gave a stunning performance. As I watched her singing, I couldn’t forget how dramatic she looked as the sun stroked her blonde hair and pale-white skin. We stayed watching for around 20 minutes and I ended up buying her CD for 5 euro (my second music CD since Bon Iver!). And it turns out that she’s a NZ born singer-song writer and going to release her album in November. Here’s her website where you can also taste her music but I think nothing would outrank a live performance even with the intervals of bustling trains and irritatingly loud police sirene.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>