German: The New Math


Someone might be mentally deranged by learning a foreign language in mid-thirties. Especially after being there and done that for 4-5 times. Now imagine how “insanely scared” I felt when started learning German in “voluntary basis” three weeks ago. Those who have gone through that understand what I mean. Those who are in the process of learning German can relate even better. Well, I always associated this crazy idea with the famous saying of Oscar Wilde ” Life is too short to learn German”. I tended to agree with that at first, even more now that I’m being constantly “attacked” by German grammar and bothered by exceptions to every little rule that attempts to put some order in my fragile mental notes. Once, a friend told me that learning German will be a piece of cake since I speak English. Yeah I agree, having this linguistic background does not hurt. Plus these languages have many words in common. But while British kept themselves busy simplifying English over centuries, in contrary Germans got busy complicating it. Why keeping something easy when one can complicate it. Do I need to give an example? Here is when they drop a 63 letter long word that refers to a law for beef monitoring and testing:

Rindfleischetikettierungsüberwachungsaufgabenübertragungsgesetz

Ok, that’s exaggerated. Though it is not a scam, but a real word. Well, in everyday life someone can learn to deal with this law complying vocabulary simply through ignoring it. While learning to deal with other tongue twisters words which are quite often repeated and common it’s not the biggest deal neither. But what totally drives me nuts, especially on Friday sessions, it’s when learning to talk German feels a lot like doing math. And you better be good at it. Which article to place in front of 3-gender names where vague rules followed by unlimited exceptions do apply? Not to mention here the transformation of articles, adjectives in dative, accusative and genitive case. Really, I just want to speak the language here, and not to mentally screen articles’ transformation each time I attempt to put a sentence together.

Now that I got this off my chest, and finished my constructive whining brief, I can go back to work on the upside down structure of the sentences. Good Luck to me! In the meantime, I have to reward myself for the hard work with some entertainment material like…50 steps to be German 🙂

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At House of Photography: Guy Bourdin


What’s on Vogue this year? Did you get your Vogue magazine? No? I agree, how much can one new edition influence my life and what possibly new and revolutionary photo composition can one bring? When I think of retro-fashion of course the 60’s MadMan style comes to my mind, as unbeatable as I find the fashion and aesthetics of MadMen era. But how about taking a retrospective journey through some of the most impressive, shocking, controversial, provocative and sensual Vogue years of the whole generation of late 70’s? House of Photography at Deichtonhallen Hamburg is hosting a great exhibition of the legendary French photographer Guy Bourdin (1928 – 1991). What a great way to start the Saturday, being introduced to unveiling works of the master of image making with surreal story telling which Bourdin beautifully associates with a fashion item. The incredible intensity of color saturation, texture and image composition artfully displayed by Vogue models of mid-end 70’s enhanced the dramatic scenery through playful sex, sensuality and violence. Bourdin is the first photographer to create such complex story telling with strange and mysterious thematic. With his often surreal twist goes beyond limits of that reality and radically breaks conventions of back then commercial photography.

But who was Guy Bourdin? His early back and white work dating from 1950 included people and artists portrait as well as life in Paris. His genius personality placed in a short man stature with high-pitched voice and demanding character was surrounded by dark gossip stories of being an abandoned child, the suicide of his wife and two girlfriends, and maltreatment of models. That might also explain how violence displays in his oeuvre merged with the sublimed beauty of female models, all in fashion-sensual like context.

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The New Year Resolution: Dinner for One or Dinner for Ten?


It’s no surprise each time I spend my Christmas & New Year holidays in Germany I’m usually asked how we celebrate these holidays in Albania. Then I go over the main distinctions as Christmas is not huge in former communist countries unlike in Germany where the notorious Christmas markets stick around for about a month which I highly oppose as I think they should be there for the entire winter. My Christmas in Hamburg are followed by an absolute 3 days parental feeding/R&R at my boyfriend’s parents, spoiled by the warmth and love these holidays convey. A real magical atmosphere that spikes up in delight of Christmas ornaments, decor, and gift exchange, which slowly fades away as Sylvester (New Year) approaches. Quite the opposite in Tirana. As Christmas is not that big of a deal, New Year instead is. That’s when every woman household displays a large variety of food combination that in case you survive without being sick to your stomach from the “mishmash” of turkey, lamp, Russian salad, baklava, and Raki you obviously did not have that big of a fun. There’s so much good food being cooked that can glut the appetite of 10 people and will probably last for the next 2-3 days. That’s how New Year celebration looks in Tirana, the bigger the better, and after 12 pm find your shoes to escape the big fat family gathering for finally getting unleashed with friends in some downtown party, pre-booked of course.

To my surprise 2014 was presented with a new ritual: Dinner for One. We got to watch Dinner for One, my boyfriend said, before we went out to wait for the real firework explosion at Altonaer Balkon. So we did. We watched Miss Sophie and her butler James – a brilliant comedy sketch written by British author Lauri Wylie back in 1920s which went in to be the most frequent aired comedy by German TV. Since 1963 this 18 minutes black-and-white British sketch has become an integral part of New Year’s Eve in Germany. Therefore, this year was not an exception, about 15 million Germans viewed Dinner for One. Meanwhile in England most people don’t even know that Dinner for One is a British comedy, or that it exists. For those of you who don’t really know what I’m blubbering on, take 18 minutes of your time to enjoy “Dinner for One”, you will not regret it. Enjoy!