Travel log. Straight outta Spandau

Julia Schiefer is reporting on the OMNIBUS Reading Tour – without actually partaking personally, of course! A blog somewhere between fiction and reality: she will be taking us on her own Hop-On Hop-Off bus tour with real insights instead of the usual sightseeing! Her excursions – open to all – are designed for everyday life (but mostly out of range). If you look to your left, you may see a dog chewing on a skirt; to your right, a scooter transporting a bucket of water as a chariot carries a peacock off to a jolly good show.

Birch, cedar, fennel, grass or some other type of pollen floats lightly through the air, cut by sharp sunlight into glistening pom-poms. Someone crosses the street casually. The window is open. The ladies – 4 of them – are waiting, their wide eyes wandering to the door occasionally as they fire jokes back and forth at each other. Four grey-haired female rascals that are here to have a great time: Maria, Elizabeth, Christine and Erica.
“Maria, have you taken the pen away again? I told you not to, I cannot hear any more of those romance tales set during post-war times that you write. This is not what kids like nowadays, you know. You are immersed in your memories,” Christine says.
“You have a childlike imagination, Christine. That is all you have to say about my writing? That the youth wouldn’t like it? You tell me that what my dear memory is and what I remember is boring to some greenhorns just out of their baby pants who don’t know how to shit properly yet? I had expected more of you!”
“Maria, don’t get me started. If I ever find the American John falling deeply in love with the Berlin girl Anne, then I will go crazy – and I remember those times as well as you do. See, if you put some variation into it, that would be something new for a start.”
“Girls!” Elizabeth cries, “Girls! Attendez, quit fighting, I think they are coming. Look!” Elizabeth points her chin in the direction of the big and only window of the salon, through which a small crowd of people can be seen slowing approaching the venue called “Sozial-kulturelle Netzwerke case e. V.,” located on the outskirts of West Berlin.
“Hi guys,” the first one says, and as everybody enters, the girls greet her or him in an lively yet eloquent fashion face by face. There are now a bunch of people sitting in the small room, some authors, organizers of the event and the social network are sitting somewhere around.
“You know,” Elizabeth says, “we were waiting for you for days. Look, this is what I have prepared for today!” She shows a small folder of 20 to 30 pages. “Here, look at them,” and she slams them down in front of one of the authors. While she speaks German, the author looks in wonder at her, replying with something like: “Ok, thank you. That’s cool,” in English, uttering his response somewhere into the space between himself and the papers. “Son, read it, get excited!” she laughs like a golden goat.
The fourth lady in the circle, Erica, is occupied with the author beside her. “Oh, don’t listen to her,” she makes a flourishing gesture towards Elizabeth, “I have written for ages. You know, I am now 79 years old, and I can finally start my career as an author. Read it, and tell me what I have to do. I have some experience with self publishing already, so I am not a newbie. And I trained my writing for years, I think there are some passages that will catch your attention. But go on, go on! Now, read it, honey!”

The authors looks at her and then at the paper. “Where does it start?”
“Nowhere, you can jump in anytime!” Erica beams, looking proud that she got the author to agree to read it so quickly. She waits patiently while he tries to figure out her handwriting, her ink letters more scattered on the page in big, sprawling strokes, rather than forming proper handwriting. As the author is half puzzled, half absorbed by the story he reads, Erica leans over to Maria, who is still looking around for “her” author. “Hey, lovely, haven’t you decided yet? I think mine is quite a catch, you know, he seems very engaged with what I have written,” Erica says, spreading her green and iridescent peacock feathers as she leans back in momentary satisfaction.
Maria on the other hand, still looking around like a hippie on the go for a pack of weed (“You know, dude, I don’t really need it. But it would be nice to have it. Though, I always prefer the nothingness.”) slowly rises and approaches a female writer. She lands like a drowsy airplane beside her. “It is a story about a dog that travels the country. It is supposed to be satirical,” she says to the female author.
While Erica is getting impatient. “Come on, honey, now tell me what you think!” her peacock feathers slightly unbefitting the small venue.
Christine is talking to two authors about her writing and explaining each page to them, juggling the pages in her hands while she addresses the authors and the whole circle of the people who have gathered in Spandau. She is making little funny jokes and crinkles her nose in disgust at one paragraph, telling partly daring, partly touching stories with a knowing grin in between, her tale slowly mounting up to a may-be-climax.

The pollen is still flying around outside as the heat has now reached its top high for this Saturday in May. The streets of Spandau are still as empty as they were a few hours ago, but the charm of the still fresh day has evaporated, fading out with the acceptance of a drowsy evening. Somebody is whistling somewhere around the one corner. School-aged kids are lurking behind another.

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