“Do you want to come over for plum dumplings?”, I asked my friend Gabriele last week after I found a bag of Italian plums in the freezer that I had bought at a farm stand in late summer specifically to make those dumplings. Of course she said yes. Although she has lived in the United States twice as long as I have, she craves that stuff just as much as I do.
So here we were sitting in the kitchen, blissfully digging in. With this type of food, every forkful brings up memories of mothers and grandmothers in their kitchens who made it for us many miles and many years away. Nostalgia lingers in the air, leaving behind a few sprinkles of homesickness like the cinnamon sugar on our plates.
When you leave your native home and you arrive in a new country, you become the stranger. It doesn’t matter if you moved 500km or 6000km you are still, and will always be, the stranger.
Now ‘stranger’ to me formerly had negative connotations, I was the kid who had ‘stranger danger’ drummed into me at school, at home and everywhere in between. The stranger is foreign, an alien, one not the same as the rest of ‘us’. I’m not saying that I’m a conformist or anything but in the UK I was never the stranger (maybe a little strange) but definitely not the stranger.
This is a preview of Being the Stranger: On Moving Abroad.
For decades the first of May has been known as an International Worker’s Day all over the globe. In many countries, such as Germany, it’s a federal holiday during which demonstrations (usually peaceful) are held in support of the labor movement.
However, May 1st (known in Germany as “Erster Mai”) holds a somewhat special significance in Berlin. Since the late 80s extreme left organizations have organized protests in districts of the city such as Kreuzberg during which riots have unfortunately broken out, leading to violence and police intervention. In more recent history extreme right groups have also proven to become hostile in the streets of the capital city. The violence has thankfully declined in the past few years, but we were nevertheless all warned by our program director to be wary in certain neighborhoods.
This is a preview of One Year in Berlin: Being in Germany on May 1 and Games in the Park.