Letters from Germany


Sridala Swami  - Foto: Goethe-Institut
Photo: Literaturhaus Villa Augustin

Of all my hotel rooms in Germany, I might like the one in Berlin the best. In Dresden, when I entered the room, the TV turned itself on to a screen with fish swimming around to what was supposed to be soothing music. In Leipzig – thankfully – there was silence which allowed me to listen to the church bells that rang out every hour or so from the neighbouring St. Thomas Church (JS Bach’s church) and the St. Nicholas Church.

In Berlin, though, some housekeeping person, no doubt needing some encouragement while working, has tuned the TV to a classical music radio channel. Every time I walk into the room, put my key card in its designated slot, there is the kind of music I sadly no longer listen to, now that everything is a device meant to be heard with earpods.

Outside the Zwinger, in Dresden, there were three men who were playing (classical) music and people stood around listening. Later, our host said that there were discussions about what is and is not permitted in the clearly tourist-driven part of town. Apparently public music is not encouraged. Even so, there were younger, more freestyling musicians doing their thing when I emerged after three hours in the museums.

At the Haus für Poesie opening festival, there were young spoken word artists, among whom was a very young kid whose performance was sharp and enthralling and it didn’t matter that I couldn’t understand a word.

The thing I regret though is that if I’d been able to stay for a couple of hours longer in Leipzig, I could have heard the St. Thomas choir rehearsing, as they do on Saturday afternoons. I must hope that I’ll be able to return some other time, to do the things I couldn’t do on this trip.

Sridala Swami
Leipzig-Dresden, September 19, 2016