It's been a productive and fun first week here in Berlin. I've never seen such sports mania as the World Cup fever here. Good luck trying to buy milk for a two-year old when Germany is playing -- all the grocery stores shutter. The only places open are those serving food and drink. Indeed, almost every street side cafe and restaurant has a television and a gathered crowd outside for practically every game. Even the auto parts store beneath our apartment has transformed itself into a temporary World Cup cafe, attempting to realize synergies among the German passions for autos, bier, kaffee/kuchen, and fussball.
There are, however, a few bones to pick:
1. Vuvuzelas: I hate those damn things. How can a country with as rich as musical culture as South Africa have invented something that blends the worst tonal aspects of a traffic jam and a mosquito colony? Please let this not become a social contagion. But, based on the number of these infernal devices here in Berlin, I fear the worst. Can't fans just bang drums?
2. Honking car horns after a victory: It was charming when the Slovenians and Ghanaians in the neighborhood did it, but memo to Germans honking their horns last night: Ok, so your team looked really good, but a) you beat up a nation whose principal sport is surfing, and b) it's only the first round.
I know every list should have three items, but that is all I can think of to complain about right now. Which is saying something for me.
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