Grumblin’ Ole Geezer’s Volcano Lair: Part 8 – Bemused in Berlin

This time it was more difficult to return to Berlin than in February: both Monika and I were getting tired, and not having any actual functioning “headquarters” anywhere gradually progressed from bemusing to totally confusing. Once we were back in Germany, I started feeling perplexed and out of place, as if I were spending pointless days in a state of perpetual deja vu, and just a day or two after we’d arrived, Tenerife started looking frustratingly unreal as well. Fortunately I had an unrelated task scheduled that kept my mind off pointless brooding while we worked on resolving a few final issues: I had promised I’d make a couple of field recordings for the “Italian diaspora” we had befriended in Berlin. Here is one of them:


[Orazio Ferrari (double bass) and Giuseppe Guarrera (piano) performing “Le Cygne” by Camille Saint-Saëns.
The video was directed, shot and edited by Giulio Tarantino.
]

This little project kept me busy and amused for a week or so, while we tackled the final and most brutal tasks: organising the transportation of some of our stuff that we wouldn’t need on the Canaries back to Slovenia; organising the transportation of a substantial pile of instruments, studio gear, household items and personal belongings to the middle of the Atlantic Ocean; and wrapping up the loose ends in Germany.

In Deutschland getting rid of any “subscriptions” to anything is as hard as it is to eradicate a particularly tenacious venereal disease. Various companies like internet providers – or providers of anything you might have subscribed for, for that matter – will cling to you (or your wallet) like limpets, or rather leeches, and you’d sooner scrape off a combination of syphilis and gonorrhea than some of these parasites.

In the beginning of April, before we left for Tenerife to sign the contract for the apartment, I had already handed over the rehearsal room where my music studio had been to some of the aforementioned Italians. Of course the landlord attempted to milk the new tenants for more money, claiming that they’d have to sign a new contract if they wanted to take over the lease if I, as the “main signatory” of the initial contract, was leaving. Fortunately another “main signatory” (a Slovenian whom we had originally rented the studio with) remained in Berlin, so he would still be in charge, and therefore changing the “main signatory” (as well as consequently altering the contract to something more expensive) was not necessary. However, once I returned to Berlin, it became obvious that the landlord kept sending me the bills instead of pestering the other remaining “main signatory”. When I brought this to their attention (telling them that I would by no means be picking up any mail from them any longer), the landlord once again brought up the idea of changing the contract. So even though I had already waded through all of this manure about a month earlier, I now had to spend yet another couple of hours arguing about it (in German, which is always loads of fun when you aren’t completely fluent in the language). Finally they figured out that they couldn’t really force a new, more expensive contract on the Italians, and they agreed to start sending all the bills to the remaining “main signatory” who was not me. (About a month or so later, the remaining “main signatory” informed me that the landlord is now trying to force the issue of altering the contract in the coming autumn, but it’s certainly not my problem anymore.)

The situation with the internet service provider was similar: they enforced a three-month notice requirement, so I’ll have to keep paying for the damn internet access until September, even though I’m no longer anywhere in Germany at all. I could have gotten around this by sending them proof of my new address abroad, but I had no intention of giving them my forwarding address. I’m no delusional paranoid conspiracy theorist, but I had no intention of giving any information to an ISP who had been only too happy to share my information with the copyright breach extortionists on the occasion when a friend from Slovenia had left his torrents running for a few minutes a couple of years ago, and the oversight had ended with an extortion letter that had required us to hire a lawyer in order to respond to it (and basically tell the extortionists to stuff it).

Our apartment lease required a three-month notice as well, and we had to wait until we’d actually signed the contract for our new flat in Spain before we could initiate the proceedings. Fortunately our landlord was prepared to consider handing the lease over to an Italian pal of ours, who, on the other hand, could hardly wait to “occupy” our flat: during the four and a half years that we had been renting it, the prices of flats in Berlin had increased so drastically that we had eventually ended up with one of the cheapest places around. The landlord’s property manager, who dropped by to check the apartment, was only too happy with the idea of simply handing the lease to someone else without any interruptions, and he was also visibly impressed with the state of the apartment (which was not really surprising, as five years ago, when we had moved in, the place had been an absolute disaster, one of the worst places we’d ever had the displeasure of renovating, while now it actually looked habitable). We, on the other hand, were eager to hand the flat over to our friend, as he had also agreed to buy the kitchen and the majority of furniture from us, otherwise we’d be forced to empty the flat completely before handing it back (and would thus have to either attempt to sell all the individual pieces of furniture or throw most of it away). In case we simply left without finding another tenant, we would also have to keep paying rent until the end of July. So the manager requested the usual heap of papers from the Italian, who happily provided everything, and we could actually start hoping that the whole deal would go through smoothly. The landlord had about a month to decide before we would actually be able to buy our one-way plane tickets to Tenerife, anyway; but one month certainly sounded better than keeping the apartment for another three months.

After our Italian buddy had pointed out the stuff that he’d be buying from us and negotiated the price (to my initial amusement and subsequent weariness, he focused on the proceedings with the passionate and tenacious dedication of a knickknack peddler at the bazaar in Cairo), I also, despite my wholehearted aversion to this sort of flea market operations, managed to sell the rest of the stuff that I didn’t want to lug to Tenerife (like my trusted bicycle and so on) via dedicated Facebook groups. Of course, the effort invested seemed to exceed any financial gain by far, but it was better than nothing.

Meanwhile, in the middle of May, Monika received word from Santa Cruz that the complete paperwork for the new apartment – confirmations of taxes paid, registries registered for, and the like – was “almost ready” and that we’d be able to pick up everything in a week or two. Monika told them we wouldn’t be arriving until the middle of June or thereabout, so they had plenty of time to get it done.

We also scanned a collection of required documents that we’d procured on Tenerife and sent them to the movers, who would eventually drop by Berlin with a truck and take our stuff to the transport ship in Hamburg. Before they confirmed everything, they also asked for a rough outline of a cargo manifest, which I provided, and we agreed to finalise everything once we returned from Slovenia, where we would be heading next.

Finally I called my cousin, known for his love of road trips. To my profound relief he immediately agreed to borrow a van back in Slovenia and come to Berlin in a week or two to pick up the crap we would not be taking to our new volcano lair, but could not throw away either (stuff like important documents that needed to be archived, books acquired during our stay in Berlin, winter clothes, and so on). The upside was that my cousin’s girlfriend was free at the time as well, so they’d be able to make a little bit of a vacation of it. Besides, he had been among those who had helped us get to Berlin in the first place, and helping us to get out was, according to him, only proper. Have I mentioned that my cousin rocks – on his guitar as well as otherwise?

Finally we went through our things carefully and packed everything that we’d be taking for a wee trans-European van drive.

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