Monday, December 05, 2005

Hamburger Chronicles ( two ) : Freitagsmusik and the falafel empire

Few people had shown up at Freitagsmusik (Friday's music). The venue was in an ex-occupied house, left door. The squatters had legalized themselves in the management-years that almost lay behind us. What was left on streetlevel were two rooms, that they had rented out to a group of people of which Silvia Necker - of freitagsmusik - was one. Two times a month she and Joachim Lützow organized a concert, mostly with local musicians, because they didn't have the money to pay for travel expenses. The rent was paid out of the profits from the bar; money for the musician(s) rolled out of the hat that went round after the concert.

Open the door, leave the cold outside, close the door - what wonders me is the abscence of a little bell ringing, like in a classical grocery shop. Minimal bar, wooden floor, lights dimmed, two persons there, smiles - "You must be...?" "Hello, I am..." Everything has to be improvised at the last moment. Set-up, here? there? what table?, where is the p.a.? - no p.a. - no loudspeakers. I am pleasantly puzzled. Joachim runs down the stairs and comes back with an old guitar-amplifier. It has a lovely sound. I hide it under the red tablecloth that Sylvia,some moments earlier, has excavated from the same dungeons. Candlelights and a standard lamp, little shiny christmas stars on the floor and easy chairs and a couch all around me and my table set-up . The walls are covered by pluchelike fabrics. All sit down. The first sounds fill the room. Some listeners doze off.

When we step outside it's snowing. And it's a quarter past two. I say goodbye to 'What-was-your-name-again?' , a tall guy. He looks at his bicycle that is chained to a lamppost. It is covered by fresh heaps of snow. Nice snow, gently swirling in the yellow lights of the night. We start walking towards a road where, as one of the guests has told me, we will find a little place where they serve excellent falafels.
Luckily it is only a few minutes away. We are hungry. We are at one of the dark edges of town; there is no other side of the street. There is only falafelbars. I try to understand from the outside which one might be the best. Big Red Plastic Words: DöNER and KEBAB. We enter the smallest one: The World of Falafel.

The man behind the counter looks like any immigrant who has been offered a job to help him through the first months in a foreign country. The mystery of what might be his real job is hidden by a somewhat melancholy smile. "Three and Five" he says, as he sees our indecision. We order 'three and five' , that come in rolls as big as my arm. Another client enters. He wants sheep cheese as an extra. "No sheep cheese" the man says "take three". When we are alone again, he tells us that he sells the best falafel in town. "Is it your shop?" "No" He knows, because he is from Lebanon. But the real falafel is without all this. He points at the vegetables. "Only salad, humus and soya sauce." I nod, and take another bite. I chew on bread and cold potato, and nod again.

freitagsmusik :


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