Friday, July 10, 2009

On the M19 bus to writing group this morning

Friday morning, July 10th

Top right corner seat on double decker bus.

LOUD branches on roof.

Big matching yellow double decker bus coming the other way - my first ever on this stretch of Koenigsallee which opened to two-way traffic two days ago after 11 months of being closed for pipe work. Our bus had to pull way over to the side.

Pedestrian sign high up over the street (blue square, white cartoon person crossing on white stripes] really *just* barely high enough to clear the roof over my head.

At the end of Koenigsallee, emerging onto Rathenauplatz: a big blue circular sign with a thin white rim and inside a lumbering old white rounded cartoony bus - NO bus in Berlin looks like the cute little old bus on the sign.

In the middle of Rathenauplatz we drive past the super-weird statue of two old cars encased in concrete - actual cars, one nose down 180%, one sort of aslant like going down a 45% ramp.With concrete sort of poured over them in incomplete and partial ways. Why this statue, nobody knows.

As we pull up to the Rathenauplatz stop (just past Rathenauplatz itself) I notice a low (3-story?) apartment building across the street - with dusky brick red balconies and on them, matching large gay purple umbrellas - NEVER noticed this before.

In front of me, a bike messenger, leaned way over his bike, bright yellow flat vinyl shiny pack on his back.
Coming up to Halensee we go over the S-Bahn bridge. TV tower off to the left and tracks stretching out to left and right under the bridge. Somehow this high-tech place: high-speed city train tracks - feels very homey. Because of the little buildings planted in between the tracks? Because the tracks curve a little, both to go around the buildings and off into the distance? Because there is grass and weeds growing up around the tracks in various places? I'm not sure.

On to the Ku-damm (short for Kurf├╝rstendamm - used to be Berlin's main glitzy drag but when the center of gravity pulled east after the wall came down it ceased to be the main drag; for a while it was really grungy but is coming back a little) - it's 9:30 a.m., very sunny with stark shade contrasts as we pass buildings and trees.

A biker we just passed - long dark blue jeans topped with a flowy yellow-white blousy dress and a white helmet - unusual here.

Joachim-Friedrich-Strasse stop: 5 people get on, 4 middle-aged-to-old ladies, one young sharp-faced man, huge ovoid backpack.

Driving on to Lehniner Platz, a very shiny bullet-shaped little car parked to my right - says Cayman S on it. Never heard of this kind of a car.


Lehniner Platz, 4 people get on; one is an older man with a black cap, one young woman with very long straight blonde hair and a plastic green basket.

Passed bike lady with the blousy yellow and white flowered dress again!

Adenauer Platz - will I see hubby here? He's on his way back from taking a neighbor to the airport and would be switching buses here, thought I might see him. No.

11 people get on, one preteen kid in a striped shirt and backpack, one person of color, otherwise the usual middle-aged white people.

We idle here - I can't tell why from upstairs. People are taking their time paying the driver? Maybe we actually switched drivers? (Sometimes we do at Adenauer Platz but it doesn't seem quite long enough for that actually.) Some kind of gruff announcement.

The bus lurches downwards, there's a noise like doors closing. These are semi-kneeling buses; from here I can't see what's happening. But it seems like the bus should lurch downwards when we *stop* and *upwards* when we are about to go again. I don't know.

In the bus lane we pass the parked cars to our right very tightly with not much room to spare - almost squished a lady just now opening her driver's side door.

Olivaer Platz (there used to be a Subway sandwich stop here - Felix mourns its passing) - 8 people get  on including wheelchair and attendant. 2 more run up from the side street, catch it easily (young women). 

Because I'm in the right front top seat I can see the people getting on out my window but not so much the people getting off (generally out of the doors further back) - but a woman just got out of the bus and walked then across the street in front of it - heels, trench coat, wheeled cart, very straight brown hair - reminded me so much of the young Barbara Johnson, a storied literature critic who was my professor at Yale and then hubby's colleague later at Harvard.

Bleibtreustrasse - now there's a Mercedes taxi in front of us in the bus lane, a weird shape and with funny markings I haven't seen before. Also a blonde woman, orange plastic bag flapping in her black wire basket, a green strap on her leg (passed her before I got hardly any of that written down - next time I'll actually take the laptop instead of the paper notebook maybe?) - 1 redhaired lady got on. 

We drive off and the sidewalk to our right is filled with men in yellow hardhats and orange-striped reflective vests, way below ground level - there's a long ditch running along the edge of the sidewalk and they are in it, lounging, drilling, leaning on shovels, talking. 

Uhlandstrasse. My stop. Off I get. This bus trip went faster than ever before, faster even than when I am reading.

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