Back in Berlin

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It’s both exciting and a little scary to be back in Berlin. After more than 2 1/2 years, I’m back in the city that I called my home for about year, and it’s fantastic to be back. We’re out of the hot sun of Turkey and Kazakhstan and back to more moderate weather (it’s been gorgeous for two days so far) and I’m feeling much better physically after a rough bout of “Turkish Delight” and a nasty cold that I picked up in Kazakhstan (fortunately not until after I had presented my paper). The cold has now retreated to an “annoying but not debilitating” phase and I’m feeling much more like my usual self.

So I’m back in Berlin but it hasn’t been without its adventures. We got to the Astana airport at around 1:00 am on Thursday morning after spending Wednesday morning at the conference, followed by a trip downtown for one last look-see around the city, followed a round of papers, the conference closing ceremony and concert and a party at a nearby restaurant.

Our Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul didn’t have entertainment screens in the seat backs so we did our best to sleep on the five-and-a-half hour flight back to the edge of Europa. We said good-bye to those ICTMers on our flight before heading off to our gate to board our flight to Berlin.This flight did have entertainment consoles so I watched “Unfinished Business,” a Vince Vaughan comedy that took place in Berlin. Unfortunately, the film wasn’t great but it did get me excited to return to the city after seeing places I recognized in the film.

But my excitement stalled soon after landing. Paromita and I got in line for non-EU travelers and waited to clear customs. Our customs officer cleared us quickly once we reached him and we and went to wait for our bags to come off the carousel.

And we waited. And waited. And waited.

After about a half an hour, we realized that our bags weren’t coming so we asked a guard where the Turkish Airlines baggage office was. He said Terminal A. We went there and found out that it was only Lufthansa that had their baggage office there. We went back and found the other baggage claim office and waited.

And we waited. And waited. And waited.

After about an hour (or longer), we reached the front of the line and filed our claim for our lost bags. We were told that there was a malfunction for about 2 hours in Istanbul, which coincided with the exact same two hours that we were on the ground between flights.

Finally, we headed to our hotel to try to relax. I went looking for a SIM card for my phone and some other necessities we would need — like clothing, since I had basically been wearing (and sweating in) the same thing for two days.

We went out for dinner and retired early after almost falling asleep at 11pm watching Netflix. Right. Jet lag. Berlin is four hours behind Astana. 11pm in Berlin was 3am in Astana.

So I’m back in Berlin and Paromita is here for the first time. Time has most definitely flown but the next week and a half will be the most intense period of work for me, finishing writing music (I was inspired by a half-finished tune I had written several years ago), preparing parts for the band, rehearsing, and then coordinating the tour and recording (in addition to actually playing).

I’ve missed you, Berlin. It’s good to be back.

Are you in central Europe? Looking to preview the music coming up on KlezFactor: Europa? Catch them live! July 28 at B-flat in Berlin, July 29 at Blue Note in Dresden and July 31 at Jazzdock in Prague!

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