Sunday, June 5, 2016

My week: May 22 ed.

I spent the beginning of the week finishing up the trip in Sofia. During the trip, my feet were very sore. It didn't help that I wore some flat shoes but I find it so hard anyway to find shoes with good arch supports that aren't tennis shoes. I haven't been able to find any supportive shoes that don't look nerdy/touristy so I wore my other shoes. Anyway, A. suggested that I get orthopedic inserts for my regular shoes (if that isn't nerdy...). Since we walk anywhere from 5-15 miles a day and I already have arthritis and back injuries from a car accident (and I'm not that old), I decided it wouldn't hurt to take her advice. I stopped by the local orthopedics/shoe store and they had me stand in a box of foam like they use in floral arrangements. For 80-100 euros, I'd have shoe inserts a week later. I could have tried to get my health insurance to pay but that would've involved a trip to the doctor (and they love to get xrays or MRIs of my messed-up back) and copays so I figured it would just be cheaper to pay cash for the inserts.
Work was busy again since it was the week before the launch of our system update.

On Saturday, I attended the Stadtteilfest, which is a community festival held in the Stadtpark in downtown Kaiserslautern. Local organizations set up booths to disseminate information and also sell food or donated items as a fundraiser. The weather was sunny and the park beautiful with spring flowers.

These events are very enjoyable; old and young alike participate, whether it's kids coloring at the social club's booth or elderly men showing their model ships they've built. As I was walking around, I heard "heeheheheee!" and saw an elderly lady, assisted by her elderly gentleman friend, trying out the slackline. She was having a great time.

I was thrilled to visit the Fairness booth and find homemade Syrian falafel. Can I just say that while I love falafel, the ones made from frozen stock that are sold at kebab shops just don't do it for me? It's awesome when the mix is made fresh and the cook uses an ice cream scooper-esque utensil to make the falafel balls. 

There was another booth that supported Teachers on the Road, an organization that drums up volunteers to help refugees learn German and navigate life in Germany. They were offering, for a donation, various dips and some homemade Afghani bread. I was very interested in that and waited to buy some. The German volunteer running the booth was a bit flustered; she was probably filling in for someone. As she was trying to arrange a container for the food I ordered, a crusty old guy from the shipbuilders wanted to know who was in charge. He was scowling fiercely and I thought, oh, great, is he going to say something rude about refugees? All was well; he actually was Herr Doktor Sowieso and he wanted to help teach the refugees German. He just had what I call "resting old man grumpyface" and felt very strongly about helping newcomers assimilate. Good for him!

As I continued through the park, I was excited to see people playing a game similar to what I know as Sjoelbak, which is a Dutch style of table shuffleboard. My mom's family is Dutch and we compete seriously with this at our family reunion (you can win the magnificent fake crystal saucer and cup glued together trophy-thing). My brother even builds these for other family members. Anyway, the German one looked a bit different but the concentration and determination of the players was recognizable.

I was reading my blog entry from last year when I attended the Stadtteilfest and the similarity was funny. This is what I wrote in 2015: "I stopped by the Terre des Hommes bike market, the Stadtteilfest, Fairness (a thrift store I've been wanting to visit), picked up a few odds and ends for groceries, looked for henna to buy (with no luck so far),  cleaned the house, baked cupcakes, took a nap (definitely needed it after all the running around), and volunteered at the Tanztee."

This year, I did almost all the same things except for looking for henna (I finally found some), baking cupcakes, and volunteering at the Tanztee. Am I creature of habit or what?

On Sunday, I hosted a potluck for one of the social groups. Moo was at first very excited to welcome guests but then I think he was worn out so he reclined on the couch with a slightly disconcerted expression of wishing to take a nap but everyone was partying. We had a fun time and even engaged in a spirited discussion of Indian/Pakistani sweets. At one potluck, my friend had brought barfi, which is kind of like a South Asian "fudge," so to speak, and we loved it. We wanted to know where to buy it in Germany and some of the guys were in the know. The local Asian store, Tam Asia, orders it from an Indian sweets shop in Frankfurt and receives it once a week and the guys gave the lowdown on when to buy it. I love the network of knowledge in our group.

Moo says: party was fun but I'm tired now so please go home.

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