Wednesday, 5 August 2015

"Ach, bist Du auch neugierig?"

This area of the former Kindl brewery in Neukölln, Berlin, is now an arts centre. If you visit their website, you will see from the nice photos there that many of the original features have been retained.

I came across the brewery by accident, on a mission to track down some friends of mine who live nearby.

"Ach, bist Du auch neuguerig?",  a man in cycle gear asks me. Here is where the Kindl area comes to an abrupt end at a yet to be filled gap. I am not the only "neugierig" or "nosy" one.*

I snapped this photo from a U-Bahn station wall: The photo is courtesy of the Museum Neukölln, and shows the brewery as it was around 1930.

* Actually "neugierig" can be literally translated as "greedy for the new", gierig means greedy and neu means new. The man used it to mean I was also curious or inquisitive, and despite its quite negative word root it is often used in a positive way. There doesn't seem to be a German equivalent for "nosy" though. One word suffices for all; A nosy neighbour is also "neugierig".

In German there also doesn't seem to be quite the equivalent of "Mind your own Business". If you do have the misfortune of having to use this phrase in German, it may be quite a mouthful: "Kummern Sie sich um Ihre eigenen Sachen/ Dreck". By the time you have said this, the moment will have probably passed leaving you mumbling incoherently to yourself. I have observed a higher sense of civic duty in Germany. This may be why I haven't heard this phrase used often, for example, when a stranger admonishes someone for crossing the road when the pedestrian signal is red. (I like the London phrase "to stick one's oar in", which means to meddle in other people's business.)

"Neugierig" could just as well be "altgierig", if you are greedy for the old, like I seem to be for old industrial buildings. That could sound quite conservative though. I like the way the word nose-y is such a physically descriptive word. I often follow my nose to the scent of an interesting place when taking pictures. No, I think I'll stick with nosing around as everyone knows what curiosity did to that cat.

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