Flowers in My Hair… (Part I)

1151065_10151768808159763_255437638_nMy summer was not exactly perfect. With the deaths of two loved ones, it did not start or end well. Yet I refuse to call it a crappy three months. I had spent the last 9 months waiting for the sun to illuminate the beauty of Heidelberg once again, I couldn’t afford letting time slip by. I’d conclude that my summer was filled with moments that could inspire an album collaboration between The Lumineers, Regina Spektor and Vanessa Carlton, with hope, happiness and some tears as spice…

photo (14)You see, I am a loyal despiser of anything cold; weather, people, hearts, colours, faces, food… And living in Germany does not allow you to take any warm day for granted. So my days were decorated with flowy sundresses and tanlines and bike rides. My olive skin tans easier than that of a person with a paler complexion, leaving me with an “I’ve been away” look that had people asking where I had been vacationing. Apart from a long weekend trip to the south of Germany where the Bodensee brings Austria, Switzerland and Germany together, (where I was afflicted with a severe sunburn on my chest. Thinking the sunshine was mild, I stepped out of the house and onto a boat unprotected) I spent my summer falling in love with Heidelberg again.

If there is anything I am obsessed with it’s summer days… And red lipstick, and accessories -rings and earrings in particular- and of course the colour purple. And that sums up my passion for random things. My earring holder has become too heavy to be able to stand on its own, hence it rests against my chest of drawers’ wall while it carries my many ear accessories. For a girl who got her ears pierced only two years ago, due to the strong belief of not hurting your body, that only lasting for twenty-four years, then realising she’ll keep that principal as a counterargument for getting tattooed, I’d say I have gone a little crazy buying earrings. And that is a result of never leaving a shop that sells accessories empty handed. If there is another principle I live by it would be “choose your accessories Oriental, your men not…” Let’s see how long I can stay faithful to this one… I also cannot obliviously walk by a shelf in a shop that offers red lipstick without feeling the urge to purchase it. I strongly stand by the belief that “every girl needs a red lipstick in her make up bag” and call the “not everyone can pull it off as pure crap. If there is one beauty item that is universally flattering, it’s be red lipstick. A mouth becomes a pout once painted with a tint of scarlet red, regardless of the complexion or the lips’ shape. Random rant over. Summer days, I was saying… Oh those warm, bright days…

red“Promise me we won’t spend a day inside…” he said in my hair. And so it was… Being a claustrophobic, I find delight in spending my time outdoors. Sundays are my worst enemy, when everything is on hold and people practice the much advertised “lazy Sunday”. When there is no way to saturate the needs I have that can only be fed by stepping outside (a trip to the grocery store, my department’s library, the post office,…) I found ways to enjoy the sun rays during the day and warm summer breeze during the darker hours on my balcony. “My” is a loose and selfish term. I share a balcony with four other people, yet no one steps on anyone else’s toes, literally and figuratively. The boundaries are concrete, though no marks have been placed and no prior agreement has been made. We all try to make the best of the few meters of space we have. Up until the middle of summer I had the pleasure of sharing a wall with a Manchester fella. A guy with the most colourful wardrobe, mostly items purchased from markets in Asia, and a smile as colourful as his attire. I swore several times I would sneak in and “knick” his harem trousers. Danny, gay and happy, (the first word not particularly being a synonym of the second, but more of a description of his sexual orientation) pioneered a balcony tradition, where he would poke his head through my window, “babe, you want a beer or some warm wine?” he would shout in his Northern accent. He too had a hand in writing and together we would spend hours talking about details, those you’d want to write and read about.Those details that gave your heart a warm feeling once you realised others have experienced them too. Our shared background in England made it easier to find common ground and his sense of humour and positive attitude made my afternoons on my balcony sunnier. DannyOne evening he decided he wanted to shave his hair off. Handing me a pair of scissors and an electric shaver -meant for the face and not the head- he said: “do it”. And so I did. Right on our balcony, I attempted at what I later tried to title a masterpiece. He was happy. I giggled my way through it. I am not sure about the two girls who were trying to enjoy a dinner on their balcony and had to bear the sight of us struggling with the simplest of haircuts. He also had a good eye for good looking guys in our building. A lunch break of mine at work was filled with giggles while invested in a text message conversation where he told me an American neighbour who was moving out had come to give him a few things he no longer needed. “Nilou, you have to marry him. He’s beautiful!!!” he gushed. He was my wingman if you please. The American left before I got a chance to marry him, but I trust that he truly was beautiful, since Danny had a good taste in men. I had seen pictures of his boyfriend. I was not disappointed.balconysessions

I even had Kathrin addicted to my balcony sessions. With my dark blue blanket on the floor and a big pillow protecting our backs from the cement digging into our flesh, I introduced her to a more Iranian way of enjoying summer nights. Although I have never taken part in such a practice, but I have heard and seen many a people spending nights in their balconies or on their rooftops when the airconditioning would just not suffice. I had always been afraid of mosquitos or worse still, cockroaches, torturing me and had chickened out on any event where a full sleep session was planned outdoors. Although I do believe falling asleep under the stars can guarantee a peaceful rest.photo (2)

While I adore the company of Germans and have found some of my most caring friends among them, I have come to find solace in cultures from more southern regions. With four of my best friends being from Serbia, Italy and Turkey, I have decided that there are so many things that our cultures share that I could not find dominant in the German culture. Another civilisation that I have come to grow fond of is the Greek. Now I know what people think when Greece and Iran are put in the same sentence, mostly ending with the simple (and sometimes ignorant) question of “but don’t you guys hate each other?”, I beg to differ. I first met my first Greek friend in a situation which was not so pleasant. It was late January and I had been hearing noises; loud walking noises for quite some time and my first judgment was that they were being produced by the neighbour residing above me. I wrote a purple note, sternly telling him that the loud noise prevented me from studying and falling asleep. The next day my doorbell was rung and I, fearful of what the neighbour was going to say, avoided opening the door. This went on for the next couple of nights and by the third visit, I gave in and opened the door. The neighbour, an ever-so-polite guy, apologised for the noise but confided in me that he too was suffering from the lack of peace. Later we realised that it was not coming from his apartment but another neighbour’s. I came to understand that the quiet neighbour was Greek with an interest in culture, music and history. It would not be an exaggeration when I say talking to him is like reading a book. Apollo (he’s Greek, green-eyed and a musician, he cannot be nicknamed anything else) introduced me to other Greeks, all bubbly, loud and enthusiastic. I spent one Sunday evening wining and dining with several of them, in a balcony we had stolen from the neighbours upstairs, breathing in the July air, chewing on grilled meat and listening to them sing Greek songs as Apollo played his guitar. Seems like we have more things in common than just a broken economy…

BikeI don’t know if it was pure laziness or procrastination when it came to purchasing a bike. When I was asked why I didn’t own one I’d jokingly say “I’m waiting to find a purple one”. A few weeks into spring (although that is a generous term for the cold windy, rainy, cloudy, gloomy March, April and May that we had) the bus drivers in Rhein-Neckar region decided to strike. It did get as bad as a whole week of full strikes. That was when I truly felt the need of a bike. I went online and coincidentally found a purple one. Apart from Apollo, I do not know anyone who purchased a new bike. When faced with my surprised expression when he told me he had paid a large amount of money to buy a new bike for a town where bicycle thieves lead a comfortable career, he said “I’ve lived in Italy. There is where you should never spend too much money for a bike.” He went on to tell me thieves would just pick up a bike, fully locked and all, and take it to the locksmith and lie about losing the key the previous night while they were drunk… And before any readers’ comments on how that’s the case in Southern Italy and not the northern parts, he was talking about Florence…

photo (8)

My purple bike proved to be my most welcomed purchase this summer. I was no longer a slave to the bus and tram timetables. Grocery shopping became easier. Getting to places got more fun. I wasn’t late to events. With a glass of cherry wine in my basket, I would arrive on time to parties and leave whenever I pleased. Riding during the day gave me more exposure to the sun, giving me interesting tan-lines from different outfits. And every time I would feel the hem of my dress caress my legs as they were being sun-kissed, I was glad that all the cycling would count as exercise. By the end of the summer I had developed some rather firm leg muscles. Legs any bus-traveller would be envious of…

To be continued…

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4 thoughts on “Flowers in My Hair… (Part I)

      1. Wahhhh! 😦 I just got this notice….. Yeah! I’m happy to use it, especially since I’m all the way over here, and my friends and family back in NYC can read this all!!! 🙂

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