Sunday, June 25, 2006

And Speaking of Public Toilets...

...I finally used one here! F and I were waiting for some friends so we could all take a cab to another friend's party lastnight, and I had to pee wicked bad. So F suggested that I go in the public toilet nearby.

I was scared and skeptical of what I might find behind the closed doors, but I had to pee far more badly, so I took the risk and inserted my 30 cents. This entry fee gave me 20 minutes of bathroom time.

The doors slid open with a whoosh (like sliding doors in spaceships). I cautiously peered in, checking for anything unsavory. Coast clear, I gingerly stepped in. The floor looked like it was made out of metal (looked sort of like the steps on escalators), and was separated into blocks. I then realized that there was music playing! (More specifically, Muzak.)

Then it was hand washing time. I didn't want to touch anything there, and I didn't have to. The picture below shows the sink area.

As you can see, there are pictures for soap, water, and hand dryer. All I had to do was 1) put my hand under the soap pic and liquid soap was dispensed onto my hand, 2) move my hands to the right, where water was dispensed so I could lather up and rinse, and 3) position my hands under the dryer to finish.

I pushed the door open button, the Muzak stopped, doors opened, and I emerged from the silver pod into the fresh air. After the doors closed, F and I listened as the pod cleaned itself - we could hear the water being sprayed around inside, and the sound of the floors being slid open to drain the water. Brilliant.

And this ends my tour of the high culture of Dusseldorf.


This is what the men's public toilets are called here. And they are only for men. What cracks me up is the fact that there is always some kind of visual on the pissoir, to make sure that any man, no matter his reading level (or state of inebriation) can locate a place to take a public piss. Here are some pics of pissoirs.

This one was in Dortmund, in the parking lot of the stadium where some of the world cup matches are being held.

And here is F exiting said pissoir. See the relief on his face?

Here is the Dusseldorf model. Slightly more anatomically correct.

Fascinating, eh?

This One's For You, Karin

Here are your boys:

This is as close as I could get to them...

Sweden vs. Trinidad & Tobago (2 weeks later)

Ok, so this post is a wee bit excuse but laziness and busy-ness. Moving on...F and I went to see this match on the 2nd day of the WC/WM. When we arrived at the stadium, we were swept up in a sea of blue and yellow (shirts, hats, wigs, flags, etc.).

There were also large spots of red/black/white (for Trinidad & Tobago) which I was so impressed by - these folks travelled so far to get here to cheer on their team. Unbelievable.

We were prepared with all kinds of documentation: passports, residence permit (for me), and of course, tickets. Expecting to be delayed getting in to the stadium, we were thoroughly surprised (and pleased and relieved) to breeze right in - no frisking, no ID checks. There was a brief bag check (for me), and then we were sent on the next set of turnstiles. The smiling WC employee took the tickets, held them up to the infrared scanner on the turnstile, and - beep! - let us through. Then it was off to find our the last row of the stadium. Totally unobstructed view, even though I could not tell who was who down on the pitch.

It was an exciting game - ended in a draw, with no points scored - and the Trinidadians were ecstatic. Even though they didn't score, the fact that they held off Sweden from scoring was a big accomplishment. Many of the Swedes who had come in like gangbusters were looking quite glum, slumped in their seats, heads in their hands. However, there were many moments of camraderie on the long walk back to the parking lot - Swedes congratulating the Trinidadians on the match, shaking hands. As the WC/WM slogan says, this is "A time to make friends, say no to racism."

Sunday, June 18, 2006

World Cup, LEGO Style

Ok, I gots more WC/WM stuff to write about, but since it's Sunday evening, and I've got to go to bed, I'll leave you with a clip from a most awesome short film. It's called Helden 06 (Heroes 06), and it's brilliant. Those of you who are soccer fans will recognize some of the players... Enjoy!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

WC/WM Miscellani

- F turning on the TV to watch the press conference held by Juergen Klinsman (German natl. team coach), to find the German national anthem being played by a group of guys blowing into bottles. Seriously.

- During the month of the WC/WM all the major stores will be open late during the week, and will be open - gasp! - on Sundays. This is to accommodate the large numbers of tourists here over the course of this month. Already the unions are up in arms about having to work these extra hours.

- Every single ad I've seen in the past month includes a reference to the WC/WM. See the following:

What does cheese have to do with soccer?? Anyone?

- The adidas ad campaign, 'Impossible Is Nothing'. One of the best ads I've seen. Two Spanish boys in the middle of the dirt plaza in their shabby housing complex, choosing the players for their soccer match (made up of the world's best players). I've included links here for part1 & part 2. Please watch with the sound on. I think it captures perfectly the joy of the game and the power of imagination.

- And again, why I watch. This is some of the Italian national team. Very smart for advertisers to appeal to the other segment of the population. Thanks for throwing us a bone, Dolce & Gabbana.

What's that? You want a closer look? No prob. Enjoy.

World Cup, Day 1

Ok, I'm trying this again...Blogger ate my last WC post, and I think my anger has cooled enough that I can try again...

So, yesterday was the first day of the World Cup/Welt Meisterschaft (hereafter to be called WC/WM). It was also the date of our last English Dept. Social/Happy Hour. The weather was going to be gorgeous - sunny(!) and warm(!) - so we decided to kill 2 birds with one stone and go somewhere outdoors where we could also watch the match. Seems hundreds of other people had the same idea...

Anyway, my friend S found a spot at one of the places along the Rhine Promenade, where we joined many raucous (mostly German) soccer fans. There were 2 screens set up at this place, and we were equidistant from both. (Other places we passed had set up TVs outside on tables for folks to crowd around.) There was a lot of chanting of German songs and sayings, and really the only time we knew something big had happened was after it had occurred. We just waited for the insane screaming and jumping around. There were many German soccer jerseys, German flags, and painted faces. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera so I have no pics to show of the evening. But it was quite something to be a part of this, to watch and get caught up in the fervor. I'll get more of a sense of it tonight, when F and I go to watch Sweden vs. Trinidad & Tobago!