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Thursday, August 20, 2009

And back to Karlsruhe...

I spent only a couple of days in Karlsruhe with Mari and Falk. But, as in Loche with Marie and her family, we seemed to compact an awful lot into a small amount of time.

Like Christian and Dorthe in Koln, Mari and Falk work during the day. And so I was left alone, in their apartment, to relax and linger and enjoy my circumstances. I hope they didn't feel badly, because I truly enjoyed both the time on my own in their city as well as the delightful times with them.

Only one sad thing - Mari debunked one of my favorite stories, which I guess I will now no longer be able to tell. So I will tell it here now, perhaps for the last time. Her dad, Raul, was our adoption lawyer in Peru, who arranged both Max's and Carolina's adoptions. I have known Mari for 21 years. On the morning Raul was supposed to bring Max, then 12 days old, to us, he was about an hour late. We had been hanging out the window of our 10th floor apt. waiting for him, when he finally arrived at about 10am. Baby in arms, he made some joke about being early, ie. only an hour late, rather than 2-3 hours late, which is typically Peruvian time. I have recounted that story dozens, maybe hundreds of times. Now, in Karlsruhe, as we are reminiscing and discussing different concepts of time in Peru and Germany, Mari insists that her dad is extremely punctual, unlike most Peruvians, and must have been delayed by something unforseen. Now that I think of it, none of our friends with Peruvian children has mentioned a similar story about Raul. Mari explains that she is always telling her dad, with his dry sense of humor (very true) that other people may not realize he is joking. Also now that I think of it, Falk also has a rather dry sense of humor, perhaps part of what has attracted Mari to him? I will have to take this up with Raul. In the meantime, recounting all of this to my family at home, Max remarks that he has also often used the story to excuse himself for being late. But that is truly a Peruvian characteristic, irregardless of Raul's promptness or tardiness.

Well, anyhow, Karlsruhe was delightful, with and without my hosts. I went to a museum at the local palace, itself an impressive place. Only problem, Mari had described the climb to the tower as a small one, and I made the mistake of believing her! Up and up I went. The view was delightful, though. In the museum itself was a wonderful exhibit of things Art Nouveau, with which I was entirely entranced. I spent most of my time there, and regretfully did not get to see much of the rest of the museum. What did particularly impress me, though, in my brief visits to the exhibits, was the interractive nature of some of them. In one place depicting ancient Turkish culture there was an area of kilim rugs and pillows, and metal trays and vessels, in which you could sit. Around you were the more precious items ensconsed in their glass cases. At another place depicting culture around the 1700's there were cardboard mock ups of costumes and wigs with holes for the faces that you could pose in. What I liked the best was that these were aimed at adults as well as children. In fact, the only people I saw sitting or posing for photos were adults.And if I had been with other people I'm sure I would have done the same.

In the gift shop were just a couple of postcards from the Nouveau exhibit. What also caught my eye was a bright picture of an item that I hadn't seen. The description said "mosaic." I asked a shop employee where it was, planning to re-enter the museum to find it. She asked a museum guard, who said something about another museum and the "blue path."

The next day, Mari and I attempted to find the elusive item, returning to the museum for Mari to enquire in German. They indeed sent us down the blue path (ceramic tiles in the pavement) to the museum of a famous ceramics company, Majolica, which is still there. We had a wonderful time there perusing the beautiful old pieces in the museum, and modern art pieces in the shop (very expensive but which I didn't actually much like). Best, though, were the individual tiles in various designs which one pulled open drawers in one room to see. Both Mari and I were extremely drawn to these, pulling open drawer after drawer, and both of us agreeing that they should manufacture replicas of these to sell, both as individual souveniers and to use in home designs as originally intended. The drawers themselves reminded me so much of drawers of ancient textiles in a small museum in Lima, perhaps the Herrera? I couldn't remember the name, and Mari didn't seem to recognize my description. There were also similar drawers full of items, treasures waiting to be discovered, in the Peabody Essex Museum right here at home in neighboring Salem, at an exhibit I recently attended.

The mosaic angel on the postcard, which we never found (neither museum seemed familar with it, interesting since it was one of the postcards at the Palace) led us to the Majolica Museum, for which I am grateful. And here I always thought Majolica ceramics were from Spain, why, I don't know. A question to answer at another time.

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