Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Visiting Dublin / the final countdown

So, the Easter vacation is nearly over and I'm about to begin my last-ever university classes. That very fact seems unreal! Two weeks left of sitting in class. The days - even hours - are numbered.

A couple of weeks ago, I went to Dublin with my family for a few days, which was an extremely welcome reprieve from the pattern of essay/revision/essay that my life has become. My brother's currently doing a work placement over there, so that's why I went, and it was great to see him again.
Dublin is a nice city. As a first-timer in Ireland, one of the first things I noticed was that there are some of the same shops that we have in the UK, but they go under a different name; for example, Primark is called Penneys, and Pizza Express is called Milano. Also - I guess this is owing to Dublin's Viking history - I thought that some of the streets around Temple Bar and the River Liffey were quite similar to those in Stockholm, Sweden. All in all, it had this effect on me that was a curious mixture of familiar and new.

A place I can recommend to anyone visiting Dublin is the Secret Book & Record Store on Wicklow Street. It's actually not that secret because they employ somebody to hold a sign outside pointing you in the right direction, but it's without a doubt the best secondhand book/record store I've visited. It's small, but the stock is excellent! I bought Dave Eggers' A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius and Colm Tóibín's Brooklyn for very reasonable prices, though I was deciding in there for ages. In the record section, I saw The Get Up Kids' Woodson & Red Letter Day for €3.99, the edition with the yellow cover, which I've since found out is basically unavailable in this country - or if it is, it's dead expensive. Kicking myself a bit for passing that up, but never mind.

For booklovers I can also heartily recommend Hodges Figgis on Dawson Street - it was founded in 1768! Here is my haul of Irish literature from there, which I look forward to reading once I've finished everything else on my shelf (or maybe these will move up the priority ladder, I don't know yet):

Some other highlights were seeing the Guinness Factory and the statue of Oscar Wilde (who is one of my favourite writers, so I was made up).


Trinity College


Such a novelty, lol

A little bit of Canada in Dublin Airport

I also wanted to share something about a film I've watched recently. Head-On (or Gegen die Wand, German for "against the wall") is a film from 2004 by Fatih Akin that I've studied for my Contemporary German Cinema class. It's been very successful, and if Wikipedia is to be believed, it's one of John Waters' favourites. I am now confident in saying it is one of mine, too.

The story mainly takes place in Hamburg, where two Turkish-Germans, Cahit and Sibel, meet in hospital after both having attempted suicide. Sibel begs Cahit to marry her, and it soon becomes clear that her overbearing, conservative parents are what drove her to try to end her life - marriage is the only way she can escape the household.


Don't go in expecting this to be some odd-couple comedy. It is one of the most intense dramas I've seen and I have to admit, right in the middle I had to pause it and just have a cry; not really due to a particular emotional response, but because it was all so difficult to watch. The theme of suicide is recurring, and it can be quite bloody. There is also a rape scene in the second half of the film - it is not graphic but rather understated, yet it is still of course shocking. However, I think Akin can be commended for not glamorising these subjects as is the case in a lot of films. It was also gave a very refreshing take on the lives of people of Turkish background living in Germany. In the end, it was just about two people caught in a destructive and tragic cycle of self-loathing, as well as anguish about culture clash, but somehow always having each other: not necessarily seeking solace in one another, but just having each other.