Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Berlin As Another World

A brief detour to Berlin yesterday evening was a detour to another world - the world of fotball.

Enjoying the neart-tropical heat that has descended over Northern Europe, the streets of Berlin were a bubbling, hot inferno of nationalist passions.

Friendly, for certain, but very strong and very firm.

And that was just the beginning.

Today it starts in Berlin. Brazil is meeting Croatia in the enormous Olympia Stadium of 1936 fame butwith a modern make-up.

With the team from Brazil lodged in the Kempinski, the hotel where I'm normally staying had been more or less taken over by intensely flag-waving Croats. They were all preparing for tonight.

While there are only slightly more than 2 000 people from Brazil living in Berlin, expectations are that app 30 000 will descend on the city tonight. The Croats have a better base in the nearly 12 000 living in the city, but also closer geographic proximity, so they might well start to match the numbers of Brazil.

Well, I hope Croatia wins.

I'm always in favour of outsiders. They challenge what is established - and thereby they often change things for the better. I assume this applies to football as well.

If Berlin survives this encounter tonight, it will then have to endure Sweden meeting Paraguay on Thursday.

Perhaps not the same thing, but I see in the local papers that 50 000 self-proclaimed Vikings are expected to descend on the old Prussian capital, with numbers from Paraguay most probably being significantly less.

Is all this a big exercise in nations and nationalities coming toghether in our increasingly globalized world? Or is it one of the last refugees of the sentiments that in the past brought far worse disasters than street violence, over-consumption of beer and hysterical passions?

I don't know.

In the meantime one might note that recent surveys show a more optimistic mood in the German economy than at any time since reunification.

Good for all of us.