We rang in the new year at a friend's house in Kirchheim, officially a neighborhood of Heidelberg that really feels more like a little town in its own right. The whole place was completely iced over, giving new meaning to having a good slide!* We ate his homemade pakoras and brownies, sampled wines he brought back from a Christmas trip to the Schwarzwald, then went out to the street around 11:40 to start lighting some fireworks.
We could hear banging all around, but on our quiet little residential street we were the only ones making racket and we were starting to feel a little guilty about it. Then midnight came, and suddenly the street was full of people, lighting fireworks of their own or just stepping out for a second to acknowledge the new year. It was nice to be out in a smaller neighborhood where we could set off fireworks, watch other people's and still get some of the feeling of pyrotechnic insanity without being along the Neckar, where we've spent the past two years, fearing for our eyeballs and other burnable exposed areas. It's fun, but it's scary.
After all the festivities were over we found ourselves a little bit stuck in Kirchheim. The tram had stopped running, the wait for an S-Bahn was 1.5 hours, and we'd just missed the Moonliner bus too. All the cabs that went by were taken. We started walking to the next bus stop just to have something to do while waiting, but when we got there, there was no Moonliner sign on our side of the road at all and we were starting to question ourselves. Then, a cab showed up that was free!! He picked us up and was clearly feeling chatty. He went on and on about how lucky we were to be picked up and all the cabs were busy. Damon noticed his German didn't sound native, and asked him where he was from. He gave us a hint: the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize winner came from his country. Embarrassingly, we struck out on that one. So he gave us another hint: "Many countries want to go to war with my country." Damon didn't catch it and asked him to clarify which countries. "The Americans want to go to war with my country." Well, we got it this time: Iran. We don't know if he could tell we were American or not - we only spoke German with him and it's hard to say whether our accent is obvious. Anyway, we said we hoped it didn't happen and he rambled on about there being whackjobs in charge all over the place, but in the end we all hope it's just big words. What a way to ring in the new year, eh?**
*Prior to midnight, Germans wish each other a "good slide" into the new year. The same word, Rutsch, is used to warn you to look out because of slipperiness, or "slide risk".
Another funny note on the ice: our friend is from India and has lived there and in Singapore, but never anywhere cold, until now. This was his first experience with walking on ice and he said it felt like everything was covered in oil! It never occurred to me to wonder what it must be like to feel ice under your feet for the first time.
**I'm feeling asterisky today. In another weird moment, we were pondering the new year and it occurred to me that I really don't like the number 2009 and have kind of a bad feeling about it. I realize this makes me sound crazy but I don't really think of it any different than liking/not liking a color or song or name. I said I felt a little funny about the number and our host said, "I was just thinking the same exact thing!! I don't like this number at all." Um, spooky? Here's hoping there's absolutely nothing bad, funny, or unlikable about 2009! :)