The old and the new

One odd thing about Berlin apartments is that when you get them unfurnished you get them TOTALLY unfurnished. No light fixtures… okay. No lightbulbs… umm okay. No fixture mounting brackets or bulb sockets at all… wha?! In my new apartment there are merely bundles of loose wire hanging from the ceiling.

I am told this is normal. I think it’s weird. It solves the mystery, however, of why all Berlin rooms have the same Ikea paper light fixture on the ceiling: it’s the only one that hides well a bulb hanging loosely from the ceiling with no mounting brackets.

I was told to visit two stores to solve the light problem: Bauhaus and Conrad.

Bauhaus was exactly the same as The Home Depot back in Canada. Really, almost totally identical. Wide aisles of building material: check. Weird carts for moving 4×8′ sheets of plywood: check. Fake chalk signs of Marker Felt font to advertise prices: check. Bauhaus’ iconic colour is orange like Home Depot though it’s shifted just slightly towards the red.

I’m sad to admit that this store gave me a weird sort of flashback to shopping for hardware in Canada. Something about the weird smell of chemically treated sawdust and glue in the air, maybe. A store that big really has no business in Berlin.

If Bauhaus was just like home, Conrad was completely alien and terrifying. When I first walked in I saw some CD-Rs and computer media, so I figured it was a gadget store like Radio Shack. A bit further in I discovered some hardcore electrical gear. Like, lightbulb sockets (which is what I came to buy), bulk reels of wire, high-amperage switches, security camera kits… so I figured it was a store for electricians. Then I got to the model airplane aisle.

You know I’ve never really met anyone who was simultaneously interested in model airplanes, computer gadgets, and industrial electrical wire installation. While each of these markets exist I have no idea why they are in the same store. It’s like a store made of all the things that Bauhaus won’t stock.

“Whoa buddy, we got lightbulbs but we ain’t got sockets. We got wire but not high amp. And we ain’t got ANY mi-ni-ah-chure aeroplanes. I think you want to go to Conrad, boy.”

Anyway, I’ll be over at my new place wiring lightbulb sockets to 220 V lines. Pray for me.

(Yes, I know where the fusebox is… I’ll be fine!)