Thursday, April 8, 2010

Leipzig Old and New

The Old: The Easter Market

Since I wrote earlier this week, I’ve had some time to explore Leipzig a bit more. The Monday after Easter (April 5th) was a holiday and a big event in town was the Easter market. It was as if from an era long gone (please don’t ask which era) with stands set up in the central town square selling handmade tchotchkes and traditional food and drink. Here is a picture of a stand with a pig roast and another with a manual Ferris wheel:

Look closely at the first picture and you can actually see the pig on the spit. (Mom – this reminds me of those neighbors that had a pig roast every summer in Grayling… it’s the only other time I’ve seen a pig on a spit, I think.) You’ll also notice the old-fashioned costumes. Everyone working at the market was dressed up in a similarly old-fashioned way, whether they were vendors or actors or musicians. For example, here are some musicians playing drums and bagpipe-like instruments:

And I’m not sure what to say about this “fire woman” who chased around small children… :

But don’t start thinking that Germany is all old-fashioned and quaint. Any inklings of this notion were certainly wiped out of my mind on Tuesday when I started my stint at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

The New: Max Planck Institutes

The Max Planck Institute where I’m working was established in only 1997, which is evident from the ultra-modern building. Here’s a view from the outside:

And another couple of shots from high up in the inside of the building, looking down on the atrium.

This place is like Julia-topia. It has all the academic perks of Berkeley: eminent scholars, interesting talks and classes, nice library; and all the logistical perks of the NRC: free copies and office supplies, my own computer set-up in a semi-private office, nice facilities. They’re going to have to drag me out of here kicking and screaming when it’s time to leave on June 1st.

Me in Julia-topia:

A small side note -- I said this Max Planck institute, because it’s not the only one, not by a long shot. In Leipzig alone there are 3 Max Plancks:

- Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig (<-- this is where I am)
- Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig
- Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences, Leipzig

So if you had any doubts about modernization in former East Germany, rest assured it’s shaping up quite nicely. At least it seems to be here in Leipzig – smack dab in the middle of the former GDR. Though apparently in rural areas of former East Germany there is still a good deal of economic struggle.

Julia’s Leipzig/Germany/Central Europe adventure continues next week! What sort of things are in store? ... Classes in Upper Sorbian – an obscure Slavic language spoken completely within the borders of Germany – at the University of Leipzig … Visits to various art, music and ethnographic museums in the area … a potential trip to Dresden, or even Wrocław, Poland … Perhaps even an explanation of what exactly I’m doing here! … Check back soon for details!


Sandra said...

I LOVE the historical costumes of the market! Like going back in time... or watching a movie!
And I don't remember any pig roast in Grayling.

Julia M. said...

I know, aren't those historical costumes great? I can't believe you don't remember the pig roast. Their name was Hansen or something like that. They had the pig roast just down the road - not on our road, but on that other road off Eagle Point (it was a house on the lake)... anyway...