Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Marktplatz and the Gänseliesl

The Goose Girl before the Rathaus in the town square
A produce vendor and her wares

Flowers in the Markt

 Emma is intrigued by the bustle of the University town of Göttingen.   When I was looking for characters for The Shadow Warriors, I  sat in the Marktplazt for an hour and watched the people walking by.  Three characters showed up.  How about them apples? Göttingen  was just a great setting for a book.  I stole great hunks of landscape and sometimes I even made up stuff, but most of the scenes were created from real places. 

Here is a glimpse of the street fair and some unpleasantness from The Shadow Warriors.

The square was jammed with students, professors, couples pushing baby carriages, old age pensioners, farmers with round peasant faces, and the Turks and Greeks who had come years ago as “guest workers” and stayed on to open restaurants and small businesses.
            We milled around, picking up the carnival mood. Wayne and Christof circled the sausage stands, while Christof earnestly tried to explain the difference between bratwurst and currywurst. Marcus and I followed a tempting odor to a booth where cauliflower and mushrooms were batter-dipped and deep-fried. A vendor wearing a leather apron over his red tabard handed us paper plates heaped with the crisp goodies in exchange for a few marks. Marlies, Petra and Gaby ordered the famed white asparagus.  Crowded together on a bench, we ate pommes frites , to cushion the alcohol to come, and drank Göttinger Pilsen, which I hoped might flush our arteries in a kind of yin-yang Germanic balancing effect. The familiar American smells of pretzels and popcorn mingled with the exotic aroma of shashlik turning on a spit.
Punk rockers, hair moussed into a rainbow of spikes, arrived, and festooned themselves on the base of the Goose Girl fountain. A guitarist with a melancholy American voice sang Where Have All the Flowers Gone? A few beggars sat stoically on the pavement, holding up hand-printed placards telling their individual tragedies.
            We passed a booth selling shots of vodka, each with a fig immersed in it. Wayne pantomimed gagging gestures, but I counted out four marks in change. As I handed the money to the vendor, I caught a glimpse of a face with dark eyes, eyes that were staring at me, but the man with the eyes slipped away into the crowd. It couldn't be. There was no way that the man from the Singapore bus and the Hong Kong Market could be at the Göttingen street fair. I downed the vodka in one hasty gulp, but the alcohol couldn’t burn away that face and those eyes.