Kino stories


1. Karlstorkino, Heidelberg

At the Karlstorkino in Heidelberg, behind the counter in the tiny foyer that divides the entrance from the small movie hall, the woman with dark hair and dark eyes says she does not have a Coke. She names another drink whose name I don’t catch. It’s like Coke, she says, almost apologetically. The beginning of the film is a quarter of an hour away. I pick my drink and flip through pamphlets and cards advertising upcoming titles. Posters on the walls hold frames from movies I have never heard of, but this is unsurprising: they customarily screen not mainstream movies but obscure titles ignored by the rest. Three young men, all blond haired, enter the foyer. One of them is barefoot. The kino is close to some altstadt apartments where university students live – this man may have just crossed the street to get here. Still, it is refreshing to note this streak in a German. The hall, accomodating not more than thirty seats, is half empty when the movie begins. I sip my Coke-like drink and sink into the cushioned folds as the title flashes across the screen: Guilty of Romance.

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The zoo in Stuttgart


The zoo is a place of many surprises.

The zoo in Stuttgart is not a typical zoo. It hosts – and I wonder if this is an undeserved euphemism – both animals (mammals, insects, fishes, birds, and the like) and plants (orchids, cactuses, camellias, ferns, spice plants, among others). It is also large. In the four hours spent walking the premises we covered about a fourth of the area and saw less than a tenth of the species on display, which the guidebook put at over a thousand.

The flamingoes come first. You see them standing together, loopy-necked, swan-bodied, with a pair of pink sticks for legs, pecking at themselves or at something on the ground. They are behind a low-fenced enclosure, out in the open, yet they do not fly away. Nearby, a grey heron flies above a tree and disappears from view; although they do not belong to the zoo collection, such birds are permanent guests here.

This is a good beginning. A zoo where birds are not in a cage. A zoo that attracts visitors from the animal kingdom.

A greenhouse with tropical plants is next, but my father, who behaves occasionally like a eight-year old (there’s a running gag in the family on this), wishes to see only the animals. We head toward the great apes. Three baby gorillas, behind a glass-fronted cell, have drawn a large crowd. It is easy to see why. The young ones are like cuddly soft-toys come to life, and they swing from ropes, climb poles, hang from a branch with more √©lan and style than any adult gorilla can manage.

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