June 21, 2007

Stopped clocks

There are a lot of stopped clocks in (former East) Berlin. It’s really noticeable - especially if, like me, your watch is either hardly on your wrist in winter (on account of the metal strap getting cold in the cold) or in summer (on account of your wrist getting sweaty under the metal strap in the heat) and when it is there, you can’t remember how many minutes fast it may or may not be, so you don’t know if you are running really late or just a bit late.
So, in general, I cannot rely on what is or is not strapped to my wrist, and thus I make use of public clocks and am forever grateful to city councils for putting them up. I have often wondered why they bother, but am glad that they do.

However, when the clock near Schönhauser Allee U-Bahn station is forever set to 13h40, it sends me into momentary confusion and an odd time warp. There is another clock near Alexander Platz that got stuck at 9h45 (or 21h45?) one fine day and on the tram ride from Rosenthaler Platz to Pankow, one passes three stopped clocks. What does it all mean? Why do the hands of time stand still on intersections in (former East) Berlin, when just a short time and great effort have successfully erased most obvious traces of the 40-year separation between East and West Berlin?

There is a public clock at the intersection of the street I live on in Paris. It runs almost five minutes fast....what do you think THAT means?

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