We came all the way for this?

Once again I am writing from the Mayersche bookstore at Neumarkt, which the locals call “Nümaat” in Kölsch. I am having difficulty with this bookstore chain’s keyboards. Usually when I wish to type O-umlaut, I hold down the Alt key then type 0246. When I try that here, I get nothing. Since this is a German keyboard there is an O-umlaut key, yet whenever in the past I type umlauted letters using these keys, the character never crosses the Atlantic correctly and always ends up as a series of symbols (usually those that are above the numbers when you shift). So if you can’t make out what I wrote at the end of the very first sentence in this paragraph, it’s K[O-umlaut]lsch, the German dialect spoken here.

Today Mark’s team lost 7-0 to no other but the second Toronto team in Cologne. We came all the way from Toronto to play another Toronto team? Yikes! The other team is a much stronger, competitive team, and they have been clobbering their opponents. It was our turn to be ice dust earlier today. Later on this afternoon Mark and I will check out softball, diving or cheerleading. In addition to more traditional Olympic sports, the Gay Games also has medal competition for activities like bridge, chess, cheerleading, ballroom dancing and bodybuilding. Some of those activities have even vied for Olympic recognition in the past (like the latter two) but did not make the final cut. If bridge and chess can be medal “sports” in the Gay Games, I wonder if Scrabble can. The next Games are in Cleveland in 2014, so perhaps in four years there will be a Gay Games gold medallist. Unfortunately there aren’t Gay Games medal events yet for drag, vogueing, manicuring, interior designing or outbitching.

All athletes get a free transit pass, and since I registered as an official companion of a competing athlete, I got the same pass as well as the athlete’s goodie bag upon registration. Mark and I are free to travel all over Cologne as long as we wear our Games tags, and these tags make it very easy to spot the athletes in town and to strike up conversations with sportsmen and women from all over the world. In addition to spotting athletes I also spotted a genuine East German Trabant (“Trabbi”) car last night in Cologne. We never saw these in Berlin, except at the DDR Museum. I got a picture of it, and I will certainly buy some toy Trabbis of various colours as souvenirs.

Now I will explore the language books at Mayersche. They have a large selection of Kölsch dictionaries and phrase books. When I travel I like to buy dictionaries of the local idiom and I have some already for Helsinki slang, for Swiss German and Zürich German, as well as for the idiom of German spoken in Obersaxen ( = Sursaissa), the little German island in a sea of Romansch in Graubünden canton. I got a Berliner Deutsch book last week, and today I will get something about Kölsch.

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