This image was taken last year on Tag der offenen Tür in Botschaften (Day of the open Embassy doors). This same date, July 4th, 2008 the American Embassy was celebrating its Grand Opening on Pariser Platz with a party for the general public. Before you ask... NO, the American Embassy did NOT open its doors to the general public. And NO, being an American wasn't enough of a reason to get me into the big party being held INSIDE of the building.
We visited four Embassies that day, Malaysia, South Africa, Malta and India. The program at the Malaysian Embassy was exceptional. They had children in traditional dress, singing and dancing as well as a full tourism exhibit with booklets in German and English. Everyone who wanted one could pick up a lovely necklace with small stones, and ladies in beautiful, colorful traditional dress were walking about offering small shots of a fruit juice.
The colorful and stunning Malay decorations in a not-so-stunning building showed much more innovation than the Maltese Embassy which was simply office space with a dude in the outfit of a Templar Knight standing in the hallway and unintensionally scaring children. South Africa had gone all out with a tent in the back yard of the building which had on offer many local food products such as wines and biltong (jerked meat). In the corner was set up for braais (barbeque) filling the entire tent with the scent of smoked meats. We tried some boerwors (sp? sausage) and some wonderful milktart and washed it down with a delightful fruit juice which I didn't catch the name of.
Our Indian friends have a beautiful Embassy, but really didn't allow the public into much of it. I would assume that it is hard to do this and still maintain security. But they did allow us through one main room and then onto the grounds which were spectacular. A river of water runs through the place even on the inside of the building and along a staircase, or you can see the courtyard from above. From the courtyard terrace there is a nice view over the Tiergarten, Berlin's not-so-central-park and famous "green lung".
In the back area there was food for sale. Of course there was a mango lassi stall which always makes me think of the cute mango lassi/washing machine advertisement. We were thirsty on this hot day so of course we bought bottles of water from this guy at twice what they would sell for at a grocery store.
The next stall had a line of about 30 people in front of it, and no wonder... the smells coming out were wonderful, tickling my nose and exciting my tastebuds. We couldn't really see what was on offer, but for sure there was some meat and rice because that is what the smiling customers walking away from the stand were carrying. We queued up and chatted the next ten minutes or so as the line dwindled down. Soon the signs showing the offerings were visible and decisions were made, "I believe I'll have the chicken", "no, maybe the beef would be nicer because we don't get much of that here".
As all of this was going on, I pulled out my camera and snapped this little beauty. The colors are fantastic, and I really enjoy the way it is split between the food on one side and the woman sampling on the left. This picture was one of several of mine which were used by an online magazine... the first such request I've ever had.
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