KIH #36 – Von Australien nach Deutschland

“Ich bin ein Berliner.” If you’re 53, you were alive when John F. Kennedy uttered those words in his famous speech in front of the Schöneberg Rathaus. Of course a Berliner is also how Germans call a jelly-filled donut; and shortly, how readers of this site will think of their main man. Not a refugee who departed Australia due to imminent death threats against preaching for better sound than compressed MP3 over the iPhone, John Darko will be a freiwilliger not otherwise expelled immigrant. As an expat, he’ll be dealing with culture shock, a new language and the hubbub of Germany’s most vibrant city. He’ll learn interesting words like Kulturbanause (a cultural ignoramus), quite useful when describing audiophiles with just 10 albums in their collection.

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As he rents or buys his first car, he’ll be able to use Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung. Such knowledge about motor vehicle liability insurance will impress his Avis man or dealer. When he attends German hifi shows and feels in need of numbing his brain to overcome pain from boring music choices, he’ll know about Betäubungsmittelverschreibungsverordnung – the regulation which governs the prescription of anaesthetics. As he shops for his first cable provider, he’ll scour options between sundry Massenkommunikationsdienstleistungsunternehmen. After a few months of battling Germany’s love of compound words and the occasional Umleitung (detour), we’ll expect mastery of tongue-twisting beauties like Hottentottenpotentatentantenattentat. Just don’t ask him what it means even if he can say it ten times fast in a row (the assassination of a Hottentot potentate’s aunt).

What gives with Darko and Berlin? That juicy story is for our man to tell himself (nudge!). But having ourselves scoped out New Zealand’s northern island years ago for potential emigration from the US, I imagine that Zentralplanetenlokationsbedingung played its part. That’s the condition of a central global location. Whilst my wife and I loved northern-most Kiwi for its balmy climate and gorgeous setting, we also felt in a time warp. Scouring local book and music shops told its own tale based on available selections. Envisioning running 6moons from there looked as dope as 48 times stronger than Morphine. For review loaner access, I’d have either been limited to the few domestic brands and whatever was imported; or the rare manufacturers who’d prove willing to pony up for two-way shipping half-way around the globe; by my estimation a lame, blind and deaf pony. To attend important hifi shows, I’d have to ride the same pony myself. In short, that particular visit learnt the lesson that the perfect retirement spot may not double as the ideal business HQ.

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I imagine John’s situation in Sydney wasn’t that dissimilar. So… if the world is your oyster because your business is online and you’ve got no kids or employees to resettle, where to set up shop? If being central has high priority, Europe is obvious. Within it, Germany is about as central as Europe gets. Add a solid economy and widespread English fluency because learning it for a few school years has been mandatory for generations already. If a metropolis is a must because one wants extensive night life and cultural diversity, a well-connected airport and railway system… then Berlin practically sells itself.

With John an unrepentant vinylist, shipping an LP collection halfway across the world probably did require ingestion of various Betäubungsmittel plus ruthless discount shopping across all the usual shipping suspects. Of course without any a priori fixed address, short-term self-storage will be the likely destination for all that heavy vinyl; plus assorted other belongings that make more sense to keep and ship than sell and reacquire. In fact, identifying an ideal destination to move to and finding just the right house or flat is far from synonymous. The first can be done with copious online research and a brief visit for confirmation. The second—signing a lease—tends to require being there to get the lay of the land and, within a big city, identify the ideal neighbourhood before the search for a final address even begins. Ivette and I were very lucky. Three times already, it took us less than 10 days each to lock in rentals in Cyprus, Switzerland and Ireland when we moved there from outside. But then, we never yet moved to a big city from abroad where the rental market gets far more competitive. In John’s case, I imagine that he’ll start with a month-to-month in a B&B or low-cost motel, with his major belongings in storage whilst he and his lady canvas the classifieds and keep assorted rental agencies busy to lock in a long-term pad.

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Having in DAR developed a regularly updated site relies on ongoing content creation. This merely adds to the initial crunch of to-do items when the boss and main content provider just relocated across international borders not by furniture-moving lorry. It’s why many in the industry who over the years expressed a similar desire whenever they watched 6moons make its next move never got around to doing it themselves. The notion itself is most adventuresome. Putting all the puzzle pieces together can seem altogether more foreboding instead. Add family and employees into the equation and the dream can quickly suffocate like a flame without oxygen.

From experience, I also know of the flipside. Once a decision like that is emotionally and mentally committed to, the things required to execute it tend to show up on their own accord. Ivette and I have watched this process in action numerous times already. Whatever looked like hurdles impossible to scale invariably turned out to be anything but. Internal reluctance and stasis simply had to give way to the sheer excitement of change. Such excitement is magnetic. It attracts whatever is needed to fulfil itself – be it funds, opportunities, people, connections or the proverbial being in the right place at the right time.

So here’s a shout-out and best wishes to fellow pull-up-the-stakes man John Darko, for braving the incertitude and intensity of a major relocation. He’ll undoubtedly find out that Germany is a lot more than Bier, Bratwurst and silly long words as he settles down and in and establishes himself and DAR in Berlin. Ich bin ein Berliner? For John, no truer words were recently spoken!

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Written by Srajan Ebaen

Srajan Ebaen

Srajan is the owner and publisher of 6moons. He used to play clarinet at the conservatory. Later he worked in audio retail, then marketing for three different hifi manufacturers. Writing about hifi and music came next, then launching his own mag. Today he lives with his wife Ivette and Blondie the cat in a very small village on Ireland’s west coast, between the holy mountain Croagh Patrick and the Atlantic ocean of Clew Bay in County Mayo’s Westport area. Srajan derives his income from the ad revenues of 6moons but contributes to DAR pro bono.

34 Comments

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    • Like I tell all my Aussie pals who relocate to London: the first winter will likely pass without incident but the second will near kill you with its gloom. 😉

  1. Having only just met John recently, I’m a little sad that he is now about to relocate to the opposite side of the globe! But that’s just me. A move across continents is a seismic shift that is not easily fully countenanced in advance. I have no doubt though that DAR will gain fresh energy and perspective. I wish he and his partner the best for the move and future.

  2. While in Berlin, he might also run into Syrian and Afghan refugees, who’re in a different category of immigrant than the privileged white European-descended expatriate. I hope that in addition to audio, he will also think about the immigration policies of his own government back in Canberra, policies that have been widely condemned as inhumane. He might encounter envy and resentment in Germany, perhaps even incomprehension, but not racism, which seems to be making such a huge comeback in the 21st-century. The love of music ought not to be a refuge from the world, but a way to think about the world in an enriched and more humane way. Good luck to John Darko.

    • Thanks JSB. Yes, the immigration policy of Australia is questionable at best. However, DAR isn’t the platform to get into politics.

  3. Good for John, starting with a 98% drop in poisonous snakes compared to Australia. He’ll have new places to explore and write about. And finally think of all the stereo bits and pieces in available in Europe.

    Congratulations on your move to Ireland, as David Feherty said on the Golf Channel “Ireland will be a great country when they finish it. “

    • You hit one of the reasons for the move square on the head: proximity to European hifi. Already pencilled in are trips to Pro-Ject, Dynaudio and Devialet. Vroom!

        • Voxativ. A return visit to Burmester. I think Frank Schröeder is also in Berlin. As to where I’ll live, no idea yet. The apartment search won’t start in earnest until we land.

          • As a perennial visitor (w/ friends in the city), I can attest to all that is good about that city. Anyway, be very careful in your selection of apartments. The beautiful altbaus with high ceilings may be attractive, but the inner wooden construction often squeak/leak sound. And you want to be a good neighbor…

            I recommend the Hansa Studio Tour, which takes you on a tour of this truly iconic music studio where so many amazing records were made. Stand in the same room where Bowie sang you know what!

          • Hey Les – did the David Bowie walking tour whilst in Berlin in 2015. Hansa is on the cards. And yes, I hear you on apartments – a concrete floor might be hard to find but I shall be giving it my best shot.

  4. Well, JD’s like 9ft tall, so he could easily moonlight as Berghain security detail if times get tough. As for a permanent address, I think “Camping Outside Hardwax” would suffice. 😛

    • My years of spending at night at Berghain are well behind me but Hard Wax I scoped out in 2015 along with Music Halle and coupla others. Possibly new haunts for sure.

  5. I enjoyed reading this very much. Thank you. However we must hope DAR doen’t get to anspruchsvoll (sophisticated). I always liked his stories from down under. Also DAR keeps us aware of things happening in Asia.

  6. Wow.. What an exciting move. We can only hope he plans to spend some time w Iggy Pop and Brian Eno to get this new phase off to a good start. Looking forward to future posts.

    • Funny – the Berlin move is part-way inspired by the time Iggy/Bowie spent in Schöneberg during the late 70s. Then there’s the techno music that leaks into everything. Not everyone’s cuppa but I’m confident fewer folk will refer to it as doof-doof in Berlin than Sydney. Maybe Düff-Düff? 😉

  7. Good for John. Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side of that hill. One never knows until one tries. I once tried a move and when I got there, I wished I’d done it decades earlier. It just felt so right. Even though I was basically a stranger, it felt like home for so many reasons. Due to the time (1998 with Oregonians not taking to Californicators) my job prospects dwindled to where I had to come back. Now that I’m retired, I’m eyeing just about everywhere else other than where I am. I have my own oyster to crack. John will do fine, time will fly, he will acclimate, and he will get his beer belly on.

    Best regards,
    Tim Patchett

  8. In Berlin, John will have company from the folks of German hifi website fairaudio.de. Their principals Werner & Jörg make their home there. And, the city is home also to a number of hifi companies, Voxativ included. Then Germany has a very active manufacturing scene for audio so if John wants to travel for factory tuors, he won’t have to leave his new borders to keep busy for years. And of course we expect DAR with German pages by then so I think our man will be swimming in opportunities, never mind all the fat pickings of EU and eastern European companies like Latvia, Estonia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Serbia etc for which his new location makes shipping far more agreeable to small makers. I expect DAR’s product mix will explode. Perhaps he’ll even have to change his name from Digital Audio Review to Everything Audio Review. That comes out to EAR. Hey, not bad -:)

    • The chances of German coverage are slim to none as I have no way to edit the copy. But yes, the name change is something that’s been eating at me for a while. It would have happened long ago were it not for IT-related challenges and not insubstantial risks.

  9. Funny. I can very well relate to quite a few aspect of this article, being a German who lived in Switzerland for 7 years and having recently moved my family to New Zealand. (Hello, Srajan. The ZU’s have yet another home). Oh, and my better half is from Melbourne.
    Also, friends of mine are currently leaving Berlin for Frankfurt (where I originally hail from) and want to sublet their apartment in B. Srajan, please feel free to pass my email on to Darko if he should be interested

  10. Good luck John and just remember the Germans do have a sense of humour (don’t mention the war – I did once &. I think I got away with it!)

    Plus Thomas Manns confessions of Felix Krull confidence trickster is a bonafied funny book!

    You won’t be too far from blighty either. You’ll get to see plenty of cool bands too.

    cheers,

    Tim

    • During an extended high school field trip to Germany, we we visited this castle and that manor home, all dating back to 1400-whenever. Once I said, “this is amazing! They put it back together exactly the way it was before the war!” They said “No, it’s always been this way”. I looked at my buddy and said, “We missed!”. Thank God they laughed.

  11. I have been a steady DAR reader since 1-2 years now and am glad to read, that you’ll move to Germany and maybe also review a few more european products.
    So I wish you a great time here in Berlin and: Herzlich willkommen hier in Deutschland!
    And maybe next year in may, when you cross the ‘Weißwurstäquator’ 😉 to visit Munich High End, if I see you, we could have a little chat, if it’s ok for you and if you’re not to busy ;).

    Best

    Franz

  12. Best wishes on your move, John. I’m very happy for you, and I must say your choice is a wise one, having just returned from 4 years in France, and discovering, while there, that Poland would have been a superior choice for me, such is the way of life in France.

    Bill

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