The Swimming Course
I think it had to do with some kind of swimming, but I really don’t know what it was exactly. The tram stopped, and I got off. When I crossed the road a long, endless narrow way opened in front of me. It was surrounded by plants that climbed high on wooden posts on one side. No hole was left, so I could only see one side of the road. It looked as if no matter how long I walked it would not come to an end. But it finally did. It lead to a dirty concrete building such as those built in the 70s. There was nothing but concrete and cold metal scaffolds.

I saw some women sitting near a door like a doctor’s or the employment office’s waiting room. One chair was in a corner next to a closed door. Two rows of chairs were arranged facing each other in the long corridor. A woman I knew was waiting with two others. She looked as white as a ghost. She said: "We are still waiting to be led to our rooms but nobody opens the door." A little while later they disappeared and I was left waiting with a few others. I didn’t understand why nobody called our names, so I ventured to knock at the door.

A thirtyish woman with straggly hair and dressed in a long, pleated, floral-patterned dress opened the door and said: "Wait a minute. You have been assigned a room. I will come with you and show you." I followed her down the long corridor and we stopped in front of a door which read "18" on top. She turned to me and said: "This is your room." She opened the door, but there were only stairs leading to somewhere upstairs. We went upstairs and entered what looked like a huge tube-shaped hall with nothing in it. The floor was of old yellow tiles and full of cracks. There were big old windows. I said: "Oh this is too big; it looks like a football pitch, and there is no bed here." She said: "This is not your room. We need to go downstairs." Somewhere in the room there was a black rusty round metal cover which covered something like a hole.

She opened it easily and told me to follow her down the cold iron stairs. We came to yet another big tube-shaped hall exactly the same as the first one but darker. I saw there was another iron cover on one side of the hall. She opened it and we went downstairs again. I think we were now not on the ground floor but underground. There was no tube-shaped hall but instead I found myself in an old dirty asphalt tube-like road full of cracks with dirty old iron beds on both sides. There was some scummy water between the beds. She pointed to a bed and said: "This is your bed." I immediately complained and said: "Sorry, I can’t sleep here." As an excuse which I often used I added: "I snore at night, and people would soon throw me out. If you don’t have a place for me alone I will walk the nights till my course comes to an end."

Bremen, 30 December 2008