A Street View of Stuttgart Flea Markets

I’m constantly reminded of how new I am to Germany, and how little I know of the people I’m living amongst. I long to be one of those expats who’ve done their time, learned the language, made friends, and whose working knowledge of the political and social culture gives them a roadmap to daily life that I am completely without.

This was made clear to me this week whilst reading an article on German reactions to Google Street View. When we were first given the address of our new home in Stuttgart, I remember feeling somewhat frustrated there was no Street View available for us to have a peek. Turns out there is quite a strong public objection towards Google’s plan to put German and Austrian streets on view by the end of 2010. This objection has manifested itself in everything from incidents of vandalism to Google’s camera laden cars to the stongly voiced opinions of public officials. In an interview, the Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner denounced Google’s photo offensive as “nothing less than a million-fold violation of the private sphere.” As it turns out, German law supports the desire for privacy that many Germans seem to feel. Google is now having to comply with restriction after restriction in order to complete its megalomaniacal quest. I now realise how naive it is of me to take photos in public places without much consideration for the privacy of the subjects. I’m certainly feeling contrite. On the advice of my new Ravelry friend, I’ve decided not to take down any photos I’ve posted so far, but to proceed with more circumspection in my photographic adventures.

It was with this is mind that I took my camera downtown to Stuttgart Flea Markets yesterday. The Flohmarkt happens every Saturday under the watchful eye of the “Old Castle”. Its a delightful collection of the beautiful and the strange which gives that satisfying sensation of digging for buried treasure. Unfortunately, I lack both the confidence and the language to ask permission to take photographs. One lady got quite upset with me for taking a photo of a box of tarnished silverware, and had enough English vocab to insist I delete the photo. Feeling a little gun-shy of ever taking another photo in Germany ever again, I had quite a positive reaction from people whose permission I did ask before photographing them or their wares. It’s made me more determined than ever to conquer that all-encompassing language barrier, and ever more impressed by the maze of culture and experience that makes us human.


8 Responses to “A Street View of Stuttgart Flea Markets”

  1. 1 Jill April 18, 2010 at 1:02 pm

    Dear Ali,

    One of these days I hope you enjoy musing over the unfolding and moving tale of your days in Germany…even half as much as I’m loving sharing it. Thanks. Photos gorgeous..reflect you quick eye for detail. Let’s us ‘be there’. Lots of love, as ever, Jill

  2. 3 Mum April 18, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Hi Darling,
    I just want to leap through the photograph and join with you in delving through the paraphenalia of peoples lives.What stories they could tell.Enjoy your journey.
    All my love Mum

  3. 4 Gerri and Torb April 19, 2010 at 6:21 am

    Poor Ali, being verbally abused by the lady at the markets!
    Especially as you were only photographing some tarnished siverware?
    Maybe it was stolen!!??
    I guess the right approach as you suggested, is asking permission first.
    Please, please don’t stop sharing your amazing photographs with us!
    Love Gerri..xx

  4. 8 lesley April 21, 2010 at 3:48 pm

    So much different to the flea market in Milan – this one surely can be enjoyed – Love lesley

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A girl with a camera, a toddler and a sewing machine. Making sense of Germany... and life in general.

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