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Photo by Holger Gross: http://vor-bild.de/
Photo by Holger Gross: http://vor-bild.de/

Berlin Dispatch: No, it ain’t Las Vegas — but I can still marry my taxi driver

Photo by Holger Gross: http://vor-bild.de/
Photo by Holger Gross: http://vor-bild.de/

 

I never imagined, as much as I hoped I might, during my first summer in Berlin, that I would actually meet a taxi driver who knows as much about Nietzsche as he does about sausage.

Meet him I did — on a rainy day in September, when he offered to give me a tour of all his favorite places to eat in Berlin, which kicked off at Käse König, an East German-style cafeteria on Alexanderplatz where they serve a terrifying dish called Dead Grandma.

There is no lead,” I wrote, the day after our food tour, “no quote, no way to dive into describing yesterday’s taxi adventure in a way that would do justice to the man who led it…”

Rumen fascinated me from the moment I met him: He knew so much about Berlin, about offal, about German philosophers, about flea markets and French literature. For him, taxi driving was, and is, an art as much as a vocation. The streets have been his greatest teacher.

Still, I could hardly believe it when, four years after that better-than-expected plate of Dead Grandma, Rumen and I ended up in the office of a man called Herr Ernst (whose name translates, I kid you not, to Mr. Serious) at City Hall, trying to persuade the very wary bureaucrat to let us marry in a taxi.

“Berlin is not Las Vegas,” said Mr. Serious. “I’m afraid we can’t do that.”

We decided to get married anyway, one year ago yesterday, before an officiant in a pink suit, in a pink, crystal-chandeliered room at the Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg Standesamt, with Bob Dylan playing in the background.

Right after the ceremony, we hopped in Rumen’s taxi, and our friend Holger took this picture of us. When we look at it now, we almost feel like we got married in the cab after all.

If you’d like to read Rumen’s version of these events, have a look at at his blog, which is in German and is funnier than mine. And if you’d like to read more about how we came together, well…it’s all here.

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5 comments

  1. Hooray! What a wonderful love story. We are so happy for you. Leroy would be too.

  2. I should have added that your taxi picture with Rumen is on our fridge door, also added that Jos would be happy for you too.

    • Thank you, Jon! We are very, very proud to be hanging on your refrigerator. And you should know the spirit of Jos has been part of every taxi adventure.

  3. This makes me so happy! I’m on page 276 of “Driving Hungry” and I got so personally sad about the returning to New York and accompanying events that I couldn’t keep reading. So googling and and therefore learning this best possible outcome is making me so happy as if this was someone I actually knew. Really took this story to heart, obviously. And very grateful to carry it with me, even if I can’t go to Berlin or dance the Tango myself.

    • Dear Jill,
      Thank you so much for your words. I actually had a hard time writing about the return to New York – it was akin to reliving the agony all over again! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the book and that you can relate to the story, and that you understand what I was trying/hoping to communicate – we don’t need a faraway city or an unfamiliar dance to feel alive.
      Wishing you many wonderful meals and moments.
      Yours in gratitude, Layne