I walk on gilded splinters

Since I moved to Munich, I’ve been exploring and trying to get a feel for the place. As an urban historian, I am fascinated by the different neighbourhoods and ways a city unfolds to the traveller. But ever since I first arrived, I have the strangest sensation: I’ll be walking along and it will suddenly feel like I’m in the US again. Like that sensation of first waking and expecting to see a different room.

It has been very disconcerting, and much like Swati Chattopadhyay described the colonial uncanny sensation for visitors to 19th century Calcutta. For me it is the unfamiliar seeming oddly familiar. Certainly there are buildings near my house that would not be out of place on the Upper West Side, and some other buildings with corner bay windows that for a second’s glance could be in San Francisco.
I still can’t put my finger on where this uncanny familiarity is coming from – perhaps years of watching Turner Classic Movies, as the wedding-cake plaster work on some of the buildings here is like those backlot sets depicting cities, both in the US and Europe (probably the same sets, in fact).

This familiarity, both comforting and jarring, makes me feel at home and yet dislocated.