The Urban Glitch

The Christmas markets are bustling with cheerful people holding Glühweins and fruit punches. The smells of Lebkuchen and fried potato fill the air. Random stands selling random goods that would unlikely sell during any other marketing event. The cold temperature matters little as the body temperature of the masses makes up for it.

One Christmas market location remains empty. Still needs to be set up. As if accidentally forgotten. The area so accustomed to being used for a Christmas market appears empty, cold and sad. The black stone floor is like a mass of pure emptiness staring back at the white walls of the city's buildings. The beautiful fountains turned off and boarded up for the winter make it quieter. The occasional taxi rolling by on the hard cobblestone road doesn't take away from the gloom of the moment.

A short distance away, the Christmas lights decorating the pedestrian roads are seen, and crowds of tourists and locals window shopping on a Saturday evening. But here, as if there is a glitch in the system, this spot is left forgotten, empty and undesired. The smell, and I say smell because I like it, of the horse urine from all those carriages pulled through here during the day is potent despite the road cleaners' valiant attempts to remedy the situation. But the smell of winter, horse urine, and the feeling of walking on cobblestones take me back in history to a time long before my existence and make me wonder about a time in the future long after I'm gone.

In a large city with so many inhabitants, all there is to do is eat, drink, and drink and eat, just like any other major city. The size offers a variety of culinary delights and multiple fancy drinks, but what else? Theatre and museums and ballrooms? The more cultured the metropolis, the more cultural entertainment, but again, how many times can one go to a museum, a theatre, a movie, a restaurant, a cafe or a bar before it becomes just another accepted habitual process? Where does the uniqueness come in, and where is that found? In the interactions with others? That is what it's about: getting out of our melancholy, self-induced-zombiness and reaching out to others with modest, not too deep, courteous interactions.

The larger and the more cultured the city, the more such interactions one can strive for, and then the rest of the city's offerings are once again put into context that that's where the people are, and that's where the human interaction takes place. For introverted or extroverted, we all need to interact with our own species, and the more pleasant the surroundings, the more enjoyable the interaction.

Therefore, this abandoned corner, this empty space, is not sad for the lack of its Christmas market but for the lack of the opportunity for leisurely interaction with our fellow humans. It reminds us of what this city would be like if these human connections ceased. If we all stayed at home when it's wet and cold.

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