What’s in your bag, Wladimir Kaminer? Slash 8, a piece of ginger and other requisites of Russo-German creative scapes

What’s in your bag, Wladimir Kaminer? This  is a question Lufthansa Magazin asked Moscow-born German short-story writer, columnist, and DJ in the

Wladimir Kaminer revealed the contents of his travel bag to Lufthansa Magazin

Gepäckkontrolle section of this month’s in-flight publication. The conversation took place at Berlin-Tegel airport . (See

Lufthansa Regional still gets Ukraine wrong.)

Lugthansa Magazin April 2012

Herr Kaminer revealed the insides of  a writer-on -the-road briefcase by  showing a bunch of “Russendisko: Ukraine do Amerika,” his CDs with disco music, “I spin discs and sell my CDs before readings and during intermissions. That’s why I always carry a stack of them around.”

iPad “What a waste of money and slap in the face of progress! The text editor isn’t very good and iTunes doesn’t have Russian movies or songs.”

“Book Triste Tropique by Claude Lévi-Strauss is one of the world’s top 100 books of all time.”

Together with goggles and a Cuban cigar Romeo y Julieta the long-time non-smoker carries with him just in case, Kaminer has ginger in his bag. “I can’t afford to cough on stage so I often chew a piece of ginger. It’s better than any pill.”

Last month, the 44-year-old author saw his book Russian Disco premier as a film in Germany. The film is about three young Russian friends, who move from Moscow to Berlin in a lucky wave of emigration right after the fall of the Berlin Wall. They take their chance looking for a better life and find themselves involved in the tales of everyday lunacy on the streets of Berlin and its spirit of the early nineties. (See The Russian Barber of Harare.)

This is an auto-biographical account. After initially training as an audio engineer for theatre and radio, Kaminer studied dramaturgy at the Moscow Institute of Theater. Following the collapse of the Berlin Wall, Kaminer emigrated to Marzahn, Berlin, in 1990.

When SinS were researching this post we came across a product placement homage on Mercedes-Benz web site to the Stroke (Slash) 8, a vehicle-protagonist of the Russian Disco film:

Thrift and cunning force Wladimir, Mischa and Andrej to use their old-timer for more than the odd trip to a nearby lake or to transport copious amounts of beer. Throughout the film, the limousine doubles as a getaway car, bedroom and living quarters for the clueless, yet intrepid trio. And director Oliver Ziegenbalg calls up plenty of memories of his own concerning teenage outings in a Stroke 8. “We loved to cruise around our hood in Stroke 8,” bolstered by a sense of strength, safety and optimism. Built like a tank, the angular limousine becomes its own stronghold, yet moves around like an imposing champ. Ziegenbalg confirms this impression, “there you are, cruising around town, and everything seems easy, cool and simply great.”

Beginning in 1968, Mercedes marketed their model range as New Generation Models, giving their ID plates the designation ‘/8’ (due to their 1968 Launch year). Because they were the only truly new cars of the so-called ‘New Generation’ and because of the ‘/8’ or ‘slash eight’ designation, W114 and W115 models ultimately received the German nickname Strich Acht, loosely translated into the English Slash Eight.

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