Scenes of (extra)ordinary life in Frankfurt

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Simone Bardi

FRANKFURT has many stories to tell. They are often simple stories, passing scenes, short episodes that can rarely capture people’s attention. Nevertheless, beyond the suits and ties that crowd the streets between skyscrapers, this city reserves little glimpses of (extra)ordinary life that can make your soul smile.


Scene 1

On the ground floor of a shopping mall in Hauptwache, in the cosmetic department, there is a young woman who is doing a lady’s make-up. Nothing strange up to here, if it wasn’t for the fact that the lady is in her eighties and today it’s her day. She is sitting with her elegant dress and her cap resting on her knees as the girl is applying some face powder on her cheeks. The lady has her eyes closed and a smile on her face that lets you see how good she is feeling in that situation, gently pampered, this is her moment and someone is taking care of her. When she’ll get up from that chair she’ll feel beautiful and her smile will prove it. The pursuit of happiness has no age…

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Scene 2

Each year, at the Musikmesse fair, there are small outposts around the city with one or two musical instruments available to anyone who wants to play. So it’s common to see a grand piano placed in the middle of the square in front of the Opera House. What is not common is seeing a 15-year-old boy in shorts, sneakers and a torn t-shirt landing his basketball on the ground, sitting at that piano and playing “The Waves” by Ludovico Einaudi in a performance that is close to perfection. There are not many people stopping by to listen to him, but he continues to play and keeps smiling. He plays for himself, for the joy of doing so, for the naturalness with which he can spread that melody. And silently as he had arrived, he leaves after a small bow with his trusted basketball under his arm. The infinite modesty of talent…

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Scene 3

Drawn on the ground on a little square of the small Bethmann Park, there is a giant chessboard. There is a bench in front of the chessboard. It is the place for the players, and today it is the turn of two elderly gentlemen who do not seem to have any intention of getting up to move the heavy chess pieces. And so, amongst the many walking people, parents with strollers, young lovers, fast-moving businessmen, these two old men are killing time “imagining” their game. They argue on what the best move is, and each one tries to make it clear to the other what the new layout of the pieces is now after the move. It is funny and tender at the same time, even because a bunch of their “colleagues” is slowly getting all around the chessboard trying to follow their absurd discussions. How easy it is to return kids…

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Scene 4

In March, when temperatures are timidly trying to rise, the pedestrian area of ​​Willi-Brand Plaz is crowded with people, all sitting at the edge of the gardens enjoying their fruit-bowls and their sandwiches in all their chitchat. It is in the middle of this crowd that on a sunny afternoon two couples of teenagers stand up and start dancing to the swing. There is no music, only the buzz of the people around them. But they don’t care, they follow the rhythm in their heads, they create their space and dance. The scene is so poetic that nobody wants to risk to break that spell. They all look at two couples  with the tail of the eye, curious, smiling, but nobody stares at them directly, it almost seems that everyone wants that scene to be part of the normality of that moment. And in the end you can even hear the music… 


Every city, every place, every street in the world is rich in these little episodes of (extra)ordinary life – but we often don’t notice. Although, just a pinch of awareness would be more than enough to snatch our smiles and offer us moments of happiness. 

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Frankfurt | more photos on www.simonebardi.net

Simone Bardi