• Germany's news in English
 
German of the Week
'He thought it was funny at first'
Photo: Zoe Spawton

'He thought it was funny at first'

Published: 11 Apr 2013 06:41 GMT+02:00

Zoe Spawton, 29, who is a "food and documentary photographer" according to her website, also works as a waitress at a café in Berlin's trendy Neukölln neighbourhood. After weeks of spotting a well-dressed elderly man pass by the café every morning and greeting him politely, she mustered up the courage to ask for permission to photograph him and put the pictures on her blog last summer.

"He thought it was funny at first. And I think he was a bit proud. Now he's the one giving me instructions and showing me where he wants to pose, though he doesn't allow it every day," Spawton recently told the website of Der Spiegel magazine.

Ali, father of 18 and originally from Turkey, moved to Germany 44 years ago. Trained as a medical doctor, he switched fields years ago and still works six days a week for a tailor. The octogenarian apparently owns over 80 suits, several of which he has stitched himself.

Since the blog went viral, it attracts more than 120,000 visitors a day. And with good reason – sometimes Ali dons a full denim look; sometimes he's all dapper in a suit with a matching tie and hat. On other days, he colour-themes his outfits in cheery hues of purple or red.

Even though Zoe doesn't speak much German, and Ali speaks little English, the two manage to communicate with each other and have formed a friendship. "We can't discuss deeper things, though I still have the feeling that we are close," Spawton said.

Spawton has not disclosed Ali's full name or the name of the café she works at to maintain his privacy. But whenever Ali puts on his fantastically bright all-red suit and saunters down the streets of Berlin, it might well give him away.

The Local/mb

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
German president urges refugee compassion
Photo: DPA

German president urges refugee compassion

Germany's president appealed in a Christmas message for compassion and openness towards refugees coming to the country, which is grappling with a growing anti-Islam movement. READ  

Reward offered for €150k homing pigeon
A female homing pigeon. Photo: DPA

Reward offered for €150k homing pigeon

A breeder in Düsseldorf has offered a €10,000 reward after thieves stole a homing pigeon worth €150,000 from his aviary. READ  

Royal palace restored to glory after €4.5m refit
The vestibule of the Schloss Charlottenburg, which reopens on Boxing Day Photo: DPA

Royal palace restored to glory after €4.5m refit

The royal palace of Fredrick the Great in Berlin is to fully reopen to visitors on Boxing Day after a 4.5 million euro refit. READ  

Bertolt Brecht statue hit with potato salad
Bertolt Brecht and his salad. Photo: DPA

Bertolt Brecht statue hit with potato salad

Bertolt Brecht's statue in front of the Berliner Ensemble theatre was splattered with potato salad by pranksters early on Tuesday morning, in a protest against supposed gentrification of the capital by wealthy southerners. READ  

'Cursed' Christmas Market catches fire
The ferris wheel at Alexa Christmas Market where a man fell to his death last week Photo: DPA

'Cursed' Christmas Market catches fire

A blaze at one of Berlin's biggest Christmas markets has caused locals to wonder if the place is cursed. READ  

JobTalk Germany: Entrepreneur series
'Don’t be skimpy in rewarding top talent'
Taulia co-founder Bertram Meyer. Photo: DPA

'Don’t be skimpy in rewarding top talent'

In our weekly feature series, The Local looks into a successful entrepreneur's life - the story behind their successes, major challenges and how being an entrepreneur changed them forever. This week, Sparsh Sharma talks to Bertram Meyer, one of the four German co-founders of Taulia. READ  

Terror alert 'higher than in decades'
A police armed response unit (SEK) training in North Rhine-Westphalia in August. Photo: DPA

Terror alert 'higher than in decades'

A leaked government report shows that security authorities believe the threat of a terrorist attack in Germany is higher than at any time since the late 1970s. READ  

Wet, windy, stormy Christmas in store
Nobody's dreaming of a wet Christmas Photo: DPA

Wet, windy, stormy Christmas in store

Those hoping for a traditional white Christmas in Germany are going to be disappointed, with weathermen saying Tuesday the current wet, windy and stormy weather is set to stay. READ  

Merkel to have a chilly Ukraine Christmas
President Poroschenko of Ukraine greeting soldiers in a tank on December 6th. Photo: DPA

Merkel to have a chilly Ukraine Christmas

Russia, Ukraine, France and Germany agreed on new peace talks this week on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day, Ukrainian President Petro Poroschenko announced on Monday evening. READ  

Anti-Islam demo turnout up - but not by much
Demonstrators carrying German flags outside the Dresden opera house. Photo: DPA

Anti-Islam demo turnout up - but not by much

A record 17,500 protestors turned up in Dresden on Monday night to protest against the supposed Islamification of Germany, according to police figures. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
Willy Brandt at his inauguration in 1972. Photo: DPA
National
Willy Brandt: the man, the chancellor... the airport?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Sponsored Article
Why are these International Baccalaureate students cheering?
Germany's national football team lifts the World Cup trophy
Gallery
Germany's most-Googled words of 2014
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Culture
Stuff your face with these festive German cookies
Photo: DPA
Culture
What do beer, breakfast cereal and dildos have in common?
Culture
The Local's guide to German Christmas markets
Sponsored Article
Top five quirky Christmas jumpers
Photo: DPA
Culture
Get ready for Christmas like a German. We tell you how.
Photo: DPA
Munich
She did what with her dead mother?
Photo: DPA
National
Germany still paying for crisis fall out
Photo: DPA
Culture
Saxon wurst is the worst, Christmas market declares.
Photo: DPA
Politics
Can 'sorry' ever be enough for the Linke?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Gallery
See how Berlin has changed in 22 photos
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,228
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd