Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Ich bin ein Berliner

I too have returned from a well-deserved 4 days in Berlin (needless to say that Maha and I travelled together), and I am still in an envious daze.
Berlin is truly poignant in its specificity. Most European cities are quite alike in their topography and structure. Most of them have a busy core center, fast-paced and crowded, flanked by areas of decreasing density and heightened character. Berlin however is quite an exception. Not only is it a huge city, but it works its way in a exploded, un-structural way: there is no center per se. It is spread out, airy and light. Roads are wide, buildings are imposing, and contemporary post-reunification architecture wants itself monumental in scale, but it is all balanced by the fact that the city is fanned out on the terrain, quiet and tinged with history.
Boutiques, pubs and markets are discovered, stumbled upon by chance after a stroll along seemingly residential stretches of buildings. Berlin teases, it presents itself unannounced. It is humble. The perfect city to take a break from fast-paced restless London. Berliners are funny too, in the sense that they don't give a damn. You talk to them in English (hopefully a hint that you don't speak German) but they will reply in German monologues and expect you to understand. They will not make an effort, but you take it in their stride. They will even joke with you in German, all the while knowing you won't understand a single word. They will also raise their butt, and fart loudly, because they need to. And then they laugh (no language barrier there, though)...
And Berlin is so cheap!!! Which makes you buy ten times more on the account of cheapness... And OK, so I fell into the classic tourist rip-off of buying myself something from a tourist stall near Checkpoint Charlie, and then finding it for 10 euros cheaper in another stall five steps away: BUT it is still a 24-hour watch with Stalin's head on it! When it seems 6 o'clock on my watch, it is actually noon! With all the crap they sell at tourist stalls around the world, Berlin has the best crap of them all!
They're still selling remains from the Berlin Wall around the area too, but wouldn't you think they'd run out by now? They even have them incrusted into postcards to send back home to the family...
If I weren't in London, I would be in Berlin. Enjoying wursts on Alexanderplatz and drinking wine on Kastanienallee...
But I'm back in London, with the current obsession of finding a new room to live in, and applying for my Masters degree. I think my Stalin watch will come in handy, now that I've got a full 24 hours to fan out my anxiety...
Tüs!

2 comments:

SCHRmm said...

Ok heres an idea...Why dont the four of us move out to Berlin and take it by storm (after your MA) We could get the biggest most beautifull amazingly huge place to live in with a huge studio for us all to work in for cheap and be a collective...

Tempest said...

It was nice meeting you all... sorry about sunday, but we partied till morning, and I woke up very late, disoriented and hungover Cleaning took up all of my evening... And I had no way of contacting you on monday!

Too bad you couldn't make it, and that we couldn't meet up again... maybe soon chez vous :)