Welcome To Berlin
The underground car rattles as the South African girl gesticulates, her fingers spreading out and her left index finger pointed in the direction of the Dominican American boy seated across. He regards her and smiles, making his points calmly. Beside me, an American, a girl from Texas who spent most of the last few years in South Sudan leans into me. She smiles
“I love you guys” she gushes.
We smile back. The long French boy obsessed with Indian music, The Indian girl who pushes my beer closer to me every time she sense I’ve been ignoring it for too long, the Canadian Girl of Portugese origin, the Austrian-Kenyan boy, Lucio, the skinny half Angolan half Ethiopian, African very own next Nyereye or Nkrumah and me, the introspective Nigerian. We are in that moment, perfect representations of Berlin. Covered in fake leather, sporting wildly varying haircuts and styles, drunk on an assortment of poisons and headed to our next pub, club or party, we haven’t quite decided.
I live in Kreuzberg, the centre of hipster activity. There is an unmovable smell of Turkish food, cigarette smoke and pee. It is a modern day ghetto artistic refuge populated by the dreams energy and creative talent of young people. Think Lagos, but bigger and with efficient transportation. It is a six minute walk from my apartment to the train stop. In between, I encounter, a pizza place, an Italian restaurant, a Vietnamese restaurant, a shisha parlour, two kiosks, a fruit stand, a bakery, a nuts and spice shop, dogs, more dogs, bicycles and faces, so many faces. On my Facebook wall, the walls of buildings and tree barks are invitations; posters for film screenings, indie band performances, poetry slams, potlucks, exhibitions, performance art pieces and a constant barrage of multidimensional faces. Every look as distinct in one moment and forgettable the second another comes into focus. I get on the train watching the city bend into a different visual; the big sky, the large bridges and parks dotted every few minutes. I get out into Potsdamer Platz and begin the walk to school. Here there are clean roads and cigarette smoke, pretty cafes and restaurants with sleek names sharing space with shops and supermarkets. It is quieter, the men and women here look straight ahead clad in clean lines and mute tones.
Berlin is a polarity, a city that has settled perfectly into itself. Germans are innately structures people and Berlin carries traits of that. Each section of the city as organized and distinct as the other, but every part as open to the other as can be.
Everyone is welcome here.