It´s early in Poland. Tito tides up his clothes and keeps watching on the phone. DRummer is taking a bath. Computer has 30% of battery and I hurry up with my text for this chapter. The hours passed since I left Berlin where not enough. I will put this first full stop and I know what´s coming holds no response. I continue like at the age of five, without knowing where Berlin is.
We arrived by train on June 8th. We stayed at a ten Euros hostel. We slept with Poles (Tito is sure that they were plumbers). We used Internet. We went around Warschauer Strasse and ate shawarma. We took some photos to the grafittis in trend, we went to the East Side Gallery (the Pop Art version of the Wall), and climbed more than two hundred steps up to the Dome.
The city is pretty. It has a strange good vibe, but in particular it disturbs me. But that´s my topic. The truth is that it looks nice. Naïf and classic, darky for moments, spontaneous though European … A strange mixing of avant-garde and tribes resulting in a lot of incomplete identities. But hybridity is logic. The XX century left her too mutilated. For example, the basement where Hitler committed suicide today is nothing but a collection of Soviet buildings and some minor passages.
It is strange what happens with the Nazism. After being what it was, it turned into some kind of morbid attraction for tourists: Anyone arriving at Berlin does it, partly with the hope to be horrified. In addition, certainly, magnetized by the post war history, by the famous wall that is nothing but a wall, but of course, it is The Wall… the index, icon or symbol that says “here the east”, “here the west”. It´s funny, it was built to make the difference, they leave it here to remind you that there is not such a difference today…
Night is another history. Jaime, a Chilean settled in Germany, says that Berlin is pure fun. We met him while he was chasing two Slavs down the street. He invited us to go with him and off we went. In the way, a girl in a bike invited us to dance. She turned out to be Ana, a German with rastas (dreadlocks) whom we named, naturally, as the German of the rastas.
A few minutes later I was dancing reggae in a cavern full of smoke. Tito, standing still, criticized my steps. I didn´t know what to do, the frivolous naturalness of the rastafari is not for me, I don´t feel it. The dRummer, of course, was in his element. It is not his favorite beat but he can adapt: when he can´t follow the beat with his legs, he solves it immediately with his faces, with expressions suited for the moment. And Tito, standing still, was already sleeping against a column.
On our way out, Jaime tells us that a few blocks away is a neo-Nazi neighborhood. According to him – that sticks completely with the physiognomy of the exaggerate sudaca (South American)- there are Germans hidden in cars waiting for foreigners to hit them with a bat on the head. He has lived in Berlin for 22 years and seems to know what he is talking about, but I´m not completely convinced. His eye curving to the right, his static curls and his excessive love for fun make me doubt. In addition, every five phrases, he assures that the best way of surviving in Germany is to pregnant a German…
Before saying goodbye, he tells us about the Grey Wolves, a clandestine league of powerful Turks who have the control of some neighborhoods to avoid neo-Nazis to turn up (there is a direct line to call them). They control also the gastronomic business and employ Turks for coins; and in a few years, they get the German citizenship … Nothing special and Jaime knows that. He hugs us and goes away. I continue reflecting on that. I will pregnant a German.
During the day we visit museums. Though today, it seems that the core of Berlin is fun and the contemporary art, the amount of facts experienced in the past is countless. Twenty years ago it was part of the Soviet Union; 60 years ago the capital of the Third Reich, before that, Capital of the kingdom of Prussia, of the German Empire and of the republic of Weimar … and today? How can it be something, having been so much in the past? … They say, while Paris always will be Paris, Berlin always will be turning into Berlin, because it starts always from zero. But where is zero? What I mentioned above: I left the city as at the age of five, thinking where Berlin is.
And where is it? In the neo-Nazi effluvium of its peripheral neighborhoods? In the league of the Turkish justice? Where? In the Photo Automat to which all are devoted as teenagers? In the age of its impressive buildings or in the modern magic of the restorations? Where is it? In the bicycles? In the nice little stones that remained from the Gestapo? In the public transportation without tickets control? In the currywurst with pommes? In the new front of Humboldt’s University, where centuries ago Marx, Engels and Lenin studied; today with Coke dispensing machines? Where? In the hope of Tito, who came here looking for “art”? “? Or in Gaston’s astonishment, watching during 20 minutes a Babylonia glazed tile?
Where? Where is it? In these lines? In the Euros already spent here? In the basement where the monster died? Where? … Where it is or where it will be. Where is the key to turn Berlin, once and for all, into a city that doesn´t need to be restore any more.
Text: Joaquín Sánchez Mariño
Video: Expreso a Oriente
Photos: Gastón Bourdieu
Music: Toccata y Fuga en Re Menor, Bach / Fumble, Architecture in Helsinki