miércoles, 3 de diciembre de 2008

Lost and found in Berlin

I don't know where I’m going. I followed the arrow that read Ausgang, but it took me nowhere. Follow the arrow that says Ausgang or the M...sure bet. But no, no such thing as a subway station. I ask around: a couple of girls dressed in black tell me it isn’t far, but I don’t believe them. I’m pretty sure I looked thoroughly. See the bag on my shoulders? It’s as heavy as it looks. Carrying gets tired, that’s why I don’t want to walk with it for too long. And this isn’t the main Train Station. Of course, I don’t now where I am. I've never been here. How could I? It’s a block of cement in the middle of something I don’t know. So am I: a spec in the middle of Europe no one gives a shit about in the whole city. Except for one person. I like the German public phones: they’re cheap and don’t steal your change. I call Marlene on the phone. I’m lost in Berlin. Her advice is to ask around. I look up and see: Karl-Marx Strasse. Correction: I’m lost in East Berlin, I can figure that one out.
So I follow it. The street. Karl Marx. Takes me nowhere, but I see a couple of kids and ask. They’re foreigners, but they have maps. I get a pretty clear idea of how to get to the subway. So I walk. Streets are drunk, a busted phone booth, busted glass, kids dressed in hip-hop clothes reeking of cheap beer like it’s some kind of perfume. Once I get there, I look for the fastest way to get to Amrumer Strasse. It’s far. I have to change lines a couple of times. Everyone is drunk here too, and the kids they all look alike walking together, eight or ten of them, pissing on the walls of the station....cops walk around with vicious German-shepherds wearing muzzles. It’s the subway station equivalent of the Foro Alicia in Mexico City, the place I used to go for punk gigs, right before punk sold out. Or that’s what we old posers like to say. We were always the last generation before it sold out, right?
Bicycles, Beer, Tourists. Hear some Mexicans talking. They’re sitting right in front of me. Suddenly the girl next to me asks them if they’re Mexican. I move away. Not in the mood, really.
Roe Welding: street art, a man with undecipherable tattoos is walking his dog. The ghosts of two cities. Everyone talks about that. East and West. Buy a piece of the scar with a postcard, only’ll set you back a couple Euros. Have no money. If I did, wouldn’t spend it on a piece of concrete. When I get to the Armrumen Strasse, I walk out. It’s Weding. Nice immigrant neighborhood. Considered poor, but I have different standards so it looks rich to me. Ok, not rich. Middle class. Walk up to Marlene’s building. Ring the doorbell. She lets me in, I walk up a flight of stairs. It’s a beautiful place. High roofs, ample rooms. Paid with money from the government she and her roommates get as scholarships. I guess I was born in the wrong place.
I drop my bag and go for a piss. DANKE BITTE sticker indicates me to sit, and I obey. Hey, I’m culturally-sensitive, and it’s a good thing, too. Rinse my hands, brush my teeth: Time to leave. Marlene is taking me for a night out. Marlene and I met in Mexico around March this year. She requested a place to stay through the Hospitality Club. I complied. I told her maybe I’d see her in Berlin someday. It took me less than 4 months. What can I say? I’m a lucky guy. Sometimes. Other times, I'm not. Today: definitely yes. Marlene has a bike for me. The night is fresh, not like sticky hot Warsaw. I have my jacket on, and it's a good thing....the wind is cold and the scent is dirty and sweet: German city. We pedal away through the night, fast. We bike through the red lights, the bike lane is but red stone drawing constellations on the sidewalks of Berlin. Marlene is but a silhouette moving her legs fast, so am I, the traveler. Welcome to this new city, I think to myself. Are you happy?, I ask myself. (Dangerous question). Yes I am happy. (Dangerous answer).

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