Berlin – A Portrait in Words

Dreams are made of magic, timeless, faraway places, faceless people, and sometimes clouds, beer, and music. Having lived in Berlin for a few months, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to briefly run my fingers over its cloudy grey skin, and dive into the depths of its rainbow colored soul.

About a year ago I moved to Berlin to finish my final semester in university, and it took me on a most overwhelming journey. It felt like being reunited with an old lover after so many years. Only, we hadn’t really met before. And though I was a stranger to this place, it felt strangely familiar from the moment I arrived. It had an air of nostalgia and mystery to it, like most surreal things do. And I wondered if I’d ever get to understand it, and see what lies beneath its many faces.

I threw myself into its undefined spirit and I fell in love, and I let it transform me. It was eternal. But like dreams, this time came to and end. I had to leave. And I was left with echoing memories, unspoken words, and a hope of one day coming together again with that timeless place. I had come to see Berlin as the fiery soul that she is, and drew her a portrait with words.

Berlin is faceless. Instead of conforming to one persona, she chooses to be all the souls that dwell and find solace in her. She’s a muse to anyone who’s seen her, a journey to all the wanderers, and a lover to all the brokenhearted. She’s an outcast, an unfinished poem, a distorted tune, and a celebrated chaos. She is a woman made of all the helpless souls in the bluest and perhaps saddest of all planets, a manifestation of those who come to her to feel something once more. She is a woman without a face whom all people want to make love to.

Berlin is a mess without a creator, a circus whose spectators are the performers. She hypnotizes you, and drives you mad. She is still and vibrant, hidden and naked, silent and musical, grey and colorful, in the clouds and under the ground. She’s raw. She’s a mess, and she’s not trying to hide it. No wonder why everyone can relate to her, to all the madness she throws at them every single day, making her more precious, and more real. And real things do not have one identity – real things are a paradox, an uncontrolled weirdness of all things that are and are not. Real things hit you hard, and leave you speechless, and once you’ve tasted that, you keep going back for more.

She will sing you songs that will haunt you for as long as you let them. Leaving her will break your heart and leave you helpless, and you will learn that souls like her were not made to be possessed; but to show you a glimpse of what it’s like to deeply love and gracefully let go. You will learn to let her be, and still cherish her wild, rash spirit. She does not belong to you, you have only seen yourself in her, and for a brief moment you were one. And when all that happens and unhappens, you will have really known her. And to have known Berlin is to have lost and found yourself within her a thousand times. And in a timeless world, that is forever.

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Text & photos: Salma Mansour

Salma Mansour is an Egyptian who spent a few months in Berlin for her studies. She loves nature and has a passion for travel, music, and film.

on February 15th, 2017
updated on February 17th, 2017
in Misc., Stories

6 Responses to “Berlin – A Portrait in Words”

  1. Sara Samir Says:

    I wanna cry right nowww 🙁 I was never happy as much as I was in Berlin. I hate living in Egypt! It has been a year now and I’m still not over you Berlin :/ loved the Article ya Salma ❤️

  2. Fran Says:

    Really gorgeous piece! Please come back soon and write some more about Berlin :-*

  3. Salma Mansour Says:

    Thank you = ) <3 One day soon, I hope!

  4. Musa Says:

    This article stopped me in my tracks and made me feel like you read my mind and soul about how i feel about the city of Berlin. I to was there for just a couple of months coming from Namibia yet i was never able to put into exact words how deeply this place affected me during my stay… but then THIS ARTICLE expressed it perfectly. Thank you, thank you, thank you Salma for your beautiful words and insight. This article made my month 😉

  5. Sarah Says:

    Beautiful piece!! I’ve never been, or ever wanted to go till now!

  6. Peggy Says:

    Berlin is my hometown and growing up in this city really shapes who you are as a person. I lived in many different places like Melbourne, New York or Mexico City and none of these places touched my heart as much as Berlin did. I always thought it is because it is home and I would never love another city like I love my place of birth but reading this article and the comments shows me that my love for Berlin is not only feeling home but really feeling the character of Berlin.

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