illustrations: Berk Karaoglu
Prior to moving to Berlin I never thought about how important language was when attempting to get to know someone better, particularly while dating. I always dated guys whose native language was English, American English at that. As if dating wasn’t confusing enough, try dating someone who doesn’t dream in the same damn language as you. It wasn’t until I started dating guys from around the world did I begin to understand how uncomfortable it felt not to be able to fully express myself. But, was this necessarily a bad thing?
Sure, when you speak the same language, you understand one another on a molecular level. You share the same phrases to describe mundane situations. You can even talk about your feelings (yuck!) until the cows come home…UM, WHAT? That was all fine and good, but I still wasn’t convinced that the benefits of speaking the same mother tongue outweighed the surmounting disadvantages.
To You, brave adventurer who is in Berlin for the first time and who has left his comfort zone for a fresh new start and brand new experiences.
Let’s assume you have managed to pass the test of finding a permanent home, one of the worst nightmares of all the new Berliners, have one or two acquaintances in the city (even if it is the son of your grandfather Julius’s cousin that you have never heard of before but know he has three Siamese cats) and have already planned on how to get a job or to go further in your education. You have everything outlined and you are all excited – “This will the BEST time of my life”, you think, “Berghain, I will destroy you with my dance moves” – however, when you arrive (with a big smile on your face and high expectations), you see that things are not quite what you have imagine they would be. The son of your grandfather Julius’s cousin is not that interested in showing you around, maybe because he is too busy or simply because he is a jerk, getting a job is harder than you have imagined and you feel lonely at times.
One of my few Facebook statuses that actually got a decent amount of likes read that the hardest kind of threesome to be arranged in Berlin is when you’re struggling to get both the person who’s selling whatever heavyweight furniture you want and the guy that has a van to transport it to meet you at a time that you happen to be free. And I’ve been standing by this belief for quite a time, when Berlin decided to once again mercilessly prove to me that I really don’t know life at all.
I still don’t regard organizing a threeway as a particular challenge in a city where your trusted dress code for some clubs is either kinky or naked. What kind of feels like one, though, is scheduling your week with five different part time jobs.
There is this one time in the year when even Berlin seems innocent. Although we all know what it’s been up to during the cold fall and winter nights, when its untamed inhabitants, unable to express their joys and sorrows under the clear blue sky had to confine themselves in the limiting areas sheltering them from the cold. We all know the overwhelming contrast of a freezing Berlin night and the literally breathtaking heat of the dance floor.
Well then, a blissful spring afternoon makes one forget about all winter sins. We tend to fall into the good old trap of starting anew again. Even if you’re wised up enough to realize that this kind of thinking has usually more of the fooling yourself factor than that of an actual resolution, spring makes it easier to come to terms with your inner mess and hopefully think of some measures to organize it a little bit.
illustrations: Bryan the girl
Due to popular demand, I’m back with the continuation of my U-Bahn-themed musings. I’ve got a ticket to ride for all the lines I’ve initially left out, so that I can complete the emotional profile of a Berlin commuter.
The lines I’m featuring in this article really hint at some deeper affection to the city. They’re neither U1-like joy rides leading up to Warschauer Straße like some urban rollercoaster, nor are they mainly focused on touristy sights like the U2 which could almost be the BVG’s cheaper alternative to all the tour buses. This one is for all you Berlin locals who’ve wandered off the beaten track all the way down to such underrated indie boroughs like Wedding, Tempelhof-Schöneberg or Steglitz. You guys know there’s more to Berlin than techno sanctuaries and souvenir shops.
Love, by Gaspard Noe
A recently-published study revealed Millennials as the least-straight generation in the history of LGBTI*+ research. They’re nearly twice as likely to identify as non-straight than other adults. And as more boys, girls and folks that are neither (or both) come out of the closet, one would hope that a certain normality would have settled in around those sexual orientations beyond straight. I know it would make my (dating-)life a lot easier.
I’ve never been shy about my orientation, which is best defined as: if you’re hot and smart and enthusiastic about me putting my hand down your pants, I’m really going to be cool with whatever I find there. But I’ll classify as bisexual for easiness sake most of the time.
It feels like there is a grand old billboard somewhere in Berlin that says “Bisexuality: the sexuality everyone is entitled to have an opinion on!” Which is weird, because last time I checked, the only people that get to have an opinion on my sexuality are people that are afflicted by it. And by “afflicted” I mean “get to have sex with me”.
Maison Mason, photo: Daniel Gebhardt
Berlin is one of the most versatile capitals of the world when it comes to all its locations. It was fun to have been thrown in this little town with no previous knowledge – I still remember setting foot on Kottbusser Tor for the first time, entirely by chance, way more appalled than inspired, completely unaware of Kreuzberg’s undeniable magic that I’d grow addicted to.
illustrations: Berk Karaoglu
Contrary to a popular belief, communicating in the German language does not necessarily equal having to study extremely long grammar structures for hours on end. I mean – that may be useful when you’re applying for the German citizenship, but in casual everyday life conversations you’re better off mastering a few magic keywords that, although absent from the typical German as a foreign language curriculum, will polish your small talk game with the sought after air of nonchalance.
Photo: Heinz Funck, 1949
Soho House, an exclusive members’ club and hotel is appropriately located in a renowned building situated in the heart of the city just few steps away from Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz. Built in the New Objectivity style, even today still fancy and impressive, it was first opened in 1929 and had a name sounding a little less posh than the one it holds today. The “Kaufhaus Jonass” was Berlin’s first department store where you could pay in rates.
During the Second World War, not only the Berlin Zoo but also other zoos across Germany such as the Zoologischen Garten in Düsseldorf and the Dresden Zoo were severely bombed and consequently destroyed. Despite years of existence and many promises of evacuation this did not happen and the animals were not spared. Many died due to injuries and mistreatment or due to hunger, poisoning or thirst and some of the few survivors that were left were put to use in an effort to rebuild what was destroyed, such as the elephants at the Hamburg Zoo. Nonetheless, some of the large and potentially dangerous animals such as panthers, jaguars and gorillas who managed to escape the unfolding inferno had to be chased down the streets and shot dead. It was hellish. In the Berlin Zoo only 91 of almost 4000 animals remained alive by the War’s end, including two lions, two hyenas, an Asian bull elephant, a hippo bull, ten hamadryad’s baboons, a chimpanzee, and a black stork. Here are two examples…