What Does Home Mean to You?

What Does Home Mean to You?

Berliners and their apartments continue to serve as an inspiration to numerous projects, including this recent photography series portraying Berliners through their windows in times of Corona. But now more than ever, we especially need projects that aim to connect people. That’s the goal of Nomads at home – an online network for quarantined Berliners which collects their various definitions of home.

Nomads at home is a project created by the architect Zuzanna Kotecka. It’s an online space for quarantined Berliners to showcase their idea of home and connect with others, with the aim to establish ”a network of people that support each other, personally and professionally.” Each entry on the website features a particular Berliner, along with their photo, job description, country of origin and an answer to the question ”What does home mean to you?”.

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Stay at Home: Portraying Berliners through their Windows

Stay at Home: Portraying Berliners through their Windows

photos: Lovis Ostenrik. 

These last couple of weeks it became almost a mantra: Stay at home! Angela Merkel said it, viral expert Drosten said it, your mom said it, we said it. It’s in everyone’s ears, and in everyone’s mouths.

But what does “staying at home” mean for everybody? It’s certainly not the same for everyone. If you’re living alone in a dark studio apartment in the backyard it can certainly start to feel claustrophobic at some point. But if you’re lucky to live in a big bright Altbau with balcony (or even better: a garden) together with loved ones, it can also be pretty ok in the end. No matter if it’s a big sacrifice or just a small one, the importance as one of the most significant measures to battle this pandemic cannot be denied.

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Stuck at Schönefeld with an Airport Fly

Stuck at Schönefeld with an Airport Fly

And here I am, locked in the humiliation and ostentatious luxury of purchasing a beer for €3.25 whilst the overlords of the aviation inferno smirk on for my predictable avarice and sloppy living. “Yes, go towards the pilsner, you wretched tart, go and bathe yourself in our wheaty piss water, heh heh heh, and you’ve got toilet paper stuck to your shoe. Did you know? Course you didn’t, you fucking lush.”

The general mood is one of lethargy and arid existing, with a sheen of sweat, much like a saucy currywurst. The only animation comes from an intensely annoying British couple who look like they’ve wandered out of a B-list perfume advert and are looking for the nearest poppy field to resume their pasty, whimpering, lovemaking. They exuberantly sweep around in silken shirts which I presume are the same sort Daisy Buchanan was wailing about. Damn, I’ve made myself angry again. Fucking hated that paisley bitch.

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Why I’m Afraid to Leave Berlin

Why I’m Afraid to Leave Berlin

photos: Beth James. 

When I think about Berlin I imagine the U-Bahn rattling on the overhead tracks, pigeons flapping above rooftops and the faint sound of techno in the distance. Berlin is graffiti, sweaty nightclubs, beers on the canal, weird art exhibitions, midnight bike rides, sticky summer days that wrap around you like a blanket and icy, grey winters that make you forget what summer feels like. Berlin is late nights and early mornings, lake swims, laughter on rooftops, marathon dance sessions and afternoons in the park, shoes off, lying on your back under a hazy sun. It‘s a place that tempts you and taunts you, that lifts you up and tears you down. Where freedom reigns and no-one gives a shit. It gets under your skin, and the longer you stay the harder it is to leave.

Berlin is also an identity, and many wear it as a badge of honour. That’s why you see people with Instagram accounts that say their name and “Berlin”. Because it’s a vibe, it stands for something. Being associated with it explains who you are. I’m finding it hard to untangle myself from this identity I have been wrapped in for the better part of a decade. It has taken a lot of soul-searching to make the decision to leave my long-time lover, with its dark heart and endless thrills. Over the years, whenever I felt it could be the right moment to go I would be sucked back in, somehow pulled by an invisible current. I would come up with a million reasons why this was the place for me, and why I could never find anything like what I had here.

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The Unexpected Comfort of the Mundane Life at Home

The Unexpected Comfort of the Mundane Life at Home

photos: Roger Sabaté

What a fucking rollercoaster ride. I’m sure most of you will agree that the last 3 weeks have been some of the most intense ones we’ve all lived through. It’s hardly an exaggeration that what’s happening right now is the biggest shared global experience since… ever? I don’t even think the world wars actually immediately effected every single country in the world as this pandemic does. And I guess even previous outbreaks didn’t reach as far and as fast because back then the world was just much less connected than it is now.

But while it’s crazy outside in the world, what most people are really experiencing right now is actually happening on a much smaller landscape. For us, everything’s going down now in our own four walls. And unless you are still working and have not been confined to the home office, the longest way you walk from there is probably the small number of blocks you have to pass to reach your nearest supermarket. Our world feels like it shrunk remarkably.

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Game-Changers for Singles in Self-Isolation

Game-Changers for Singles in Self-Isolation

photos: Kinga Cichewicz

Just when I thought that being single in Berlin couldn’t possibly get any harder, the level of difficulty has skyrocketed because of the pandemic. It feels like suddenly, one is basically stripped of all the cool Berlin single life privileges but has to carry all of its burdens. Ironically, in pre-Corona times, singles would sometimes get annoyed by some of the very things that actually can bring us solace in the current circumstances of isolation.

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The Quarantine Diaries: Gardener of the House

The Quarantine Diaries: Gardener of the House

Normally, he is the gardener of the house. I watched him year after year, half paying attention. Seeds, coconut-husk soil; add water and in a few months boom… Chilis. Too many to consume. Habaneros, Thai, Jalapenos, Scotch Bonnets. The heat lamp has been set for a few hours in the evenings, on an automatic timer. Every day it clicks on and off. I think maybe I will go mad. I think maybe this is a gift. In our apartment, I set up to work at our dining room table. It’s not the most comfortable set up. The hard chair cuts the blood flow, just above my knees.

One conference call has ended and tasks have been assigned. We have no idea when we will meet in the office again as a team. The dates keep changing. The company provides status updates, the chains of command feign bold ignorance. We’re never quite sure of what is happening at the top, that’s just how it is. They leave that part out of the marketing campaigns and new hire information packets. We are the masses, with seemingly no control. I look over at the seedlings. If I don’t water them, they will surely die, but how much water is too much? I have no direction and no green thumb. Instead, I have an internal lie detector, razor-sharp detachment skills, and Google.

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10 Awesome Podcasts from Berlin You Should Tune Into

10 Awesome Podcasts from Berlin You Should Tune Into

The Kyoo. 

Whether you’re currently exploring previously unknown levels of boredom, or looking to take your mind off your own anxious thoughts around the continuing corona crisis, listening to some podcasts might be just what you need! Check out these ten diverse recommendations with topics ranging from yoga and meditation to news and culture. Some of the podcasts might also give you a chance to work on your German!

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The Quarantine Diaries: My Pet Slug in CoronaVirus Times

The Quarantine Diaries: My Pet Slug in CoronaVirus Times

There I was, in my Berlin kitchen, minding my own business. Preparing a salad at a leisurely pace when I noticed a round, gooey, grey, slimy, blob on one of the bio salad leaves (has anyone else noticed bio supermarkets are less hit by the panic shoppers?). On closer inspection, the blob turned out to be a very small, dare I say cute, slug. What to do? I considered putting it on my balcony but quickly thought otherwise as I didn’t want to put my darling plants, and recently sole companions, at risk. Perhaps I would wrap it in a small piece of lettuce and throw it out the window. No. Living on the 5th floor, that would be an unnecessary risk and irresponsible (like those teenagers throwing a Corona -no, not the beer- party at Pankow this week).

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Making Sense of the Elusive Charm of Berlin-Kreuzberg

Making Sense of the Elusive Charm of Berlin-Kreuzberg

photos: Roger Sabaté

For me, Kreuzberg has always been a bit of a mixed bag. Don’t get me wrong, I do understand that a lot of people especially love this district, and I certainly have an appreciation for it, too. But to answer what’s exactly the appeal of Kreuzberg, this requires a bit of elaborating.

For a quite long time, Kreuzberg was anything but popular for the regular Berliner. In fact, in the time of the division of Berlin, the district was not exactly coveted. This might have been related to the proximity to the Berlin Wall. The small district had three sides of the wall towards Mitte, Friedrichshain, and Treptow. As history has taught us, the areas towards the wall were considered dangerous – there were cases of border patrol shooting at people on the Western side by accident thinking it was people from the East fleeing. I’m not sure if this is actually an urban myth, but it did come up several times.

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