In trying to get back to a sense of normalcy again, we must all agree that a lot has happened. People have lost their lives. Children have whisked themselves away from family responsibilities into distant places to ensure their parent’s safety. Plans have been shifted, changed, and postponed. Jobs, relationships, and several other opportunities have evaporated into thin air. Universities, Shops, and Restaurants have turned down services. Schools and other institutions have closed their doors and turned towards the digital. And we are now learning new ways of treating ourselves and each other as we find better alternatives to our lives. In the spirit of wanting to take a new leave, I did something I haven’t done in a long time. I forced myself to remember. I reflected on my past. I traveled through certain corners of my mind I had completely cut off for reasons I cannot say out loud without risking putting myself in an uncomfortable position.
photos: Roger Sabaté.
Close your eyes for a second.
Imagine a 28-year-old who just moved to Berlin. She lived here a while ago, but was unable to find a proper job and returned to the country of origin. She promised herself that one day she will be back and conquer the city.
Five years later, she’s here again, this time not as a cleaner but as a project manager. She feels immune to any job market crisis, she has a strong game plan and some money to spend. New shoes? Sure! Techno party every weekend? Bam! Eating outside all week? No problem!
Now pause for a minute. Or maybe pause forever. Can you? Can you pause it forever for me, please? Cause what’s coming next is the infamous “Contagion” reenactment which washed away all my dreams and hopes. Yes, this careless adult was me, stuck so much in my capitalist privileges, that being laid off completely crushed my world.
A couple of weeks ago, on the hight of the lockdown tension, I had a curious conversation on a late-night ride with a driver that I simply can’t get out of my head. It was related to one of these “wonderful” new terms that came up in the course of the pandemic that has been once thought up, maybe not as considered, by politicians, but then spread wide and far by the media. The first one that comes to mind is, of course, Social Distancing (coincidently, the German version “Kontaktverbot” is as misguided a term as the English one), but the one I’m addressing here is “essential jobs” (or as we call it in German “Systemrelevante Berufe”).
I was on my way home, responsibly avoiding public transport, using one of the available ride services. It was during the period, where Berlin was actually pretty empty, both on the streets and on the sidewalks. In those weeks there was so much uncertainty and fear, that you could tell people actually didn’t dare to go out.
One of my favorite things about living in Berlin is the ridiculous amount of kooky events available at any given time. In the last month I’ve attended a Kundalini Active Meditation (where you literally “shake” your body whilst standing for a solid 15 minutes in a room full of strangers), danced from music from all over the world (Karnival de Kulturen) while ending at a open air rave in the middle of one of my favorite parks (Hasenheide), and attended an immersive art/dance performance/therapy session by the Mexican American artist Jazmin Medrano.
Because I’ve lived in Berlin for three years now, nothing really shocks me anymore. Once I went to the infamous Berghain club alone and was approached by a normal enough looking man wearing only tennis shoes and a leather harness on his chest. “I can massage your feet if you want,” he offered. “No thanks, I don’t feel like taking off my shoes,” I replied truthfully.
photos: Alicia Kassebohm
The following guest-article is brought to us by our favorite Berlin-based Yoga teacher and founder of Your Space Michaela Aue who is making the iHeartBerlin team sweat like animals and giggle like kids in all of her classes.
Berlin is Yoga heaven but Berlin men can be a Yoga hell. But before I go into this in detail let me tell you just a bit about me. I am yoga teacher living and working in Berlin for many years now. My best friend would probably describe me as a white-wearing creative chaos of some sort. For most of my adult life I have been consumed with the search of the ‘Mind-Body-Connection’. Sounds so cheesy, but it is so true. Some might call it ‘the moment of bliss’ while others call it ‘being in your center’. The balance between body and mind is probably something we can all agree on for now.
illustrations: Berk Karaoglu
Location: Berlin. Display Name: Emojis that describe me + Emoji indicating sexual preferences. Edit Profile. About Me: Next time I’m opening up to someone is my autopsy. Looking for: Question mark. Relationship Status: Single.
Honestly, I think I never dated! That doesn’t mean that I have never gone on something that could be described as a date, or that I have never frequently seen a love interest of mine, but, ‘dating’ in a form that also my mum would agree with me on the term. The kinda story that begins with you meeting person X at a party of a friend, and then it slowly, and mutually grows into something. Dating in 2018 is different. We forgot how to flirt, we swipe. We can’t send a subtle smile through the room, we tap. And we don’t have the courage to say “Hi”, we leave “You’re hot” comments on Instagram waiting for a direct message. And when it comes to gays, you are not seeing one but four different guys at a time. In Berlin, you can’t just rely on that one guy because, first of all, he’s probably gonna have a shelf of dick to choose from, and he might just randomly stop talking to you, one WhatsApp message to another – Mhmm, the most beautiful psychopathic disorder of the 2010’s: Ghosting. Read on…
photos: Keith Telfeyan
People say Berlin is a city of lost souls. You can feel the drifting energy, black-clad and disembodied, the streets at all hours full of ghosts and zombies… There’s a prevalent zeitgeist of Sisyphean searching. You can drink cheap beer all day, never opening your eyes beyond what is necessary to obey the crosswalk signs. You can cut off all contact, drift away into total obscurity. Berlin: where young people retire, or: How to disappear completely.
Of course you can also get a job, start a family, normalize just like anywhere else. But there is a difference in Berlin… And first, in order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself, or at least recognize that you are lost. It tends to be a theme in this town.
Looking back in time it feels like ages since I moved to Berlin. Yet, it has barely been over a year. I keep trying to get my head around it, but I simply cannot explain it; especially since I have lived in other big cities, such as Barcelona and Athens, for a much longer period of time; maybe it is the fact that the life I have lived in Berlin has been so fulfilling; maybe it is the fact that I have experienced here so many things for the first time . In an attempt to express with gratitude what this city has so generously given me, here is what comes to my mind first: