Berlin, I’m starting to love you…
It felt like I walked a thousand miles already when I gave my feet a rest at Tempelhof Airport in the middle of Berlin. “Hallo, können sie kitesurfen?” I am in no mood to talk to a stranger at the moment but well… he seems nice. “Nein, aber ich würde gerne. Und du?” “Nein, ich liebe radfahren”.
He arrived with his bike. In the front he had a basket which seems to be full with alcoholic drinks. He has long blond hair and when he smiles I see a tooth missing. The conversation about kitesurfing goes on for a little while. “Wollen sie einen drink?” “Nein, danke” I answer politely. He gives me two cans of sprite. “Hier, nimm dass auch”. I politely refuse the strange looking drink and he puts it back in his basket.
While we are talking about the differences between Berlin and The Hague, the Kitesurfer behind me continues to fly over the previous airstrip. My feet feel rested and I tend to leave. Hans shakes my hand and wishes me a great stay in Berlin. “Danke!”
I pass what looks like a gipsy camp. Many campers are parked alongside the road, families are sitting next to it, looking like they are in need of a bath. A little bit further and I pass amazing buildings. The architecture reminds me of the rainessance style. Beautiful pillars, cute balconies, flowers everywhere. It surprises me to see that at one of the balconies not a statue of a man but of a woman holds the building together. She looks strong, independent and proud that she is holding the building together. Her masterpiece maybe.
A bit further I pass a river. The bridge is carrying white papers on which names are written. I look closer and read Palestinian and Israeli names. When I ask a woman what it is all about she explains to me that these are the children that died during the war between Israel en Palestina. It seems to me that far more children have died in that never-ending war than the names on this bridge tell. However, the idea is good. While passing the bridge I touch every piece of paper and read out there names. Berlin itself was torn apart by war, by differentiation, by opinions. It makes me wonder, will humanity ever come to its senses?
While I pass more streets I enter another gypsy camp. No families here, only young people smoking a joint, drinking a booze, sitting beside the campfire. There’s no stress here, nothing matters, no violation, no anger. These young people seem to enjoy their stay in campers, their life far away from politics, economy, standards.
It’s time to meet friend R. so I’m continuing my walk when something gets my attention. It’s called ‘the Tree House’ or ‘Baumhaus an der Mauer’. A Turkish immigrant, named Osman, lives in Germany since 1963. When Berlin got separated, the grounds where his house is situated was a kind of no-man’s land. It wasn’t East nor West Berlin. Therefore the authorities took no responsibility for it and during the years a lot of rubbish piled up here. In 1983, Osman, made it his mission to clear the site and turn it into a community allotment. He used all the rubbish piled up here to build a little hut for his gardening tools. When the wall, in 1989, came down he was able to build an extension and a second story around the two trees that are standing here.
While I walk around the house I see Osman and greet him in Turkish. He greets back with a nice smile. I ask him about the story and he invites me inside. Together we drink a cup of Turkish coffee, which is way too strong for me, in his garden. He tells me the story but I must say I understand half of it. His Turkish is a bit different from what I’m used to listen to or speak. He tells me that he spends most of his time sitting outside waving at tourists. He is old and tired. His son is helping with the garden and keeping the house standing. He is happy and satisfied with what he has achieved here. I can’t stay long and soon it’s time to go. “Sagol Osman bey, hakkinda hayirlisi olsun” I tell Osman bey and leave him with his thoughts.
I fight my way through the tourists at the wall and find a good place in the sun to drink a beer and wait for friend R. What a wonderful start of the weekend in Berlin. That promises something for the rest to come.