or maybe the real title of this blog should be Karma is a Bitch!
Living in Berlin is no walk in the park, that I can assure you. Regardless of whether you are here on a visit, were assigned here, or are reckless enough to move here voluntarily (ehem), this city is full of contradictions.
In winter I complained about the darkness and bitter cold, grumbling about how it is still dark at 7:00am or the sun setting at 3:30pm with subzero temperatures. Spring in this German capital is absolutely gorgeous, this being one of the greenest cities in Europe. It is an absolute joy to stroll amongst the magnolia and cherry trees, finding tulips and daffodils all over the place, and the same can be said about the spectacular autumn – although I must admit that Baden Württemberg and Bavaria are the front runners for me here, Summer, on the other hand, is an absolute nightmare. Don´t get me wrong, I love the heat, unlike many others who grumble about anything above 28C.
The radio talks about a heatwave in the city, warning everyone to stay hydrated and in the shade, but when I look a the temperatures, the so so-called heatwave is an absolute joke for any Asian. Heatwave? Seriously? At 32C, this Asian feels very much at home and find nothing amiss. I keep telling people to stop whining to me about the heat. In my book, unless you have lived through Delhi summers with temperatures raging and ranging over 42C you have no right to complain about heat until you understand what HOT really means. I once snapped at someone living in the Black Forest who was complaining about the unbearable heat at 27C. Oh please.
OK, so I whined about the darkness of winter – so now what do I get? Long summer days when the sun only sets at 9:00pm and it gets decently dark at 10:00. The cats are confused, and so am I. Daybreak is somewhere around 4:20am (yes, I am often awake then) and sunrise is officially at 5:15am. Bloody hell. It is hard to get a decent night´s sleep if I can´t even make the room properly dark. Sigh. Who invited Karma in?
Enough about the weather… what is the best thing about living in Berlin? The culture and the public transportation system? The worst? The public transportation system and the mayhem that surrounds cultural events and administrative bureaucracy of government offices. Whatever you say about Berlin, the existing opposite will also be true. Move to Berlin if you love multi-cultural life and want to live in a city where you can get by without learning too much German. On the other hand, don´t move to Berlin if you are afraid of racism and discrimination. Of all the German cities I have lived in or visited, this is the one place where I experience fear, panic, and utter frustration. One taxi driver I interviewed summed it up nicely based on his experiences – Berlin is wonderfully open-minded when it comes to intercultural communication, but the government offices are not.
Berlin is not a city for conservatives and narrow-minded people. It will challenge your socio-political perspectives, make you question your cultural background and religious beliefs when surrounded by so many agnostics and atheists, and put the fear of God in you if you end up in the subway with a rowdy crowd of skinheads. This is the city where nudity is normal in public parks and lakes (has been since the 60s), smoking pot by the river is nothing new, and throwing up in front of a church or screaming expletives during a religious service may be deemed annoying but not grounds for an arrest. On the other hand, this is the city that offers something for everyone. In the 60s everyone went to Goa to find truth and themselves. In 2018 all roads lead to Berlin if you seek affirmation for your art, gender, literary efforts, business, and bohemian lifestyle. Hell yeah, karma is definitely Berliner!