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Disgusting City, Where No One Believes in Anything


A disgusting city, a place where no one believes in anything. This harsh judgement of Berlin is from the year 1775. At least it was written a long time ago. But the question still arises, even today: is Berlin a reservoir for broken people?

Last week a complete stranger snatched the cigarette I was smoking right out of my mouth, crushed it in his hand and threw it away. A friend of mine had a visitor from another German city this past weekend and told me about the cultural differences.

"You can't forget that Berlin is an island. People work here differently once they are here for a while. Berlin is a completely different world."

in Bla Bla, a pub that no longer exists, a man old enough to be my father assumed I wanted physical contact. And HE yelled at ME when I told him he didn't have any ownership rights over my body. Within my circle of friends, a statistical pattern is developing where three times out of four they become single after being in Berlin for just a few months. In Christmas markets, gift schnapps is given away for free and while one considers where to go for a smoke break, looking around it's clear everyone takes the ban on smoking as a joke. A few years ago I was standing in the Friedrichstraße train station and the entire train system was temporarily shutdown because someone had fallen onto the tracks. What people concerned themselves with was finding alternative transportation to get where they needed to go. Because usually people can get from point A to point B at any hour without any snags.

The one thing binding all these stories together is the expectation of constant availability and full satisfaction of our needs. And maybe the lack of belief in Berlin is due to nothing being holy here. What might be considered holy is when the morning light breaks through the window in Berghain, opening up a little piece of heaven.

I notice how the city is slowly making me cynical too. I get skeptical when anyone wishes me a good night and says they want to see me again. It seems as if everyone is just one possibility out of a thousand, all of which are available for the taking.

But then I found a pleasantly surprising piece of hope written on a worn-out toilet door in a worn-out bar: "Tears dry in the sunshine." And so, if tears dry here, in this run-down toilet, then tears will dry anywhere, time and time again.

By Stefanie Talaska
Translated by Aislyn Rose

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