Berlin commentary Germany Life Stories

These 10 Minutes on the Bus and Elsewhere that Call One’s Appreciation of Men into Question

Are you seeing anyone?, asked my godmother one night while we were having our Skype conversation.

No, I said for the millionth time. I think that should be pretty obvious by now. I don’t even know why people keep asking me that.

She doesn’t say anything. Nobody ever does, except for the curious strangers on my travels who like to add a ‘why?’ after I have given my standard response or told them to leave me alone.

She doesn’t say anything but I know that this why is lingering inside her. She just doesn’t want to make me feel uncomfortable about the whole thing. As if I ever cared.

And so I leave the house, I get on the bus, show my ticket to the driver and take a seat by the window. We pass a few stations and the bus starts to fill up because it is rush hour and using the public transport in this city is much cheaper than driving a car. I keep thinking about that unspoken why that I just can’t explain to anybody who asks because those who ask have never been here long enough to understand.

Meanwhile the bus keeps filling up and my nose catches a familiar smell. Beer and nicotine. Nicotine and beer. Put it in any order you like, it will not change the way it actually affects certain people around. If you were to ask me what Berlin smells like,  I would say nicotine and beer, at least for the last couple of weeks. But then the christmas markets are approaching and soon enough the air will be filled with the smell of rosted almonds, popcorn, cotton candy, Kaisershmarrn and chocolate covered fruit.

Men drinking beer out of bottles pretty much at any hour of the day and in almost any location. Advanced botellon so to speak the Spanish way. How come I see so little women do this but every time I am somewhere crowded there needs to be some guy smoking into my face or drinking beer out of the bottle like he is at home, watching a soccer game of Hertha vs. Bayern München (have they actually ever played against each other? I don’t know) and not on the bus or train surrounded by a bunch of strangers.

I keep going. I go to the post office to send off a parcel for a friend of mine. The waiting line to the counter is almost unbearably long because everyone decided to send off their letters and parcels just now and the elderly people need some change of scenery after all. Someone is standing in front of me and again I am hugged by this smell of alcohol and cigarettes and again I start thinking that such people should probably not be allowed to go out into the public like this until they take a shower and chew some coffee beans or take a mentos but hey, we live in a free country here so I guess there is not much that can be done.

Few hours later. The festival of lights is on and the monuments around Alexandarplatz are illuminated in different colors and textures beautifully against the black sky. The stands of the Oktoberfest close and I manage to get two Berliner doughnuts at the price of one because it is closing time. There is actually nothing wrong with saying ‘I am a Berliner’. A person who lives in Berlin is a Berliner so I really don’t know what the whole deal is about. Berliner just happens to be the name of a doughnut at the same time but so does American and Canadian, for your information.

I walk around, I take a few pictures here and there until I see again what I have seen so many times before unfortunately. People who apparently had too much fun with barley juice (aka beer) or at least enough fun to let their pants down and I mean more than just the general pants…and now someone laugh at me for not liking to walk around alone when it gets dark. Go ahead.

Of course not every single man out here is like this. There are surely people who can keep themselves together or who have other priorities in life rather than alcohol, drugs and party but the longer I watch people here, the more I understand why Berlin is the city of singles.

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    Umm Khadidja
    November 3, 2014 at 9:51 am

    Hi, i love the way you put images into words. Vividly described I immediatly had the the smell in my nose, lol. You should marry a muslim 😉

    Umm khadidja

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