The clip-clop of horse hooves was as common of a sound in this part of town as the melodies of words spoken in all possible languages ranging from Arabic over Spanish to Russian, Turkish and Chinese.
Two brown horses were pulling a carriage down the road. Inside, two girls were laughing and chatting, two bottles of beer on the table in front of them. There was something surreal about this scene. The giant, tired looking horses with their heavy steps did not seem to fit into the scenery of black and silver cars surrounded by construction sites. “How come they manage with so many loud and fast cars around them?” I wondered, watching sadly as the tall animals disappeared from my sight.
The air was crisp and cold in contrast to the bright beams of sunlight. Indeed a very enjoyable weather. Cold enough the wear comfortable, fluffy sweaters but not cold and grey enough to let sad feelings take over.
I tried to focus on the peaks and valleys of my written Arabic homework, which I had finished just recently. I still had more than an hour until class. I need to leave more space between the lines of text or else I won’t be able to tell if that is a fatha or a kasra over there, I think to myself and take a sip of hot chocolate from the plastic cup.
Nearly three euros for a cup of hot chocolate. Welcome to Friedrichstraße. Welcome to touristy Europe. Welcome to Berlin.
I put my pencil down and looked around. My eyes followed the numerous cyclists, people in wheelchairs, elderly men in suits who were walking with the help of wooden canes, white headphones in their ears. I watched travelers with huge and heavy backpacks, a group of American exchange students, tourists on black Segways, shoppers with bags from Galleries Lafayette, which must have been somewhere to my left.
I heard the faint sound of an accordion from the entrance to Stadtmitte metro station. I have been walking down that underground hallway for years, especially on Saturday mornings on my way to America Memorial Library. Not much has changed in the last ten years. Today I see the same street musicians in the streets and underground hallways. The same beggars in the metro trains selling their self published magazines. Berlin is still a forever ongoing construction yard, still in need for more underground parking lots and shopping malls.
Only time seems to be moving forward and before I know it, it is time to go.