Britta's Letters from (and sometimes about) Berlin

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Down These Mean Streets A Man Must Go...

©Brigitta Huegel

Dear You, 
I don't know what I expected when the day after the English Christmas Fair I was on my way to the "Japanese Christmas Fair". Maybe little Geishas folding complicated Origamis? I should have used my brain - I mean: Japan and Chrstmas?? and: oh, Revaler Straße in Friedrichshain - even better known to the police than rough Alexanderplatz...
Fights, stabbing, drugs - "down these mean streets a man must go", to quote Raymond Chandler - well, and in these days: a woman too - IF she wants to find that Fair.

©Brigitta Huegel

From the underground station Warschauer Straße I Took a walk on the wild side - the promised number 99 wasn't to be found, and as I walked on, the area became more and more dreary and sinister,

©Brigitta Huegel

And the Africans, very well fed and very secretive, started to offer me "Tea, coffee or me?"
I wisely refrained from witty answers or taking a few cute snapshots of them, and after more than one kilometer walk along a single (!) wall - beautifully sprayed with graffiti - I muttered unladylike under my breath "Damn, damn, damn - I'll go back."
As the wise Taoists say: the moment I "was letting go", all things fell into place - and I between picturesque ruins and beside a beautiful swimming bath "Der Haubentaucher" (great crested grebe):

©Brigitta Huegel

and a flea-market:

©Brigitta Huegel

Vainly I asked a girl wearing not much more than a Purple Haze if she knew where ??? - but all she could do was to offer me her joint. Felt like the middle-aged woman in "The Knack", when Rita Tushingham rings at a door and cries: "Rape! Rape!" and the lady says kindly: "Thank you, love - not today."
Then, at the very beginning of the Revaler Straße, at my starting point - yes, Buddhism is right: life is a circle, not a line - was the Urban Spree, where the Japanese Christmas Fair was taking place.

©Brigitta Huegel

Mangas, mangas, mangas - nothing else - and they didn't seem especially convincing to me, but then: I am no expert. But nothing "hummed" at me.
So I did that myself, melodiously humming: "These boots are made for walking!" 
And that's just what they did...

©Brigitta Huegel

In my sturdy Timberlands and without getas I was leaving a very lively and interesting part of Berlin.

©Brigitta Huegel





14 comments:

  1. In the East I should say. It looks just as I remember it from my visit 7 or 8 years ago.

    My phone wouldn't work in the East. Not even in the hotel. We had a nice time though. One highlight was watching football (Hertha) on TV in a bar with a photo of Stalin on the wall and a plastic daffodil on the table.

    One of my relatives was a logistics officer for the Berlin airlift. Long time ago.

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    1. Yes, Gwil, deepest East. Stalin and a daffodil sounds like very Konkrete Poesie. :-)
      As to the airlift: I found three strange pictures (evidently drawn by an American) from the Fifties, and one subject is the monument for the Luftbrücke. Might write a post on that.

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  2. I have been in neighborhoods like that. When you think about it we are both lucky that we were unharmed.

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    1. In hindsight, Emma, it looks a bit sinister - on the other hand: on the areal with the swimming bath and the flea market there were people (mostly young).

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  3. Were you aware of your destination when you left? Though I'm sure you were, being Brigitta the adventurer! I recently wandered a seedy part of the city taking pictures of old buildings. It was a mixture of homeless, low rent college students, and other less definable types. I didn't understand any of the grafitti, but one bill board in front of a bar made me smile: supper like you mother made, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, gravy, and a vegetable you must eat.

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    1. Husband and I stayed for more than three weeks very near the Revaler Straße, Joanne, two years before we moved to Berlin. I liked the East more than sedative West - wanted to rent a flat there, husband didn't - and now I am quite content to live in "the middle" (Bavarian Quarter, to be precise) and take excursions whenever I want. And the West began to grow more interesting the last two years, people come back from the East, and a quartier like the Prenzlauer Berg became so posh that the artists had to move away, not being able to pay the very high rents now. They moved even deeper East.
      Your description of the seedy part of your city hits the nail on the head: a very curious mixture, and: not as dangerous as they might look (though some are).

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  4. I am making a note of Warschauer Strasse U/ground station as I write, and Revaler Strasse for my next visit. Thank you for these photographs. I can't wait.

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    1. Oh Rachel, that would be wonderful! I'm glad when you come - "and then we'll take Berlin!" (more in the Joe Cocker version than Leonard Cohens).

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  5. Next time take along your husband Britta or another male companion to accompany you - we don't want anything untoward happening to you♡

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    1. How come, Rosemary, that he only is keen on the East when there is a flea market or an exhibition? And as he often is at the University of Hildesheim, I have often to go on my own - and thus experience a mixture of (more) calming West and rebellious East Berlin :-)

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  6. It all sounded a bit scary to me Britta - beware of where your feet take you.

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    1. I will, Elaine - and I would not go to that street at night.

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  7. Britta...never lose your spirit of adventure..but be safe!

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    1. I listen to my instinct, Susan: when once in Edinburgh on my way to Dr. Neils' Garden I came to a part with a tunnel, I had a very peculiar feeling, so I turned round and took a much longer way instead.

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