How lonely the winters turn out to be sometimes. You want to get going and do something that would energise you, make you a normal person again, away from the shackles of depression, no mist that surrounds your thoughts and something that you would do with utmost clarity, enthusiasm, and something out of the box that would teach and make an impact. An experience never to be forgotten, a step rarely taken and a daunting expedition or a craziness of sorts, that makes you feel, that yes this is the moment where I am having the time of my life. I am not running away from my weaknesses but facing them, fighting them and in all that negativity, the story you are about to weave takes you to somewhere, about which you have heard of but never been there before. Berlin happened to me. I had planned Berlin very differently from this trip. It was supposed to be crazy, and a normal affair with friends, where you watch the city, go roaming, eat the local cuisine, embark on some history and then visit some favourite place on the to do list, relax, party and spend time with new people.
I got to know Berlin better I felt, I could not relate or empathise with the war history but felt a sense of liveliness and I sensed a difference. This city was nothing like the European cities I have seen so far. It was huge, yet welcoming. It was accommodating people of various races and tribes, from each and every part of the world and no one seemed to disrespect. Everyone helped each other and lived in peace, enjoyed their beer and food, and were so active even in the cold. No one disturbed anything precious, and the city ran with an ordinary pace. Impeccable public transport is worth a mention. Not very fast or brisk, but the correct wait time, the correct punctuality, timely announcements and good management of the infrastructure. I found the former feature only in a few selective cities of Germany and Western Europe. Berlin also surprised me because it made me believe me in destiny. The people I met, and the talks gave the impression, how once the circumstances are on your side and in a tick of a clock, the whole piece of a puzzle can become upside down. Confusing, but you find answers at the right time for each question.
I reached Berlin, on Friday night and was wandering along the chilly and lively streets of Berlin figuring out trams and buses, that I needed to take to have a head over my roof that night. Google became my best friend that night, as I figured out alone at 10.45pm at night. The best part was that I was not scared, nothing gave me a chill down my spine, may be because I had time in hand. Because I knew I would still make it. It is not a jigsaw puzzle after all. I reached home dead tired and not able to lift my legs off the cold and the chilly wind that had bitten itself against my covered and warm legs. I spoke with this new friend I met at the apartment about my life, about my past, discussing about our hobbies and adventures, what life meant to us and how we overcame so much shit, was it possible! It ended in the wee hours of midnight, and I crashed in bed. The night was long and warm, cuddled up inside a blanket with a heater by my side. As light crept in through the windows in the morning, Berlin seemed a planet of dew drops. It was surreal and fascinating. The sky had taken a bath in the light blue sky and everything was outlined with thin lined clouds and an enigma of orange light awaited my day. I admired the beauty of the sunrise and like a lazy ass went to sleep again, only to wake up some hours before mid day. In a blatant hurry I got ready and went out to explore Berlin.
Berlin has many tourist attractions to its credit because of the rich history and so many important events of modern history taking place right here. Being the capital of the so called European world, once upon a time, made Berlin a seat of important political discussions, international exchanges and cosmopolitan culture.The Brandenburger Tor is 26m high. Based on the Propylea, the gateway to the Acropolis in Athens, the Brandenburger Tor was the first Greek revival neo-classical structure in Berlin. It consists of twelve Doric columns, six on each side creating five portals. The Quadriga, a statue consisting of the goddess of peace, driving a four-horse triumphal chariot is mounted above the gate, which is flanked by two smaller buildings in similar style which served as gatehouses.The current Brandenburger Tor was constructed between 1788 and 1791 as part of a programme of building works to improve the wall and many of its gates. In 1793 it was complemented by the Quadriga, the triumphal statue of the winged goddess of peace driving a four-horse chariot.Next comes the attraction of Unter den Linden which has Linden trees on both sides of the road and covers the whole street with hues of vibrant shades in the season of autumn. Unter den Linden is a boulevard in the old heart of Berlin, going all the way from the Brandenburger Tor to the Schlossbrücke bridge. On the boulevard Unter den Linden, there are many important institutions such as the Humboldt University and the State Opera as well as attractions such as the Neue Wache memorial and the Zeughaus (Armoury). Starting in 1701, Unter den Linden was beautified with the help of royal pomp and new architecture, and what you see today is quite similar to what was built during this time. Another important building that can be said to be the crown of Berlin is the Reichstag Gebaüde or the Parliament building. This building had to undergo lot of renovation work due to the destruction caused during World War 2. The new Reichstag building was officially opened on 19 April 1999. The new dome, which visitors can enter, has proven to be an especially strong attraction and has become a symbol of the parliament and government district.It is a living example of the hard work of the Germans after the World War 2 in restoring Berlin.
Worth mentioning and also one of the stunning railway stations in the world is the Berlin Hauptbahnhof. It is a grand glass structure, with intricate and intrigue patterns of glass, that speak a lot about the modern day architecture in Berlin. It stole my heart, certainly. I had fallen in love with the station in Antwerpen, Belgium, it was simply royal, but this made me awestruck. The main thing or the structure that defined the whole course of the history of Berlin. The Mauer or The Wall. As I reached the East Side Gallery and began walking alongside the wall, all I could see were pictures and drawings, weird patterns of modern art painted on these walls. This could be recreated anywhere, but what was most important was the events that happened at particular places or spots. The emotions and values attached to it. The massacres that took place at this very place. It shook me for a while and I returned back to my senses. It was a symbol of suppression. One structure divided families overnight. To go from one spot to another of 100metres people needed a passport during those times. We all know how people escaped and made this wall a symbol of unity and strength for Germany. A lot of my doubts about the World War 2 and its aftermath were cleared after I visited the museum. Proud to say everything has been well preserved and maintained.
This journey to Berlin made me independent in a broader sense. It taught me to keep going and that education really did not teach you how the world functions. You need to experience it on your own. I was lucky also to get a home experience here by the virtue of exchange and making friends wherever I go. Also since it was chilly and cold all the time, I could not really party to my heart´s extent but getting a glimpse of each region and vibrancy at Alexanderplatz, you come to know first hand that Berlin can never ever bore you. People spoke English, so it is a very ideal city for the international crowd too. Cost of living is at an average and does not hurt the pocket much as it does in the South of Germany, near Stuttgart, Münich and Frankfurt. I want to come to Berlin again. Just to stroll and visit an Opera with my loved one. Also to party and get the energy refuelled to stock up some insane memories which I could not make this time since I was alone. I discovered that travelling alone was fun, but for a people person like me, I like it when trips are crazy. Praveen and Mahesh were dearly missed once more.
As I gasped and looked at the sky wondering what I had done over the weekend, I could not help but be satisfied at the little stories that I built. The high, pointed and gigantic trees did not have those lush green leaves any more and everything was coming crashing down bit by bit as the leaves fell over my face. But as I picked up one dry twig and a yellowish orange leaf lying on the ground, it gave me hope again, that they fell to be reborn again, with a purposeful and exciting spring that would welcome them, and of course a signal from God that a huge change was on its way too. How nature talks to us!..This is why Berlin will be special.
Signing off for another one!
Rucha Sudhir Khot