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Archive for May 10th, 2011

So, I had, once again, a great time in Berlin. Good food, good company, interesting things to see and do. And I am sure most citizens and visitors find the city rewarding.

But the united city is still a city of contrasts. It is a city where you find discreet elegance and stark poverty. It is a city where you find lots of mouth-watering organic cafes and restaurants, even at the airports you find fresh and healthy food. At the same time every other person seems to smoke, it is like Scandinavia several decades ago.

And it is a city that is not in balance when it comes to intoxicants, be they legal or illegal. The tattooed and black clad youth living their hedonistic lifestyle are probably recruited from across Europe and beyond, but it seems like Berlin is a magnet.

A 7 in the morning, as the Slavic-sounding tramps line up at the steps of the supermarket to recycle bottles for deposits, the kebab shop serves breakfast to the last guests of the grim and industrial slab of concrete called a beer garden that has been open all night down by the rail road tracks.

The corner shops claim to sell Lebensmittel according to their signs, but it’s mostly booze. The drinking seems to start at the sidewalks mid-morning and then go on until you stagger off to sleep somewhere. The early evening trams are moveable parties.

I try not to be too grumpy, and it is largely up to people to decide for themselves how to live. At the same time it will not, in the long run, be healthy for a community like Friedrichschain to be dominated by a hard-drinking culture without any regard for tomorrow.

If you choose to stay in one of the flashier areas of town, you will not see this reality at all. But with an area with low rents and squats you cannot help reflecting over it.

I would certainly not want to raise kids in an area like that.

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