this. In a leafy courtyard, a quiet avenue -
a young family stands with all the detruis of their house
waiting for a removal van. They are moving. Their two children,
blond like their mother. A loud thump announces the arrival
of their rolled up carpet behind them. It looks ancient. The
furniture looks like chipboard and veneer - nothing could
possibly cost more than twenty euro.
in a street cafe I am approached by a homeless man. Some panhandling
thing in German. After he leaves, I turn around and ask, "Okay,
what did he want?
Cigarettes or money?" I am told that the man asked for
our left over food. He is still squatting in a corner and
since I have lost my appetite I take my goulash over to him,
still cynical. He thanks me profusely and gobbles it all up.
had thought he wanted to buy drugs. I haven't seen a poor
person asking for food for years. Food. Something is wrong.
This is Germany. Where incredible technology, a female chancellor,
white sausages and all kinds of famous German things come
protect their trees here. If the trees are kind of old. There
are laws that don't allow you to cut trees. Every dustbin
is in triplicate. Paper, plastic and glass.
Why was that guy hungry?
that, I'm forced to look more carefully all around me.
watch the buzzing clubs, the heat and laughter in the beer
halls, the trading of second hand goods, drugs, the price
of food, the peeling crackle of the veneer that I thought
was happy Berlin. Watch the old lady take up a courgette,
look at the price listed above then put it down again. Watch
dressed up people drinking Caprinhas in a bar. Watch them
go to a kebab shop and bolt down a kebab. Watch everybody
standing in the street waiting for the night bus. Smell the
marijuana in the air. People are smiling.
(words: Sharon Lim, Singapore; picture: Dorothee Lang, Germany)