Berlin in the map of the imagination

When people ask me what ever possessed me to study German and I answer that it was film by Wim Wenders, they are usually surprised.

My Berlin is a Wendersness. It is an existential black and whiteness where Bono and Lou Reed are singing a song on streetcorners and Nick Cave is crooning hypnotic tunes in some run-down basement, where the decrepit buildings of communist times are strangely beautiful and endearing and it is commanded by the victory idol on the Siegessaule and her fierce wings, where angels sometimes see fit to ponder about the evils of an eternal life.

Wenders angel leaning on Siegessaule monument

Like the angels in Wenders film I have never seen Berlin But I know it s there (waiting for me).

In a way Berlin is a broken city. It is a city that lost a war and was divided among the victors. As far as traveling goes, defeat usually turns out to be much more interesting than victory. Here is a city, once the head of a racist empire, short-lived as it may have been, now a melting pot of immigrants from all over the world, where you could eat food from a different country every day of the month without ever running out of choices and all for five euro each time.

Berlin 1987 in Wenders film vs. Berlin 2008. Photo by Thomas Duchnicki

As my friend Carlos, a filmmaker lviing in the city, says, it is the cheapest city in Europe and also one of the most interesting for music, art, nightlife and many of the things that make life worth living.

Germans mostly wonder about the fact that I speak German but I´ve never been to Germany, much as Brits wonder that English is such a big part of my life and work and yet I have never been to the UK unless you count Gibraltar and the Falklands.

I just know for a fact that when I meet Berlin, it will be like meeting an old friend you haven’t seen in a while; like those Wenders angels when they became human and people seemed to recognize them because they had always felt their presence and even seen them in dreams, just as I have seen Berlin and shared secrets with it in my mind´s eye.

An emblematic view of the wall
Siegessaule today (Photo by Carlos Morelli, my Berlin friend)

The man who has seen it all has nothing to desire, as Dr. Johnson would put it, so, in a way, it is a blessing not to have seen Berlin yet.

Over the years, I have become little inclined to visit places where I do not have friends that I wanna see. This  was not the case of Berlin until a month ago, but not anymore, I have a friend in Berlin now and I am confident that the lure of friendship will soon get me closer to my dream.

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