Berlin: love letter after a weekend fling

Dear Berlin,

You sure know how to push my buttons.

Really. How could I not find myself infatuated with you, after…

… you welcomed me to beautiful apartment in Kreuzberg. Living in this quietly stylish dwelling in such a vibrant neighborhood (“you are totally in the right neighborhood, Kreuzberg is the place to be,” said Ben, who checked us into the apartment) felt like stepping into someone else’s life for a few days. Someone else much hipper and tidier than I am, for sure!

… you surrounded me with art, art everywhere. My impression was of a city with more memorials to the dead than any other I’ve visited before. The grieving, solitary mother in the Neue Wache, the New Guard House…

Mother with her Dead Son, sculpture by Käthe Kollwitz

… and the 2,711 eerie, towering concrete slabs of the Holocaust Memorial. Walking in this massive work of art sobered and chilled me—it was like finding yourself swallowed up by tombstones; trapped by hard, merciless, endless gray.

Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Peter Eisenman and Buro Happold

Oh, Berlin. Bombed to rubble in World War II, you became a blank canvas from which anyone could create anything. You may not be a Renaissance masterpiece like Florence, or a Belle Epoque objet d’art like Paris, but you are a work of art that is constantly evolving. Your art is more than just about death; it is life reasserting itself everyday, everywhere. Your children create marvels out of mailboxes and street signs.

… you beckoned me into your quiet, graceful courtyards. There, away from the crowds and in the stillness, you showed your hidden face. And it was beautiful.

In the beautifully preserved Riehmer Hofgarten, we saw what you were must have been like before the War.

This courtyard transported us to the Prussian empire at the turn of the 19th century, when these were built for the army elite, or to 1920s Berlin, when gas lamps lit up the night. I could imagine myself coming home to one of these apartments in the lamplight, being hailed in Latin by the tiled welcome mat on my doorstep.

… your buildings told me the story of your survival. So much has been destroyed that whatever has survived stands out, each with its own piece to add to the bigger story. I wish Manila could be as beautiful as you’ve managed to remain, and make this crazy random mix of old and new work the way you do.

Pre-war apartments in Kreuzberg

The former Nazi Luftwaffe (Air Force) headquarters, mysteriously spared by the Allies

Communist propaganda mural on a Nazi building

The height of Communist luxury, on the East side of the Berlin Wall

The Altes Museum at Lustgarten: bombed, patched in many places, but still standing

Finally, the clincher: you fed me with currywurst. The way to my heart is through my stomach; though you basically had me at hello, you went this route anyway. I love curry, I love ketchup, and I especially love that this little street treat shares its name with me.

So, Berlin. Our weekend fling is over, but something makes me think our love affair has only just begun.



P.S. Proof of how awesome you are: so many Hive attendees wrote about you (in particular, BirgitteAnki and Judith had a great eye for you), but there’s barely any overlap. Every post reveals a different facet, and it seems your facets are infinite. I love that in a city.

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  1. says

    Beautiful post! I have a little crush as well on Berlin after this weekend, and you know what is really amazing? All these posts and photos from speakers and participants at The Hive kind of keep me in Berlin even if I left the city days ago. Every day I scroll down my blogroll hoping that someone has written something about the city… This one is one of my favorite posts until now. 
    Ciao from Copenhagen.
    And ps: Thank you so much for mentioning me in this post :-)

    • says

      Aww thanks, Birgitte. Haha, yes I think “crush” is totally the right word! I have a few more Berlin posts up my sleeve, so I hope you’ll come back to check them out :)

  2. says

    How beautifully written and photograph. Was rather poetic. You really saw a lot. How long were you in Berlin for? Isn’t the Holocaust Memorial spooky?

    Lovely love letter. x

  3. Nicola says

    Hi Deepa

    This is an inspiring, beautifully written love letter to Berlin – you have inspired me to visit as soon as possible, thank you


  4. says

    I love this post so much that I linked it to my Hive post. Your writing is truly beautiful and your photos are stunning. I can’t believe how much you managed to fit into such a short space of time – you’ve completely put me to shame! 😀 xoxo

    • says

      Thank you so much, Chi. I’ve been inspired to put more effort into my posts and pictures since The Hive :) I have two more posts about some awesome things I managed to squeeze in during the trip. Stay tuned!


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