“Suspicious, but still benign…”

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When they left the S-Bahn station a thin drizzle was falling on the deserted sidewalks of Wedding. It was about 1:30 in the morning, there was hardly any traffic, dawn was still some hours away. They were tired of carrying their luggage: it had been a long journey, all the way from the other side of the other capital… But home was now very close!

On the plane they had celebrated with a half-bottle of half-cooled champagne, just happy to have made it, through the grid-locked roads, the late and overflowing trains, the idiotic obstacle course through duty-free (!) at the airport.

As usual, they felt happy to be back, under a sky that meant, for them, peace and love.

And then there was that diagnosis: something not right, but not so wrong that they should worry, for now. They were not going to, as they had long learnt that being suspicious was an attribute of free people. And so it went for these cells inside him, and their mysterious behaviour.

As she opened the door, they kissed. This was not their last trip.

Picture: ancient bell, Invaliden Friedhof, Berlin Mitte, ©2017 Honoré Dupuis

Afrikanische Straße

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I leave the lutheran bells ringing clear, behind, the sky a dull lead blanket, but soon I see the green shoots: Nature, the knowing lover, is holding them back, in this chilled Sunday morning, as if to moderate our impatience. She knows how to prolong the foreplay, make us wait, nurse our lust, dream of future ecstasies.

The park is silent, even the birds talk in polite, muted voices. A few runners, the dog walkers, I must be the only tramp. The lake lies still, its waters not yet enticing: the beach is deserted, but for a couple of philosophical ducks. An old crucifix stands, alone, reflecting on a better, perhaps even, glorious past. Yesterday’s winds have covered the ground with small, brittle branches, it may rain soon.

The cool bier goes down so well, a not-quite-Spring treat, solitary pleasure. Some youths walk past, so quiet, survivors of some late Saturday’s party. I take my bulk further north, to the limit of the park; on the other side of the motorway lies the airport. The grumble of sparse traffic can be heard, faintly. The sport grounds are busy, with the serious shouts of enthusiastic soccer players. More dogs are entertaining their mistresses, bored, probably wondering about the human mind . The rain has started its cool morning exercise.

There are two small ponds before the street: I am back in Africa now. I follow Afrikanische for a short while, turn left on Transvaal: where else could I walk in a few minutes across thousands of miles? When I cross over Togo, the pavement is shiny with rain. Soon I find Kameruner: I am home. Girls are walking back to their nests, carrying bread.

Back to my space, I carefully recycle the beer bottle. Bless this city, and its inhabitants.

Image: Samuel Araya, via aeszaaesza.tumblr.com

Lady of the Lake #Plötzensee

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It was an enchanted morning, sunshine and frost, near the lake. Saturdays are special, here in Wedding, calm, unrushed, often luminous. Between the trees, beyond the whitened path, I kept looking. What else is a photographer to do?

A few runners, well ensconced in woollen gear, gentle steps upon the hardened ground.

Then I saw you. You must have been observing me for a while. Suddenly the light changed, overcome by your radiance. You lifted your veil, I stood still, overcome by such beauty, such whiteness on your skin, such blackness in your hair…

Who knows why you chose to elect this sinner for such a gift?

As I got closer to the lake, I then noticed its surface was already frozen.

Inspired by a Saturday morning walk around the Plötzensee. Photography by me (one of the “Parks und Seen” series to be published on my photoblog).

In Praise of Older Streets #BerlinDiary September 11

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We love the cobbled streets, the antique gas lamps. The older city still resists the onslaught of developers and speculators, the “Gentrifizierung” brigade, and it has allies. Yesterday, cycling our way from the Alex to Kollwitzplatz, and the charms of Prenzlauer Berg, we admired the contrasts, the moving groups, the bon-chic-bon-genre façon Berlin. And we enjoyed the ice-cream…

Closer home, back in proletarian Wedding, the new city remains loyal to its history, its heroes, and through the rumble of traffic, its wonderful parks and small lanes, its lakes. This the rough and tumble life of a city that has now grown back to its population of 1944: yes, 1944.

So, we too, remember 2001 and the victims, on the day, and ever since, of the wars that followed. Bless the cities that are reborn from the ruins.

Photo: Petra Flemming, Porträt Käthe Kolwitz, 1985, Stadt Museum, Berlin (“Stadt der Frauen”)