Thursday, January 10, 2013

Losing the Way

In Berlin I lose my way every day. When I told that to my teacher today, she corrected me by saying, ,,In Berlin habe ich jeden Tag verlaufen'' instead of 'verloren' which means ''to lose''. When a language has a different word which simply connotes losing one's way, then getting lost must be rather commonplace and accepted here. Nevertheless I still feel scared when I walk down an adjoining street at Charlottenburg, unable to find Sybelstraße in the dark, and passing through buildings which look benign in the day, but assume character after sunset. An old drunk, who's picking up empty liquour bottles from the pavement makes me clutch my heavy grocery bags even tighter and totter in the rain. Bakery stores are always the best indentifiers for me. Hence the bakery where Rita bought me my first chocolate croissant on my first afternoon in the city reminds me every morning that the institute is just a corner away. I could indulge in a croissant just to pay homage to that guided afternoon and to easy road directions. I am wary of U-Bahns and S-Bahns and Straßenbahns, for the complex circuitous routes they take. I have learnt my route by heart -- the ,,gleis 5-6'' platform from which my train leaves, and to reach it one has to pass the Vietnamese couple's flowershop, the instant photobooth, and then take the stairs to the left. The first evening when I was making the return journey alone, I got out of the wrong gate into a different street, and hurried back in the cold back to the platform, and to the stairs at the other end. When I spotted the flowershop, I wanted to give the couple a hug for being my identifiers. Twice every day, as I pass the shop, my heart sends a hearty wave to them.

As we were sitting beneath the train tunnel at Hackeshermarkt yesterday, drinking coffee and not thinking about the rain, Rita told me, ''There's nothing to worry. Nothing can possibly go wrong.'' So what if I take a wrong turn, or get into a wrong train, or walk an extra mile in the cold? I'll always come home in the end. I hope.

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