Image: Pixabay free images, 2020 pedestrians in a shopping Zone
Image: Pixabay free images, 2020 pedestrians in a shopping Zone
Pedestrians in a Shopping Zone

Moving Safely through Your Favourite Streets

Berlin 2020, Spring is here and the days are getting longer. unfortunately, Berliners are a bit dubious about how to enjoy the improving weather and the, in recent days, ever more crowded streets of their local neighbourhood.

Leaving Home on a Sunny Day

It’s warming up and people want to get out of their homes. Nothing wrong with that, it’s a healthy thing to do, which is exactly what we are all hoping for — improved health conditions all round.

graphite sketch, by Sean P. Durham. Image copyright, Sean P. Durham, Madrid 2011
graphite sketch, by Sean P. Durham. Image copyright, Sean P. Durham, Madrid 2011
Sketch copyright : Sean P. Durham, Madrid, 2011

Enjoying a jaunt in the local park, Berlin has many of them, or a simply stroll through the back streets of Berlin is always an enjoyable experience for the open minded Berliner.

Changed Point of View

The Coronavirus has changed our outlook. We have begun to look at things with different eyes.

This can cause stress when we are uninformed about how dangerous the Coronavirus is, that unseen enemy that has already claimed too many lives.

Rushed Lives and no Time for Looking at Things

When we consider that most of the time we are in a rush and quite happy to avoid stopping and looking at the fascination of Berlin’s streets, then we could see that now is an opportunity to make something of a the urban emptiness that is on offer.

Coronavirus safety measures, Idiots, and Politics

The present political agendas that are becoming unbalanced in judgement. At first we saw how politicians seemed to express safety measures in terms of what’s beneficial to the average citizen’s health and safety. Then slowly but surely, the economy, with all its evil failings, had to be taken seriously again — as if it must take precedence above human safety.

At least in Germany the pressure to get-back-to-work, isn’t felt so urgently from above as it is in other countries.

The Uk and the USA, two countries that have used “spin” to praise the NHS in England, but still not offering to bolster financial aid to hospitals in dire need of fresh staff and equipment. And the USA, being led to its demise by a blustering kid in a suit, telling its work forces that going back to work will beat the monster of sickness and poverty.

You Lucky, Lucky, Berliner

We are a lucky bunch of dwellers to live in Berlin. The parks, the streets — choose an old and interesting one to walk along and discover something new that you’ve never noticed before. Or, go back down to the big boulevard of the Kurfürstendamm that still offers a broad walk-way, and the ease of strolling, without rubbing shoulders with a stranger. The sun is shining and the days are warming up.

Berlin kiez-life, cooped up in an apartment all day with Netflix isn’t a recipe for health.

Walking in Potsdam, Berlin. Copyright, Sean P. Durham, Berlin 2020
Walking in Potsdam, Berlin. Copyright, Sean P. Durham, Berlin 2020
Photo Credit: Sean P. Durham, Berlin 2019

Boxed Flowers and Bier

I’ve been along Hagelberger Strasse and discovered the locals have been tending to a little colour. Boxed flowers on the roadside.

My observations are that we have a mixture of sensible people, and a few of the usual crowd who like to complicate things with their own ideas about what should be controlled and what not — normally whatever suits them.

The local government have been busy ripping up the road. I’m not sure what the plan is, but we can see this type of work all over Berlin right now, repairs and redesigns, new cycle paths laid along pathways, not that many cyclists will use them, they prefer the challenge of a good slalom of people along a busy shopping street.

At the corner of Hagelberger Strasse and Großbeerenstraße, I came across a street party — well, a gathering of neighbours having a drink, listening to music and enjoying themselves. Nobody showed any sign of worry about social distancing. It’s as if social distancing is important when it’s among strangers, and not so much when among people who appear to be trustworthy members of the local tribe.

But to notice things is a daily enjoyment.

Consider how our minds our geared towards habits, daily routines and paths of neurological safety that allow us to run on automatic, just enough consciousness to get a job done and feed ourselves at the end of each day.

When, suddenly, we are challenged with a new version of what we thought was a well trodden map, we are forced to reconsider how changeable our city can be.

U Bahn Lovers by Sean P. Durham, Berlin 2002. Oil on canvas.
U Bahn Lovers by Sean P. Durham, Berlin 2002. Oil on canvas.
“U Bahn Lovers”, Oil Painting by Sean P. Durham, from private Collection

Spring Time in Wilmersdorfer Strasse

I took a walk around Wilmersdorfer Strasse a few days ago. It was crowded. Queues outside the popular shops where you buy cheap goods, the cafes had opened up, you could sit inside or at a table on the terrace if you wanted — so lots of people wanted.

Wilmersdorfer Straße is a busy place, every shopping day, but right now, who wants a feeling of the marketplace, the smell of sausages and chips, coffee swilling couples standing in the street close to a cafe, bakery goods being munched at out of a paper bag? The smell, the noise, and the general cheapo feeling of that particular area of Berlin is a mess. But we do go there, sometimes.

Dodging and Ducking in the Pestalozzi

I lasted ten minutes as I walked, dodged, and stood back from the threat of being bumped into by mobile phone people, eyes on the floor, mumbling into a mouthpiece. Not a care in the world.

I noticed how the person in front of me was using a mobile phone to talk, or look into. They faltered in their step, wavered occasionally and caused general blockages along the street with their personal conversations on the phone. Why were they even there?

I took a right into Pestalozzistrasse. The market was just starting to clear up and put away it’s wares, its tables were stacked. Business was done for the day.

It was much more enjoyable and pleasant to keep walking away from Wilmersdorfer Strasse, and observe the buildings, the structures and the odd construction site along there, than to have to navigate through eager shoppers trying to buy clothes for the first time in weeks.

Crowds of People are Not fun

Crowds are fun if its a party, that’s always a choice one makes, but to be overwhelmed by bargain hunters who feel that their only purpose in life is to buy stuff, is madness.

As I slowly walked along Pestalozzistrasse, I noticed how people’s attitudes, their body language and stance had immediately changed. In normal times we don’t take friendly to people staring at us, but right now when a person takes a glance at me, a little longer than normal, I understand it as a sign of taking care about who’s on the street, who is walking close, and are they going to keep their distance? If strangers are careful, it makes it easier for other strangers, like myself, to take care and create harmony in a public space.

Potsdsmer Platz, Cyclist. Copyright , Sean P. Durham, Berlin 2020
Potsdsmer Platz, Cyclist. Copyright , Sean P. Durham, Berlin 2020
Photo Credit: Sean P. Durham, Berlin, 2020 Potsdamer Platz Cyclist

Getting out of a stuffy apartment is important. Spring sunshine beckons us to the streets, to the gardens and parks of Berlin, if only to enjoy the flowers and green grass.

Colours are always a feast for the eyes, but colour is also needed in order to keep your eyes in shape. An apartment is full of shadows, we often design our furniture and colours in dampened key tones.

Imagine trying to live in a room that sparked yellow, red, and green flashing colours. Your eyes would become overworked and there would be no escape from the hard work the would be put through. But to visit the park, or walk along a colourful street and see colours, is a healthy thing for your mind.

Written by

Berlin Notes — Writing about the Creative Art of Living http://seandurham.eu

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