Berlin, the chic capital of Germany and vegan capital of Europe has something for all. With quaint cafes, independent designers and bookstores, and an underground music and art scene, Berlin could be a creative’s paradise. During my 3-month solo stay in Berlin, I stayed in four different neighbourhoods meeting different people each time, exploring subcultures that co-existed. Soon I knew that the main themes for my journey were going to be exploring the coffee cultures and a newly cultivated art scene in Berlin with the growing cross culture communities from Syria, Palestine and other eastern cultures. I knew I needed to really engage in the community to get a real taste of the city, hence I decided to work out of a conscious co-working space in Mitte ( centre of the city) and also worked for a Foundation that supported education in Morocco by selling artisanal products. During my stay, I attended the Berlin art week which is an art festival that takes place every September with many independent art galleries as well as some popular ones like Sammlung Boros and me collectors room.
In a week’s time, I had met a lot of creative seekers, all engaged in the community in alternate ways. During these working days, I had a chance to meet artists who were part of a collective called ‘A Journey of belonging’ an open studio initiative at Bikini Berlin. Their work spoke of the experience of war and crisis they had experienced in their native homes and it influenced my experience too as an artist to express all that noise inside with such grace. Jeanno and Ahmed particularly made an impact on me. Jeanno used textiles as a material memory to speak of her times in Afghanistan. She explored the ritual of hair braiding in Afghanistan and that special intimate moment's young girls share with their mothers. Ahmed used broken glass with hints of charcoal and blues to express his experience during the Syrian war. I guess all pain does lead to creativity, some thoughts I had on the way back on U-Bahn. With art on the underground, spending more than an hour every day on the Ubahn kept me inspired. U Bahn had some conic tiled stations, I noticed. I read somewhere, ‘What canals are to Amsterdam, street art is to Berlin’. One can see that Berlin’s political history and the suffering has definitely led to a lot of creativity.
I started living in Berlin in the first week of September, and in a month winter had hit and fallen leaves that made the city gold and mustard now had turned grey. I was going to be in Germany during Christmas and I was already planning a getaway. Berlin which is well connected with most cities in Germany was only 2 hours train ride to Hamburg. I had made a list of must do in the city covering Kunsthalle Hamburg, Speicherstadt and Harbour cube, Trostbrücke, Beatles Platz and Town Hall, St Pauli Elbtunnel, St. Michael’s church, Elbe Philharmonic Hall and Alsterarkaden, but most time was gone at the Christmas markets eating sausages and mulled wine! Well, no place can be completely experienced without its food and Berlin has a lot to offer and could I call Berlin the cafe capital of Europe? Almost! The German capital is a lot more than Pretzels and currywurst, a stereotype about Germany ( Although I absolutely love them) From its famous brunches and vegan options to commonly found Vietnamese. Also, Did you know Doner kebab was founded in Berlin?! Berlin also has some great street markets that one could explore for food or vintage finds on both weekdays and weekends. The one on Hackescher market on Saturdays had my favourite avocado hummus! Markthalle Neun is where I would go for local produce and Flohmarkt mauerpark had its last few weeks left before it would close for winters.