Letters from Germany

The city that breathes warmth

Sajjad Sharif  - Foto: Goethe-Institut
Photo: © gezett.de - www.gezett.de poesiefestival Berlin

The internet cheated me. Before I came to Berlin, my search informed me that the average temperature here is around 23 degree Celsius. In the evening, leaving me unprepared, it went down to 10 chilly degrees. The tone for unexpected experiences was set.

I descended in Berlin on the eve of Hendrik Jackson's birthday. He was the poet I encountered in Dhaka during a workshop for the Poets Translating Poets project. We became friends and are now, on this chilly evening, in his city about to celebrate his birthday together. The party awaited him, but he was waiting for me at the hotel lobby, excited and jubilant as always. One hug and I forgot the fatigue of an eighteen hour long journey.

The party started at midnight in the middle of a park. The wind blew in from the open sky through the leaves of clustered trees that surrounded us. Then the friends started coming - Albanian, Belarusian, Kazakh, German (and now a Bangladeshi) - with wine, snacks and a basket full of love. There were poets, a gallery owner, a film-maker, and a theatre activist. To me, it was a celebration of the human spectrum... the spirit of poetry...

The warmth soon enveloped my cold and fatigue. Berlin breathed warmth. Berlin, the city that celebrates dissent, otherness and human possibilities. After two days, the talk that we - Kannada poet Mamta Sagar, Nepali poet Rajendra Bhandari and I, participated in what became an expression of the city itself. Diverse opinions expressed from the unique platform of poetry.

Sajjad Sharif
Berlin, 12 June 2016