Frankly … Berlin
A farewell apocalypse
Berlin has already witnessed the end of the world many times. Today, Gerasimus tells us about how during the crisis he makes his way around the supermarket like Pacman and ends the day with a brief brush with the law while lying on a bag of shopping.
Is this the end? I’m wearing a mask I sewed myself and am using my elbows to propel my shopping trolley through the narrow aisles of the supermarket in search of durum wheat pasta and plain flour. A young man stacking shelves is singing “Corona, Corona” to the tune of Carlos Santana’s “Maria, Maria”. A women wearing red rubber gloves bumps into me and says “Sorry!” as if it were an insult. Everyone seems to be getting the apocalypse they deserve – or at least I am. I feel a bit like Pacman on the run as I make my way past the shelves. Drenched in sweat, I finally make it to the till and try to make out what the cashier is saying through the Perspex panel. “You have yourself a nice day, ok?”, he says. I’ll do my best.
I need a break. I’m coping well with the restrictive measures. Many of my friends live in other cities and countries, so even long before corona I relied on digital communication if I wanted to see them. I like being at home, so that’s no problem for me either – on the contrary. It’s only other people I have a problem with. The stockpilers, the balcony clappers and the wannabe sheriffs who finally have the right to call their fellow citizens to order. I don’t have much time for those on the other side of the fence, either: the conspiracy theorists and the anti-social risk-takers who neither follow the social distancing rules nor show basic decency in their behaviour towards others. I am tired.
There is still a bit of space free in the park. I lie down on my shopping bags. The police come by, see me and leave me in peace. I disinfect myself inside and out with schnapps and take a look back. What kind of strange year has this been so far?
We’ve had Greta and climate change, the rent cap in Berlin, a terrorist attack in Halle, shootings in Hanau, misery on Lesbos, the threat of fascism everywhere, and now we have corona everywhere. Most people have now given up trying to keep track of the latest figures on live tickers. The internet is full of headlines, conspiracy theories and shocking news.
Corona is a contrast agent. It shines through us like X-rays. It reveals where our society is unequal and unjust. Which lives are protected, and which are not. Who can afford to have corona? This question will continue to preoccupy us for some time yet. Until everyday normality returns, in whatever form it may then take.
Berlin has witnessed the end of the world many times, and has been the scene of some major disasters time and again. In the end, however, life always continued. And no matter what the future brings, Berlin will survive. With or without a new airport. With or without toilet paper. With or without us. Even this will pass. Stay healthy and be kind to one another. Auf Wiedersehen!
On an alternating basis each week, our “Frankly ...” column series is written by Gerasimos Bekas, Maximilian Buddenbohm, Qin Liwen and Dominic Otiang’a. In “Frankly ... Berlin”, Gerasimos Bekas throws himself into the hustle and bustle of the big city on our behalf, reports on life in Berlin and gathers together some everyday observations: on the underground, in the supermarket Frankly … Berlin, in a nightclub.