Berlin: The Adlershof Look

I’m on my way to present yet another H.P. Lovecraft paper, this time at a conference in Thessaloniki, Greece. Planning this trip, however, presented a bit of a problem. The only flight from Berlin was too early (7am) to reach from Leipzig without sleeping at the airport. I’m getting too old for that, so I am doing the next best thing, i.e. sleeping near the airport in world-famous Berlin-Adlershof (in Treptow-Köpenick, literally “eagle’s court”). I’m guessing the name has to do with its proximity to the airport, using the eagle as synonym for a plane; at least that’s my entirely unfounded theory. Of course, both the intercity coach as well as the (world-infamous) S-Bahn (double frowning face) were bigly delayed. Still, I had some time to kill before my airbnb host got home from work later tonight.

Arriving in Adlershof, the ice-cold capital air began to trash me and my luggage around, appearing to be coming from all directions at the same time. It was some sort of three-dimensional hurricane that was hissing in the gloomy abysses of the alway-hungry (but sexy!) city. Ok, that’s a lie, I’m pretty sure that’s meteorologically impossible. Let’s just say I didn’t care much for the weather. I believe Eagle’s Court is what one might call a pretty ‘authentic’ neighborhood of Berlin, filled to the brim with all kinds of eccentric characters and borderline gonzo figures. At almost every corner, in half-lit hallways, in front of cheap Chinese trinket stores and kebab shops, at bus stops and tagged underpasses shone fickle eyes, floating indistinctly in furrowed, bloated faces. I cannot quite put my finger on it, but there is something strange about the look of people here. Something that makes them strangers yet strangely familiar. Like how we see the people of our dreams in the first few seconds after waking up, drifting in and out of shape and conscience. I call it the Adlershof Look.

Hungry and freezing (should’ve packed my gloves and long johns), I entered a kebab shop that seemed to have some chairs in the back. The entryway was blocked by two older, sinewy fellas who almost burned me with their cigarettes as I scrambled for the door. I ordered something and found a table right between a sleeping bum and some locals who were working a blinking row of digital slot machines. My food was brought when a clearly intoxicated gentleman entered the establishment together with a female companion. Again, their faces were swollen. They greeted each patron with heavy tongues, including myself, but in a friendly manner, knocking on each table and grinning. They had just sat down when the man suddenly and surprisingly produced from his scuffed bag what seemed to be the laser-printed, smiling visage of President Donald J. Trump. Overjoyed, he held the sheet of paper in front of him, showing it to each person individually, proclaiming: “das ist mein Freund!” (“this is my friend”). Some guests seemed irritated by this extravagance, including the shop owner who entered a tirade which I had a hard time following; I think it had to do with Erdogan. I finished my food quickly and left.

Further down the street and following my fancy, I entered a small pub named Pferdestall (“horse stable”). I must explain that I have a strange thing for these old, divy taverns that are almost exclusively frequented by local denizens. Berlin still has quite a lot of them, so sometimes I just go in for a beer, ‘enjoying’ this weird moment when all conversations suddenly stop and everybody is looking at me as if to say “who t. f. is that guy?” I swear, the only way to overcome this initial awkwardness is to greet everybody (but not too friendly) and knock on the tables. This was a good one, too, filled with Union Berlin paraphernalia and black-red-golden flags and pennants. Immediately I could see that almost everyone was already quite hammered (on an early Wednesday night), indulging tap beer and some local speciality schnaps called “currywurst.” I took a seat at the bar next to a pretty sober looking man. He told me he had lived in a trailer all across the country for thirty years, waiting at fares and fests in the summer to save up for winter before finally settling down in Berlin. It was a good conversation, but sadly I forgot to ask his name. One last “currywurst” and off to bed I go, it’s gonna be an early morning tomorrow.

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