Tag Archives: Love

Berlin love: bite-sized edition

25 bits & pieces I love about Berlin, in no particular order:

1. The prevalence of mineral water. Bubbly trumps still H₂0, every time!

2. Transportation is always on time. Planning is possible!

A bus stop in Lichtenberg, Berlin.

Accurate to the minute! A shock coming from Thailand where the answer to “what time is it?” is usually “mango sticky rice.”

3. … And astoundingly cohesive! The underground, trams, and buses all work together to get you basically anywhere.

People walk along Berlin's busy streets.

Places to go, people to see. You know the deal.

4. Kino culture. The cinemas are unique, historical, and oh-so-cool. Come warm weather, open-air cinemas spring up, screening classics like To Catch a Thief and Bonnie and Clyde.

5. Green spaces everywhere. Parks, rivers, places to jog, or chill with the family — natural spots scattered throughout the city dedicated to hanging out, drinking beer, and barbequing with friends.

The river by Maybachufer, Neukölln, Berlin

Sitting by the river drinking a beer or mineral water = lazy summer days in Neukölln.

6. The city is extremely bike-able (from spring to fall, at least). Cruising along bike paths from one end to other is delicious.

A woman in red bikes in Berlin.

Two wheels are better than none.

7. Drink to relax, not to get drunk. Having a few beers throughout the day is totally kosher. For the most part, people handle their alcohol maturely while out and about.

8. Konzerts. You wanna see [name your favorite band] play? Chances are they’ll be coming through at some point.

A band plays in the courtyard of an exhibition opening.

Some awesome British band rocking the gallery.

9. Startups. Have a business idea? Try it out here. Still cheaper than NYC, Silicon Valley, or Singapore, Berlin’s attracted a slew of successful startups in recent years (SoundCloud, etc.) with its try-anything-once vibe and creative energy.

10. Infamous clubs. For unparalleled atmosphere, nightclubs like Berghain reek of decades of debauchery.

A disco ball is lit from aside.

Dance, dance, dance to the radio…

11. Art galleries. Duh!  The old and new national galleries; museums ranging from cult to classic; clean, contemporary art spaces; avant-garde hole-in-the-walls; collectives and co-ops; and on and on. Take your pick; pick your take.

Two people look at art at an exhibition opening in Berlin.

“Is that art?” “I have no idea.”

12. Feeling kinky? Up for some sexual exploration? There’s probably a workshop, club, or meet-up for it, with a supportive, open-minded community waiting to welcome you.

13. Understated day-to-day life. Aside from a few obvious social scenes, people generally keep to themselves — they don’t scream and shout about what they’re doing. Life happens; let’s move on.

A street-side scene, downtown Berlin.

Keep moving; nothing to see here.

14. Accepting. No one’s going to give you shit for being yourself.

15. Summer snow! Seriously: pure magic.

A dusty dandelion in grass.

Soft dandelion dust ends up drifting everywhere in the air.

16. High quality food. Bread, cheese, meats, produce, etc., have to meet high standards to be sold. The difference is taste-able.

17. Endless days. Starting near end of May, the sun stays up forever. I’m writing this at 9:45 pm — and it’s still light out. (June 08)

Sunset and highrise, Berlin.

Sun-setting sky at almost 10pm, Mitte, May.

16. Female tech scene. With Berlin Geekettes headquartered, there’s an uber supportive environment for women wanting to delve deeper into coding and the like.

18. Culture. In addition to Berlin’s rich history, the distinctly international mish-mash of artists makes for a limitless global fusion of creative expression.

A butoh dancer performs.

An impromptu butoh performance with live DJ.

19. It’s okay to walk around with earbuds in. While this feels socially impolite in Asia (my personal feeling), everyone has their music on here.

20. Despite its size (over 3.5 million people), it’s a quiet city. Possible to hear yourself think on streets and even buses.

A woman goes down the U-bahn stairs in Berlin.

Wandering the city is peaceful, even when the mind is combating clutter.

21. German is a sexy language. Yum. Fantastisch.

22. Fashion inspiration. There’s a crazy high percentage of stylish people, often incredibly beautiful to boot! Soak it up.

Some fashionable folks at the K-W Berlin Biennale opening.

Pulling off a leopard-print hat is not the easiest thing to do. Berliners can.

23. “I’m sorry” is virtually non-existant in casual conversation. Being a Canadian woman, I’ve a habit of saying those two words approx. 100 times/day. So, sigh of relief: no saving face, no placating, no people-pleasing. One of the reasons shit gets done so efficiently here.

24. Environmentally friendly. Different bins for paper, plastic, organic, and other — recycling in Germany is not for the faint of heart, and a win for mother earth.

Sun shines in Berlin.

Clean city streets, waste bins on every corner, organized recycling… all that’s missing is a system for shoveling snow from walkways in winter.

25. The air is fresh. So fly high…

A projected image of a woman swinging with shadow overtop.

Swing ’til you fly off. Berlin will catch you.

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Voici mon secret

“Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu'avec le cœur. L'essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince

“Voici mon secret. Il est très simple: on ne voit bien qu’avec le cœur. L’essentiel est invisible pour les yeux.” 

Here is my secret. It is very simple. It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; What is essential is invisible to the eye.

– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le Petit Prince [The Little Prince]

Hold on

Hold on

Hold on… to yourself, love, hopes, dreams, compassion, empathy, boundaries, truth, your heart

Let go… of fears, attachment, stories, negativity, unnecessary dust bunnies that linger in the mind

Relish… clouds floating by, with their perfect ephemeral state, perpetual change, and light beauty

Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world straight in the eye. – Helen Keller

Introverts

Dahab

A few days ago, I read this lovely article on introverts and their ‘woes’. Needless to say, I related to it: Introverts Explained: Why we love you but need to get away from you.

The author writes:

Introverts are not all recluses hanging out in dusty homes with cats and classic books (not that there’s anything wrong with cats and classic books;). We get out and rock it, but then we need to withdraw from that buzz because if we don’t we will feel like an overdone steak, no life, no juice.”

Yes! I am not a recluse (though sometimes I think I could be quite happy living as one); I just need to be by myself sometimes. Or, often. Totally alone, no one else in the vicinity. Even sitting in the same room as another person quietly can be much too energy-draining.

“The other day I heard a fun-loving morning show radio host say she needs to be in the house alone often in order to be civil.  Having someone in another room of the same house isn’t good enough.  She can feel them there.”

I have a beautiful friend who is very sensitive like me. She makes sure to nurture and care for her introversion with love and kindness rather than force herself into situations in which she feels uncomfortable. She inspires me to make ‘the world work for me’, rather ‘me work for the world’. Sensitive people need to create our own safe space away from the world in order to flourish when we enter back into it.

“It’s especially difficult for children.  I’ve seen my daughter’s friends question her relentlessly when she says she is going to play with her dolls after school instead of playing at the friend’s house. You mean you’d rather play alone than play with me?” 

Yes! As a kid, I remember frequently feeling guilty and abnormal for not wanting to be social more often. Instead, I preferred to read by myself, draw, or sit quietly. I even thought that there was something wrong with this. (Not so, dear friend!)

Our brains process everything so deeply it’s tiring. We need time to live in our inner world. We need to recoup bubbly energy by visiting our thoughts, creativity and feelings. We need to go internal in order to express ourselves generously externally.  Solitude expands us (and everyone really). It makes space within us so that we can take in more from the outside.

If you happen to first meet me on a random night out when I’m in social butterfly mode, you might quickly conclude that I’m an extrovert with energy for days. Au contraire: after a bubbly night out, recuperation time begins. Lots of time alone, to be. Peace.

I highly recommend reading the article – linked above – in its entirety if you or someone you know has introvert qualities. We are all special, in our own ways. 🙂

Self-portrait, Dahab

Self-portrait, Dahab

Jogging the globe

Jogging is a go-to escape for me whenever I feel down or stressed. Feeling the power of my body, the forward momentum, the fresh – or polluted – outside air… it all adds up to an increase in perspective and personal power.

I almost always make a point to bring my sneakers with me (Asics loyalty forever!) wherever I am. If I feel anxious or out of place, a good jog around my new temporary home immediately gives me a greater sense of connection with my surroundings. These are some of the special places where I’ve pounded the pavement, dirt, cobblestone, and grass over the past year. Smiles n’s sweat…

This is not Huay Tung Tao but another beautiful area outside Chiang Mai. There are really so many lovely spots here...

This is not Huay Tung Tao but another beautiful area outside Chiang Mai. There are really so many lovely spots here…

Chiang Mai. The route around the moat is straightforward enough (hello, I am a square) that it is literally impossible to lose your way. Quite opposite to the twisty sois that lie inside the old city. The city is polluted, hot, sticky. I drive out to Huay Tung Tao lake for car-less, noise-less jogging. Fresh air fills my lungs, natural beauty all around the long ring. Paradise.

Surreal scenery + sunshine = happy times

Surreal scenery + sunshine = happy times

Hampi, southern India. Surreal scenery with giant boulders and expansive fluorescent-green rice paddies surrounding from all angles. Quadrophenia soundtrack in headphones, high heeled sneakers not so much. I’m One, love reign o’er me… Fantastical, yes please. Where am I?

Along the Arabian Sea side

Along the Arabian Sea side, Dahab

I run along the edge of the Arabian Sea in Dahab, Egypt – one of the ways I gain space from the shopkeepers constantly hounding me to buy things, and the general sexual harassment. Turning left out of my guesthouse, the hard paved strip, lined with restaurants, hurts my knees. Finally hit the beach with soft sand beneath my soles. I frequently forget to leave before 5pm at high tide. Dash through the water, soak my socks and shoes, grinning with glee. A quick glance out across the water shows small, precise patches of bright turquoise green standing out among the navy liquid canvas. Further on, the orange desert cliffs become the backdrop, as the odd camel or two trudges along with dog and herder in tow.

Don't run on the cobblestone!

Don’t run on the cobblestone!

Prague is a city I cannot live in long-term for several reasons. A simple one is because it’s sidewalks are covered in cobble-stone. A runner’s nightmare, if they have bad joints and bones. I manage a few spurts along the riverside, entirely idyllic what with the swans floating by, sun setting against the old bridges, lovers strolling along holding hands. Europe, you are too much! A week of this and my knees are shot to the point where I physically can’t walk for a day. My shoes are also gobbled by the cobble.

In Kampala, they say if you drive straight, you're drunk (because there are so many potholes scattered along the roads)...

In Kampala, they say if you drive straight, you’re drunk (because there are so many potholes scattered along the roads)…

Crazy Kampala, Uganda. Cars here, motorcycles there, goats to this side and that, men shouting “muzungu! how are you!”, dogs lying, furniture selling, bananas on heads, lorries whizzing, bicycles rolling, food carts cooking. I wonder if I am the only silly white person to run along these city streets in the heat, in the pollution, the yells, the traffic dodging. Seeing another muzungu jogging by – much faster than I – proves that at least I am not alone. I love the feeling, sun on skin, pounding pavement, headphones in ears. Fuck yes.  Sweat drips, lungs constrict, nostrils flare at the gasoline exhaled by the always passing boda bodas.

And I think… I love to run.