You can mind your business all you want in this town, but trust me, someone else will be minding it too.
Berlin’s a talker’s paradise. There are so many ears just lazing around waiting for you to unload. If you ever feel lonely here all you got to do is stop dead in your tracks and wait for a conversation to sneak up and bite.
I guess it’s got a lot to with what’s at stake. You see Berlin’s an experiment first and a city second. You take a giant handful of lefty radicals and mix in a healthy dose of college educated fortunates and their freshly-ground politics. Then you move them into the same streets as old communists and new immigrants and set to cook for twenty years. And what you pull out of the oven looks a little like Berlin today. It’s a sweet batch but it’s crunchy. Not everyone loves their neighbour but they will do everything in their power to not end up hating them. And this is why they talk so much in this town. And if you don’t mind putting in the time, eventually they’ll listen as well.
Berlin is a hotbed of characters and personalities but there just aren’t enough stages in this town to accommodate them all comfortably. So they take their shows onto the street and that means you’re participating. It might just be a bark from a drunk, or a shriek from some corner shop diva, but it all derives from that same citywide drama that’s just waiting for you to step front and centre and deliver your lines.
Take this picture for an example. This is a friend of mine called Bill. Bill is not from Berlin but he’s a typical Berliner. He takes things slow. He has a sweet tooth and he loves to chit-chat the day away. He’s interesting, witty, jovial and most importantly Bill has got time for you. You can find him in the parks or maybe along by the canal. He’ll listen to your life story and in exchange will tell you his. It’s interesting and kinda magical. If you’re lucky he might have some biscuits on him. He’ll share but don’t be too greedy.
Bill sits amongst a gigantic cast of small talk champions who live in this city. Wisdom dispensers, available at all times of the day and night.
And that’s why you should always pack a box of biscuits when you’re on the roll. Carry them in your pocket or somewhere they won’t melt or crumble. And the next time you meet a Bill or a Benni or even a Steffi and a conversation develops that might take in lifetimes, dreams or just passing comments on the crippled pigeons, you’ll be prepared.