Closing doors

After walking through the solemn memorial at Bernauer Strasse, we decided to walk in Mauerpark. It is an interesting place. Before the division of Berlin, it was a railway yard. It was broken up into the Soviet and French sectors after the war. Later East Germany built the wall along here, and most of the park became part of the death strip. Now it is an unorganized and badly maintained park. When we arrived on a Sunday after a storm, it was crowded.

Closed gates at the stadium behind Mauerpark

We had an evening with friends planned ahead of us, and realized we didn’t have the time to browse through the Sunday flea market, or spend time at the informal bars and cafes around it. So we climbed the slope up to the sports complex we could see. The doors were shut. We decided to walk around the wall admiring the artwork and the artists at work.

There is an amazing energy here. Over large parts of Germany you see people working hard, making a good middle class life. Here at the Wall Park you see the other side of Germany. The fashionable people from Prenzlauerberg mixing with people who are the grit in the wheels of progress. Something new is being created here and it can be either good or bad.

Sunset at Mauerpark

We admired the golden sunset from the top of the hill for a while. We were a little behind time for our evening. There was no time to rock the karaoke which we could hear. People were still streaming into the park, but we had to leave.

Street artists in Berlin

There is a Paris that I never saw, but one which is celebrated in books and paintings, movies and memories. This is the Paris where artists from around the world gathered and talked to each other, while creating new works. There were hundreds of artists, of whom we now remember few.

Berlin today seems to be a vital place like that. The fall of the wall has given a space, probably temporary, for artists to flourish. We walked through a crowded galleries full of fashion photography cheek by jowl with exciting experiments. Artists from all across the world seem to gather in Berlin today. We came across bookstores which carry eclectic collections of books on art: from slim self-published volumes to glossy magazines.

And every now and then, outside these art-spaces, we would come across people painting on door and walls. There was graffiti in German, English, Turkish and Arabic. We found young (and not-so-young) artists painting large and ephemeral works on walls, others doing signboards and doors. The atmosphere reminded me of artists’ collectives in Shanghai a few years ago.

Berlin is edgy and exciting today. A great place to retire to.