The Berlin Diaries – Three Weeks In

I Googled ‘The Berlin Diaires’ yesterday afternoon, trying to find my own blog, and it turns out The Berlin Diaries is also the name of a harrowing account of Second World War Germany, which makes my own Berlin Diaries seem rather unimportant and petty in comparison. So I’ve decided to cease writing it.

Nah just kidding let’s carry on talking about all the weird shit I’ve seen.

The whole day-by-day pattern isn’t quite working, seeing as I’ve written as far as the 16th and it is now the 25th. So, I’m going to get you up to speed in a literary blitzkrieg, like one of those annoying recaps they have at the start of TV shows after big events like Ross kissing Rachel again or Ash falling out with Pikachu over Misty, that redheaded temptress.

Aside: Okay I just Googled ‘Misty Pokemon’ to make sure I got that name right and I saw SO MUCH PORN. Jesus fuck people are weird. I need to stop Googling things.

Erm.

Onward!

After my first bat-shit hectic week at Comebackpackers, things chilled out a little bit, not least because I was on a cumulative seven day comedown-cum-hangover (That’s cum in the Latin sense, not in the ejaculative sense. I was not having semen withdrawal symptoms. Get your head out of the gutter).  Once again, after days spent growing my own little hostel gang, they all checked out, moved on, and got buses and planes to Prague or Amsterdam, Rotterdam or anywhere, Liverpool or Rome. Unlike in high school, where you do something funny or cool and it echoes forever around the corridors and classrooms, in a hostel, your status is reset every morning. You are a stranger in your own home. You can party, you can chill, you can be a hero, you can be a scumbag, and you’re anonymous again the next day.

This can be liberating, and it can be frustrating. I wake up every morning to Sonny and Cher on the radio. I do some writing, do some socialising, do some exploring, make friends, make bonds, make memories, make a twat of myself, and crash into my bunk. Then poof, Sonny and Cher on the radio, time to do it all again. I wake up, and where the previous night there lay 15 slumbering, snoring, farting friends, there are now empty beds, stripped and stacked with neatly folded duvets. I walk through the corridors past blank faces, into a kitchen full of people who have no idea who I am. Bill Murray, I feel you man. That Punxsutawney Phil can fuck off.

It’s getting to the point where I don’t really bother asking people’s names, because I know I will only be with them for a few hours. It’s very normal to find yourself sat in a bar at 4am waxing lyrical to some guy or girl from Melbourne whose name you never troubled to ask but who feels like an old friend. It’s a frantic, instant socialisation, because you both know you’ll be parting ways in a few hours. Conversation is deep, personal, and so much more interesting than the drone of office chatter. Put a timer on a relationship and watch it blossom.

I realise I’m completely off topic and this diary entry has listed absolutely nothing that I’ve done recently, but I’m enjoying delving into the strange art of hostel relationships, so let’s continue. I read a book a few months ago called Siddhartha, by Hermann Hesse. There’s a line in the book that kicked me in the teeth, and I love it. The main character ponders it while sharing one last evening with his lover. It’s this:

“I saw how closely related passion was to death”

The most fiery romances bloom in the shadow of an hourglass.  It’s no different in a hostel. Backpackers are promiscuous, sure, but it’s not general sluttiness – it’s the fact that you know you will never see that person again. They exist right then, and then only. If you don’t act now, you never will. There’s nothing to lose and everything to gain from throwing yourself at them. There’s a desperate romance to it all, one that wouldn’t be possible on a long term basis. The friendships I’ve made here couldn’t have unfolded in an office. I worked for ten months earlier this year in one, and I have made bonds here that are a hundred times deeper than with some of my old co-workers, despite spending thousands of hours in their company.

Back home, in normal life, people shy away from personal conversation. Religion, politics, sex – why are these things not discussed? We’re all so scared of being disliked and having to live with the consequences of spouting an unpopular opinion that we play it safe and stick to discussing things that no one can disagree with, like how Selasi on Bake Off is so fucking sexy (he really is). I remember once telling a daft story to a couple of twenty-something work colleagues, something about watching porn. The pair of them recoiled and gave each other comical ‘who is this guy?’ eyes. I don’t get it. Everyone watches porn. Everyone likes sex. If you mention it, though, you are eccentric. It’s infantile to be afraid of conversation topics. When your relationships only last a day, that fear dissolves. Be eccentric. Be a weirdo. Fuck it. We’re all weird behind closed doors. Open the doors. Let people in. Let’s be weird together.

So hostel life is full of fleeting, intense flavours. It’s a sushi conveyor belt, and I am a sumo stubbornly refusing to leave the restaurant, continually plucking new plastic coloured dishes and chowing down. And, like a hundred course sushi banquet, hostel life is at once exhilarating, nauseating, infuriating, and inebriating. I love it and loath it and every single person on the planet should experience it.

Apologies that this diary entry contained absolutely no details of any events and/or Berlin-based anecdotes. It seems I lied to you when I promised that literary blitzkrieg. Sorry. Hope you had a nice time reading it anyway. Now get out there and go talk to strangers about fellatio!

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