I woke up late and sat in the hostel on my laptop after grabbing my usual 90 cent breakfast. I spent a couple of hours applying for flatshares, but dear god, it’s dull, and there’s so much fun to be had. I overheard two guy talking about some light show that had taken place nearby, and I got talking to them. One of the guys was called Dave. Dave was English, and perpetually stoned on brown hash that he smoked all day on the hostel balcony. He looked like a replacement keyboardist for Blossoms, all oversized corduroy jackets and luxurious flowing hair. He was studying to be a mathematician, working with ‘big data’ to create software (I didn’t understand, either). Dave was in the same boat as me – he was trying to make a life in Berlin. When I asked him why he wanted to move here, his answer was “because the UK is shit, fuck Brexit”. I feel you, man.
Here’s the thing about Brexit: my savings are in pounds. Can’t transfer them to a German bank account because I can’t get one without a registered address. Therefore, as Theresa fucking May spouts baseless nonsense about how Brexit means Brexit means hard Brexit, the pound is crashing and taking my hard earned savings with it. Day to day I’m sitting watching my savings decrease in value. It’s pretty much a pound to a euro over here, now, once you take into account transaction fees etc. It’s interesting to speak to people from other countries about the referendum. Everyone I’ve met has been just as shocked as I am.
Dave invited me to come with him to meet a mate of his. I shrugged and followed, and we got the U Bahn to way out in the city. We met Dave’s friend as we got off the train; a German called Dennis, who dressed head to toe in black and spoke softly. It turned out that Dave had been put in contact with Dennis by someone he met at the hostel, and Dennis was doing him an enormous favour by registering him at his flat. This doesn’t mean Dave was moving in, it just means that as far as official records go, Dave is no longer homeless in Berlin, and can therefore open a bank account and rent a flat. It’s a nice little trick of getting around the absolute red tape piss take of getting registered here. I need to find myself a similar charitable Berliner to register me.
The guys walked to a park. I assumed we were heading to Dennis’s place to chill and sort paperwork, but it seems they had other ideas. In the middle of the park, Dennis turned to Dave and mumbled “Here?”
Here what? What are we doing here? Why is no one telling me what’s going on? I asked and received a murmured response that I couldn’t make out, and I felt too awkward to ask again. So I just followed quietly and for the ten thousandth time in my life, quietly resigned myself to the fact that I was going to get mugged and/or bummed.
Dave agreed that this was a good spot, and they sat on a boulder beneath a tree. Around the edge of the park, there were various circling men, idling in dark corners. They are drug dealers, and you’ll find them in every park in Berlin. They look intimidating, however they seem fairly docile. They simply chirp ‘hashish?’ at you as you pass, and a simple ‘nein’ is enough to deter them.
As we sat on the boulder, Dave pulled out his little tin box and started rolling a joint. Oh thank Christ! They’re just doing drugs. I relaxed and leaned against a tree, my hair getting dripped on as I was the only one not wearing a cap. Dave handed me the joint, but I hadn’t seen what he’d put in it. I didn’t want to look like a 1950’s milk bottle glasses schoolyard dork in front of my cool new friends, so rather than do the sensible thing and ask what it was, I calmly took it and had a drag, hoping to fuck that it wasn’t something nefarious.
Please don’t be crack
Please don’t be crack
Please don’t be crack
It was weed. Okay. I had a couple of mouse’s drags because weed messes my head up, and left the rest to the guys. Dave and Dennis talked about everything from drum n bass to Plato, and I struggled to keep up, being less stoned and less cool. At one point they asked me what my favourite kind of music was, and I gave the aggressively boring answer, “oh, you know, I like a bit of everything to be honest.”
I’ve never seen two more blank stares.
We went to a café after, talked half an hour longer, then headed back. Have you ever tried to talk to a stoned person while you are not? Speaking to someone who’s so laid back they’re planking makes you feel like the most irritating, jumpy dick head in the world. On the U Bahn back to the hostel, every question I asked Dave was met with a one word answer or half laugh, after a 15 second delay while my words registered. I wanted to talk business, and figure out how to get my own address documents. He wanted to look at interesting patterns on his phone and talk about how amazing computers are.
I whiled away the rest of the day applying for flatshares. Evening came and the hostel filled up with people returning from their days exploring. The Austin girls headed out to a bar, and Tom and Bob stayed with me, chatting over beers. I am drinking too much in this hostel. There’s nothing else to do but drink and socialise!
Okay, an aside: I realise that last sentence is literally describing the best situation in the world. The only downside is that my money is ticking away. Which means my time here is ticking away. They say time is money. Right now, money means time.
Tom, Bob and I headed out to meet the girls at the bar. We found them in a snug little place near Schlesisches Tor, sipping cocktails out of pint glasses. We joined and spent the evening swapping horrendous stories and smoking inside. We realised that each of us has a shit tattoo somewhere, and rolled around laughing while comparing them.
We walked back via McDonalds, chilled in the hostel for a bit, and hit the hay. Every single day something happens. I love waking up each morning wondering where I will be that evening. Whenever things get tough, I always repeat the following mantra in my head: a lot can change in a day. In Berlin, a lot can change in a minute. I love it.