Backside of Berlin

Socks. Ein Mord. Berlin real-estate.


My socks today are green. I was going to choose blue but instinct prevented me much like it will prevent me from using commas in this post. The German word for letter is die Brief which I like although der Kugelshreiber remains my favourite word. My spellcheck has identified Kugelshreiber as an anomaly although ‘die’ and ‘brief’ are untouched. It’s not that smart after all. An urban legend during the early noughties claimed that the nouns ‘Keating’ and ‘Howard’ brought up auto-suggestions of ‘cheating’ and ‘coward’ respectively. I never tried it.

A friend of mine is also taking an intensive German class at a different school. There are Russians and Italians and Spanish and Yemenis and other nationalities in the class. One Friday evening she saw four of the Russians talking about meeting up the next day. The group included a girl and a new man who had only joined the class a couple of weeks previously. On Monday the teacher arrived in tears. He told them that the girl was dead. She had been murdered by the newly-arrived Russian man. On Saturday he met her in a bar and later killed her and put the body in a car and drove to a park where he left it. He went to the police and told them what he had done. He said he couldn’t remember which park he left the car at. It took them three weeks to find her body.  Everybody was interviewed by the police and the remaining Russians left. A week later the class was merged with another class.

I met a real-estate agent last week. She was an Irish woman with blazing red hair and a smoker’s growl who has lived here since before the wall came down. We pored over old maps and traced the bizarre meanderings of the iron curtain. She told me how it was Irish investors who first discovered how cheap Berlin real estate was around the turn of the century.

She said it is very difficult to evict a tenant here. Even after they stop paying rent it’s hard to get them out of the property and can take a lot of time. When looking for a Berlin apartment I was told to find a place with some kind of outdoor space which faces west or south-west so that it gets the afternoon sun. Nothing higher than the third floor if the building has no lift.

Outside from the street screams drifted through the window. A boy had fallen on the steps of the U-Bahn and was having a seizure. He seemed to be mentally disabled. The screaming lasted twenty minutes and the real estate’s secretary ran out to offer some water and see if she could help. Later she told me that the boy was autistic and had been walking with a large group of similarly handicapped children. His carers told her that this was a calculated tactic to make them buy him more coke and chips. So it goes.