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May 23rd 2009
Published: May 23rd 2009
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We're on the platform, one of the many U Bahn platforms, undergrounds, of Berlin's nothing-but-awesome public transport web. We wait a few minutes for the U3 that will take us from Nollendorfplatz to the Potsdamerplatz, the first famous cultural stop on our inaugural day in this fascinating city.

Here it comes, clad in canary yellow and fire engine red; people begin to congregate towards the edge of the platform as the U Bahn slows, then comes to a halt. The doors open by the press of a little green button in the centre. In we go.

Its crammed, fairly full. We have obviously caught a busy line, as there's no seats. But we can all confortably stand by the door. Eva reads a little too loudly from the Berlin guide we bought a week ago at Aldi: Berlin has more women than men. The guy near us smirks, then mum tells him that its his good luck. Now he's smiling broadly, his white teeth highlighted by his dark, smooth skin.

Around us are people of all sorts. I feel for a second as though I'm on the set of 'Coming to America' where Eddy Murphy follows his flame around New York City; there's such a huge mix of individuals. There's a young couple eating fishburgers and loudly sipping coke from American-sized softdrink cups; an older Turkish man gazing out the window opposite where he sits; an overweight mother with her two chubby kids. All colours, cultures and ages are represented in our carriage.

Then it begins. My head turns instantly - what's he saying? There's another Turkish or Iranian man, I'm not sure where he's from, making an announcement at the other set of doors. I can only catch 'Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren', ladies and gentleman, the rest I cannot hear.

I turn back to my family and shrug my shoulders. Who knows. There's always something crazy happening on the Berlin trains. Probably some drunk. I wish I were closer however so I could catch the commotion; I'm an avid people watcher.

You won't believe what happens next; my ears fill with music, literally. The man must have announced that he will be playing some tunes with his fellow travellers. They have an accordian, a trumpet and another instrument I cannot see from my standpoint.

I have a big grin on my face. I close my eyes ever so briefly and the sweet music flows over me and through me as the train gently rocks along. This is Berlin. This happens only in Berlin, and it happens only to those who have their ears pricked for the next adventure. I'm literally overcome by this moment; its just magic. To think that not so long ago, this city was split in two, West and East, that people couldn't get from one side to the other, that there were murders and disappearences and soldiers and police. That this very U Bahn probably only went a little of the way it travels today because a solid war-built wall stood in its way.

And today, not that many years later, I can hold onto a rail in a carriage filled with people from east and west, from near and far, and a complete stranger can play music for my heart. I'm alive. In berlin.



29th May 2009

I love Berlin!! It's one city that truely has the most amazing energy and fascinating people.... great to read your blog, you just transported me right back there, thankyou Maria x

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