F11AEAD3-3BE3-4EC0-A828-A21C13D0036F.jpegA Berlin ‘memorial’ to the years post-reunification when squatters and creative free spirits poured into ‘old’ East Berlin’. There’s a Banksy on the wall. We couldn’t get any closer than this and I needed my son to take the photo as I wasn’t tall enough to see over the wall. Not THE wall; just a normal wall.

947D1665-C5F2-4A54-9A79-EFE25D398CBD.jpegThis is how most of the apartments look now. Very smart. However, the grungy Berlin still laps at the edges of the elegant.

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Graffiti abounds. Disenfranchised people can be seen asleep or slouched on park benches next to young mums out with their kids. Men with opened beer bottles in hand wander the U-Bahn platforms. A lone guitarist sitting all alone in the afternoon strums his guitar in a small park. (As my daughter in law remarked – Why not?) Flash, expensive, shiny cars parked perfectly outside the Gethsemane church; a church where protests that eventually brought down the Wall began.

All this and so very much more. It’s all Berlin.

Even though this is my third visit to this city of contrasts, once again it’s going to take me some time to assimilate what layers, what truths, what history and what subsequent healing or continuing damage there is to be seen here.

In Berlin anything goes – which is arguably something that could also be said about any large city – New York or Bangkok, for example.

But Berlin, I believe, has a different take again on this usual big-city smorgasbord.

I hope that I can in a small way (given the limited time I have here) once more try to understand what it is I am observing; from the point of view of a visitor and also as a mother and grandmother, experiencing how a normal life runs in this city of Berlin.

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