• Vol. 09
  • Chapter 07
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Berlin Express

I have visited Berlin three times, each completely different from the one before. The first time, Berlin greeted me with a warm youthful smile full of eagerness to hear the music I brought to town. Our acquaintance was part of a youth music festival. I was the youth, she was the festival. We played at Berlin Konzerthaus, which apparently means a lot to Berliners. Grandiose, yet sassy. I enjoyed every note of our conversation. I was happy to get to know Berlin.

The second time was a weekend runaway with my sister. Basic student travel. Cheap shared hostel room with eight beds near Alexanderplatz. For the first time living in Germany, I had to eat vegan. Vegan? As in vegetables? Oh no my friend, that is much deeper than that. Berlin showed me her hippy side. Jars of aubergine paste, chewy vegan bread that fills you after a couple of bites, and of course non-dairy milk. If it is non-dairy, why do you still call it milk? My second visit to Berlin was a new experience by all means. I felt misplaced yet welcomed.

The third time I visited was with my mum. I was thrilled to go back. I planned the perfect trip to show my mother this beautiful new friend of mine. By then, I was finally employed and living in a city nearby. My first job put a good amount in my bank account every month. The thrill of checking your balance after getting the first salary. Still traveling on a budget, but booking a private room this time! Check-in was not possible. I forgot my passport.

But how about my mother?
We're sorry we cannot give you the room you booked two weeks ago. You booked with your passport.


Berlin Express

I have my German ID card – my permit card, and it has the passport number printed on it. You can check it!
Nope, that's not an ID for foreigners. We need your passport.
It's not the first time I travel within the country and this works everywhere else.
Not in Berlin, it is the law.
Show me that law … and I need to speak to the manager.
Check it online, and I am the manager.

I pulled the rest of my dignity close to me, picked up my mum from the waiting area, and booked the available two beds in an eight-bed-and-shared-bathroom room in the adjacent hostel. I did not need my foreign passport.