Thursday, September 23, 2010

Leaving Berlin...

August 30: Last Day in Berlin

Woke up and started packing.

The whole day went fast and it fluctuated between efficiently packing at times, and stalling at other times because we were sad about leaving.

We kept on packing until slowly the areas were getting empty, the closets, the drawers, the room, the kitchen, the bathroom... Everything was packed in the bags and ready to leave, except for us.

At night, we had a little gathering in a German restaurant (we had to leave the right way, and end it with a real German meal). Sven, Andi, Tino, David, Bram, Claudia, and Felix, all joined us to say goodbye. But no, it was not a "goodbye", we couldnt just call it that, it was a "hopefully see you real soon" dinner.

Beer Tower. 3 m long. Chugs! And yet another 3 m. More Chugs! A 1 meter right after. More, and More Chugs! Good Food. Beautiful people. A Speech for our incredible blond girl (Dania..just in case!). Hugs, endless hugs, and then we left. We got on the train, the last train we took all four of us together back to our little apartment, our little white apartment, back to our home.
Tears. Hugs. Ice cream. Coffee. Choco Croissant. Burger? Fries?

Went back home, continued packing. A couple of hours later, the taxi came to take us away.

Everything in the house was back in place as we started to leave, one after the other until it was empty again. Empty and ready to house new people. New people who will have their own memories in that place that has become our home. Empty like the day we first entered with every excitment in the world ready to take on our 2 months. (well not quite the same as the first day we got there, we maybe broke a couple of things like the shower, a lamp which broke itself on me but still, a chair which still looks like it holds but doesnt really, salt shaker...and maybe a couple of more that i might have willingly forgotten about!)

Our home was now ready to be someone else's home. We left, took a last look back at our door, our building, our street, got everything in the taxi and drove away.

We arrived to the airport, and Claudia met us there for a last goodbye.

We got on the plane. And there it was.

1 summer.
1 aparmtent.
2 months.
4 girls.
1 family.
1 city.

We left. We left our city, but we wont be gone for long. We will be back. We will be back together again, one day.

Dania: To Berlin, to every person, every dog, every park, every building, every station, every Ubahn, every street performer, every punk, every S-bahn, every beach chair, every graffiti, every disco ball, every afterhours, every bike, every event, every Turk, every German...I believed in you, I worked hard for you, and you, you were there for me, you surpassed my every expectation, and you became my wonderland. To you Berlin, I miss you.

Rawane: To Berlin, the city that showed me what it felt like to be in love..

Tala: To Berlin, you gave us the freedom we were all looking for.

Zeina: To Berlin, thank you for giving me the meaning of freedom, love, and change in the absolute…

We left you Berlin, but we will never forget you or what you gave us.
This is our goodbye, until we meet again.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

To a new city: Barcelona

To Dania and Tala:

Our two months in Berlin:
We got to know our Berlin.
We created our own space in the city we have grown to love.
The city we have grown to love together.
It introduced us to each other.
It gave us a family in each other.
This was THE summer.
The summer of our lives.
We made of every second an unbelievable moment
We made of everyday a journey to remember
This whole summer was unforgettable.
It exceeded all our expectations
It changed us in so many ways
It changed us in every possible way
It has come to define who we are, what we are, how we are, and what we are to be…
It was comfortable… together
It was beautiful… together
It was magical… together
It was crazy… together
It felt like home… You felt like home
It was home.

You still have one more month.
One more month of experiences, a month of adventures, a month of memories, a month of a life together, a month of the life we have grown to love, a month of the family we have perfected together…

Use it. Enjoy it. Love it. Live it. Embrace it. Discover more of it. Give it and take from it.

Live it the only way you know how to…
We know you will… Make the city yours.

Thank you for everything.
Thank you for how you are, and how we have grown together.

We left, took a part of you with us, and left pieces of hearts with you.
The memory of you, the memory of what we have will always be engraved in us.

We miss you.
We wish you a great time for the rest of your stay.

We love you.
With all that we are.

Ro. Zee.

Three points

Friday, September 3, 2010

Thank you.

On August 25th, I got up to go to work as usual. It was my last week at Viral Lab, our last week in Berlin and we were in “take advantage of every second” mode. That morning, we all wake up, Zeina, Rawane, Tala and I and for the first time, decided to take our time, be late to work and have a nice breakfast together.

It was a very pleasant breakfast where we laughed so much. It was one of those days that just started so great, they couldn't possibly get any better.

Late to work, but still taking my time, I walked my regular route to the U-bahn station, the route that I have memorized and learned to walk blindly, the route that I learned to love with beautiful music blasting in my headphones. I looked like a true Berliner. Anyone could ask me for directions and I would answer him saying the names of the streets with the perfect German accent. I got out on a station, changed lines, and kept going, enjoying people watching because people in Berlin are just so goddamn interesting with the music in my ears playing the soundtrack of that morning. I got out on my station and walked, or practically even skipped to the office. I reached, got up the familiar stairs, and walked in as I removed my headphones and snapping back to the much quieter reality (Berlin is, weirdly enough, an extremely quiet city during the day). I said hi to Sven and Andi, my two bosses, and sat on my regular chair.

Sven and Andi looked a bit weird... I thought it was maybe because I was late, although they're usually pretty cool about this kind of stuff. Sven looked at me and said:

“I have bad news. Sarah died last night”

I couldn't believe it. I kept replaying the sentence in my head a million times. It could not be possible. All I was thinking was that it could not be. Sarah! I had just spent the entire previous day with her at the office. We were the only two at the office, we ordered sushi, we talked, she got the call that she got the apartment she's been waiting for, she was starting university in a month, she told me about her plans, I told her about mine. At the end of the day I said: “Bis Morgen!” (See you tomorrow), and she answered “Bis Morgen!”. She's just 25 years old. She was the nicest person. She always translated everything when everyone at the office started talking German, even if it meant a 20 minute explanation of why a joke is funny. She came with me to the station to talk to the people about the fine I got. She lent me her bicycle and found me the closest burger king because I was sick of eating Turkish and Italian food. She found us a way out of Amsterdam after I sent her a message at midnight. She gave me the beautiful music from her laptop, and had promised to give me more soon. She was sending me a “German song of the day”. She was just, a couple of days earlier, planning a goodbye dinner for me, and searching for a chicken restaurant because she knew I don't eat pork … She was one of the people I met in Berlin... She was my friend.

I couldn't believe it.

I stayed quiet for the longest time, thinking of all of these things in my head and just not believing it. How can something like this happen?

“She has a lung embolism” said Andi.

I remembered that the previous day she complained a couple of times that she was tired, but so did I... It was just a regular day where we were both saying we're tired and wanting to go home...

She slept. She didn't wake up. All her plans, her new apartment, her Master's program, her dreams, just evaporated.

I asked to go home, called the girls and we all met back at home where we lied in bed and they held me. They all knew Sarah without ever knowing her. I talked about her a lot. They felt appreciation for her after she saved us so efficiently and perfectly after we missed the Amsterdam bus.

It hasn't been easy dealing with this. Just when were were so sad to leave Berlin, just when we were saying our goodbyes, to our friends...

I personally feel like it's been a weight on my shoulders. I am now in Barcelona in our new office, listening to Sarah's beautiful music and something doesn't feel right. I felt the need to write something for Sarah.

Thank you Sarah. Thank you for being the nicest person. Thank you for always translating everything when everyone at the office talked in German, even if it meant a 20 minute explanation of why a joke is funny. Thank you for coming with me to the station to talk to the people about the fine I got. Thank you for lending me your bicycle and finding me the closest burger king when I was sick of eating Turkish and Italian food. Thank you for finding us a way out of Amsterdam after I sent you a message at midnight. Thank you for the beautiful music. Thank you for promising to give me more soon. Thank you for the “German song of the day”. Thank you for planning on throwing me a goodbye dinner, and searching for a chicken restaurant because you knew I don't eat pork … Thank you for being one of the people I met in Berlin... Thank you for being my friend.

In memory of Sarah Raith (1986-2010)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rawane's 21st: Words fall short ... from the sky.

August 15, 2010:

We woke up at 7 am with all the excitement in the world ready for our day. We had to be in Gransee, which is 30 mins outside Berlin, at 9 .
We get there on time all hyped up and energized. The lady at the counter was very sweet and very friendly. We then found ourselves a nice sofa on the porch of the cafeteria and had a small breakfast. The weather was getting bad. Clouds were all over, wind got stronger, and it was about to rain. We decided to wait for a couple of hours to see if it will change, even if slightly. And so we waited. One of us fell asleep on the couch, another one made friends with the people around, and the third one was fighting with 2 dogs over a volley ball.
So yea, the wait was pleasant for most.

It was getting too late, and we wanted to go back to have lunch with Tala and so right when we were almost going to leave, the weather starts to clear up. And the beautiful blue sky at us. The sun shines again. And they tell us that we are next to fly!


Endless happy dances, and screams, and "yea!(s)", and "a woo hoo(s)".. so you can imagine how that went. We got in our suits with a dance move with our every gesture, and we met our extremely cool and friendly tandem jumpers.

We were so happy at the thought of what we were about to do. It didn't seem very real while were on the verge of getting on the plane. We got in and there was that feeling inside of us that hadn't touched us yet, it hadn't moved us yet, or played with our guts yet. It was still sitting comfortably, still resting, until the plane started to take of. And slowly our hearts started to beat faster than normal but not too fast for us to follow. And our minds started to wander around looking at the reality we were in but unable to fully comprehend the situation. It was too surreal. We sat there, eyes wide open, like new born babies looking at the world for the first time. We sat there amazed at every cloud we went into, every meter we went higher up, every look on each others faces, and every breath we were taking. As we went higher, our hearts started beating faster, our minds were losing track of the real, and that feeling wasnt too comfortable anymore.

We went up and up and altough we were just sitting in the plane, nothing isnide of us was anywhere close to sitting still. On the inside it was a whole different story: a kids playground, where everyone is screaming and running from place to place, bumping into things and each other, laughing, screaming, cheering... Everything on our inside was playing, as we sat still the whole 4000 m.

And then, and now follow me on this one because it happens faster than it being read, or written, or talked about. It happens too fast that even after, as you sit back and try to recollect it in your memory you can't directly remember it all because of how much happens in very little time.

4000 m high. The plane still in motion, opens its door too quickly and the first group just jumps.
They just jump. We are on a plane, in the sky, and they just jump. They jump into what felt like nothingness. Then the other group went. And then one after the other, they kept going and going and then Rawane, then Dania, then Me.

And we were falling between the clouds and they touched everything in us as we fell from one to the other; then we were turning, like the wind, with the wind, as the wind... this second we were falling from the sky. And no, it is not a combination of beautiful words to express an intense feeling, this time, it was real. Just as real as walking on grass, and swimming in the sea, and looking up to the sky. In this moment, our reality was us falling from the sky.

We were falling from an endless sky, and that in itself renewed us in so many ways.

And then we were in position, hands open wide, legs opend wide, hearts still missing, but open so wide ... and everything around us, and in us is telling us we are flying. But how can we just take that as a fact of our present? How can we just fully understand it when flying is a dream. People use it in songs, and in poetry to describe the undescribable. They use it when the are no other word to explain how strongly they feel, or how passionate they are about something. But to actually be living this dream, living the undescribable, living all this intensity, wasn't something we could understand.

Our hearts still no where to be found. We screamed, well Rawane was too scared to, but it felt like we were all screaming. Screaming because of the rush it gives, screaming for the world to hear that we are flying, screaming to release it all. That feeling that was comfortably sitting while we were on the plane, is now a fireworks of excitment and it can't sit still.

Still unable to believe where we are, still too surreal. We look around and there we are with the clouds. We look below and the earth is but a map, that looks flat from up above, from the sky, from where we are.

We were flying.

And then suddenly, they opened the parachute, and we glide. We are floating, over the earth, from the sky down, enjoying every second our heart pumps, every second we come closer to the ground, every second we realized that for us to come closer means we were once up high.

We are floating.

It was beautiful. Looking at the world from up there. Floating in air, just hanging around up in the sky. That which we think feels like flying is nothing to be compared to what it really feels to be flying.

Then we hit the ground, and we completely released ourselves. After challenging gravity, we gave ourselves to it when we landed. We released our bodies to the ground, to the grass, and just lay there. Our minds were still racing, our hearts all pumped out, our eyes in awe, our spirit still high up, and our bodies were just shaking.

We lay on the grass, looked up, remembered where we were, captured that scene, closed our eyes, and tried to recollect every second of it to keep it with us, to carry it with us, to be able to always remember it.

We try to save this moment in our hearts, in our minds, and in our bodies. That moment that marked us. That moment that gave us absolute freedom. That moment that brought us to the sky and released us from it. That moment that will forever be changing us.

We always want to remember that we were once flying high up in the sky.

To Rawane. On your birthday.
Wish you are always given moments like these.
We will always remember this.
We will always remember us.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Next stop is Amsterdam.

Friday August 6 2010:

We all got home from work earlier than usual, packed our bags, had a big and good healthy burger king meal, and head to the bus. We found the bus very easily and we were right on time to get relatively good seats next to each other.

10 hours later.

We got to AMSTERDAM!!! ... A WOO HOO!
Got to the station.

Got to their house. Put our things there.
And then it all began. It was like an on-going roller coaster of laughter, laughter, laughter and beautiful things.

Dance Valley: Wonderland

5 girls. Skipping around. Skipping the people to get to the door, a la Libanaise.
And there it was.
The big dance event. A huge and beautiful dance event. Big park. Big park filled with different tents and stages. Every tent to a Dj, while the next one followed. Other tents: dress up tents, happy tents, a ferris wheel. Beautiful tents. Beautifully spread out. One big main stage. Colorful. Magical. Like it was coming out of a movie. Fantastistical. Music. It was all in the music, the lights, and of course, the rain! It rained non-stop. Music and Rain. And more music. Inspiring. Releasing. Freeing. From tent to tent. From one beat to the other. Moving with every drop of rain. It was like "a big playground for grown-ups". And then, with the nightfall, the lights were ready for their show. It was beautiful. We danced. Eyes closed. To the music. With the rain. Jumped and Jumped. Held hands. And danced evermore.

After Dance Valley we head back Home.
6 girls. 2 room.
3 girls. One bed. One pillow. One fake pillow. One cover.
2 girls. One bed. And the third one on the floor.

Day 2:

Woke up. Got to Amsterdam. Got ourselves bikes and started touring the city.
Going around the canal, over the bridges, through the streets, between the buildings, it gave us a different view of the city. We got to Vondelpark. Fountain. Water. Duck. 5 girls. Laughing and laughing. And kept on laughing. All the afternoon. We sat in the park, by the water and just exchanged "thoughts" and laughed. We even had the sun set on our noses.
We then had a long, long, dinner where food just kept coming to our table and we kept on it. It was great. After that we biked to Red Light District. Women. On the window. Red lights. Selling themselves to everyone passing by. It was sad. but that doesnt mean we stopped laughing at any point.
Then Exit. Gay bar. 6 girls. Fun music. Dancing the night away. "Voulez-vous couchez avec moi ce soir" and there it was. Battle between gay guys and 6 girls. Hot battle. Fun battle. That just ended with more laughter.

Slept by the canal as the light was coming up and while we waited for the station to open. Went back home at around 6:30.
5 girls. One room. One mattress. 3 girls. One cover. One pillow. One metal bed. 2 girls. One cover. One pillow. It couldnt get any better than that.

Day 3:

Woke up and head to Amsterdam. Canal tour. Very educational Canal tour. Then one long, long, long, loongg lunch/dinner ending with the sweetest vanilla ice cream in the cutest cups.

Head back home to pack and get to the bus. Then one thing lead to the other and we missed our bus. Missing our bus was like a slap in the face. By that time everything was on the verge of closing. Went to the main station and tried to look into every possibility that could take us back to Berlin the soonest. Every one of us tried to contact our friends in Berlin asking them to look up possibilities for us. And then randomly, Dania's friend from work, Sarah found a woman who was driving from Amsterdam to Berlin the next day and had 4 places in her car. So we took her number and sent her a message that night. Hoping and waiting for her answer. We then decided to sleep in the station because we're cool like that. But then, they kicked us and the hobos.

We then decided to sleep on the deck by the canal and took out practically all our clothes to keep warm, but that was an ultimate fail. We practically froze and really couldnt fall asleep for a second. Well Rawane found it easy to sleep, as she had basically slept throughout most of the night (even when we realized we missed our bus).

Dania then found a cheap hotel room nearby. One bed. Four girls. Tiny room. No bathroom. Smelled like weed. Looked like crap. Well, it couldnt get any better than that.

We directly fell asleep because we were dead tired and so tomorrow can come faster.

Day 4?

The next morning Edith, the car-pooling woman, sends us a message that we can go with her.

We got a very fast breakfast. Then hurried to meet up with the big red volvo at 12:30. The ride was smooth and comfortable. Edith was sweet and friendly. She had great music.

6:30 hours later we were in Berlin. It felt good to be back home.

Amsterdam. Beautiful city of laughter.
It was one good trip.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Wednesday night:

It all started with a station, a power station, an old one.. that has remained untouched. 

We got in, very easily.

The lights were there again, flashing.. Red.. Blue.. in an intensity your eyes could only  try to imagine.

The disco ball was there too, how could it not be.. we were still in Berlin after all..  We got into the tunnel.. a tunnel that seemed so deep, so dark, with an exception of the sudden flashes of light.. One of the trippiest entrances ever, we walked, we floated, we got there.

We got there only to be greeted by a balloon stuffed braw on a drag queen Dj and a man next to him with a lollipop stand.

Moving on to a sandy beach like outside area.. the usual.

Then we go in.


The music started to sink in.

It was insane. The music was insane.. And so were the people.

It was getting louder, louder, louder, until it couldn't get any louder. Our hearts throbbed to the music as every part of our body attempted to follow it, moving in ways, so spontaneous, so real. We were in the music and the music was in us, building up, moving through us, from our feet, to our heads, going into our minds breaking through the ceiling and up into the sky.

Then came the smoke.. the blinding magical smoke.

It was insane.

It was a magical spot where time and place merged into one.

It was a magical other dimension, where time and place seized to exist.

Out of the blue, jumps Spiderman, on the bar.. Dancing his brains out.. following the music blindly, moving hiss ass of , to the point of almost seizing.

It was insane. The music was insane.

Getting lost on the way out.

Finding a magical ball of Energy.

The trippiest of all that is trippy.

A transparent globe , withholding  energy, emitting it. Electricity at your fingertips, following every little gesture of your hand. A chain of actions and reactions, a magical chain, creating its own world, creating its own globe of hypnotizing light.

That night we danced the night away. We danced like there was no tomorrow, no future. We danced like there was no past, We danced like there was no present.

It was insane. The music was insane.

"There are no words."

Monday, August 2, 2010

The "Let's try new things" weekend!

So it was decided that this weekend wasn't going to be like the others! No Paradise (Bar 25), and no MauerPark!

It's officially been a month that we've been here and we have already shocked most Germans with how many things we've done and places we've seen. However, there are some very basic things that we haven't done, and there are others that we've gotten too comfortable with.

Friday Night: Disco Bowling!

David had the great idea of taking us to Disco Bowling on Friday night and so, for one weekend, we weren't going to go to an underground electronic/house club and dance till 6 am, but try something new!

Disco bowling was hilarious! At first we arrived and it was the most ordinary bowling alley. Just about 15 lanes, and people were, well.. bowling! It was fun for us cz we haven't bowled in about a million years, and we got to meet David's very nice friends: Max, Jim and Bram!

Suddenly, Tout a coup, at about 11 pm, the lights were dimmed down, balls started emerging and dropping slowly from the ceiling... the sides of the bowling lanes were lighting up like an airplane's landing strip calling it to its destination... and the music was turned up full blast. It was on! Disco bowling baby! Loud cheesy pop and disco with the most retarded lyrics was blasting through the speakers as we ran and threw our balls to the rhythm concentrating more on being synchronized than on actually hitting the pins. There the sport of bowl cheerleading emerged as no player could possibly have his turn and go towards the lane without being accompanied by at least 2 dancers cheering him/her on and dancing to the beats to wish him/her good luck.

It was a fun couple of hours before they had to close and literally beg us to leave.

I won by the way.

After that, by someone's special request (Zeina, and.. well, David!), we went to a hip hop place which was a fail because they played Reggae, then finally a great place called Suicide Circus, in which we sat for hours outside listening to beautiful house music.


Let's try something new and sightsee! By sightseeing we don't mean Lebanese sightseeing which basically means partying in ALL the clubs and/or bars of a city (Which we have very successfully done), but actually, see.. the.. well, the city!

As odd as it is, after a full month in a city, after learning the entire transport system by heart, after having the map in our mind's eyes, after picking up some German words and learning to understand some, after being at that stage where we look at tourists with disgust and say: "this place is fucking filled with tourists! Where are the Berliners!" and meaning it, and truly believing ourselves to be part of the Berliners ... Here we were suddenly walking around with a group, our cameras handy, some of us with notebooks (Zeina) and following a tour guide eagerly as she takes us down roads and places where we already have memories, but while explaining the history behind them!

It was a very nice tour. The guide was extremely funny and charismatic. It was like watching a stand up comedy. Who says Germans have no humor! Anyway, the important thing is we decided to let her join Dania and the girls and had we not lost her and the whole tour group a couple of hours later because SOMEONE (me) wanted to go to Mcdonald's and get a Sunday, she would definitely be like our new best friend by now!

Anyway, good day. We realized how Germans carry around an extreme guilt over what happened with Hitler and the Holocaust. There isn't much left of Nazi Germany, but the stories are still here and they are engraved in the hearts of practically every German, who tells them with a shamed guilty face.

Moving on! That night we were supposed to go to a Party called Half Baked. It was a giant fail. It resembled the parties we used to have when we were 13. it was a big empty room, with music and hardly a few people who were practically separated: boys on the right, girls on the left and no one on the dance floor!

So since it's "let's try new things" weekend, we decided to play it a la Berliners, got some vodka and beers from the gaz station nearby and had an entire party on the stairs , out on the streets, in front of the party.

Never have I ever yet everyone has and a couple of bottles later and it was one of those nights that was going to go down in the books.

It is impossible to have an uninteresting night in this city.