Kaleidoscope. 2.

We’re at City Lights bookstore.

The school is having some sort of an event.

It’s like poetry and stuff.

We’re upstairs – up the wooden staircase paved with historical pictures framed on the wall.

Collette is reading a poem she wrote.

Something about kissing boys in Chinatown.

In my head I’m just thinking:

Wait, people have started kissing already? I thought we all just got here? I thought we were all still trying to make sense of this new environment? Trying to find our bearings in this San Francisco place?

Kissing? In Chinatown?? What??

I’m lying on the floor. It’s a wooden floor. The entire room is made of wood I think. Brown shiny lush-looking wood. It feels so nice to lie on.

I’m the only one lying on the floor. Everyone else is sitting on something. I’m not really bothered. It feels nice. Plus I don’t think anyone finds it weird.

I’m talking with one of the asian classmates. She’s Chinese. 

Her name starts with an X. A number of female Chinese classmates have names starting with “X”s. In fact one has like three “X”s in her name.

I don’t get it. It’s strange. They have names like “XinXueXie”. Like what?

Another thing that’s strange is that people find my own name weird. Especially the full name.

There’s this Isreali-American guy that jokingly pronounces my full name as “Obolowolomolo…”.

Haha. Hahaha.

I’m talking with the female Chinese classmate whose name starts with an X. We talk about literature for a bit. She says Jack Kerouac is her favourite writer right now.

I say mm interesting. I don’t know too much about Jack Kerouac. I read about him briefly on Wikipedia sometime ago, but that was it.

The room is aglow with warm yellow electric lights. There’s some poetry in the air. Poetry with the mischievous sexual charge of adventurous teenage girls.

This is very exciting.


I am in an ice cream shop along Adalbertstrasse.

There is a lot of pink in the shop.

There is a giant ice-cream cone on one side of the room.

I think there is also a giant ice-cream man somewhere.

I am across a small table from Ivan.

We’re having ice cream.

Ivan is saying something.

All I can think in my head right now is how weird his face looks.

His face doesn’t look weird because it’s weird. Ivan’s face isn’t weird.

His face looks weird to me because I haven’t looked at anyone’s face this closely in a long time.

I am just realising that.

His face looks weird to me because he is not my girlfriend. Apparently I haven’t looked at anyone else’s face up close in a while.

And so this feels surreal. It’s almost like my brain is expecting to see something different, and so it’s disorienting and trippy looking at these unfamiliar lips moving in an unfamiliar manner on this unfamiliar face.

I feel like I am in a dream.


I am at the Burgermeister at Kottbusser Tor. I am getting a burger.

There’s this guy on the queue. I think he looks interesting.

I tap him on the shoulder or something. Something to get his attention.

He turns around.

I mention that I think he looks like Idris Elba.

He laughs and blushes.

I ask if that’s something people generally tell him. He says not really.

We talk for a bit. I get my burger.

I ask if he wants to go sit somewhere and have a chat.

He says he’d love to, but his girlfriend is waiting outside.

Of course. There has to be a girlfriend somewhere that’ll ruin everything.

I say okay.

He turns towards the door.

Seemed like a cool guy.


I am on the U-Bahn.

I am headed to Krumme Lanke.

I’m not sure what exactly I was searching for online, but I learnt about this cool lake and I felt it would be great to go for a swim.

It’s late autumn and the water is going to be pretty cold, but I’m not thinking about all that now. I just need to land there.

There’s a couple sitting opposite me in the train. They look like they’re in their late forties or something.

They have smiles on their faces.

They look very happy.

I ask if I can take a picture.

They say sure.

They seem like such nice people.


There was this day.

I had just left an event I attended with my girlfriend. I think it was the Maker Faire.

We were on this bridge not far from Station Berlin – the location of the event. This bridge that arched over a river or something.

Arguing.

I’m not sure what we were arguing about.

I don’t think there was any actual thing to argue about – it felt like she just invented a reason to pick a fight. Concocted an argument out of thin air and began saying things I had to get annoyed at.

So there we were. Arguing on this bridge over a river.

And there was this couple walking by. This old German couple.

In that moment I was wondering what was going through their minds as they passed by us arguing.

I was wondering if there was possibly some profound relationship wisdom I could extract from their brains as they walked by.

Hm.


I visited City Lights bookstore this evening.

It was really nice. Warm glowing ambience. And lovely woodwork. Very lovely woodwork.

I walked through the different shelves and categories of books.

I think I read an entire book on Banksy while I was there.

I bought a book.

I have some money now.

Well not that much money, but I’ve been working more hours and earning more internship money during the summer holiday so I have more spare funds.

I bought a book written by China Achebe. “Girls at War”.

It’s not a very large book. It’s pretty light.

I’ll take the time to go through it later.

I also bought some stuff at Chinatown.

I bought some pillows.

And I bought this strange wooden thing with rolling spikey stuff that tickle the underneath of your feet as you roll them over the spikes.

It feels really nice.


I am on the U-Bahn.

I am headed somewhere.

Autograf’s Future Soup is playing through my headphones.

I recently put a picture up on my Instagram. A picture of the sign that had the name of a station – an U-Bahn station.

The caption was something – some allusion to Schrodinger’s cat.

These days I’m not even comfortable making Physics puns on social media.

I’m worried one of my classmates’ll see my posts and be like:

“Why is this guy pretending to know Physics on Instagram? He’s failing in class!! He’s failing woefully!!”

I don’t understand anything anymore.

Nothing makes any sense.

Nothing makes any sense at all.

There’s this book we’re reading in Physics class. Something about this guy on some adventure in some quantum world. There’s something about a leopard that’s unusually long due to some strange quantum phenomenon. Something like that. Something about wavelengths and wavefunctions or something.

I’ve been thinking about that and how one could possibly draw an analogue to the shutter speed of a camera. Taking a picture of a moving leopard with a low shutter speed could give an effect similar to the strange quantum phenomenon that lengthens the fictional leopard.

I wonder what parallels exist between the mathematical underpinnings of both scenarios.

I wonder.

I don’t know what to do with the idea.

I don’t know where to put it.

These days there are a lot of things I don’t know where to put.

I can’t put it in a Physics assignment, that’s for sure. The last time I tried something like that, the Physics professor said it was “outside the scope of the class”.

These days practically everything I’m interested in is “outside the scope of class”.

Nothing makes any sense.

Nothing makes any sense at all.


I’m somewhere in Berlin.

I’ve been skateboarding around, practicing ollieing up curbs.

I think Aesop Rock is playing in my headphones. Or Chiddybang.

There’s a playground close by.

I head towards it.

There’s sand, there are things to climb on, and there are swings.

I sit on one of the swings, contemplating life and rocking a little from front to back.

A woman just arrived at the playground.

I think she came to pick up one of the kids or something.

She looks sternly at me and says I shouldn’t be on the swing. That the swings are for kids.

Says I should not be using kid’s swings.

She’s talking to me so sternly.

I don’t understand why she’s being so stern.

I back away from the swing.

I’m thinking about the implications of her words.

Am I an adult? Is that what this means? Am I a grown up? Is that the meaning of all of this?

Have I now gotten to the point in life where I look completely out-of-place in a playground?

What does all of this mean?

As I head away from the playground, skateboard in hand-  I think to myself, No. No I am not an adult. I am not an adult please, I’m a baby. I’m a freaking baby, I’m a kid. I’m a kid please.

I am not at all ready to begin to think about the heavy connotation of responsibility and pivotal life decisions that comes with “adulthood”.

I am not ready for any of that at all.


Image: Upstairs at City Lights bookstore in San Francisco.


This post is one in a series. The other pieces in the Series can be accessed here.

December Nights in Berlin.

I am in the passenger’s seat of the cab.

It is dark. We’re driving along a bridge of sorts. We are headed to the Berlin Tegel Airport.

Oh my God, this is such a fucked up situation. This is so motherfucking fucked up.

I cannot believe I just completely forgot, Jesus. Jesus Christ.

Jesus!

How long till we get to the airport?

I look at the driver.

He’s like Turkish I think. Looks like late twenties.

Not too long, we’ll be there soon.

I’m berating myself in my seat.

Jesus Mayowa, Jesus. How could you fuck up like this- How? Howwww???



I’m just getting back to the dorms at Adalbertstrasse. I think I went out for a skate.

A couple of classmates are on the sidewalk.

I see Jakob.

Fiona is heading inside the building.

Colette is talking to Jakob.

“I think you just need to take time to figure your shit out. You shouldn’t bring her into your confusion…”

I’m somewhat disturbed. I wonder why she’d be saying that to him.

I think it’s very unfair. She’s speaking so harshly to him, and protecting Fiona- her friend- his girlfriend.

I think that’s very prejudiced. Very very. Fiona herself is a problematic person who very well does her part in making his life miserable. But he’s the one getting the scalding words.

I feel bad for him.

When he’s done talking with Colette, I walk up to him and ask if he’d like us to walk back together to Sonnenallee where his apartment is.

He says not tonight, that he’ll prefer to walk back on his own.

I say okay.

A couple weekends ago he messaged me, inviting me to come join him and some buddies at Skatehalle.

Skatehalle is a skatepark.

I think there’s a sizeable halfpipe there. I think that was where they were. At the halfpipe.

I’ve got no experience with halfpipes. I’m comfortable skateboarding on roads, some hills, but skateparks- not really. Every now and then I spend some time at the mini-skatepark at Warschauer Strasse.

Usually I’m supposed to be in class. But no, I’m at Warschauer Strasse. Skateboarding and thinking about my life and racking up academic penalties, while I wonder how exactly you’re supposed to skate on the smooth concrete lump in the middle of skatepark.

I was also somewhat occupied that day. So I couldn’t go hang out at Skatehalle.


I am strolling along the sidewalk with Sadie.

Sadie is the Resident Assistant for my room and a couple others.

We’re talking.

She’s asking me how the semester has been.

I say it’s been problematic.

She asks how so.

I say it’s not clear. That I’m completely immersed in the problems so I don’t have the perspective to properly evaluate them.

She smiles and says “Oh yeah the thing about the fish being in water, and how it would possibly know that it was in water”.

I say yes. Just like that.

We keep talking.

At some point I mention that I don’t feel like there’s room within the school programme to explore my personal passions.

She asks about these passions. Asks if they’re related to Social Change. It appears some people have similar concerns. About not having room to explore passions.

We keep talking.


I am walking up the staircase of the dorm building.

My head is swimming in the miry uncertainty of my very near future:

This semester is over. We’re in late December.

The next semester begins in January.

We’re to move to Argentina. From Berlin. For the new semester.

I’ve never been this uncomfortable about travelling to a new country. I didn’t even know it was possible to dread a flight to a new continent this way.

With respect to academics, this semester has been horrible. Horrendous. Absolutely horrifying. Everything is fucked up. Superlatively fucked up. Nothing makes any sense.

What I need right now, is a break. I need time to sit down on the ground somewhere for a few months and stare blankly into space, while I process all of the things that have recently happened to me.

That Buenos Aires flight is not happening, no. I am not going put myself through another few months of this.

No.

Nah.

Nuh.

Uhn uhn.

Someone calls my name. It’s Sadie. The Resident Assistant.

She says her parents are around. Asks if I would like to join the family for dinner.

I smile and say thanks, but maybe another time.

Dinner is the least of my problems right now.

I keep heading up the stairs.


I am in the sitting room of the apartment I share with two flatmates. They’ve both gone home for the holidays. One to Argentina and the other to Turkey. That’s if they’re spending Christmas in their countries of origin.

Sadie is here with me.

She’s typing on my computer. We’re sending an email to Barbara.

I asked for Sadie’s help with the intricacies of my situation:

My German visa expires this December.

I need to fly somewhere.

I recently applied for a gap year. The request was approved, which was wonderful.

Now I just don’t know where to go.

My US student visa is still valid for another year, but I’m not going to the US. I have no plans to get a job or anything of such. I just need time and space to think about my life. The US doesn’t seem like it’ll be conducive for that. Especially at such short notice.

Nigeria is a no no. The boy who travelled to the USA to study, is supposed to come back with pockets brimming with US dollars.

I have no dollars in my pockets, and I have no answers for all of the questions that await me there. So no.

We’re asking Barbara if there’s some last-minute internship work I could do, to raise some money. Sadie came up with that very valuable idea.

I plan to fly to one of the (few, given my Nigerian passport) countries I can travel to, without needing a visa.

I recently decided on Cape Verde. Information online says it’s visa-free for Nigerian passports, and the flight ticket from Berlin is not too expensive.

Sadie says Opodo is where she books her flights.

We go through Berlin – Cape Verde flights on Opodo. I think the website looks nice. The fonts look chubby and cute somehow.


I am at Barbara’s office.

We’re booking the Cape Verde fight.

I think someone somewhere is lending me the money. A staff at the college HQ in San Francisco. Something like that. We’re using her card. Very generous of her.

The flight is booked. I express my gratitude to Barbara.

I have a little over a week of internship work, to raise some money.


I am in the bathroom of my apartment.

I am lying in the bathtub. The tub is full of warm water.

December in Berlin has been somewhat cold, and very dull. I don’t even see the sun anywhere. I find myself walking sleepily around the city, just looking for it.

All of that increases the appeal of warm bathtub soaks. Plus all of my flatmates are gone. I’ve got the entire place to myself.

The bathroom is saturated with steam.

The walls are reverberating with sad poignant music. I’m probably playing Daughter.

It’s been about a week since we booked the Cape Verde flight.

I’ve been working with Barbara. Moving stuff. Chairs. Sofas. Stuff from the dorm apartments.

Right now things are not so bad. The real uncertainty now lies in the next few days. I’ll be flying to a country I have absolutely no experience with, and know little about. I’m taking the time to mentally prepare myself.

My things are ready to be packed.

What am I going to do for income generation in Cape Verde? I have no idea. Well I have some ideas, but I don’t know. There’s a lot to think about. A lot.

I should pack my things. Get ready to move out of the apartment.

Hold on, when exactly is the flight?

I know we’re in the temporal vicinity, but I’m actually not sure of the precise day and time. Somehow that has felt like a secondary detail in the face of spending an entire year in an unfamiliar country where I know no one.

Knowing the precise time of the flight has so far felt like the smallest of my concerns.

Hold on, I think I should go check. So I can begin to make the final steps of checking out.

I step out of the bathroom.

I walk into my room, warm water dripping on the ribbed wooden floor.

I open up the computer.

Hm, where’s the calendar.

Hm.

Hm, an event is about to begin. Something happens in the next few minutes.

Hm, I don’t recall booking anything for today. The semester is over. I wonder what event I’d still be booking on the calendar.

I take a closer look at the calendar.

YEEEEEHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

YEH YEH YEH YEH YEHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!

I am finished!!!!

HAHHHHHH!!!!

THE FLIGHT IS IN A FEW MINUTES!!!!!!!!

JEEESSSUUUUSSSSSSSS!!!!!!

JEEEESSSUUUSSSS CHRIISTTTTTT!!!!!!

HAAAHHHHHH!!!!!!

And I was there soaking in the bathtub!!!!!!!

HAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!

YEEEEEHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!

A FLIGHT WE BOOKED WITH BORROWED MONEYYY!!!


I am at the door of Joy’s apartment.

Joy is a classmate from Nigeria. We’ve been moving furniture together with Barbara.

I am knocking frantically.

Joy opens the door.

From her face she was either sleeping, or she recently woke up.

I begin to explain my situation.

I need a taxi to get me to the airport. I’ve not had a reason to book a cab since I got to Berlin, so I don’t know how to do it.

I looked online briefly before deciding it would be best to talk with someone who already had experience.

Joy says okay, and helps me book a cab. Joy is a lifesaver.


I am in the passenger’s seat of the cab.

It is dark. We’re driving along a bridge of sorts. We are headed to the Berlin Tegel Airport.

Oh my God, this is such a fucked up situation. This is so motherfucking fucked up.

I cannot believe I just completely forgot, Jesus. Jesus Christ.

How long till we get to the airport?

I look at the driver.

He’s like Turkish I think.

Not too long, we’ll soon be there.

I’m berating myself in my seat.

Jesus Mayowa, Jesus. How could you fuck up like this- How? Howwww???


This post is directly connected with a number of others. An index of these other posts can be accessed here.


Image: Somewhere in the dorms.

Dinner At Kottbusser Tor.

We met one evening a few weeks ago. Me and Ryan.

I was skateboarding along Berlin’s streets, and getting angry at the cobblestones. I had spent the previous year in San Francisco, and Berlin just felt so annoying because there were cobblestones everywhere.

You can’t skateboard on cobblestones, not really. Not with smaller harder wheels, at least.

I think we met at an intersection of two streets.

I’m not quite sure how we started talking. I probably started the conversation because he reminded me of someone else. Someone I met in San Francisco. With his blondish hair and general vibes.

We began to talk.

He was an artist. Had an art studio here in Berlin. He was also an Art teacher at some tertiary institution.

We talked some more. At some point we exchanged contact details.


It’s a few weeks later.

We’re having dinner.

Well it’s not like a full-blown dinner or anything, we’re just having light stuff to eat and it’s dark outside.

I think this restaurant/bar is interesting. It has these fun multicoloured lights over the doorway. I think they’re cool and kinda trippy.

The guy at the bar is stocky-looking, with a blonde beard.

We’re chatting.

A group of people walk into the restaurant. They walk by and sit at a table not far off. They work in the Tech team of the university I study at. It looks like they’re having some sort of Tech team dinner.

I worked on somewhat close terms with one of them last summer in San Francisco. Jason. It was really interesting. I learnt a lot. It was fun getting immediate answers to my questions about code deployment frameworks and opensource communities.

I was very shocked to see him effortlessly bypass a security mechanism on the login page of the bank I use in Nigeria. It was also really interesting to hear he studied EECS at MIT. A few years back I spent some time going through some of their Computer Science course material on MIT’s OpenCourseware.

I think his girlfriend was pregnant then. With like the fourth or the fifth kid. In my head I was thinking, Oh wow that’s a lot. He seemed pretty young to me, and so it felt like they were still going with the kids. He had a picture of she and the kids on his desk.

And then he also described her as his girlfriend.

At the time I thought a couple with that number of kids and such an established, well-defined plan for a joint future would unquestionably be married. My accrued ideas at the time of how adults ideally lived their lives, was along the lines of the “Get married and then have kids” formula.

But apparently people attach different levels of significance to words like “girlfriend” and “wife”. And some people’s notion of a “girlfriend” is about equivalent in meaning to some others’ notion of a “wife” – Something like that.

We met again a few weeks ago at a small restaurant along Adalbertstrasse. It was our first time meeting in Berlin since I moved here for the Berlin semester, and he with the tech team deployed to Berlin.

I talked with him about my challenges with the second-year curriculum. I was taking a Social Sciences course, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through with it. Initially I thought it would provide breadth in combination with the Computational Sciences courses I was taking, but at the time I was thinking of switching it for one in the Natural Sciences.

He talked about his experiences with settling in Berlin with the family, given the work move.


Ryan and I are talking.

He’s talking about a space in Berlin he and a friend jointly got. I think it was a living space, or some art space, something. He and his friend both moved to Berlin from the US.

He feels resentful about how things turned out with the space. I think his “friend” moved to Berlin before him, and for such a reason had more relatively-established relationships with people in the city. Somehow he leveraged that to oust Ryan of his part ownership of the space. Something like that.

He feels bitter and hurt about it. I try to empathise.

We keep talking.

At some point I ask about clubs in Berlin. Where can I find cool clubs. He says Berghain is a very popular one. Tells me a bit about it. I say Hm, sounds interesting. I take note of it.

We keep talking.

At some point dinner is over, and we’re concluding our conversation.

He seems somewhat surprised by the current direction of things. He says he thought this was a date.

Like, a date.

In my head I’m like Wait Hold up. Hold the fuck up.

What?

Wait, is this guy gay?

Is he gay? Oh man, I had absolutely no idea!

I thought this was just two guys hanging out?!

He’s gay?

Wait, I thought I saw a picture of a wife and a kid on his Facebook?

Wait, What the hell is going on?

I say Haha no. The thought that this was some sort of a romantic outing, never even crossed my mind.

I have a girlfriend.


I’m still trying to make sense of all of the homosexual attention I’ve been getting in Berlin- I honestly don’t understand it. Usually there’s a way I make sense of interactions with a biologically male person. This whole sexual thing is adding a dimension to it, which is just very unfamiliar to me.

Especially when it’s like just, everywhere. In Berlin it feels like there’s no specific social context where I should prepare for and expect homosexual inclinations. It’s just everywhere and anywhere.

We finish up dinner.

I like his boots. They’re high-heeled, goth-style boots.

It almost feels like after-the-fact he looks obviously homosexual, but I think that might just be confirmation bias.

We head out of the restaurant. As we walk by the open-air stalls of fruits and vegetables in the farmer’s market at Kottbusser Tor, I mention my struggles with academic coursework. The issues I’m facing with classes, and how I’m beginning to question the fit of the academic programme I’m in.

We walk a bit further until the paths to our apartments diverge.


Image: Somewhere in Lekki Phase 1, Lagos.

Gluhwein in Dresden.

We’re having an argument.

Passing blame and getting pissed at each other.

We’ve just missed a bus.

To Dresden.

From Berlin.

The girlfriend has wanted to travel for some time.

Amsterdam is where some classmates have been visiting.

Our Berlin student visas give us access to the Schengen area, and so non-EU citizens (or people who usually wouldn’t have visa-free access) have been really cashing in on the opportunity.

After some deliberation and back and forths, we agreed on Dresden.

A few minutes after the decision I booked a bus.

Flixbus.

I booked a bus that was leaving in a few hours.

I felt it would add to the thrill of the trip.

Having to pack and leave with just a few hours notice.

From her facial expressions, she obviously also thought it was an exciting idea.


It is a number of hours later.

We missed the bus.

We overslept.

As a matter of fact, we didn’t oversleep. The bus was just scheduled to leave at an anomalous hour. Like 3AM or something.

And so we’re having an argument.

This is the sort of argument we’re usually always having.

She wants to do things the usual way. The tested and trusted way. The safe way.

I’m a lot more experimentative. Apparently, even with the seemingly more consequential decisions.

Although these days, I don’t know if I’m experimentative or just irresponsible. I don’t know.

“Experimentative” doesn’t really make sense to her.

I think I’m just irresponsible.

I don’t know.

We keep arguing.

I’m wondering if this wasn’t the same person who was grinning with excitement at the thought of leaving for Dresden at very short notice.

I don’t know.

We keep arguing.


We just got into the bus to Dresden.

We almost missed it.

It was parked in a section of Alexanderplatz that we weren’t expecting.

Some time passes, and we’re out of the city.

We’re headed along the highway, surrounded on both sides by the picturesque rolling grassy fields I’ve come to love about Europe.

I think they’re super interesting.

The girlfriend doesn’t find them amusing. She says they’re the usual thing in Europe.

Southern Nigeria generally has a tropical rainforest climate, and so travelling through the countryside you’re surrounded by dense impermeable forest. Trees and leaves and branches clustered by the roadside like a thick green blanket.

And so here in Europe, being able to see the horizon on both sides of the bus is new to me. Very new. And very interesting.


We’ve just booked a room at a hostel for the night.

We got to Dresden, argued, got food at a Pizza Hut, exchanged laughter and smiles and starry stares and kisses, argued some more, and then got a place to sleep.

At some point while sorting out some arrangements at the hostel reception, I saw a guy bring out a five-hundred euro note from his wallet.

The piece of paper drew my attention like a magnet.

JESUS CHRIST.

FIVE HUNDRED EUROS.

ONE NOTE.

ONE NOTE. FIVE HUNDRED EUROS.

JESUS.

My head began to spin.

I wonder what he does for a living.

I wonder if he’s a very responsible guy.

He looks normal. Normal clothes, normal hairstyle. Normal guy.

Probably works a job at some very formal company and wears a suit and tie and stuff to work.

Hm, he doesn’t look like he’s experimenting with his life.

Ah, maybe the girlfriend is right. Maybe I’m on the wrong track with my life. Ah. Oh God.

Ah.

One note. Five hundred euros. Yeh. My God.


I’m on the rooftop of the hostel where we’re lodged.

I needed something to drink, and a flier I saw somewhere said there was a bar or something, on the roof.

The girlfriend is asleep.

I walk around and ask where I can get a bottle of something to drink.

An older German woman gives me directions.

I buy the drink. It’s a bottle of wine I think.

The German woman says she’s heading to the balcony for a smoke. Asks if I’d like to join her for a bit.

I say okay.


We’re on the balcony. Talking.

She’s talking about Christmas markets. Christmas markets in Germany.

She mentions by the way that she likes my hair. Says the hair was why she helped me with directions to get a drink in the first place.

I think Okay.

Someone likes my hair.

I bleached it yellow at a Hair-Dye house party a friend’s sister invited me for in San Francisco.

After a few months of wearing the yellow, I dyed it red.

The girlfriend hates it. The hair. Thinks it’s irresponsible. Thinks I’m trying to get attention. Thinks I’m trying to feel relevant. There’s nothing she has not said. There is no name she has not called me.

We keep talking. Me and the older German woman.

She says she finds Christmas Markets boring. That it’s the same thing every year.

I find that perspective very shocking. It’s my first time in Europe. First time experiencing the Christmas markets. I’m still mesmerised by the entire thing. I walk about marvelling at the spanners and bolts and nuts that have been ingeniously forged out of chocolate. Staring wide-eyed at the different assortments of candy and snacks and all sorts of food on display. Enjoying the view of the picturesque stalls and exciting activity in the markets.

However I can imagine for someone who has experienced decades of Christmas markets, it might not be particularly exciting. Hm.

We talk some more.

At some point she’s done with her cigarette. We smile and say goodnight. She heads inside, back to the bar place. I head downstairs.


It’s morning. We made a list of places to visit.

We’re walking through the Christmas market.

We see these guys from, Ethiopia I think. They’re siblings. Brother and Sister.

It’s a family business.

I buy some spicy curry rice. It’s been a while since I ate rice.

I never thought that was even a valid English statement.

It’s been a while since you ate rice? What do you mean? No rice? Then what have you been eating?

I think rice is the most commonly eaten food in Nigeria. I think. Rice or bread. If bread counts. And so living in Nigeria, the thought of going months- possibly even over a year without eating rice, feels preposterous. Unrealistic. Like it’s not even a possibility.

But here I am.

I’ve been experimenting in Berlin.

I’ve been liking this Tortellini thing. It’s pasta, but with meat wrapped in it somehow. I’ve really been liking it. The Gnocchi thing is also alright.

The girlfriend says I don’t eat enough meat. Says guys need to eat a lot of meat. To be buff. Says I’m thin. Says I was a lot more buff when we started dating. Says I’m bony. Says I’m —

See, let’s not even go there.

I take my time to enjoy the spicy curry Ethiopian rice thing.


We keep walking around.

Girlfriend gets some crepes. It’s like bread and stuff. Flat. Flat disks of like bread and stuff.

We keep walking around.

She introduces me to Gluhwein.

It’s hot wine.

Like, hot wine.

Initially I think it’s strange, but after a few sips I think it’s pretty nice.

We keep sipping on the hot wine.


We’re walking around the city and talking.

At some point we stopped to enter a church.

Neither of us is religious, but the surreal serene environment of the church still had a perceptible influence on our conversation. The stained glass and pictures of Mary and Jesus and Saints. We did some introspection. Talked some about future uncertainties and anxieties.

We’re still walking around the city.

At some point we come across two classmates. A couple. From Nepal and Bulgaria. Also in Dresden on a trip. The Nepalese guy says there’s a museum not far away. Says we can use their tickets. That the people at the entrance don’t even check the tickets to make sure they haven’t already been used.

Haha.

Cool.

We collect the tickets.

At some point we head for the museum.


We’re on a bus back to Berlin.

The time in Dresden was pretty cool.

We’re travelling at night this time, so I can’t see the interesting grass outside.

The girlfriend is watching movie on her computer.

It’s in Russian. I’m reading the subtitles.

There’s some guy in an apartment sitting in a chair. I think he’s reading a newspaper. There are I think, three girls jumping about the apartment in excitement, marvelling how big and nicely furnished it is, and giggling about how rich the guy must be.

I think he met the girls in the city and then invited them over to his apartment. They began to bounce about in awe, apparently they had never been in such a luxurious living space.

Something like that. That was what was happening.

At some point the girlfriend prods me and asks if I’m going to be like that guy.

Inviting girls from the city to come marvel and jump about in awe at my luxuriously furnished apartment.

Hahahahaha.

I laugh and say something in response.


Image: Somewhere in Berlin.

Of Wifi Struggles and Free Beer.

We’re sipping on beer, the two of us.

Out on the patio of an interesting bistro at Santa Maria.

I’m sipping on beer he bought for me.


“Unlike you, I have a wife and a daughter in Germany.”

“You, you’re free. You’re free to do whatever you want. With whoever you want.”

“Me, I’m not.”


I do not quite agree with him.

I mean, he has a point- he definitely does. But I don’t feel free.

I don’t.

I’m not. Free.

I’m not free.


I’ve spent the past few months reeling in the frustratingly-boundless anguish of heartbreak.

It’s been a whirlwind of emotions.

Anger. Frustration. Hate. Sadness. Hurt.

Desire.

Anger. Frustration.

I don’t have a wife and a daughter in Germany, but I’m not free. I’m not. Free.

I’m not free.


We’re talking about immigrants. Immigrants in Germany.

I recently read a news article about a batch of new African immigrants, who were setting off a flurry of sexual harassment cases somewhere in Germany- I think it was Berlin.

Those immigrants seemed like pretty problematic people to me.

He has a different take on immigrants.

He says the country needs them.

He’s a landscaper.

He says he doesn’t have enough workers at his company. He needs the ample labour that these immigrants have to offer, but the government has been slow in providing them with work permits. He says it’s very bad for his business.

Hmmm.

We keep sipping on beer.


It’s been difficult getting internet.

I don’t have a steady income from which I can purchase mobile internet plans on a periodic basis. So I use restaurant Wifi networks.

I initially visit the restaurant as a legitimate guest.

I buy stuff. And then I obtain the password.

My subsequent visits are usually less legitimate.

I usually just hang around the place, nibbling on the fringes of their Wifi for free.


There’s this hotel at the major Santa Maria roundabout. Very close to the Pirata club.

Some guy at the reception gave me the Wifi password earlier in the year.

I spend at least an hour everyday at the open-air mini- street gym right across the road.

And no, I haven’t been trying to beef up my calf muscles.

I usually just laze around the equipment while I use their wifi on my phone.

Check emails, check social media, send out professional applications, go through disheartening rejection emails, adjust to the sour new reality of dashed hopes, all the while pretending to use the swinging leg-exercise thing.


We’re still sipping on beer.

Me and the German landscaper.

This restaurant was set up by this cool guy from somewhere in the UK. He and his wife. They both moved to Cape Verde from the UK. Moved to Sal and set up the restaurant. They recently had a baby.

I was asking him a few questions the other day. I asked him how different life was, with a baby. He said his energy level had increased for some reason. That he just felt a lot more energetic all of a sudden.

Hmm.

I initially got the password on a legitimate visit to the restaurant. Used it on a number of subsequent less-legit visits. And then at some point the password stopped working.

On another legitimate visit, I realised it had been changed.

I confidently asked for the new password over some Spaghetti Bolognese.

The next time the password was changed, I was more equipped to adapt to the situation: I had figured out a valuable pattern in the UK guy’s choice of passwords.

It was usually the name of the restaurant, and then three digits.

I was like Great, easy.

I wrote a Python script to generate a list of three digit numbers from 000 to 999. I appended these numbers to the name of the restaurant and then employed a command line Wifi password cracking tool to figure out what the new password combination was.

I think the tool was Aircrack-ng or something. Used to be part of the Kali Linux package and stuff. There was a way to set it up on the MacOS terminal.

Like, UK guy I understand you need to limit your restaurant’s internet usage- but I’m a severely impecunious student on a gap year from college and I need to check my emails.

Please bear with me.

Plus, it’s not like I don’t visit as a legitimate guest every now and then. 🙂


There’s this other country-wide wifi. Cabocom Wifi.

One very auspicious night I attempted to log into the network, and for some strange reason it didn’t request a password from me.

It just logged me in.

I took a few minutes to give profuse thanks to the Persian god of good fortune, before I then proceeded to rapaciously download a number of TV shows I had been looking forward to.

And it wasn’t just a one-time thing. It usually just works.

I don’t complain.

I don’t complain at all.

Praise be to the Persian god of good fortune.


Image: Somewhere in Santa Maria.

Musings along Adalbertstrasse.

Girlfriend wants to travel.

She’s talking excitedly about some classmates who recently went to Amsterdam.

I listen only halfheartedly.

I recently decided to keep my bank account at a minimum of two hundred dollars.

It’s a goal I set for myself.

Hopefully my financial rock-bottom will only get higher from there.

She probably has the money to travel. In addition to her internship wages her parents probably send her some pocket money on a periodic basis.

I on the other hand, have just my internship wages. There is no money coming in from Nigeria.

I’m just trying to get by pls

I keep listening to her talking enthusiastically about Amsterdam while we turn a corner at a building with an expansive piece of like purple graffiti.


I am at a restaurant along Adalbertstrasse.

I bought a small pizza.

I’m munching on it while I scroll through my phone, preparing for a class which begins in less than an hour.

It’s an interesting restaurant. Gold-themed. Looks fancy.

I’m the only one here. Munching on my pizza and preparing for class on my phone and feeling cool.


I bought this burger the other day.

From a Burger place. Along Adalbertstrasse.

Chilli pepper burger or something like that.

I was curious what it was going to taste like.

I was heading down the sidewalk, wondering if I should join a fellow classmate in organising computer programming tutorials for students who were having issues.

I did stuff like that in San Francisco. It was pretty cool. People felt it really helped.

San Francisco was good. Come to think of it, San Francisco was actually good. San Francisco was very very good.

This semester has been terrible.

This semester has been extremely terrible.

I feel like an idiot.

Everything has been bad.

Hm, maybe I should organise tutorials in the parts of programming I know I don’t have to study for.

I don’t know. I don’t see how that makes anything better.

It’ll probably make me feel good temporarily.

Make me feel like I’m actually good at something.

Remind some people I’m actually good at something.

But I’m not going to escape feeling like an idiot overall. The academic problems I’m experiencing will still be there.

Plus it’s a completely insensible financial situation. People usually get paid to teach. Why am I paying school fees (however little, given the scholarship, financial aid etc), and then still teaching?

That does not make any sense.


I got back to the apartment and decided to try the Chilli Pepper Burger.

A few bites in and I was like

Oh My God

What did I just do

What did I just buy

How much did I just spend on this thing

What would have happened if I told the sheepily-smiling guy at the Burger place that I wanted the maximum level of Chilli

Oh God


Another time I bought a full chicken.

From another place along Adalbertstrasse.

I think the first time I ever bought a full chicken was in San Francisco.

It was one of these meal delivery companies that had an incredible student discount- something like that.

There was SpoonRocket. And Munchery.

They still send me emails.

I got a whole chicken at a very good price.

When it arrived and I opened the box, I felt bad.

I felt bad eating an entire chicken.

Like, me.

Just me. One person. A whole chicken.

I felt very greedy.

Growing up in Nigeria I was made to feel greedy for wanting more than say, the one piece of chicken I was given. During dinner or like at a party.

Usually we would make surreptitious plans to procure more chicken from wherever it was kept. We used to do it. We felt greedy doing it- for wanting more than we were given, but we used to do it.

Now I’m faced with a whole chicken.

Not one thigh.

Not one thigh plus two stolen wings.

An entire chicken.

I had to implore my American roommate to join in.

I was not going to be the unimaginably rapacious being who consumed an entire chicken by himself.

My roommate found it weird. Apparently, singlehandedly obliterating an entire chicken did not feel absurd to him at all.

I kept imploring him to join me. He kept declining.

In the end I had to go through the immeasurably shameful and deplorable act on my own.

Oh God.


Some (mostly) free food at the San Francisco dorms. From either SpoonRocket or Munchery.

There’s this Turkish place close to Kottbuser Tor.

Before the supermarket next to the Burgermeister.

I went there to get this Döner kebab thing they’ve got. The one wrapped in bread with lines on it, that looks like it has just been Panini’d.

It was at night.

I was just coming from the girlfriend’s place.

The moment I stepped into the restaurant, it felt like the middle-aged Turkish men over the counter had their eyes glued to me.

I was wondering what was happening.

The room was dimly lit, and the walls were like reddish-brown. Reddish-brown but more reddish.

I made my order, got my food, ate and left.

As I walked out the door I could feel their eyes pulled by my strides across the counter.

I couldn’t really make sense of it.

I just thought:

I don’t know. Maybe I smell like sex.

Maybe I’m oozing with some hormone that makes them think of their Turkish wives at home.

I don’t know.

I should read more on the whole pheromone thing.


There’s this Florist place.

Along Adalbertstrasse.

On the ground floor of this building that has scaffolding around it. Like they’re doing some renovation upstairs or something.

The flower shop looks really interesting.

I haven’t gotten the chance to visit.

Not yet.

I mean, I stopped by once.

Unintentionally.

There’s a manhole in the road- somewhere around the shop.

On the right side of the road if you’re coming from Kottbuser Tor.

I was on my skateboard.

Approaching the manhole cover.

And then I thought oh

Why not carve around the hole?

Head straight towards it, and then cut a curve around it?

The covers are pretty steady, so just skating straight on top of the cover is fine.

I mean, entire cars roll over the covers. I’m just one guy on a skateboard.

But then I thought why not try something different this morning

Why not


I got close to the cover.

Close enough to begin cutting a curve.

Then I began to swerve.

Almost done.

Now curve back into your original path of travel.

The skateboard wheels were sliding out a bit, which was expected- there were like 101a.

But oh

At some point it was evident there wasn’t enough traction to close the curve.

The curve was too tight.

No the curve was not too tight. Did rain just fall?

Is there some water on the ground

These were probably the thoughts forming in my mind as I somersaulted along the road.

I got back to my feet and tried to make sense of reality afresh.

I wasn’t so bothered by falling- with skateboarding you get used to it.

I was just surprised I fell. I didn’t attempt anything so spectacular.

A kind guy helped me fetch the board from the other side of the road.

I smiled and said thank you. He gave an understanding nod.

I collected the board and walked by the manhole cover again, wondering what in the name of God happened to me.


It’s dark.

I’m walking down Adalbertstrasse.

I’m right by this red-brick building that looks like the office of some diplomat. Right before the crossroads. The crossroads where the road on the left passes by a lakefront restaurant on its way.

The lake with swans. And overhanging foliage along the walkways that border it.

Ah, I’ll have to break my $200 minimum account balance resolution.

The girlfriend and I have been having literal arguments over this travelling thing.

We’re going to have to go somewhere.

Oh God.

Rock bottom here I come.


Image: Somewhere in Berlin.

Now Playing: https://open.spotify.com/track/17OHsQ5RBrU6b9lTaPP0vh?si=c6d10db1d29649f0

Berlin: College Event at Barbara’s Place.

I heard this used to be where Barbara lived with her family. Husband and I think two kids. They had just moved to a new place. Probably the rent here wasn’t up yet, so it was still available to host a college event.

I think it’s an interesting place. I like the main door. It’s this tall and somewhat grand-looking wooden door. Like something you would see in Lord of the Rings. But it was covered in graffiti.

Everywhere in Berlin is covered in graffiti. Berlin is making me see graffiti differently. I used to associate it with chaos and slummy areas. Now I’m beginning to see it as art. I think. It’ll take a while.


I just got here. Pretty much everyone else was here like thirty minutes prior.

The girlfriend was hurrying me up in the morning.

It’s time to go, get dressed Oh my God we’re going to be late Mayowa what is wrong with you

God.

At some point I told her to just go. That I would join them later.

There was already an Uber waiting. The Uber for the hurry hurry people. And she didn’t want to miss it.

Just go please. Go join your fellow serious classmates who are always prompt for every event and never miss a class. Just go, mwah.


I’m looking around the room. I see Jake. I’m happy to see Jake. We were roommates in the first year. We don’t seem to spend as much time together anymore.

Well first we’re no longer roommates. He and some fellow American, very frat-boy-ey classmates decided to share an apartment this semester.

I was annoyed.

Frat boys plotted in secret and stole my roommate. Ugh.

And he allowed himself to be stolen. He was willingly stolen. Ugh.

There was this time I came across he and Kah, on the way back to my apartment from the corner store with the Turkish guy who makes interesting pizza. The one who was asking for my thoughts on Trump. Jake and Kah were going for some hallmark Berlin event. Festival of Lights or something like that. They asked me if I wanted to come along.

At the time the girlfriend and I had already made some plans for the night. And so it was just my physical body they came across that evening. My thoughts were somewhere else entirely.

Jake recently suggested going snowboarding for the winter. Snowboarding sounds like a lot of fun. I have never done that before.

I just don’t know what my December is going to be like. I just don’t know.


I am looking around the room.

Skye is walking alongside two other women. They seem like relatives. Maybe one is her mother and the other is her aunt or something, I don’t know. They all seem very angry at each other. They’re walking side by side but they are all looking straight ahead. Skye has a particularly displeased look on her face. The look gives me the impression that she was displeased before she even walked into the room. I wonder what they’re angry at one another about.

Omer is calling me over. I head over. Omer is pretty cool. He’s one of the Israelis. They’re significantly older than the rest of the class because of the mandatory military service thing they have in their country.

I feel like if he was a number of years younger, there would be a higher likelihood of us enjoying each other’s company. At least more than is currently the case.

In San Francisco, he was usually in the common room. The one on the third floor. Always seated at that centre table and doing serious stuff. Like, always. He was always there.

There was this skateboard deck he brought into the common room. At some point someone filled an empty bottle of ginger ale up with water. I used to stand on the skateboard deck and see how long I could keep my balance with just the sideways ginger ale bottle under it. Swaying from side to side while the bottle rolled underneath the deck. Right next to the very soft and roomy and comfy chair where Esther liked to curl up and read.

I think I was the one who came up with the ginger ale bottle idea. I think.

Omer is always excited about the strangest things. One time it was one “Freakonomics” textbook. He kept talking about how cool it was. To me it just looked like a book about boring adult stuff.

India’s GDP increased by 2.5%.

What’s my business.

And Omer could be an annoying adult. Condescending. Every once in a while I would get to the common room to see a hostile poster on the door. Something like:

Go away. I am having an interview. I am an adult and I have a future and I do serious stuff. Do not disturb me you hormonal teenagers, go make out and just generally be hormonal teenagers somewhere else.

Fuck you Omer, fuck you and your important interviews and your serious adult stuff.

Omer is asking me what I think of some music he is playing on his computer. He passes me an earbud. I do not understand his excitement. It sounds like some ancient Middle Eastern music. Like something some Arabian king used to listen to, to lull himself to sleep.

I don’t understand why he is jamming his head. I don’t even see the rhythm to which a head can be jammed to. I don’t get it at all.


I keep walking around the room. I talk with Corey a bit. We talk about Professor Doyle.

I keep walking around. The girlfriend says she wants to take a few pictures. Says there’s a separate room up ahead.

Separate room.

To “take a few pictures”.

I abandon everything else and go with her. I wonder why she was so much in a hurry to leave the apartment earlier in the morning.


I am in the kitchen. Louis is helping out with some stuff. I think he’s cleaning something. Barbara is also here. I think I try to be useful at some point.


We’re back in the large main room.

I’m talking with Barbara. At some point the girlfriend’s flower-patterned scarf catches her attention. She says she used to have one just like that. I think there’s more. I think being very young is another thing she might also be thinking about at the same time. Another thing she used to have. I don’t know. It just feels like it.


I am in a different room. There are a number of different bottles of alcohol. I ask Jake to take a picture while I pose with some bottles.

Haha. This room is crazy. Why are there so many bottles of alcohol I don’t understand haha


The girlfriend says she’s leaving. Off to a cafe. To prepare for class and generally do serious stuff. She’s always hurrying somewhere. There’s always some very important thing she has to do, I don’t understand. Left to me we’d both probably still be in bed right now, wondering if going for the event with all the other college people was still a feasible possibility.

I reluctantly let go of her hand as she heads down the stairs.


Image: In the crazy room with all the alcohol bottles.

Berlin: The Kenyan Woman in a Wheelchair.

I’m not sure how exactly we began talking.

Maybe she needed some help getting past a stretch of cobblestoned sidewalk.

Maybe. Something like that.


We’re talking.

She moved to Germany from Kenya. Moved here with her son.

All of that was a while ago now. Like decades ago probably.


I help her with some propulsion for her wheelchair.

She got involved with a German man. I think they got married.

From her story, getting involved with that man was essentially the worst decision of her life.

We keep talking. I’m curious what happened. I’m wondering what happened with this peculiar German man.


She says her son used to be very smart. Used to be very good at school. Used to be very very good.

In fact he was so good, he was enrolled in a Gymnasium.

For a brief moment I try to make sense of her statement. After a bit, I get it.

I recently became aware of the high school-esque system in Europe which involves a learning institution called a Gymnasium. Hearing someone say they did their high school in a gym would have sounded very ridiculous to me like a year ago. But now I’m kinda getting used to it.

And apparently the Gymnasium is seen as a very prestigious institution of learning here.

That’s why going to school in a Gym is such a big deal.

Okay. Okay. I keep listening.


Things were alright. Things were pretty alright.

Then the vile German came into the picture.

Withdrew her son from the Gymnasium.

Enrolled him in a cooking school.

Said in World War II, black men served as cooks on the German ships. And so that meant black men were made to be cooks.

Black men were created, or they evolved- whichever, to prepare meals for questionably-sane German men on Nazi battleships.

Hm. Interesting. I keep listening.


She says that wasn’t all. Says at some point her repugnant German began to sexually molest her son. Began to coerce him into homosexual activity.

All this while I’m wondering what sort of a power dynamic could possibly give rise to such a bewildering helplessness in the face of an intrusion that noxious.

I think it had to be financial. It had to be:

The abhorrent German was probably the one paying the rent. They were probably living in a relatively upscale area courtesy of his ancestrally-accrued European privileges.

I don’t push this line of discussion. I think the right moment just never comes along.


She says at some point her son began to behave strangely.

Says he began to steal.

Says it had something to do with the sexual abuse.

Says it messed with his head somehow.

Her son was nothing like that initially. Her son was nothing like that.


I keep pushing the wheelchair.

I keep pushing the wheelchair and listening.


At some point her son got arrested. Got caught stealing.

I think she and the atrocious German separated around that time.

She began to scamper about in a panic, in a bid to free her son.

Legal procedures. Administrative obstructions. Financial subtractions. All that stuff.

At some point she had a stroke.

Stroke left her confined to a wheelchair. To the wheelchair I’m currently pushing.

We keep talking.


She says now her foremost challenge is getting a job.

Says getting a job has been so difficult. No one wants to hire her as a secretary. Says racism definitely has something to do with it.

I keep pushing the wheelchair.

She says she doesn’t like where she lives.

Says she lives in a welfare housing apartment- something like that.

She doesn’t like it at all. She wants to move somewhere nice.

Like Charlottenburg. I think she says Charlottenburg.

She speaks with the frank dissatisfaction of someone who has lived somewhere they liked. There’s a glint of excitement in her eyes when she says “Charlottenburg”. Like someone who misses a particular life. Like someone briefly reminiscing on better times.


At some point it’s time to part ways. We exchange goodbyes and I wish her all the best- both with the job search and with the endeavour to get her son out of custody.

She warmly invites me to her church. I smile and say some noncommital things as we say our final goodbyes.

I’m not really a church guy.

I head back to the apartment at Adalbertstrasse.


I have this assignment due. This Knowledge Based Information Systems something something class.

I think I could use this evening’s experience as content around which to structure my assignment. Some sort of a precursor to a statistical analysis of African immigrants in Europe, and a nuanced assessment of their general life satisfaction.

Hm, that actually seems like an interesting idea.

Hm.

I’ll also end up discussing the experience with the girlfriend. She’ll mention an analogous trend involving female Slavic immigrants. She’s Slavic, and so I imagine that’s the version of the story that’ll be most personally significant to her.

In all, she won’t be as empathetic as I’d think is appropriate. I don’t know. Or maybe Slavic immigrants are just generally bad people and inveterate freeloaders.

I don’t know.

On to the apartment.


Image: U-Bahn station somewhere.

Berlin: A Boyfriend Monologue.

I met this girl.

I met her in the laundry room of one of the Adalbertstrasse buildings.

Or no, I first met her in this walkway. Off Melchiorstrasse. She was crouched over a small storm drain, seeming to peer into it with complete concentration.

I was curious.

What is she peering at so intensely? What is so engrossing in a drain?

I walked over to see what was going on.

She was drawing the outline of the drain- something like that. For an art course. She was an exchange student from the USA, in Berlin for a semester. I thought she was interesting. We exchanged Facebook contacts.

And then I met her again in the laundry room.

We engaged in conversation while she deliberated on what to do with an occupied but idle washing machine. She needed to use it, but it was full of someone else’s (washed) clothes.

What to do?

We kept chatting while she thought about how to navigate the somewhat uneasy situation.

At some point she was (maybe not literally) like ugh fuck it, and she emptied out the machine into a basket. Whoever owned the clothes could come dry them later.


She has a boyfriend. In the USA.

I also have a girlfriend. Here in Berlin.

But I think she’s interesting, and I’d like to have more conversations with her.

I ask if she’ll be fine with lunch or dinner sometime. She goes hmmm. Says she’ll ask the boyfriend.


I’m in my room. She just messaged me. Says the boyfriend hates the idea. She actually had suspicions that he wouldn’t really like it.

I tell her to tell him that I mean no harm. I myself am in a relationship I’m pretty happy with. I just think his girlfriend is interesting and wouldn’t mind a harmless dinner or something.

He says he is going to kill you

Hahahaha. I like him already.

I look him up on Facebook. He served in the Army. Mm, interesting. Interesting guy. I send him a friend request.

She sends me an amused and bewildered message:

Jesus Christ did you really just send him a friend request???!!!

Hahahaha.


In about four years when I’m writing this story, I’ll look her up on Facebook to see how she’s doing. Their baby will be doing well. Cute baby girl and interesting woman who was peering into a drain in Berlin and handsome army guy who wanted to kill me. Happy family.

We haven’t talked since Berlin. I won’t message. I won’t know if they remember me. They most likely won’t. I imagine people forget even more significant encounters.

People are usually astonished by what I remember. About the details I recall. I think to them, it feels like a lot. They are usually astounded because I know all of these things about them, that they do not remember ever telling me.

To a certain degree it’s interesting- It’s interesting to see people get so excited about something that’s just normal for you. But past a certain point it gets very frustrating. Nobody is thinking about what you are thinking about.

Don’t immediately ask that woman about how her son is doing. The one who broke his leg while playing ice hockey four years ago and made her anxious about whether she was right in letting him play ice hockey in the first place. First find out if she even remembers/recognizes you.

Do not walk into that office and try to pick up the deep-learning conversation you were having last year with that engineer. About language translation transformers and the paper she and her team got into the Indaba conference in Nairobi. And the paper her colleagues in London I think, got into NIPS. She does not remember. She does not even remember ever meeting you before. Everyone in the office will stare at you- you and your misplaced smiles and unfounded excitement, with suspicion. Who is this guy. Who is this stranger.

Okay you can provide some evidence though. Mention that she hates the air conditioner in the office and only tolerates it because her coworkers want it. And that the second they leave the office, she’ll turn off the cooling so the room is warm and weird and stuffy, because that’s how she likes it.

At that point she’ll have to consider the possibility you guys have actually met before. The coworkers’ll be more likely to take you seriously too, because they know she’s like that.

And so sometimes I wonder how much of past interactions/conversations with people, only exist in my head.

Like you mean, nobody else is thinking about this? About this day? They’ve all forgotten? They’ve all moved on?

Moved on. Whatever that means.


Back to the storm drain girl in Berlin:

But really I think going out with girls who are also in a relationship could be a pretty interesting experience. We’re both in relationships we’re happy with, but are interested in interacting with someone of the opposite sex, over innocent meals.

I think it’s cool.

A Brazillian classmate recently told me she’ll like to have lunch. She’s single. I’m not quite sure what to do. I feel like there could be some appeal to constantly letting your partner know that you’re very much in demand, but I don’t know. I’m not that insecure. There’s definitely some insecurity, but it’s nowhere near that point.

She on the other hand, I’m sure will not hesitate to hammer evidence of external interest in my face. She’s constantly pummeling me with all that stuff.

Blah blah blah blah blah, please shutup.

As a matter of fact, in a few weeks she’ll go out on a date with some guy. They’ll go to the Berlin TV tower. I won’t learn about it until after it has happened.

A few weeks after that, I myself will be at the TV Tower. The school will be having some sort of an event. Interviews and stuff. There’ll be cameras and stuff. I and a number of students will be invited.

I’ll be walking around the bar, taking in the very interesting environment, looking at a couple in their like very early forties sitting at the bar and idly scrolling through their phones. Okay maybe just the guy was in his forties. I’ll be looking down at the interesting historical buildings and very well-planned streets and delightful red roofs that gleam with what I understand to be that general European architectural aesthetic. Every once in a while though, I’ll be disturbed by nagging thoughts about how my girlfriend was sauntering daintily around here with some guy.

She’s definitely someone who gets very jolted by external romantic interest. In addition to that though, I feel like she’s beginning to feel like maybe I’m not really what she wants.

She likes all these guys with very predictable life trajectories.

I don’t think I’m like that. Right now it’s not very possible to align my personal orientation with any sort of existing direction that’s consensually associated with some sort of recognized success.

And the unpleasant effects I’m experiencing through the reality-filter of this relationship, is making me beginning to detest people who exemplify that:

Oh hey look at me. I am a Domain Logistics intern at Jack and Robinson Finance Corporation. By next year I should be a fully-fledged Logistics Representative. Four years after that, I’ll become a Sales and Marketing Executive Associate, but of course still specializing in Domain Logistics. Trust me, you want to choose me because I am set on an established career path, and am unambiguously headed towards guaranteed success. I have such a stable futu—

Please shutup.

Recently I was at Grunewald, taking in the invigorating nature and skateboarding wherever I could find a strip of hard flooring. I was standing at some sort of an embankment, with my arms folded on the railings. I was thinking about my uncle in Dublin and his life story, and how my life was not going to be anything like his, in spite of initial similarities. While I was doing that, I stared at a pretty large inflatable swan floating idly on the lake, wondering what exactly it was doing there.

At some point I saw some guys descending the slope. Looking very motivated and focused, with very spotless-looking suits. They looked like they were headed for some sort of very important business meeting in a booked meeting space nearby.

Standing there in my hoodie and my blonde-bleached hair, skateboard in hand, I couldn’t but think to myself:

These are the despicable guys who are making life miserable for me right now.


On my way back from Grunewald, I met a guy at the bus stop. He had long hair and glasses. I remarked that he looked like some sort of professor.

We began to talk.

On the bus, we talked about a number of things. Science, technology stuff. At some point he told me about his family. About his wife and two children. He talked about how sometimes his family made him feel restricted, with regard to being able to pursue some scientific and other interests. He said his kids were like tent pegs in each foot- he demonstrated this by driving an imaginary peg through each foot. He said they were all pinning him down and that he could neither go anywhere nor do anything.

I wasn’t quite sure what to say, but we kept talking.

At some point we arrived at his stop and he got off. I realized that at the beginning of our conversation I was energetic and invigorated- fresh from the recharging ambience of Grunewald, while he was more listless. But at the end of the conversation it was the other way round: He got off the bus with a smile on his face, looking considerably excited. But I felt almost completely drained. I didn’t quite understand it.

I had to get off the bus a number of stops early to indulge in some ice cream and some other general very sweet stuff. In a bid to regain some of the charge I began the journey back to Adalbertstrasse with.

Berlin: A Boyfriend Monologue.


Image: Somewhere on the U-Bahn.


PS:

I would really appreciate some even more perspective on the pieces I put on here. I am aware people read, and I am aware there are people who find these pieces interesting.

A good number of people who enjoy this blog are people I’m in communication with. In person, online etc. And it is very delightful for me, getting to hear what they think of the pieces. Getting to hear their personal opinions on both the content and the writing is a very very lovely experience- for all of the parties involved I’d like to imagine.

I feel like I’d love to also hear from the more silent and anonymous visitors. Please feel free to drop a comment, or even message me privately and let’s just talk and catch up and have fun- that’s usually very enjoyable.

🙂

Nightclubbing in Berlin: Sisyphos.

I am skateboarding down the road. I’m heading for a club.

“Hopetosse” or something like that. I found it on Google. Traced out the directions on Google Maps.

Everything is annoying. Life is bad. I need some clubbing in my system this night.

I am at Hopetosse. There is a queue of some sort. I join.

It’s my turn to go in. The bouncer guy looks at me. He is asking for something. I wonder what he is asking for.

He is saying something. Tonight’s event is by invitation only, something like that.

Ugh. Bloody hell. Ah. Everything is terrible.

I am walking back. This is such a terrible night. Everything is bad. Even the nightclub I intended to visit was not accessible.

Ugh.


Someone is calling out to me. Some guy across the road. I wonder what’s up with him. I’m thinking he could be a drunk homeless guy, but I don’t know- this guy sounds too confident and clear-voiced to be a drunk homeless guy.

I walk up to him. We begin talking. He is German. He is tall. He is very tall. He is like six foot seven. I like him. I like very very tall people.

We keep talking. His name is Michi. He has had such a great night. And he also had such a great day. We keep talking about how great of a time he has been having.

He is in a very good mood.

I tell him about the severely disheartening event at Hopetosse.

He tells me not to worry. Says he has a friend who manages a club nearby. Says it’s a very selective club, but that he can get me in.

Ohhhh. Okay. Okay. Maybe tonight won’t be so terrible after all.

Now I myself am beginning to get in a good mood.


We are at the club.

The name is “Sisyphos”.

I am talking with his friend. I think he is the manager of the club. He is also very tall.

Wow I like these guys, they are so tall.

We keep talking. There’s another guy- one of the managers I presume. His girlfriend is next to him. I think her arm is around his neck.

He’s telling me about how he dropped out of an Architecture college programme a while back. He tells me about a motorbike roadtrip he undertook across a number of countries in West Africa.

My eyes are wide open with admiration.

The manager guy asks me what I’m doing in Berlin. I tell him school. I’m a college student.

He goes, “Oh so you’re a smart one!”

I don’t know what he is talking about. I think I’m actually seriously considering dropping out and going on motorbike road trips like his friend.

At some point they welcome me into the club.


The club is going to be open all weekend. From Friday night till early Monday morning. Nonstop. Wow. These German guys really mean business with their clubbing.

I don’t have enough cash in hand for the gate fee. And I think paying with my card is problematic. Michi has a female French friend who is also here to club. Her name is Virginie. She helps me with the additional required Euros. I’m to pay her back later. We exchange contact details.

Oh wow these people are so friendly. This night has taken such a dramatic turn for the better.


I am in the club. I am in one of the halls. Berlin generally has this lyricless Techno House kind of music that’s like everywhere. Initially I found it very strange, but I think I’m gradually getting the hang of it.

I keep dancing to the Berlin lyricless Techno House kind of music.


I am outside. I’m on the way to check out another hall.

On the way, I contemplate the ethics of clubbing as a boyfriend. What should I and should I not do in a nightclub, when I have a girlfriend (who is not with me in the club)?

What is allowed? What is right? I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m still thinking about it.


I am in another hall. This place has so many halls. I have a lot of regard for these German guys. This club gives me a lot of respect for them.

I am dancing. I take some puffs of someone’s marijuana.

Wait, where the hell did he go. Isn’t he going to take it back? I don’t understand, what


I keep dancing. Every once in a while, I find myself in a situation which brings to mind my earlier contemplation on what is right to do in a nightclub when you are in a committed relationship with someone somewhere.

I keep dancing.


It is in the early hours of the morning. I am on the way out of the club. I come across the tall manager guy. We shake hands and laugh. He has such big hands. I let him know how much of a great time I had, and how much regard I now have for German nightclubs.

You’re going home alone? You’re a loser.

I’m not quite sure what he means.

Wait do you have a girlfriend?

Yeah! Yeah I do.

Oh okay.

The expression on his face changes. I am not quite sure how to interpret it.


I am back at my apartment.

For some reason the girlfriend is still up. She is at her place. We’re messaging. I let her know how much of a great time I had. Told her about the club managers I met.

She doesn’t seem too excited. She has become weird recently.

Very serious. Always thinking and talking about CVs and career and internships and all that stuff.

It annoys me so much. She used to enjoy hearing about my clubbing stories. That was one of the things she liked about me when we started dating. Now it feels like she passively disapproves.

I don’t like how it makes me feel.

It makes me feel like the nonchalant boyfriend who goes clubbing all the time and for some reason seems unconcerned with CVs and internships and career stuff, which unarguably are the absolutely most important things in life. More important than food or air to breathe even.

Ugh.

I keep thinking about what a great night I had.

It was a great night.

I don’t care if the girlfriend disapproves.

Okay. maybe a little.

Just a little.


Image: Berlin. A different night.