Some people say that love can be very close to hatred. DW's Lavinia Pitu is not quite sure about that. But she insists that, when it comes to Berlin, you can love and hate at the same time.
Smokers enjoy their habit, but most of them hate the addiction. Drug addicts lose control over their self-proclaimed inferno. And some women hate the urge to buy hundreds of pairs of shoes even though they love looking at them in their closet.
Hating something for loving it: I am among those people who can perfectly understand this feeling. I live in Berlin.
If you - an otherwise reasonable person - happen to find yourself in this city, you'll soon discover that living elsewhere is no more an option. This sneaky corner of the world - where you can be yourself and openly show all your talents and shortcomings, where your present lies in somebody else's future - slowly gets under your skin. And then it starts impairing your judgment.
There are, of course, many other cool, beautiful places in this world that are worth living in. But once you've come to Berlin, you'll never want to leave again. I recently read somewhere that a weekend spent in Berlin equals lifetimes wasted in other places. The fact that I didn't scoff and turn the page means I couldn't agree more.
Hi, my name is Lavinia and I'm an addict. And this is the Number 1 thing I hate about Berlin.
Having said this, everything you'll read next is irrelevant. Not for you, but for me and for all of my fellow brainwashed Berliners. We're 100 percent aware of the imperfections of this city, but that's exactly what we love about it.
So, let's talk about imperfections. I hate Berlin's non-existent new airport BER, which they've been trying to build for years. For ages now, they have been building mistakes, deficient fire alarms and cabling systems, and altogether over 60,000 problems that need to be fixed.
Berliners are artists, not planners. But please don't get me wrong. I also hate the airport for the fact that at some point in the distant future it will actually be in operation. Why would anyone want to travel one hour to BER when we can reach our old TXL airport in Berlin-Tegel in 20 minutes and for only 2.60 euros? This is Number 2 on my list of 10 things I hate about Berlin.
For 2.60 euros you can travel for two hours within sections A and B of the city, covering about two thirds of its surface area via any means of public transportation. Let's be honest, this price beats the cost of commuting in any other metropolis in Europe. However, the toll it takes on your nerves is more costly. You see, we in Berlin want to become modern and fancy, which means that the streets, the stations and your tram line are under always construction. I doubt there's a single Berliner who can get to work without a detour due to a construction site. There you have my Number 3.
Its own rules
The good thing about Berlin is that the City Council gave some serious thought to its nightlife. Despite all the construction sites, the metro does run 24/7, unlike, say, in London. So that's settled. But there's another annoying tendency that bothers me. Every weekend there are endless possibilities for spending your night on the town. Someone invites you to a friend's housewarming party, you receive invitations to a fashion show in a former factory, you've got dinner reservations at the restaurant where George Clooney had steak a few months ago - the list is endless. But while getting overwhelmed by all the options, you end up staying in and ordering pizza. This is my Number 4 thing I hate about Berlin: Too many opportunities to possibly take advantage of.
But it doesn't always happen that way. If you do manage to make up your mind, you might find yourself totally overdressed in the middle of some party. If you're new in town, you probably still haven't learned that people here like to be cool in their own way and this city is famous for its grungy street wear. And this seldom implies being dressed up in the classic way. Number 5: Sometimes I want to dress up like I'm in New York.
Since we're talking about fashion, why not mention Berlin Fashion Week, one of the most beloved mundane events in the city that takes place twice a year, in January and in July. While the happening is gaining importance for the European fashion industry, it's still leagues behind Paris and New York, which would make you think they'd want all the press they can get. But even as an accredited journalist, you can't attend all shows unless you have a personal invite. What's the point of that? Berlin designers need to get all the international press they can - not play hard to get. Number 6: I hate the rules at Fashion Week.
When in Berlin, do like in Hollywood
I mentioned Hollywood VIPs, and I think Berliners will never stop wondering what brings world-renowned stars to their sunless city. When George Clooney had dinner at Grill Royal in central Berlin a few months ago, all the local newspapers rushed out with the breaking news: "Clooney spotted in town," "Clooney invited a Berliner to dinner."
People, get used to it! Berlin is an important cultural hub, and the Babelsberg film studios have been producing one blockbuster after another for a hundred years. Plus, the Berlinale international film festival is one of the most important dates on the film industry's calendar. Number 7: I hate Berliners' surprise at running some guy who acts in Hollywood movies. He's just on his way to work.
Speaking of work, until a few years ago, I could enjoy a well-deserved after-work cocktail with my colleagues at a beach bar on the River Spree, just opposite my office. In the summers, it used to be the one thing we could look forward to after a busy day spent in front of the computer. But now our fun has been spoiled. The city closed it down and built the boring headquarters of the Federal Ministry of Education there instead. From my desk I now look at an ugly building made of concrete. The 8th thing I hate about Berlin is having to trade beach bars for institutions.
Hatred doesn't do the trick
Nevertheless, an attribute I would gladly trade for anything is the already world famous Berlin rudeness. Imagine that you're in a restaurant and ask your server, "Excuse me, may I ask you a quick question?" Regardless what your question actually is, the answer you will get is, "Do you call that a short question? It's already got 10 words." It's a cliché, I know, but Number 9 on my things I hate list is the so-called Berliner Schnauze, literally the "Berlin snout."
Finally, the Number 10 thing I hate about Berlin is… that I can't possibly find a Number 10. And I've been making serious intellectual effort for the last few hours. But just the same, had I found one or a hundred more things, they would have been irrelevant. Not for you. But for me and for all my fellow brainwashed Berliners who would continue to ignore them.