Lehrter Bahnof

Last night I walked from the Lehrter Bahnhof back to Kreuzberg. It’s is a long walk but one I have made before, albeit in daylight and in the opposite direction.

At midnight I wandered through the deserted station. A shiny machine of intersecting platforms both overhead and beneath, Meinhard von Gerkan’s building (the largest two level station in Europe) is a futuristic paean to Germany’s love affair with Deutsche Bahn. A nexus of points of departure and arrival as well as the kind of anonymous retail zones which populate these interzones, the station was empty save for cleaning crews and the constantly patrolling Polizei.

After the thunderstorms that had earlier cleared the almost oppressive heat with a violent deluge of rain the night sky was an ominous mixture of grey and orange, a menacing backdrop to the futuristic wasteland of the Government district.

Perhaps by virtue of its relative unfamiliarity to me the perfectly composed sci-fi vistas of this part of town, as well as the complete absence of people, lent the architecture a cinematic air.

Earlier at Pecha Kuchu a young Israeli artist had recounted his infatuation with what he referred to as ‘minor urban disasters’, incidents of small failure and surprise encountered on the street. He showed photographs of a row of pizza delivery bikes toppled over against a car, the star of a Mercedes hood ornament half buried in snow, a cycle patch rerouted in a squiggle to avoid a advertising hoarding.

In the depopulated landscape of the city at night I found myself obsessively rehearsing my motives for moving to this city. Repeating the story to myself as if by the repetition of this mantra of love long since lost and transferred to the city I could reassure myself of its authenticity, still locate its trace.

On Unter den Linden, in the window of a shop selling tourist nick-knacks, a life sized bear stared forlornly out onto the empty street.

As I zigzagged south my thoughts remained locked in the same inconsequent loop, as if by inquiring constantly of myself “what do I think?” and formulating and reformulating the answer I could avoid thinking anything at all and in this state of ‘un-thought’, of reverie, of rehearsed position, argument and counter-argument, find a blank solace.

By the Patentampt, a huge grey building on Gitschiner Str, the wind began to pick up and the air smelt of rain. On the elevated section of the U1 a crew performed repairs to the track illuminated by a spotlight.

I saw two men coming towards me pushing what appeared to be a child in a stroller. They were smoking and engaged in animated conversation with the occupant of the buggy. As they drew closer it became apparent that the ‘child’ was in fact a moustachioed paraplegic strapped to a trolley.