Monday, April 26, 2010


The Schöneberger Kiez is not the prettiest part of Berlin. In fact, you could say it's downright ugly. The streets are full of betting shops, all-night Köfte joints and Döner Kebab restaurants. On Kurfürstenstraße, prostitutes ply their trade day and night. Sex shops stand next to pawnshops. Outside the Turkish supermarkets, hawkers sing the praises of their produce: "Strawberries, strawberries, €1. Tasty, tasty strawberries. Ladies and gentlemen, only €1." This is the Schöneberg 'ghetto'. And right in the thick of it, on Potsdamer Straße near Bülowstraße, is IsiGym Boxsport Berlin, one of the city's most famous boxing clubs - the hangout of such renowned pros as Oktay Urkal and Cengiz Koç, and the breeding ground for a new generation of Berlin boxers.

[Robert Rigney, Exberliner, English-language magazine, not online]


PP is currently camping out at Steinmetzstraße 3, in the heart (we now learn) of the Schöneberg ghetto. We are HERE:

Um. Who writes these things, anyway?

Look. Unusually for Berlin, there are stores open 24 hours, or close to. Just around the corner, on Potsdamer Straße, is a huge (shock horror) Turkish grocery store with fruit and veg piled high on the pavement which is open (shock horror) 24 hours except on Sunday. The produce is not, admittedly, as beautiful as the fruit and veg you would find on display in Paris - but that, sadly, is Berlin. Inside are (apart from the usual grocery store offerings) 20 varieties of olive, 10 of feta, stuffed vine leaves, stuffed artichoke hearts, humus, pureed avocado, all sorts of delicacies. Outside, yes, the horror, the horror, men offering sliced watermelon and such at a knockdown price.

And yes, other places are open 24 hours or close to. Places selling, shock horror, döner kebab. Pastries. Chinese takeaway.

At 2am, if you go out for Chinese noodles, a girl in shorts and thigh-high boots may be in the queue. At other times of day, if you go under the elevated rail of the U2, a girl in shorts and boots may be standing by the road. Ye-es.

It's also maybe 5 minutes by bus up to Potsdamerplatz, with the Staatsbibliothek, the Philharmonie, the Neuenationalgalerie, the Sony Center, the Arsenal (Institute for Film and Video Art).

Now, it's not much like my mother's old neighbourhood in Chevy Chase; no. It's also not much like her new place in Leisure World. But, um, a ghetto? Or even 'ghetto'? Äaaaahmmmm...


Mithridates said...

So this means I can get a hooker, some chow fun, kadayif, AND a slice of watermelon if I come to visit you?? In the ghettos I've had to run through on the way to my various jobs (bank telling, pizza torching), all I could get was a severe beating. Followed a few days later by a Sincerest Apologies card (weeping kitten watercolor, "I was wrong" in elaborate script), but nevertheless.

Anonymous said...

Better say nothing than nothing to the purpose. .........................................

Mithridates said...

How is that I wind up getting insulted even by a random message from a spammer?

Helen DeWitt said...

they're out to get us