Berlin With Autumn Color & Sun…Who Knew?!

…that Berlin could be so gorgeous if the sun is shining and you know where to look?! Regular followers of smw, slt may remember the teary post I wrote in November 2010, after my first return to Berlin since the wall still stood. I was back again – v e r y briefly – in March this year for pre-assignment briefing, then for a wee bit longer in mid-October, for work-related meetings onto which I tacked a 5-day weekend, basically. ‘Twas lovely. It was also an all-too short but still restful change-of-pace-and-scenery break in a work life that’s been quite busy, perhaps even unrelenting, for some time now. Just before that trip, we’d hosted some some journalists who were recording and reporting some of the people we treat around the world, some of the places we work and some of the folks who do the work. If you’re interested in seeing and hearing some of what we do in PNG, feel free to check any of the following links, each of which is a different fairly short video with some of my colleagues, important interlocutors, a bit o’ yours truly, etc. all talking about the situation, the work, the people.

Viewing those videos, you may understand why for me a lovely weekend of blue skies, fall foliage, discovering lovingly restored and renovated old buildings along the waterfronts and side streets of Berlin was such a pleasure and a break for me. Other followers of smw, slt may recall last year’s work in North Kivu…and you can imagine my thoughts and heart are absolutely going out to the hundreds of thousands, or millions, of civilians who’ve been experiencing yet another in the ongoing waves of displacements and fighting that have plagued the region for nearly two decades. Please hold DRC and especially the east in your hearts. These folks deserve better from a theoretically humane world order than they are getting, honestly.

But there is always hope, that being one quality which seems so quintessentially to define us human animals. Immediately above is a photo I took right across the street from the hotel where MSF puts us up in Berlin, right by what used to be the wall. The wall itself ran smack down this street for three decades or so. If you look really closely, you can probably see the cobblestones under the lovely smattering of fallen leaves, above, which marks where that slice through the middle of this lovely city ran for three decades too long. It gave me great pleasure to walk along those stones, kicking the leaves, imagining how different the experience would have been ca. 1990.

As I write this, bread is rising and I’m off for some last-minute shopping in half an hour or so, all prepping for a lovely delayed american thanksgiving meal that one of my colleagues is spearheading. My contribution – the oven for the pumpkin pie, and homemade cheesy sundried-tomato bread. We’ll have a few friends from the greater (ex)-MSF family in POM over, we’ll eat drink and be merry, and no doubt we’ll send a thought to colleagues all over everywhere, and miss our families and friends back wherever our homes are. Hope your weekend, hope the start of the hectic year-end season is are going well. Peace.

5 responses

  1. MBHB

    OK, so now I know I’ve got to get over to Berlin someday again. My last trip was 1971, so you can imagine.

    November 24, 2012 at 14:17

    • MBHB

      …Not that Steve hasn’t told me that again and again….Thanks for the extra inspiration for those of us slipping into the dark and precipitous season in Syracuse.

      November 24, 2012 at 14:24

  2. Stephen Brockmann

    Hi Paul–Great pictures! They make me want to head right back to Berlin! We missed you at Thanksgiving dinner! But it was lovely chatting with you yesterday! I hope you’re able to stay in one place for a couple of weeks now, finally, and perhaps get some rest and relaxation!

    November 24, 2012 at 22:06

  3. David Montgomery

    Hi Paul. Great to hear from you. We truly enjoy your photos. Hope all is well with you. Be safe.

    November 25, 2012 at 04:11

  4. Steve Dickman

    Beautiful and inspiring photos. A fresh look at a city I know well. Hope to see you there again soon!

    November 25, 2012 at 07:39

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