Two weeks sans souci ….

Spending these past two weeks in Berlin has been an experience which went far beyond any of my expectations.

To be quite honest, at some stage I almost chickened out….To start this sabbatical, I took the responsibility to book a flat in a neighbourhood I didn’t know, beyond Prenzlauerberg and for an amazing fortnight, my address was Berliner Str. 103, 13189 Berlin (Pankow district).

You will find in my Back to Berlin post some photos of this flat…but here’s just a last image that will be in my memory…the vision I had everytime I opened my building door to go outside…so typical of this new and green Berlin:

This photo is a mere sample of the charm of this location.

When you think that initially we were real strangers to each other with my roommates….Well, so to speak, since we had only met via Facebook. Old teenagers we all were!

Being fellow sociolinguists made things easier but still…I should have been unseasy about it, but come to think about it, I’ve known Michael Hornsby

from the very origin of our FB group, Sociolinguists on Facebook. We share a lot and I was not surprised to discover he was a fine gentleman.

Serafin, together here with another SLonFBker, Bettina Kluge at the SS19

I also met Serafin through our group. Like Michael who wrote in my last issue S’Entendre sur la Langue,

Serafin had proved he was trustworthy since he in an author  in my Journal Droit et Culture. He had even accepted to publish a paper almost overnight when I asked him this great favour.

As for our Welsh fairy Lisa, she was recommended by Michael, and to me, this was the best recommendation I could have got. She proved a marvelous roommate and story teller with incredible charm !Lisa and I meeting for the first time, next to Eliezer

We had an almost-roommate with our dear Raoudha Kammoun.Raoudha Kammoun, Eliezer Ben-Rafael and Daphné Romy-Masliah

Some people cross our lives and seem to simply belong to our personal history. Raoudha is one of those. She comes originally from the same hometown as my parents, Sfax, and shares so much with me that it’s almost dizzying ! Age, taste, sociolinguistics, way to consider life, ethics, humour…I knew her before I had even met her in person and, like all the others, I met her for the first time two weeks ago !

Our Sociolinguistics Symposium 19 took place at the Freie Universität Berlin and was a success as mentioned in my previous post

During the meeting, I got to meet further friends from our SLonFB  group, starting with Uri Horesh whom I mentioned in my previous post. A discovery and a new friend for life !

I met also one of our first group members, Arai Yukiasu and Damien Hall and got to see again my lovely FB friend Yolandi Khaos Klein whom I had had the pleasure to meet two years ago in Cape Town. Ana Deumert who works with Yolandi and is also an SLonFB member, Ellen Hurst, Theo DuPlessis

Théo, between Claudine Brohy and myself

…and many more were met for the first time at the really superb meeting.

Following the meeting, my friends Suzanna and Yacine filled the void left by the departure of my colleagues and last week-end meant getting to really know the topography of Berlin. Suzanna did a marvelous job at making sure I knew my way around and I will never thank her enough for showing me the way.

An intense week of constant interaction with friends left a mark ; when I was left alone last Sunday, I found the silence and solitude overbearing. Raoudha sensed it particularly and posted on my wall some cakes and jasmin that litteraly went into my heart.

Up to then, and despite numerous though short visits to Berlin, the city didn’t really make sense to me. Now it fully does and Unter den Linden, Friedrich Strasse,

check-point charlie

the Brandenburg Gate and Potsdammer plaz form an itinerary into my mind and soul.

I was able to visit the remarkable museums on their eponym Island, such as the amazing Pergamon MuseumDaphné L. Romy-Masliah, with Sima Zolfaghari which I had not visited for the past 20 years, the Altes and Neues Museum, the National Galery.

I was also very glad to discover the marvelous photographer Diane Arbus, both at the Gropius Museum and at the Old Post office (an exhibition which encompassed a century of Vogue’s best photographers).

Going to theater, my favourite leasure, was once attempted and seeing As You Like it in German was fun though I found the burlesque interpretation a little bit…Not To My Liking….but maybe it was because my mind was frozen ; since I had not thought of taking a jacket, watching an open-air show starting at 9 :30 pm  was probably not a good idea when you only wear a T-Shirt !

From all the restaurants I went to, let me mention Garda

The Metzer-Eck (click on link)

Two great high teas at the Aldon’s and at the Ritz (I prefered the former).

I also adored meeting another SLonFB friend, Sima, with her sister and charming friend Hamid. I was able to have the greatest company to the Potsdam Palace Sans Souci then to enjoy an amazing dinner at a Persian-Lebanese restaurant…

But the greatest moment of all -apart from our session at the SS19 which had meant so much both in terms of personal dedication and organisation- was the visit of two of my best friends, Anita and Isabelle.

With them I was able to show off my new knowledge of Berlin …although it didn’t take long to Isabelle to prove that my instinctive way of visiting a city could actually be somewhat improved by the useful addition of someone who can …read a map and know the north from the south !

These extraordinary friends treated me to the utmost delight…the real cherry on the pie, the restaurant Käfer at the top of the amazing Reichstag/Bundestag building. really worth a visit!!!


The final moment of sheer extasy of my Berlin visit was our moment at the Liquidrom, a spa with a special touch !

I would like to thank my friend Louka, the Pope of Tula Yoga, for introducing me to some fabulous places. Here they are, because good things should be shared. restaurants  Much better food & people than the website looks  Expensive but Very Good  GREAT interior design This is the restaurant I go to most often. Great food. Interesting people. Not too expensive. Go here if it’s sunny. Very Berlin. Not the most amazing food but a GREAT location on a canal

Restaurant/bar Very Cool. AMAZING views over Berlin  (I attended the Solar and agree, views are great and food (thanks Susanna and Yacine!) is excellent too by the way and finally my favourite :

Museums :

Check for yourself :

My favourite is the Pergamon

I haven’t experienced all of them (well…almost…) but what I haven’t done will be done next time.

…and as many next time as there might be, we decided with Anita and Isabelle that we would meet again at the same date in Berlin, to see it finally (hopefully) reconstructed…in twenty years !

I’d love to finish this post on a fun note…but Berlin is Berlin and visiting the Judishes Museum for the second (and last!) visit made me definitely realize that the Shoah simply has become too heavy for me to be able to get educated on it. At the first postcard (and I swear tears come into my eyes as I write these lines…) of this little girl to her gentile friend as she was about to be deported, I litterally burst into tears and swore I would never forget, of course, but never hurt myself again. It won’t bring them back and by now, I guess, thanks to my dear Henry and so many others, my education is made.

4 thoughts on “Sans Souci…mais pas Sans Mémoire!

  1. What a very eloquent way to sum up your (our) stay in Berlin. I must say it was the second time I had visited the city and I was absolutely charmed by it and all the SLonFBers I met. A real privilege to meet you all and of course a big thank you to Daphné for being the lynch-pin and the facilitator who made all our meetings possible!


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