In September, I came to Berlin to kick-start a beautiful but immensely challenging journey of volunteering at Unionhilfswerk Fluchütlingsunterkunft, Lichtenberg. Two seasons and half a year later, I can safely say that Berlin is “My city”. It’s unreal how this city has grown into me. It amazes me how, in the midst of hustle and chaos, there is so much calmness and peacefulness here.
Working at the Fluchütlingsunterkunft (Refugee Centre), every day is a learning experience. It gives me different perspectives to look at things, having heard the stories faced by different people hailing from different parts of the world.
Being alien to trade skills or repair work, working with the housekeepers has helped me learn several new things, such as, using different types of tools, fixing different appliances and most importantly, how to work in a systemised manner. I have also learnt the values followed by the social work team, who work tirelessly, providing different types of counselling in improving the lives of the refugees.
The most challenging task I face here is teaching the children, primarily because of the language barrier. However, this has brought out a skill in me of using different and unconventional methods of teaching, which I did not know I possess. This has not only helped the children understand different concepts, but also has created a special bond between us, which I believe will go a long way.
“All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.” Berlin amazes you with the depth of events and programs it has every day. As an avid listener of music, I got the chance of seeing some of the most famous artists perform live. I recently got to witness the concert of Bob Dylan. Having heard the rough baritone voice on my mp3 player all my life, watching him live was the most surreal feeling. I also went for the concert of a British band called “Seafret”.
It’s amazing what people do to escape the mundanity of a routine life and traveling is my proud executioner. I must tell you that Neuschweinstein Castle also known as the Disney Castle is even more beautiful than the pictures on Instagram and the books. When in Bavaria, do as the Bavarians do, one has to experience the atmosphere inside the Allianz Arena with a plate of Brat Wurst and Pommes. I’m sure that the stadium will make your heart say “Mia San Mia” no matter which football team you support.
Traveling to Switzerland and Paris has been a dream come true. Walking in the villages of Grindelwald, Lauterbrunnen and Wengen is something I will never forget. Traveling to the top of Europe and the views of the Swiss lakes from the trains was the ultimate Yash Raj Bollywood experience.
Paris on the other hand, with its charm, captured my heart and I now believe why the writers and artists of the 1920’s never left Paris. With so much history, immense beauty and hustle of the commoners, Paris reminds me of what the “Telegraph Road” must have been like in the song by Dire Straits.
These experiences have made realise how insignificant we all are, and there is so much to learn and see, rather than being absorbed by the negative things around us. It has been a thoroughly different experience so far, I’ve found comfort in being out of my comfort zone, and I feel that is the only way you learn new things. I am looking forward to the rest of time here with challenges ahead and myriad memories to be made.