“Really cozy and strangely horrific pub, a rough spot tucked into some of the finer quarters of the city center. Much appreciated!”says a review of Eschschloraque Rümschrümp on Foursquare.
I did not even know I was near this pub somewhere in Mitte, the night I went out with a fellow desi I met at the Circus hostel. [Sadly I have forgotten his name so I’ll just call him X].
We strolled down from the wonderful Circus Hostel, and we kept walking, looking for things to do in the middle of the night in a city we were not familiar with.
The thing is, if I hadn’t met him, I would never have seen much of the night life in Berlin. I travel alone, and with the typical guarded sense of a South Asian (scratch that…Indian) woman, with my own set of paranoia. I would never DREAM of walking down empty streets in the dark.
Which is what most of the European countries turned out to be. Really empty, absolutely empty. Not even dogs roam the streets of the western world. Maybe they are used to it. But to me, growing up in India’s perennially crowded streets, this is like walking at a really late hour and feeling very alone and unsafe.
So, thankfully I met friend X. While I was a day-bird who spent all my days at the museums, he was basically the opposite. Slept until quite late in the day and then was out, with a small bottle of JaegerMeister tucked in his front pocket “cheapest way for us desis to get drunk in Europe, is to buy this baby from a convenience store“. And because I thankfully spoke to him at the hostel, we made a plan to go out and check out the night scene in Berlin.
We were walking down a street after some burgers on Alexanderplatz, when crossed a little corner teeming with graffiti. Perhaps it was still early in the evening, because there was, again, no one around. That’s when I took this photograph.
It was only today, when I was going through my photos that I realised I was holding up a placard that said “Eschschloraque Rümschrümp”, and only when I tried to find out what that meant that I realised it was yet an underground bar in Berlin.
That’s the thing about Berlin, you never know that you are outside a pub, or anything outside of the stoic walls bathed with posters and graffiti; which is so cool because that year I was beginning to be surfeit with India’s over-exhibitionism.
When all that you are, is on display, it begins to subtly affect what you choose to show, and why you do what you do. All the drama of our news channels, our “patriotism” worn on fragile sleeves, our moral values infringing on everyone else’s; Berlin was a sharp contrast to all of that. Ironic in a way…considering its history. But perhaps that is also what is so hopeful…that one day, even we, who currently aspire to be little fuhrers, will one day break free, from the shackles of group-think.
Meantime, onward ho! At some point we started looking for a disc (ancient word, I can’t remember the more trendy word– ah club), that X had heard about from a friend. We finally found it, on a quiet empty street. Unlike India (or shall I say, Delhi? :D), the street outside was quiet and not lined with parked cars. No hawkers, no random women falling over, no men hanging around. People slip in and slip out, and one would never know.
Unless we were too early, this is exactly how empty and quiet it was. So we went up to the door, and basically got a good hard germanic stare (droll). We were asked if we were wearing anything underneath our decidedly boring jackets. X zipped down his jacket, good old sweater beneath. “And below that?” she asked. He was like “Umm, my tee shirt”.
“and below that?”. OKayyy, time for us to leave now 🙂
So we did a small hop skip jump over to the other side of the street where X decided to top up on another Jaeger and get a couple of beers. We sat outside the store laughing about the whole thing, when suddenly…the street erupted. A taxi dislodged, quite literally, a dozen young men. They all go out laughing, drinking, hooting, very excited about the same club we’d just tried to get into.
They looked middle-eastern, they talked with an almost Cockney accent, and guess what…they were of Punjabi origin! Soon, X (also Punjabi it seems), was out there hugging-shugging, and even me, trying out the little stereotypical Punjabi phrases, only to realise that the Punjabi they spoke was even more “theth” and unintelligible to the average non-Punjabi 🙂
After offering us their drinks (I love how our Asian genes are still so strong no matter where the descendants ends up), they crossed the street to try their luck. X and I grinned at each other as the bunch of good old hearty boys went up, and in five minutes were calling cabs, waving goodbye to us as they rushed to a less esoteric pub-shub.
We finally ended up at a club too, a regular one. The kind where you dance the night away and not find cabs on the way back. Quite fun.