My sweetheart had a friend visiting. One of his school pals he grew up with. The man, a mathematician just like my sweetheart, left Berlin when he was 20 and lives near Bonn with his family. But his father, now 90 odd years old, still resides in Berlin. His mother passed away earlier this year and his father has to be looked after. He was a doctor and daily care is well organised. But organisational stuff – paying bills, sorting insurances, taxes and what not – has to be taken care of, too. So the friend now visits Berlin on a regular base to look after his father’s affairs. Always finding time to meet my sweetheart. Clearly, they are best friends. And so very different. I like the chap. I am impressed how he and his wife took in two foster children to rear. The daughter is 22 now and fine. The son is an ongoing horror story of worry and strains. A seriously disturbed child (now 12 or 13), a restless soul, a runaway who, aged 8, already tried to escape almost every day. Torn between his real parents who are clearly uncapable of having him, the officials and children’s home and his foster family, I wonder, if the boy will ever find his bearings. It is heartbreaking to hear, how this man strains himself to find a solution, a way to reach the kid. But it is also clear, that he is in dire need to talk to his friend, get a break.
To this end, he spent yesterday afternoon with us. After a joint meal, we ventured out to scout the surroundings. The friend likes to re-discover Berlin, and our neck of the woods he wasn’t even familiar with in his youth. So we cruised suburbia and the nearby villages of Brandenburg. To end up back in Berlin-Frohnau. My sweetheart explaining where the wall once ran practically a stone’s throw away from where we live now. Both men were wondering, if the next generation would even remember the partition, they had to cope with, seeing how things have already melted into one. The friend constantly comparing Frohnau to his own Kiez in the south of Berlin. He clearly expected a poorer part of town. He was surprised to find all these big villas and a center quite like the one he knows. Berlin’s North has always been associated with industries – Siemens, Borsig, Osram, Otis, AEG, Schering – so he was ready to find workmen’s housing. But Frohnau actually was the green residence for heads of industries and those climbing the corporate ladder. To this day it is a rather expensive part of town (hence our choice of residence across the street on the other side of the former wall). Maybe this is also the reason for the average age of the population. Which is rather high. Reflected by the shopping choice: many chemist’s, health suppliers, doctor’s offices, bio food markets, up-market groceries, expensive fashion stores for the elderly, orthopaedic shoe shops, coffe shops galore. Street life is rather relaxed.
Strolling through Frohnau center, the friend noticed the tower on Ludolfinger Platz, commenting on the clock display. Take your pick, when it comes to time in this part of town.