The temptation to chronicle is a strong one. Through recounting what we have done we chalk up credit in the competition for the richness of our experience. It is also an easy route to finding commonality with our fellows - for what more quickly oils a conversation than the realisation that one has shared the same experience (or a very similar one) as one's interlocutor?
But the chronicle is the coward's introduction. It recounts everything and communicates nothing. It is a manifesto that allows the reader to believe whatever they will of the author. Res gestae... but who other than the more absurdly stoical of the Romans would care more for what was done than what it meant to those who did (or suffered) it?
3 days spent in Berlin yielded a glittering shoal of incredible experiences, but I will not recount them. As in cooking, a tiny drop of the distilled essence yields a more vibrant and memorable experience than a giant bowl of the original broth. What, then, is the essence of Berlin?
It is, without question, a city alive with possibilities. But that is true of many other major cities the world around; that is, in general, their attraction. Myriad avenues open to the adventurer, wandering through the shattered interferences of many cultures projected across one another. So what's the big deal then? In every other city I've ever been to, there's a sense of urgency about selecting a path and following it. The cost of choice is the compulsion to make it, and quickly. If you wander aimlessly you are judged for it; and on a practical level, you will generally exhaust your resources quickly: each of those avenues has its own support mechanisms, but they are exclusive and require your unquestioning commitment.
Berlin has no financial centre, it has no single dominant source of prosperity. Instead it has an acute awareness of the possibility of social disintegration, and the enormous human costs associated with it. The cut-throat fight for survival that characterises other major cities (are you rich enough? are you cool enough? have you got a story that will get you through?) has no place here. The square mile in London creates a vortex against which all other aspects of the city define themselves. "They may be rich but..." Berlin instead just has the possibilities, with no pressure to be one thing or another. Do what you have to do. Be who you want to be. See what happens.
You can see this in every aspect of the city, the food, the music, the bars, the clubs, the architecture (and what architecture!), the graffiti, the parties, the protests, the shapes, the people, the attitudes. There is a liberalism here that isn't struggling with a puritan fear of what might come of its own development; the extreme, the different, is welcomed, explored, enjoyed.
Berlin is, in essence, a celebration of what is possible.