Two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, my husband and I moved to Berlin from Malaysia and lived there for about four years, between October 2008 and January 2013.
We had had no German when we arrived – we were told we did not need it. Of course, we realised very quickly that that was not the case. Living in Berlin ended up being a lot about language, a constant translating from German to English. However, anyone who has relocated to another country will know that the act of translating is about more than linguistics.
From the physical to visual and cultural to social, life became an active act of understanding, learning and deciphering meaning on multiple levels. Daily and often in basic ways, we would find ourselves clarifying, simplifying and discovering.
Understanding came on so many different levels.
Our translators were dictionaries, including the brilliant Leo and the sometimes not-so-brilliant Google Translate, as well as news sources and reading materials in addition to our wonderful friends, acquaintances and friendly and not-so-friendly strangers.
In doing so, we were transformed. And when the time came to leave our still-much-untranslated life there, it was with much sorrow.
Now, back home in Malaysia, I am translating these experiences into a creative homage through stories. Included are personal observations and reminiscences, travelogues, reviews, how-tos, and research-based and critical essays. Thanks go to my brilliant tandem partner, Regina Völk, for looking over the German in these stories.
I take a leaf from blogs in that I will try to upload stories regularly. However, the site differs from blogs in that it draws from a definite period of time and will come to a close once all the stories are written. Eventually, the whole should build a picture of moving to Berlin, adjusting to life there, living life there and finally leaving Berlin.
What finally appears here will also be a little experiment in how memory works in the one year (or more?) that I think I have stories to write. And so, the site will be done when it is done.
Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy your exploration. Let me know what you think below or on Twitter.
This site is dedicated to all our dear friends who enriched our Berlin lives: Ali, Selma, Orkan, Onur, Okzan & Emmi Oglu staff | Ali Pasha & the lovely ladies at the former Ayshaa | Andreas | Carolina & Egoitz | Carola | Christine | Eduard & Tino| Elspeth | Frederik & Ingrid | Islam & Elisabetta | Ivy | Jörg & Oskar | Karin | Kean, Helen, Mei Yan & Ze Yan | Laila | Lanca | Rakel | Regina & Alex | Sarah | Saskia | the Sprachenatelier gang | Steffi | Tomeu | Ulrike | Yunus |