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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Just saw a project done by Haus de Kulturen de Welt called “Berlin is bigger than New York”.A nice and clear comparison presenting these two centers of Europe and the state. Regardless the over-simplification on the richness of both cities, I like this project for the reason they are talking the places I lived before and I am living now : Kreuzberg & Brooklyn.

New York, in terms of size, is much bigger than Berlin. This gigantic apple allows different forces, people and culture. That is why people always say ” You can find everything in New York.” But this factor also makes the gigantic apple a tough city, because you can find every kind of ridiciousness and craziness here.

I don’t really want to argue. As a short-term resident for both cities and for no reason I do agree in terms of freedom Berlin is bigger than New York. You can still find both in New York and Berlin all kind of things which give you the sense of freedom :  a great diversity of culture and a lot of choices on lifestyle. I guess probably New York is too diverse.

Anyway, nice adventure in this crazy city. (written by a girl in New York who don’t take metro and only cycling; who don’t go to supermarket and only go to farm. Yes I prefer to live this way)

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I were reading about French movement and revolution in the 18 century. An architect Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-Le-Duc wrote a beautiful piece :

“Extremes and contrasts are necessary to the poet. when a man of strong feelings sees his country invaded : when he is the witness of shameful abuses; when his sense of right is outraged; when he suffers or hope, if this man is a poet, he is inevitably inspired.”

Then I thought of a news I read recently, a chinese developer built a massive development in Angola, Africa. Ignoring the aesthetic value of the development, the housing estate ended out empty because of the expensive housing price.

Photo credits : business insider

article series Yīshízhùxíng for

 Italian Version @ Magazine Cittadino Globale
Mašta Magazine
Magaristo Magazine

The famous Chinese idiom 「衣食住行」(Yīshízhùxíng) says the four basic elements of our existence what we dress, what we eat, where we live and where we travel. In this world all big cities are jumping into big capitalist pool. We interviewed different people in Berlin to find out how they work out these four aspects in an unorthodox way.

where we live
Puneet, started traveling in 2006.

“Can you tell us your background and how you started hitchhiking?”

I was born in a big city in India with 20 millions citizens. When I was 25, I already got everything, power, money and sex. I studied computer science and mathematics ;then I became freelance scientist. By teaching and researching in different universities in the world, for 3 years, I had the chance to travel to different places, from India to Europe and even Asia.

Then I met a super hitchhiker. He is only 23 years old but he has already traveled for 8 years. Can you imagine a 15 years old boy starting hitchhiking on the road? He even hitchhiked to Kashmir ,which people say is the most dangerous place in the world.

After one year I decided to stop working and started my 3 years full time travel, because I felt like I had enough of everything. It was challenging than before because I have an Indian passport, which doesn’t allow you to visit a lot of countries without a visa. I hitchhiked everywhere, I slept everywhere. Sometime I just went to villages and knocked on the door. “Hello, I traveled here but I don’t have a place to stay. If you can offer me a place to stay, I can help you with everything. I can cook for you, I can clean the house for you, I can fix the devices for you…” That is how I lived until now. On average I spent 2 euros a day. Sometimes people just don’t understand how to spend. In India, people never recycle; on another side in Romania the gypsy eat dump-diving food. Where ever I go , I go by hitchhiking.

“You have been travelling around for 9 years. Do you feel like you have a home?”

I don’t feel like I need a home. I see the world as a whole. I enjoy being on the road. I enjoy being with beauty. I like going to countryside and see how people live there. this is the real culture to me. They farm; everything is just in a self-sustainable system, nothing branded “Bio-food” can be found there. They play; the children are happy. I also enjoy to contribute, to help the community. It is to be away from the big society system and truly engage with the people in the community.

“Do you ever feel lonely?”

I feel lonely when I cannot travel and live in a communicate based society. It is just you cannot express yourself in your life and you don’t understand yourself.

But now I am moving around, I don’t feel lonely. I found myself and I know where my happiness come from. I also love all the challenges I face on the road. I communicate with people I met. I don’t feel lonely at all. For some countries where I don’t speak the local language, I only know “hello”, “how are you?”, “yes”, “no”, “you are beautiful” and “toilet”; but communication is by heart.
The beauty of travel is to let different people to teach people, let different people to have different dreams. Everything can be beautiful.

Today I had a really inspiring discussion in the media lesson of Philip Parker, we talked about different relationship between our perceptions and drawing. And he reminds me a lot Mr. Lo Sun Chang, who taught me line drawing.

Sometimes we can use different medias to twist or adjust what we perceived. Like Alvin Lucier’s <<I am sitting in a room>>, from a normal speech we usually hear to a new sense of composed music.

Same as drawing, when we start to draw, we start to find something new. This is my favorite of the day from Parker.

  “The drawing informs what you think.

  Making a drawing is to see what you are thinking, 
  making a drawing is to change what you are thinking.”

He kept reminding us the important of line to an architect.

  “You have one friend, the line is your friend.”

article series Yīshízhùxíng for

Magazine Cittadino Globale
Mašta Magazine
Magaristo Magazine

(Chinese Version)
(Italian Version)


The famous Chinese idiom 「衣食住行」(Yīshízhùxíng) says the four basic elements of our existence what we dress, what we eat, where we live and where we travel. In this world all big cities are jumping into big capitalist pool. We interviewed different people in Berlin to find out how they work out these four aspects in an unorthodox way.

Eating
Adam, Homeless Veggie Dinner (HVD)

Adam. Photo credits : Florian Gottschall

Starting from 2010, you found every month in the Berlin Couchsurfing (CS) group a post “Free Homeless Vegetarian Dinner”, a group of volunteers started to serve you a tasty meal every month.

1.) Where is the idea of this community dinner from?

3 years ago I met an old friend in Berlin and coincidently we ended up living in the same neighborhood in Kreuzberg. My friend had access to a space with a kitchen and asked me how to help turn this place into a lively community place that would benefit the neighborhood.I brainstormed some ideas with my couchsurfing friends and soon different members of the CS group contributed and shared their skills. I started thinking what people need and what I can offer, then I thought of food.

“Because food is for everyone.”


2.) How do you solve the food supply problem and provide this free dinner?

The idea is to provide a dinner for all. People who can afford to pay are free to donate, and the amount they donate covers the cost of the dinner for them and for the homeless. We don’t require a minimum donation or a donation at all.

“You can donate as much as you want or as little as you want to enjoy a free dinner.”

We managed to find a wholesale market in Westhafen Berlin for our food supply. The wholesale market must sell the freshest food to the retailers. Therefore once this food isn’t totally fresh anymore they cannot sell it. They always throw away so much good food, so we pick it up and turn it into a tasty dinner.

3.) Could you share with us a story about a “customer” at HVD.

I always try to remember faces of everyone who comes. There was a guy who had been missing for a year and no one had any idea on where he had been. After one year I met him at HVD again, greeted him and asked how he was. He then told me had an accident and ended up in hospital for a long time.

4.) What is the biggest challenge of HVD?

It is to find the homeless. We went through different homeless shelters and networks, and at the last HVD in July we had around 100 homeless people.

5.) What are the differences between HVD and other soup kitchen?

We try to serve everyone as if they came to a restaurant. For once they can sit at the table and order their meal. No queues with a plate in one hand and the cuttlery in the other.

Also HVD is a dinner mixing homeless people with the others in the society, they are all served the same. There’s no difference between someone with or without money at the dinner. In fact, several times I’ve seen a poor person come and put his or her 10 or 20 cents into the box. Knowing they actually pay for the dinner dignifies them.

6.) How do you measure the success of HVD?

First is the sense of community: the volunteers involved are not treated as helpers, they feel like one of us, enjoying the fun of cooking, going to shelters to promote the dinner and traveling around to collect food. We are all running this dinner together.

Second is I hope HVD can inspire people in other places, so that people start similar projects in their communities.

7.) What is your future goal of HVD?

We would like to bring the homeless back into the society. We want to connect with other volunteer organizations to provide them skill-trainings and job opportunities.

8.) What is your dream?

I don’t really have a dream. But after I organized HVD for these homeless people I realized I just want to be happy.

“Sometimes you are just so lucky to do the things which make you happy.”

9.) Do you like Berlin?

Yes, Berlin is a magical place. People are open-minded and you always find random opportunities here.

We are all having fun organizing these dinners. It’s not a job and nobody pressures us into doing it. I think this is the key to our success.

Photo credits : Veronica Solomon


Homeless Veggie Dinner

Facebook : Homeless Veggie Dinner
Email : skypeyourenglish@googlemail.com