When I left my youngest kid’s dad, my two boys and I got “weggentrifiziert” to Lichtenrade, and when I say weggentrifiziert, I mean WEG gentrifiziert. Lichtenrade is literally the absolute middle of nowhere, the Arsch der Welt, the arsehole of the universe. We are officially in Berlin but surrounded on three sides by Brandenburg and one side by Marienfelde/Mariendorf, which, no, isn’t the same place. WE’RE EVEN FURTHER OUT THAN MARIENFELDE. THAT IS HOW FAR OUT WE LIVE. People who still, somehow, have normal flats, in normal parts of Berlin, will often say to me, when I tell them where I live, sadly, shamefacedly: “Oh I have never been to Lichtenrade!” like as if I am going to be surprised.
Why would I be surprised? Before I moved here, I had never been here either! Nobody has! You go to Spandau more often! You go to Marzahn more often! You even go – and I am not being sarcastic or melodramatic, to Kladow more often! Nobody ever goes to Lichtenrade ever!
I spent at least €300 a month on taxis when drunk!
I know you haven’t been here. Why would you? Nobody has ever been here, ever.
Actually, I am exaggerating a tiny bit. On the main road of Lichtenrade – the fifth avenue of Lichtenrade – also known as Bahnhofstraße – there is a kebab shop that Heidi Klum went to once. You can tell it was just the one time because they have reproduced the same picture in different sizes and different colours to make it seem like they have more than one photo.
It’s boring living in Lichtenrade. If they did one of those time-loop movies here, but set in 2006, it would LITERALLY take the protagonist at least 100 years of the same day to notice they were in a 2006 time loop movie. We have no Korean barbecue places, no poetry slams, no hipster porridge bars and no lesbian English-language bookshops. All of our Kneipen are either old men’s pubs or those weird sporty places. The only good thing about Lichtenrade is that the kebab shops sell alcohol. I love having a cheeky vodka lemon drink with my döner. Oh – and it’s cheap. I can still get a large Latte Machiatto for €2,50. See what I mean about 2006!
I’ve got a British friend who also lives here. Yes, there are British people living here now. It’s a bit depressing because they all own property, while I am renting a cheapo apartment. But still. It’s nice to know some Brits, even if they are rich. “How much is your rent? €700 a month? That’s so cheap! Really great price. But you do have to add on your taxi costs to your rent each month. How much do you spend on taxis in a month? Or Ubers? Like when you’re drunk and the M76 isn’t working? For me, it’s at least €300, so that means, theoretically, you could afford at least a €1000 rent a month and live in the city.”
On the main road of Lichtenrade – Bahnhofstraße – there is a kebab shop that Heidi Klum went to once.
My heart turned to stone, my face to marble, the inside of my mouth to ash. SHE WAS RIGHT. I spent at least €300 a month on taxis when drunk! I had to add my taxi costs onto my rent – actually my flat isn’t that cheap at all, after all.
You know what, though? Since they invented the €9 ticket, I am too stingy to order an Uber or fall into a taxi, no matter how drunk I am. I know the trains are almost free, and it just makes me like using them more. I actually think they FEEL more comfortable just because I know they’re practically free. To be honest, I even like night buses now. I used to feel like waiting for a night bus was the most miserable thing in the world. Now I just sit there cheerfully, knowing one will be along in a minute.
The €9 ticket makes you feel connected to the world – mobile, flexible, ready to go anywhere. Even, it turns out, if you live in Lichtenrade!