Hunting Hamburg's Counterculture

by Merlin Jobst

The train was to leave Berlin appallingly early. Having confused the German words for Saturday and Sunday in sleepy delirium, I missed the bus to the station. Sitting against a wall on the deserted street corner, my skin blooming with hives, I breathed deeply, clutching the fingers of my left hand in time with each round.

Sifting through Beirut's Stifling Past

If you have the patience, you can find almost anything on the market floor at Souk al-Ahad. Hiding beneath pink plastic pianos, among stuffed Hello Kitties, giant soup ladles and mountains of miscellaneous clothing, fading lives are scattered like dice.

Mughal Selfies

On the east side of Humayun’s tomb, a young European woman in leggings and a black sports t-shirt positions herself so that she is perfectly framed by the 16th century arch behind her. She fixes her hair, lies down on the ground and pushes up into a yoga pose.

Get Your Gun, Girl

Anne Carson once wrote that in order to survive, you needed an edge; in this age, I suspect that a blade might be better. Reading the year’s new clatch of stories about the “real” Gone Girl ... I found myself wishing that men who turned out to be killers and mass manipulators were rare enough that a story about the “real” Gone Guy would catch on.

Bedding the President

Straddling two continents, the opposing strips of land that form the city are split by bustling seas. Lit by candy-floss skies, this 8000-year old metropolis undulates to the rhythm of traffic and construction, its rising population cocooned by smoke and mirrors.

Victoria and the Fragility of the Expat Dream

Around five years ago, I decided to move to Berlin after visiting the city for a weekend and instantly loving it. A sense of freedom was palpable along its wide streets and in the parks where people sat drinking massive bottles of cheap, decent beer.

Lucky Star, Maybe

“I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius and we’re skeptical.” — Arthur C. Clarke.

“Palmistry and astrology are good because they make people vivid and full of possibilities. They are communism at its best. Everybody has a birthday and everybody has a palm” — Kurt Vonnegut.

Greetings from Chez Jacques

I wake up, uncertain how many people are asleep around me. Sometimes it’s just Jacques, at other times indeterminate snores ping pong over the fold-down sofa, into the shower unit and across the kitchenette. I slip into my trunks, part the patterned curtains and fall into the pool. At first, we all went over-ripe, our skin blistering tomato red.

Somewhere in Between Part 2. Blank Space

Fucking Åmål is a movie about lesbians. It’s probably one of the only good ones, but it’s directed by a man and so is Blue is the Warmest Color, except that’s a bit shit and absolutely not the reason me and Emma are in a car driving 376 kilometres to a nowhere town in Sweden.

How Should We Be Bored?

It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon and I’m watching Take Me Out on catch-up. It’s a cringe-y lol and the right level for my brain, ticking to a slower tock after too many gin and tonics last night. Except I’m not just watching Paddy – “let the angel see the delight”; “let the jal see the frezi” – I’m also on my phone.