Tel Aviv—Berlin: a Time Travel

I know what time it is. Ever since I’ve returned to Berlin for the summer, I am aware of the minutes passing, the hours clustering into afternoons and rolling off my fingertips.

I know what time it is. Exactly. I step out of the door—there is a clock: snoozing at the baker’s (in full motion, not missing a busy morning second); another one waiting at the red light of the crossroads like a traffic policeman regulating my belated commute to urgent appointments. And I am late. The tram can’t catch up on the quarter of an hour I left too late, again. Back in Berlin, this quarter has exactly fifteen minutes. In Tel Aviv, I’ve looked for those clocks all over; I was perfectly disoriented—and now I miss the sunny crossroads that breathe deeply under hot dust, careless whether it is a quarter to or five minutes after.
Yet, it’s not Tel Aviv that is different but Berlin: I have traveled five continents, and it seems all the public clocks of the world have gathered in Germany in an incessant hectic mass wedding to crossroads, town halls, and church towers. Not one intersection or steeple without showing off a bride, slender hands steadily palpating her clock-face. Near my house, there is a crossing with even two clocks, a true two-timer. And no way to turn from their faces.

So I know what time it is. The hands plaster my way with excuses; they wrap my leisurely coffee chat with a friend in arrival and departure. They drag my feet off a book shop window to sit on a park bench for a remaining 21 minutes. I know what time it is: it is too early. And then, in a sudden jump, it is too late.

About the Author
Britta R. Kollberg is a poet as well as a graduate mathematician from Berlin, (East) Germany. After the fall of the Berlin wall, she has worked as an education and social services manager for more than twenty years. She writes from Tel Aviv.
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