"I love your attitude."
How did he react?
He smiled and said, "Thank you very much!"
How did I feel?
I met Andre trying to stop him from stealing a bike. Sawing the lock in bright daylight he raised his eyes when I cried, "Dude, what are you doing?" He put his hands up and shook his hand. "No, this is not what it looks like, I swear! I would never do that! Look here", he got his key chain out. A broken bike key stuck out like a tooth gap in a preschooler's smile. For a second I wondered if he was a professional thief and the key his back up for moments like this. Then I decided to trust him.
I had been watching him break the lock from across the street where I had been busking. Now I went back to my violin case and played on. Ten minutes later he sat down next to me, laying the bike down behind him. It was free now. Andre stayed and listened to my music. He shared his pizza with me. His company turned my day around: Busking had been going horrible until he joined me on the pavement. Hardly anyone had stopped, listened or tipped. I was sick and tired but I needed the money. When Andre held out a soda to me and said, "For you!", I decided to take a break. "You make people smile with your music.", Andre beamed at me. "Yeah...?", I answered. Then I realized I had been so attached to my score I probably did not notice the smiles, all I saw was the pairs of feet running past me. I thanked Andre for pointing that out to me and told him I have been annoyed with Berlin's lack of smiles lately. I got started on how the whole dictatorship of coolness in this city has been getting to me. Detached glances, trend beverages and the uniformity of unique clothing; I feel lost looking for life between the masses of young people whose deep split between standing out and fitting in is making them grit their teeth. Openness, serenity and truthfulness are hard to find on Berlin streets. That is my perception. After my monologue Andre smiled at me and said, "Yeah, I hear you. I, too, miss people who are down to create a community. I believe life is about sharing. But in my opinion this is more of a global problem. Berlin in particular- I am not sure about that. In fact I have met so many beautiful souls here! This place has a special feel to it and I love that." When talking Andre's voice was soft and his face relaxed. Every word of his came with a small piece of his heart. He sparkled. I learned that he is from Brazil and moved here six weeks ago to live with his boyfriend. We reflected on the crazy everyone carries and on how healthy it is to wear that on the surface. Andre told me he operates on vibes. Depending on the feel someone has Andre will approach him or keep his distance. He trusts his gut. Taking another bite of the pizza I nodded. I loved our conversation, all the bits of truth Andre put forward. I told him that his whole appearance and his attitude were beautiful to me. He smiled and said, "Thanks!". We gazed at each other. Our sodas were empty. I gave him a hug, then we said goodbye. As I closed the scores I had a realization: My being hacked off about Berlin had decreased. Because it was people like Andre who I missed- and I had just found one. The ones who sit down next to a street musician, buy them a drink and exchange pieces of life. The ones who see the beauty even after breaking their bikes lock for half an hour (I am sure it was Andre's bike by now). The ones whose souls dance in their smiles and words. Thank you Andre, for making Berlin a better place by living here. Welcome to Germany.
Once Andre had switched the flip from "shitty day" to "alive" the whole city played along. On my way to teaching Yoga I crossed the Oberbaum bridge where the sun surprised me: One set, three spots. I grinned and whispered, "Alright, fine, Berlin, I like you, too."