“Ich bin ein Berliner.” If you’re 53, you were alive when John F. Kennedy uttered those words in his famous speech in front of the Schöneberg Rathaus. Of course a Berliner is also how Germans call a jelly-filled donut; and shortly, how readers of this site will think of their main man. Not a refugee who departed Australia due to imminent death threats against preaching for better sound than compressed MP3 over the iPhone, John Darko will be a freiwilliger not otherwise expelled immigrant. As an expat, he’ll be dealing with culture shock, a new language and the hubbub of Germany’s most vibrant city. He’ll learn interesting words like Kulturbanause (a cultural ignoramus), quite useful when describing audiophiles with just 10 albums in their collection.
As he rents or buys his first car, he’ll be able to use Kraftfahrzeug-Haftpflichtversicherung. Such knowledge about motor vehicle liability insurance will impress his Avis man or dealer. When he attends German hifi shows and feels in need of numbing his brain to overcome pain from boring music choices, he’ll know about Betäubungsmittelverschreibungsverordnung – the regulation which governs the prescription of anaesthetics. As he shops for his first cable provider, he’ll scour options between sundry Massenkommunikationsdienstleistungsunternehmen. After a few months of battling Germany’s love of compound words and the occasional Umleitung (detour), we’ll expect mastery of tongue-twisting beauties like Hottentottenpotentatentantenattentat. Just don’t ask him what it means even if he can say it ten times fast in a row (the assassination of a Hottentot potentate’s aunt).
What gives with Darko and Berlin? That juicy story is for our man to tell himself (nudge!). But having ourselves scoped out New Zealand’s northern island years ago for potential emigration from the US, I imagine that Zentralplanetenlokationsbedingung played its part. That’s the condition of a central global location. Whilst my wife and I loved northern-most Kiwi for its balmy climate and gorgeous setting, we also felt in a time warp. Scouring local book and music shops told its own tale based on available selections. Envisioning running 6moons from there looked as dope as 48 times stronger than Morphine. For review loaner access, I’d have either been limited to the few domestic brands and whatever was imported; or the rare manufacturers who’d prove willing to pony up for two-way shipping half-way around the globe; by my estimation a lame, blind and deaf pony. To attend important hifi shows, I’d have to ride the same pony myself. In short, that particular visit learnt the lesson that the perfect retirement spot may not double as the ideal business HQ.
I imagine John’s situation in Sydney wasn’t that dissimilar. So… if the world is your oyster because your business is online and you’ve got no kids or employees to resettle, where to set up shop? If being central has high priority, Europe is obvious. Within it, Germany is about as central as Europe gets. Add a solid economy and widespread English fluency because learning it for a few school years has been mandatory for generations already. If a metropolis is a must because one wants extensive night life and cultural diversity, a well-connected airport and railway system… then Berlin practically sells itself.
With John an unrepentant vinylist, shipping an LP collection halfway across the world probably did require ingestion of various Betäubungsmittel plus ruthless discount shopping across all the usual shipping suspects. Of course without any a priori fixed address, short-term self-storage will be the likely destination for all that heavy vinyl; plus assorted other belongings that make more sense to keep and ship than sell and reacquire. In fact, identifying an ideal destination to move to and finding just the right house or flat is far from synonymous. The first can be done with copious online research and a brief visit for confirmation. The second—signing a lease—tends to require being there to get the lay of the land and, within a big city, identify the ideal neighbourhood before the search for a final address even begins. Ivette and I were very lucky. Three times already, it took us less than 10 days each to lock in rentals in Cyprus, Switzerland and Ireland when we moved there from outside. But then, we never yet moved to a big city from abroad where the rental market gets far more competitive. In John’s case, I imagine that he’ll start with a month-to-month in a B&B or low-cost motel, with his major belongings in storage whilst he and his lady canvas the classifieds and keep assorted rental agencies busy to lock in a long-term pad.
Having in DAR developed a regularly updated site relies on ongoing content creation. This merely adds to the initial crunch of to-do items when the boss and main content provider just relocated across international borders not by furniture-moving lorry. It’s why many in the industry who over the years expressed a similar desire whenever they watched 6moons make its next move never got around to doing it themselves. The notion itself is most adventuresome. Putting all the puzzle pieces together can seem altogether more foreboding instead. Add family and employees into the equation and the dream can quickly suffocate like a flame without oxygen.
From experience, I also know of the flipside. Once a decision like that is emotionally and mentally committed to, the things required to execute it tend to show up on their own accord. Ivette and I have watched this process in action numerous times already. Whatever looked like hurdles impossible to scale invariably turned out to be anything but. Internal reluctance and stasis simply had to give way to the sheer excitement of change. Such excitement is magnetic. It attracts whatever is needed to fulfil itself – be it funds, opportunities, people, connections or the proverbial being in the right place at the right time.
So here’s a shout-out and best wishes to fellow pull-up-the-stakes man John Darko, for braving the incertitude and intensity of a major relocation. He’ll undoubtedly find out that Germany is a lot more than Bier, Bratwurst and silly long words as he settles down and in and establishes himself and DAR in Berlin. Ich bin ein Berliner? For John, no truer words were recently spoken!