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At 65, Mushtaq is full of energy. He listens to audiobooks while painting his next masterpiece, trades the city for a lake or forest at noon, laughs with his entire body and if needed, climbs up the roof of a four story building and breaks into his own apartment through the skylight of a lofty ceiling.

My eyes widened when my host welcomed me into his house. His apartment was packed with works of art. I was thrilled to find out he’s a painter — a real life incarnation of what I wanted to become as a kid. We plunged into an hour long conversation before I even went to see my room.

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Our connection grew stronger when Mushtaq mentioned his distant past in Bombay. All the way from my home in Bucharest to his doorstep in Berlin I had been listening to, and absorbed by, Shantaram–a captivating novel taking place in Bombay.

As if the coincidence wasn’t enough, he then says that he not only read the book but even made a painting about it. What? An amazing painting about the book I paused listening to when he greeted me. My short stay at his place was on to a good start.

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I came to Berlin to search for a place here. Why Berlin? The question everybody asks. My answer is an even shorter question: Why not? As much as Berlin has to offer, I came here simply to be somewhere else. And so my quest to live abroad begins, until the new place no longer feels “abroad”. What follows after, I’m as curious to find out as anybody asking.

Berlin really does have a lot to offer. Searching for apartments, I mapped at least five neighborhoods by foot. Like a good movie trailer, I caught many glimpses of interesting places–streets, buildings and parks unattached to a story yet, which I’m sure will return to me later as part of a cohesive picture.

For now, I’ll be roaming in Berlin.

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This is my first attempt to write a travel journal. Like my trips, it has no clear direction, but I have a good feeling about it and I’m curious to see it unfold. Posts will be brief, disconnected and flooded with photos. My story might feel distant if we haven’t met, but you–just by reading it–are part of it and you’re welcome to say hello.

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