There’s a new Ikea store on Landsberger Allee. This street always held a certain amount of mystery and intrigue for me as it cuts right through the heart of East Berlin, from the old Lenin Platz to the massive housing projects of Marzahn. It was once called Lenin Allee, pictured above at the corner of Ho Chi Minh Strasse. In the 90s, and even in the early 2000’s, it was easy to travel down Landsberger and imagine what it might have been like to have lived in the GDR. The new Ikea makes this impossible. But there was something truly surreal about eating meatballs in the cafeteria and looking out onto slabs of concrete erected by the communist party in the 1970s instead of lower Manhattan.
Earlier in the day, Niklas heard my plans to go to Ikea with Christian and he said “uh, oh -it’s the end of the marriage.” He went on to tell me that every couple that goes to Ikea ends up fighting, because one person wants something that the other person is totally against. He also predicted that we would not leave without spending less than 100 Euros, because “Ikea is not cheap. You pick up one cheap item and then a second, and then you pick up a glass that costs 6 Euros.” As I hugged him goodbye, he wished me good luck and told me that he would be home later with a bottle of wine if I needed him.