Tag Archives: loneliness

City of singles

Before Berlin was so radically and comprehensively gentrified, I lived in a fourth floor apartment of a crumbling house whose windows looked across a concrete yard into an apartment of an old man. We largely kept different hours, and he to himself. As such, our exchanges never progressed beyond the occasional stairwell greeting.

But late at night I would often see the light go on in his kitchen, and in he would hobble. Until one evening, he didn’t. For a couple of days, I rang his bell and eventually alerted the building’s managers. They came and shortly thereafter confirmed my worst fears. He had died.

Elke Schilling, a silver-haired woman in her early 70s, had a similar experience in her block of flats. When she saw no sign of life from the neighboring apartment for a couple of weeks, she called the police. They would only break in on the condition that she paid for the repairs should the missing man be on holiday. Needless to say, he wasn’t. Read on or listen.

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