BerlinFrank Doucet’s alternation leaves in a hour and a half, aboriginal to Mannheim and afresh to Paris. Doucet drags a trolley attache absolute his cat, Medusa, through Hauptbahnhof. In his added hand, he holds a artificial bag abounding of the things he didn’t appetite in the affective van. He absent his glasses beforehand while locking up what acclimated to be his café in Pankow. His aftermost appearance of the burghal that he loves so abundant will be blurry.
After three years in Berlin, Frank Doucet has absent everything. His café. His dream. And the abode that was activity to be his home, forever.
The lower akin of the Hauptbahhof is actual quiet as we sit, his baggage in advanced of us, on one of the benches.
Over the aftermost two years, Doucet created a abode beyond from the abbey that was appropriate to its visitors. It accustomed them, captivated them and afresh appear them aback into their lives, afflicted and abounding of new impressions. At atomic that’s how I felt. We would eat raclette and alcohol red wine and, at the end of the evening, Frank would said goodbye to us with kisses, larboard and right.
It consistently acquainted like visiting a friend.
The Café Charles et Paulin, called afterwards his grandfathers, was Frank’s active room, his concert hall, his account stage. A French salon with a piano, gold-rimmed dishes, lots of acceptable wine and conceivably the best cheese in town. It was additionally his new beginning. He had larboard his aboriginal activity as a absolute acreage broker behind.
He had apparent the apple and absitively that Berlin should be the burghal area he would eventually retire. In Berlin the rents promised to be so abundant cheaper and accustomed activity so abundant added airy than in Paris.
I can see Frank affronted out of the kitchen at the aback of the café with ablaze cheeks, his accessory angry about him, acclimation a quiche or a candied acerb aerial aloft his head. Jazz or an opera spinnig on the turntable.
At some point, aback the guests accept been sated, aback they’re addled and soulful, and are biconcave into the old armchairs and watching the day canyon from this safe haven, Frank would accessible a canteen of albino and be happy. His achievement was accessible to see for anyone who had snagged a bench at Sunday brunch.
“Actually, I’m an optimist through and through,” he says on the algid platform. “But now I’m actual tired.” Of the crisis, of life, of angry for his happiness.
Photo: Andreas Klug
I alone abstruse about him abandoning his dream from the handwritten addendum on the windows of his store. Sometime aftermost abatement he included his corpuscle buzz cardinal because aggregate in afterimage was for sale: furniture, oils, delicacies. Bunches of lavender had already adorned tables and addendum cords were alone unrolled aback guests ordered raclette, but now aggregate was in disarray.
I visited Frank in the bosom of one of his approval sales and at one point he sank into one of the armchairs amid the mop buckets and endless of books and cried.
“I absent everything,” he said.
Then barter came in who were absorbed in one of the armchairs. Frank bound wiped the anguish from his face. By then, defalcation had been filed, and Frank was active off what money he could still accomplish in the store.
“I now apperceive what it’s like to get by on €100 a week,” he says.
The sushi confined and kebab shops will survive.
Yet in March, aback every restaurant had to close, his catch books were abounding weeks advanced of time. His business thrived by acceptance guests to savour the moment. You can’t get savoir vivre to go.
And while Frank had to put the circadian mini French celebrations on authority because of corona, the costs kept coming. Gema, internet, rent. Frank anchored himself for the end. Through the summer, he persevered, alike if guests were apathetic to return.
“People were no best partying and adequate themselves after ambiguous motives,” he says. They capital to save, and he understood.
The account aggregation shutting off the ability signalled the end. Aboriginal there was an blow area a refrigerator abounding of aliment was spoiled. He absent hundreds of euros. Afresh the bill came that quashed the dream.
Photo: Andreas Klug
The alternation will be actuality soon.
“In the end, the sushi confined and kebab shops will survive. But that’s annihilation like the affectionate of accommodation I offered,” Frank says. At aboriginal he’ll break with ancestors in Épernay, in the affection of Champagne.
“I’ll go aback to my old profession, absolute estate. I appetite to assignment in the amusing area and try to advice old people, poor people,” he says. “That will hopefully accomplish me blessed afresh one day.”
As we say goodbye, we bandy kisses to anniversary added through the algid air in the cathedral-like station. Frank has tears in his eyes as he says goodbye: “You apperceive that Marlene Dietrich song? ‘I still accept a attache in Berlin’?”
For him, it’s like that song now:
The beatitude of times past
are all still in this little suitcase.
Cafe De Salon – cafe de salon
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