— Nina Mehta


Summer has passed which means at least a third of San Francisco’s nomads have wandered though Berlin. The two cities are obvious matches for one another: both with their own versions of alternative lifestyles, young spirits, immigrants, and deeply complex socio-political issues. 
Bay Area techies and house heads love coming to this cheap, spacious, creative, more underground, concrete version of San Francisco. Berliners regularly seem charmed by the optimistic dreamers and coastal views. 

“When the wall came down, everything became possible.” That’s what native Berliners tell me about the magic of the German capital. 

And it’s that very ideal seems to draw Gold Rushers to Berlin: possibility. I’m curious how many will stay. San Francisco used to offer creative, expressive, grand possibilities. Almost anyone could try on a new religion, new style, new sexuality, new job, new politic, new beliefs. The city would celebrate whoever you want to be this year, this day, this hour, and it didn’t matter how much money you had. 

Silicon Valley looms over San Francisco like the evening fog. If you’re unprepared, you’ll be left shivering in Dolores Park. Even if you can pull off living in SF economically (hello rent control!) and will put up with smelly streets and sloppy public transit, the new rich culture makes many other city charms, that possibility thing I was talking about, much more difficult.

Which brings us back to Berlin. It’s an incredible place for San Franciscans to take a holiday. But living here is not so easy. We are not so patient with inconveniences. Rules, paperwork, structure, and formalities. Learning German is difficult but I believe is necessarily if you will actually LIVE here. If you’re not white, some things just won’t come easy. Most of you probably read my racism post and a lot of you disagreed so let’s not get too deep into that here.

Several of my German friends have sadly left this city because they couldn’t find a work. People in my demographic want to live here but the money and jobs are in Munich and Frankfurt. Good work seems to be hard to find in Berlin. 

There is a tech scene here but VCs seem hesitant to take leaps on innovative concepts and practitioners are only now starting to get permission to do user research. And I hear my German startup friends complaining about legal barriers. It’s hard to launch in Germany! Techies need to ship. Things get pretty rough if you can’t move fast and break things. 

I love Berlin. I love it so much. I think I’ll live here again someday. But despite all the problems in San Francisco, I haven’t found another city that has both a fetish for fetishes and Redwood trees on demand

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Sweeping ocean views and charming winding roads draw people from around the world to the Amalfi Coast. However, if you live in California this is a place you can skip.
It’s obvious there was a time this Coastal paradise was a hidden gem. But it’s now discovered and congested with lost tourists, smoggy busses, and high prices.

No question, my friend, another California resident and I had a great time. But mostly because we had 9 months of life to catch up on–and Amalfi is great for that. It’s also an obvious honeymoon spot since there’s my much to do there but nestle up with a loved one and watch the waves roll in.
Capri is obviously more expensive but equally congested. The times we hung out by the pool or lazed at the beach or our hotel terrace were the highlights.

Surely having a car gives you more flexibility to explore the coastline (like big sur) but among the traffic and motion sick-inducing roads isn’t worth it for me. Amalfi is two hours from Naples and even getting to Capri from the airport requires a ride into town and a ferry. The boat rides for us ended up being more of a hassle than a charm. However, don’t be afraid to go up to the top “first class” deck, there seems to be no difference in tickets.
The food was good, but it wasn’t great. I’ve eaten better in other Italian cities so you’re defiantly going to Amalfi again for the views. Another perk over Big Sur is the temperature and access to beaches.

Though the beaches are rocky not sandy, the water is turquoise clear and refreshing on a hot day. We luckily stayed here during a harvest moon which mean light was always twinkling over the vast ocean.

If you go, here are a few recommendations.

– You need more than a long weekend to slow down your pace here.

– Choose a hotel with a good restaurant and far from Amalfi

– Choose the lemon over chocolate desserts

– Spend a day at the Artisiti Beach. For $40 you can rent two chairs, an umbrella, and get cocktails and a yummy lunch. They have changing rooms and kind people.

– Get an ocean view hotel and wake up for sunrise. Don’t worry, there is plenty of time for naps

– Ignore foursquare, the recommendations didn’t always match the experience 

– There are less expensive places in the world to hang in your hotel with an Ocean View with fewer tourists

– if you do go, enjoy doing nothing fully!

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2016-08-06 11.11.23

I have tickets to four festivals this year but in the end only attended one. Here’s what I’ve learned from my singular experience and what my friends here have shared:

  • People can handle their substances. People don’t seem to binge drink and get zombie messed up on drugs
  • Berliners love being in nature. Living in the concrete jungle draws out a deeper joy and appreciation (and protection from littering) in nature
  • The sound system are tuned. A high percentage of Berliners have a higher bar and expectation for sound quality and it’s met
  • Stages and environmental details have extra care. A lot of personality is brought to details of the aesthetics (stage design, fun notes, good lighting)
  • Food is often healthy and vegan friendly
  • They are more niche. There are more festivals and of different sizes. They’re not racing to become the biggest, baddest, best festival. They joyfully sit inside of their size and grow organically.
  • People sleep! Similar to binge drinking, some people actually rest at night and come back not completely exhausted and drained from the event.

I went to a small festival, I’d rather not advertise which one, but it was wonderful and there was a rainbow!

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The composition of a city is its architecture, politics, food, environment, and of course people. The mid-year churn transforms this city making it hard to determine if it’s summer or winter that is the real Berlin.

Summer draws unending number of tourists while the people living here skip out for their own holidays. The summer vacationers become indistinguishable from the transient semi-residents who pass through Berlin for a few months or years. Berlin’s spirit lifts with the sun and outsiders giving the season an electric feel. Winter however, famously cold and hard, is dear to my heart. It’s a quiet, inward looking season that brings out the direct and matter of fact qualities that make Berlin itself.

Now it’s mid August and not three days have gone by all summer without someone I care about from San Francisco or New York in town. It’s remarkable, surprising, and sometimes challenging as a host. Thankfully as all of us have matured. Friends understand people who live here have a day-to-day life and it’s not always possible to meet. But my biggest insight is that many friends visit Berlin for a week and fantasize about living here and there is a significant difference between holiday and life in  Berlin if you work a professional job: responsibility.

Language, culture, structure, diversity, and commitment are all things that can really change an experience of living versus playing in Berlin.

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There’s no question Brazil and Germany have a long time history together. Brazil is home to the second largest German-Austrian population outside their home countries and Germany saw a huge wave of Brazilians after their economy crashed in the 90s. This matters to me because, well, many people I meet in Berlin think I’m Brazilian. Specifically, men, and usually Germans.

Me in Argentina... kind of near Brazil

Me in Argentina… kind of near Brazil

Of the German men I meet outside mutual friends (e.g. in public, at a party, online) who offer to guess my origin, 80-95% think I’m from Brazil. Turkish, Middle Eastern, African, and Indian men usually correctly guess my origins are Indian. I don’t have enough interactions with men from Eastern Asia to make a guess. And almost no women in Berlin try to guess my origin, usually they ask where I’m from.

I’m also not sure if it’s a commentary on the presence of Brazilians in Germany, Indians in Germany (nearly the same by a rough Wikipedia estimate), how I cary myself, or some other factor.

That being said, hopefully it’s a compliment, it hasn’t gotten in the way of any experiences yet. But it sure is curious. In other news, the Delicia’s, a Brazilian Nail Salon in Friedrichshain is excellent.

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You can apply Marie Kondo’s ideas from The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up to your digital life. Since we can’t hold a computer interface to see if it sparks joy I’ll help you reduce visual clutter from your computer to make it a more peaceful and comfortable space to enjoy.

A year after practicing methods from her book I started my digital Konmari with a brand new Macbook. Even new computers come with clutter! I’m sharing my findings four months after my digital Konmari. I had no serious relapses is a signal of success.Your computer is a very personal place so please take care and look inward when discarding.

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A photo posted by @juliettenmd on

I’m here. It’s beautiful! I’m ready to meet some friends. Getting here was rough:

I got food poisoning on Saturday flying from India to Berlin. I vomited in the lavatory bathroom, at my window seat, and almost at baggage claim. During this episode I stepped on my phone shattering the screen locking me out of my the means to the hotel.

German bureaucracy is also holding my shipment of winter clothes at customs. Upon arrival I had to go shopping because stores are closed Sunday. This of course only after vomiting again in my bathtub and realizing my broken phone also locked me out of my work email.

I went to the closest stores nearby and deliriously wandered into a high-end mall and dropped my glass of bottled water all over the floor interrupting a man playing piano in the plaza. The old white-haired people shot me annoyed glares. Bitte! Sorry! ahhh. I dry-heaved my way home, slept til the sun came and went again.

I drew paper maps of how to get to my new office, wiggled my way into my work email, and ate a tiny plate of bruschetta. Still no phone, but a solid meal after 48 hours was my weekend triumph.

Monday morning, drained of energy I fought with the ticket machine and found my train. Everything was hard until I rode over the river blanketed with mini icebergs, gently bobbing on the Spree. It was so pretty, I quietly smiled to my self and though “yes, I’m supposed to be here. and I am.”

Yesterday my client said, “That sucks. But this is what happens when people first who move to Europe. It’s classic.” So either he’s very kind or I’m doing it right. Hopefully both. But either way, I’m ready to have some fun!

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The beginning of a design career is so hard. You have good taste, huge potential, and you’re even scoring a few exciting interviews where you’re an obvious culture fit. But they say you’re too junior, need more experience, and should get back in touch after you’ve done more work. But how will you get more experience if that’s exactly the thing blocking you from getting hired? I’m here to help!


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Trust, personalization, and data were the three themes outlined Airbnb’s Openair engineering conference’s opening talk. The event followed two tracks: Machine Learning and Global Scale. So what’s a kindly designer doing somewhere like that? I’ll tell you.

I believe the future of technology will be invisible, less interfaces, smarter computers, and more face-to-face time. Perhaps physical, perhaps digital. So it makes sense the home sharing travel company would create a conference about scaling human connection. It’s all about the systems designed behind the experience that help people spend more time together.

I went to Openair to broaden my understanding of what is possible so I can build better services for people. I wanted to improve the quality of my technical conversations with developers. Naturally, I also wanted to peep at their branding collateral and interior design: it was on point and cozy like a home. I’m also focusing my attention on smaller conferences and festivals for more niche experiences that go deeper instead of wider. This one was a homerun.

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https://d262ilb51hltx0.cloudfront.net/max/800/0*0TPkoPMQNygqsGl6.jpegStroll down 18th street or visit Baker Beach on any day of the week in San Francisco and you’ll find so many people out, you’ll think it’s Saturday. You won’t be the first to wonder if anyone in this city of workaholics is actually working.

I left my full-time job and took an unstructured staycation of exactly one month. I wanted to reconnect with people whom I’d lost touch, spend time writing and reflecting and improve my diet, sleep and exercise routines. My only restrictions were from traveling, shopping and developing new technical skills. Otherwise, life was an open book.

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