— Nina Mehta

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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!

Follow the Berlin tag for more similar posts.

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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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Close your eyes, there’s so much more to see. Here are three spots in SF caught in your blindspot that you won’t want to miss. Oscillations

1. Oscillations – sound and lightscape
Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in the Room for Big Ideas, Th-Sa, 3 minutes, Free

Dip into the the YBCA for an immersive and sensual experience. The installation space, curtained off for one person, made with wood, electric fans, lights, speakers and custom technology takes you through a 3-minute intense 360 light and sound experience. I attended the live performance of the scape but actually much prefer the solitary experience off the YBCA lobby and have been three times with many more to come. The installation will be on display until 13 January 2013, so it’s not to be missed. Read more about artists Surabhi Saraf & Sebastian Alvarez’s but wait to watch the video until you’ve felt the warm heat on your face and cool fans on your arms, yourself. You have one more month to enjoy this city’s gem.

Audium 2. Audium – Sound theater
1616 Bush Street San Francisco, CA 94109, Fri, Sa at 8:30, 1 hour, $20

Enter this sound-sculpture space created in 1975 and seems to have barely changed since for a truly unique experience. Artist Stan Shaff hosts an hour-long expression of live and recorded audio pieces for those seeking something truly experimental to hear ranging from obtusely abstract to comfortably familiar sounds. It’s rumored that the 40-year old theater will be shutting down and the shows change from month-to-month, so there’s no better time than now.

 

Moon Dipperton3. Float Matrix – Sensory Depravation
Nob Hill Wellness Building, 815 Hyde St. Lower Level, Mo-Su by appointment, 1hr, $75+

Lay your mind and body down in a shallow pool of water and 1,000 pounds of salt. With earplugs in, the lights off and the scentless water the temperature of your body, this is as close to feeling nothing as you’ll ever get. Your mind, relieved of all the sensory input processing takes many into deep relaxation or significantly emotional and creative places. I’ve experienced all three and have been twice. The owner has changed into good hands since I’ve last attended but this has been one of the best and most rewarding San Francisco experiences I’ve had. I cannot recommend this enough. In simpler terms, it’s the best tool for meditation, focus on the present and self-awareness.

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Design Staff

I’m humbled to have my byline next to some of the smartest designer in industry on one of my favourite blogs. Visit Design Staff to read my blog post on User testing in the wild: research at conferences and other events which explains how I led a team of to do user testing on our product at Twilio’s annual conference.

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