Pick-A-Day

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Whatchamacallit 152: 38 Days

38 Days

This is a hand drawn map showing the route that Ahmed Alali took from Damascus to Berlin over the course of 38 days in 2015.

He was escaping the war in Syria.

When I photographed this drawing, I thought to myself, “oh this will be easy – I’ve written about it before, I can just point to an old blog post.”

However, I haven’t.

Which is a mistake on my part.

First the easy part: I paid 200€ for this drawing, 100€ went to Ahmed, 100€ went to the Berlin Refugees Association that put on the show. God only knows how much I paid to frame it.

The decision to buy was easy: I spotted the drawing in the catalogue before the show opened – and then made sure that I got there early enough to claim it before anybody else could.

It is magnificent in how it demonstrates the time that it took Ahmed to escape Syria, coming to Berlin over the course of 38 days: Syria to Turkey to Greece, to FYR Macedonia, Serbia, Hungry, Austria, Germany.

To me, the map captures the essence of 2015: a brutal war in Syria pushed out an unimaginable number of people, all seeking the comfort and hope that Europe offers – many choosing Germany.

Germany remains a place for dreamers, for hope – something my native land used to represent, but right now, not so much.

This map sits on the wall opposite where I work – a constant reminder that people struggled in 2015; they still struggle today.

In those moments during work when my eyes wander, this is what they rest upon most frequently.

Wir schaffen das.


During the Covid-19 crisis, I am going to try and make a point of writing a blog post about an object in my home.

We’ll see how long this lasts.

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