The day approached for which we were waiting anxiously for last 2 months to start a 4-day excursion trip to Berlin. My fellows and I were so excited that many of us started to plan weeks before the travel. I was also looking forward to an exciting tour to observe the beauty, liveliness and history of the city.
I had prepared all my stuff a day earlier ahead of travel. We almost 26 fellows with our group coordinator gathered at quarter to seven in morning, though it was quite cold but we all did mange to reach at Bonn ‘Hauptbahnhof’ (called in German a main railway station) in time. We took the ICE train for Berlin and reached there in 4 hours time. I really did enjoy the multilingual environment inside the train, as we all are from different backgrounds and speak different continental languages, many of the guys choose the same language partners and framed small groups for chit chat. It was quite funny to listen all the lnguages like Spanish, Persian, German, Arabic, Portuguese, English and Urdu at the same time. I had a nice conversation with couple of fellows sitting in front of me and got to know much about the Arabic and Latin cultures in general and their lifestyle in particular.
We reached to Berlin Hauptbahnhof around noon and headed towards our hotel nearby Alexander Platz train station. We took our room keys and most of us went for a little nap to get relaxed and prepare for an excursion tour. We were told to be in the lobby around 3 p.m. to go in a group for guided tour. The cozy bus with a punctual-cum-strict tour guide awaited us to be on board and start the guided tour on time 🙂 Anyhow, it was good to start with listening a bit about history of German capital by sitting on relaxed seats and had a nice view to see the sunny Berlin’s attractions outside the windows. We had been to historic places by having a stop-over on various locations to take pictures and had a chance for some walk.
In evening, I had to left the remaining part of bus tour and stepped out at Potsdamer Platz because of participating in Human Rights Award 2012 ceremony in Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) headquarter. There was a panel discussion regarding challenges for Pakistani journalists in war affected areas. For this, a Pakistani Journalist, Mr. Safdar Hussain Dawar, received FES Human Rights Award of the year 2012 on behalf of FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas) Union of Journalists (FUJ). That was quite a beautiful evening ended with plentiful knowledge on media situation in Pakistan followed by a classical muical performances by Ustad Karim Khan. The sitar performance was highly lauded by the audience.
We had visited the Parliamentary exhibition “Wege, Irrwege, Umwege” at the Cathedral of Germany. There we were divided into two different groups and had the guided tours about the old and modern history of Germany, respectively. It was quite interesting to learn about the old proposed maps and the constitutional amendmends. I wouldn’t forget to mention that our programme Director, Prof. Dr. Christoph Schmidt also accompanied us since morning and gave us a nice “coffee-treat” at nearby restaurant. Afterwards, we headed towards Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the representatives gave us a thorough insight on the working efficiency of Foreign Affairs throughout the globe. We also enjoyed the 15-minute video documentary in the end.
In the evening, we proceeded towards the Deutsche Welle TV headquarter and met there with senior editorial staff who possess several years of journalistic experience and shared their journalistic experiences with us. They also briefed us the various sections of TV and its transmission areas. We were told us that inside the building there was a
Bundespressekonferenz (BPK; Federal Press Conference) section in the house which is generally a press club, where either the ministers or their speakers are invited 3 to 4
times a week and answer the questions being asked by the journalists. It was quite amazing to know that the BPK is the unique and only press club in the world where the ministers are being invited as guests and they are supposed to provide some information to journalists. This was the case when first time in the history the press correspondents of parliaments raised questions on how to obtain quick information, the BPK was formed in 1949 in that result.
One of the senior editor reflected that the great number of journalists had been raised to large number since last 15 years. In responce to question if the lives of German journalists had been changed in recent years due to social media change, the answer was the significant change has been seen in last 8 to 10 yeas, e.g. in former capital, Bonn, only the major press conferences were given importance by the media but in present situation, in Berlin, the normal press conferences, party aonferences, rumors etc. are broadcasted in real time and immediately disseminated through mobile phones, laptops, etc. But the high speed of serious journalistic work is too heavy to deal with.
We really had an interesting day to visit the Pergamon museum and German Parliament, respectively. Inside museum, we had a deep insight on ancient histories of different civilizations and took as many photographs as I could. We also had observed the ancient Islamic monuments and got to learn about our history.
In the last part of the tour, we had been to German Bundestag (Parliament) and had a guided tour followed by roof-top visit of the parliament. The experience of singing a bollywood song with my Moroccon colleague on the top-roof of the Parliament was quite marvellous. Next day, we had a little city walks in groups and sat-off for Bonn in the afternoon and reached to Bonn in the late evening. The interesting memories will remain in my memoirs in the years to come!