Bearing in mind he is one of Berlin’s most colorful characters, Heinz Buschkowsky’s official farewell was less than spectacular.
The retiring mayor of the trendy and multicultural borough of Neukölln, in office for 15 years, was politely seen off by his colleagues with a bouquet and warm round of applause.
No song, dance, cream cake or brass band, as would have been fitting. Instead, district representatives quickly returned to scrutinizing the finer points of Neukölln’s planned cycle paths. Mr. Buschkowsky was left standing in a doorway fidgeting with his smart phone. Happy trails, Heinz.
Perhaps they may lay on a more glitzy leaving do on his last day. But either way, the 66-year-old had the last word in his short farewell speech: “Where Neukölln is, that’s up front.”
It was a proud statement. The transformation of Neukölln from dimly-lit working-class backwater to chic, multicultural superstardom has been remarkable. Today, the borough bustles with trendy bars, Turkish cafes, retro cinemas and the hippest of Berlin’s hipsters.