Lost Connections by Johann Hari

Lost Connections by Johann Hari

Author:Johann Hari
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Publisher: Bloomsbury

About three months after the protest began, a man in his early fifties appeared one day at the Kotti and Co. protest site. His name was Tuncai; he had only a few teeth, and a malformed palate that made it hard for him to speak. He had clearly been homeless for a while. He started—without anyone’s asking—to tidy up the site. He asked if there was anything else he could volunteer to do.

Tuncai hung around for a few days, fixing a few small things and carrying water from the gay club across the street to the protest camp, until Mehmet—the young hip-hop fan who was one of the people on the night shift—told him he was welcome to sleep overnight there. Over the next few weeks, Tuncai got talking to some of the most conservative Turkish residents, who had been staying away from the protest. They brought him clothes, and food, and they started to stick around.

Before long, the camp was being run during the day by local Turkish women—who had often been confined to their homes, alone, for most of the time. They adored Tuncai.

“We need you permanently,” Mehmet told Tuncai one day, and they made him a bed, and everyone started to chip in to provide for Tuncai, until the gay bar across the street, Sudblock, gave him a paid job. He became a key part of the camp: whenever people were down, he would hug them. When they led marches, he would be out in front, blowing a whistle.

Then one day, the police came to one of the protests. Tuncai hated people arguing, so when he thought there was a dispute brewing, he walked up to one of the police officers and tried to hug him. They arrested him.

That’s when it was discovered that many months before Tuncai arrived at Kotti and Co., he had escaped from a psychiatric institution where he had been detained for almost his entire adult life. The police took him back there. Psychiatric patients are distributed throughout Berlin’s secure units according to the first letter of their surname, so he was sent to the opposite side of the city. He was locked in a room with no furniture that was empty except for a bed, and a closed window. “It is always closed because just outside is the guard,” he told me. “It is always closed.” He added: “The worst thing was the isolation. You are isolated from everything.”

Back at Kotti and Co., people demanded to know where Tuncai was. The elderly Turkish women walked into Sudblock and said to Richard Stein, the manager: “They took Tuncai! We have to bring him back. He belongs with us.”

The residents went to the police, and at first they weren’t told anything. Eventually they tracked Tuncai down at the psychiatric unit where he was being held. Thirty of the people from Kotti and Co. descended on it to explain they wanted Tuncai back. When they were told he had to be detained, they said: “That cannot be.


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