PrevNextTop85-01-14West and East Berlin

Monday Morning

Dear Mom and Dad and Everyone,

Notice the date above. Here they put the day first then the month. And they use a 24 hour clock although often only in official train schedules or open hours of a store. Different.

This is my last sheet of paper that I bought in Iceland. Next week a different kind.

I went from Hamburg to West Berlin last Wednesday and after a big hassle being lost late at night I found a hotel at which I stayed for 3 nights. Friday I went to East Berlin with two Americans and an Australian. Sunday (yesterday) I travelled to Goslar to look around and then on to Göttingen where I am now. Today on to Bonn for 2 days and then to Wiesbaden to visit Lisa who I met in Iceland. Lots of moving around! This is travelling.

East Berlin was very interesting. West Berlin, too. West Berlin is in the middle of East Germany and is surrounded by a 10-12 foot concrete wall. On the West side the wall is covered with grafitti. On the East it is blank. We entered E. Berlin through Checkpoint Charlie. The customs procedures took about 1/2 hour or perhaps less. From the W. side until we were released on the E. there were many gates, doors, paths, a long distance ~300m. The customs officials need to look carefully at the picture in your passport and at you to be sure you aren't someone else made to look like the one in a possibly stolen passport. They look with the strangest kind of eyes. They were very official, serious, strict, orderly.

West Berlin is a big city. I think the largest in W. Germany. It is very western. Busy busy (at least downtown), stores of every kind with every variety of everything. Neon lights advertising. Every kind of people actually quite diverse ethnically. Lots of young people (they're exempt from the draft if they live in W. Berlin), new wave, radicals. Movies, sex shows, theater, concerts, happenings, festivals, museums, ... You know like any typical western capitalistic city just like we're all used to.

Interrupted. Now I'm sitting in a lecture hall in Göttingen University. Lovely hard wood desks/writing tables. Big place. Not sure what class this is but seems like botany. Yup. Teachers writing on overhead projector. Students writing, talking, listening not listening, dreaming as usual. Most students have a pencil/pen little case. Never saw them at UCSC. Interzellularein mit H2O Suberin Phellogen. It's about Kork (cork). Some students leaving in middle of lecture.

East Berlin is very different. There's not a “black and white” difference but it is very different. Grey, green, brown, black. Buildings big. Occasional women with red scarf, dressed colorfully. Politics can't hide beauty. While walking around I needed to urinate. Found café, elegant [students' attention span is getting shorter] tables, hip music, people drinking tea, beer. While in bathroom another fellow came in with big cigar, he pissed a big stream - must have drunk lots of beer. Went in big department store. All kinds of things. But some very expensive. Little variety, some of poor quality. Made me think - what do we need? Beyond basic survival needs how important is everything else? A fellow I met the next day said, “People in Poland aren't enjoying life; they're enduring it.” I don't think we need to stuff our mouths and senses like gluttons to enjoy life (in fact after a while we “numb” ourselves) but the people in E. Berlin I think do feel a need for something more.

Hearing German spoken by every variety of person to express every emotion and explain every thing (they don't speak German - they are/live it) helps destroy the stereotype I have of Germans being evil Nazis.

Too many movies. After my day in E. Berlin I had a pizza and went to the movie “Trading Places”. Appropriate? Dubbed in German - didn't matter. The photography, acting, editing, ... told the story well enough. I could easily imagine the dialogue.

Until next week,

P.S. Dad - About my 3 bank accounts - I don't want to combine them. I just want to move the money around so there is enough in each to avoid service charges. With the signed checks you can do that. I got the $2,000. Thanks.

[[ Postcard from the Beethoven House in Bonn: ]]

PrevNextTop85-01-14West and East Berlin