Monday, November 10, 2014

The Berlin Wall that was

The  fall of Berlin Wall or the Berliner Maue is symbolic of the end of the cold war. This happened 25 years ago. The day was celebrated with much fanfare in Berlin: 'Some 8,000 helium balloons have been released into the night sky ' reports BBC. 

The fall of Berlin wall ended an era where not only a territory was divided, but also hearts, on ideological grounds. 

When politics enters people's life, like religion enters political mind-space, is a recipe of disaster. The people pay the price of faulty politics some bigots.

I was a child when the wall was demolished and people were united. I have faint memory of the day. Many of my parent's friends, who happen to be in Berlin on November 9 of 1989 or visited Berlin soon after, carried back an innocuous piece of the Berlin wall with them as mementos and was displayed in the glass-cabinets of their drawing rooms.

On my recent visits to Berlin, there are lingering signs of the two worlds that was--the East and the West, on the either side of now a non-existent Berlin wall. The integration is a continuous process, not yet complete. 

While the Western part is materially richer, and the eastern part, now I am not just talking about Berlin but the whole of Germany, is rich in nature, where industrialization hasn't tempered with the pristine nature in relative terms. The divide is still clearly visible. 

In the East Germany—communal goals decided by the political masters were the guiding force, not the individual pursuits. I was told that a potent in the East Germany a potent, and perhaps one of the very few ways, to assert freedom and individuality was nudity. Still, folks  are far more open to the play of elements on their bare bodies. 

This is a paragraph from my article on my tryst with nudity in Europe [http://www.openthemagazine.com/article/photographic/my-nude-vacation] 'So there seems to be a north-south divide over public nudity. With its cooler climes, the north is ironically far more open to nudity. Sunrays are precious there and summers celebrated. But that doesn’t explain the divide, does it? I asked Jan (Peters—my friend and co-traveler). The cultural split is true of Germany, he replied, but wasn’t sure if that’s so of Europe overall. After all, Spain in southern Europe has dozens of nude beaches; in July this year, 729 people even tried to set a Guinness record for collective nude bathing on a beach near Vera. Jan thought it over. “Nudity was the only significant way of self expression available to people during the GDR time,” he said, referring to East Germany before the country’s unification. It was a way to assert freedom and still is.' 
The old and new Berlin co-exists
In  Berlin, now a hub of cultural emancipation, of self expression by way of art, may seem radical or iconoclastic by erstwhile East Berlin  standards, is about freedom. And the freedom of expression is integrally linked to tolerance, and perhaps, appreciation of the alternative view or way of life.
  
Now a marking on the surface extends were the Berlin wall stood tall till 25 years ago. I stood there spreading my arms wide, on the either side, the east and the west. That we are different, have varied identities, belief and practices is a reason to celebrate, I reminded me. And not fight wars. Or erect impregnable walls. Or homogenize humanity that this globalized and connected world tends to do.

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