Want to find me.. I will be at the bar with a glass in my hand, but not eating the nuts... bar nuts are sort of scary.

Friday, November 6, 2009

I am a Doughnut!

We haven't had a story lately, would you like another? I thought as much. Ok, get cosy, put your feet up...hey! not on the coffee table! Good, ready?
As a fresh young bride, I was whisked out of Australia, all the way to Europe, landing squarely in Germany. It was exactly 30 days after I got married. Everything was new, new husband, new country, new language. It seemed every conversation I overheard was about to explode into a full blown blood bath. The gutteral utterings all but nonsense for me at the time.

An exciting time to be in Germany, whispers of revolution were in the air and I was delirious with sensory overload. Finally the chapters of my well-thumbed history textbooks were coming to life. Names like Helmut Kohl and Honecker infiltrated my everyday conversations. I felt worldly beyond my tender years.

Watching the Berlin Wall fall was like sitting in a Master class. Even way before I tangoed with the German Mr Dear Husband, I had a unfathomable interest in everything to do with WWII. Triggered, I suspect, by two books read during my impressionable teen years. Diary of Anne Frank, and One day in the life of Ivan Denisovisch by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn.

As life rushes by, it took us until the Summer of 1990 to finally have the chance to cross the border and take a look around The East. A trip was planned, heading through Frankfurt, toward Dresden, then on to Prague. It was our 1st wedding anniversary. In preparation, there was much discussion about whether I would need a Visa or not. Nobody seemed to know the answer, and that summed up the whole country, doused in confusion. The merging of East & West was still in its infancy.

Being a worrier, I took hold of the reins and asked Mr Dear Husband to drive me to Bonn. I would just go to the East German Embassy and ask them. Now, I am not sure what it was like before the Wall went down, but I could swear I saw a tumble weed rush down the driveway as we approached. No cameras, no guards, and nothing to indicate if we should go in or run for our lives. As we hesitated, a man in a East German police uniform opened the front door and beckoned us inside. At this stage, I am seeing pictures from John Le Carre books in my head.... we followed him into a large room. The room empty, except for a small, battered table and chair, placed deliberately in the centre.

Mr East German Policeman, sat behind the desk, straightened his shoulders, coughed once and said, "Passport".

By this stage, I had started to shake, having worked myself into an imaginary frenzy. I held out my little blue Australian passport, with the fearful worry that I would never see it again. Visions of KGB were dancing through my head, high-kicking to the title music from Hogan's Heroes.

Mr East German Policeman took my passport with his thumb and forefinger, a slight curling of the top lip and and ever so tiny sniff. He laid it on the table, and opened it to the first page, looked intently at the photo, then back up to my face. That curled lip remained.

Then, in a manic rush, he flipped the lid of a small cashbox by his side, containing a stamp, and a stamp pad. "Twenty Marks!" It sounded more like a barked command than a request, and we reacted accordingly, each of use stumbling to turn out our pockets and throw money at him. With a slight of hand, the money disappeared, there was a quick STOMP, and my passport was slid back across the table, again, using the least amount of bodily contact possible.

We did not talk or look back until we were at least 20 minutes away. To this day, I have no idea if the stamp was legitimate or not. On no occasion during the trip through East Germany was I ever stopped by anyone, nor did anyone ever request to see the stamp.

For all I know now, there is a good chance that we were scammed... but it made our trip to the DDR all the more exciting. A fruitful imagination is a wonderful thing.

Now let's me hear you..... get that David Hasselhoff hip action going.... come on, The Fall of the Berlin Wall will be forever linked to this song....

I've been lookin' for freedom
I've been lookin' so long
I've been lookin' for freedom
still the search goes on
I've been lookin' for freedom
since I left my home town
I've been lookin' for freedom
still it can't be found


Cairo Typ0 said...

I would have been terrified!! I'm impressed you kept your cool so well!

Lydia said...

Yeah, a lot more gutsy than I would have been! I would have wet my pants!

Veronica said...

Travelling through USSR in earlier years was quite exciting too, totally planned, escorted supervised and separated from the locals where possible; very interesting memories and i can relate ...

Lynda said...

No way was I cool... I was just too young and stupid to realise what was going on... but I can pretend! LOL


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