Friday, June 19, 2009

Reflections on communism OR my weekend in East Germany

I would like to start this post by saying I am officially too old for my body to effectively handle two, 12 hour parties in one week but I am not too old to push through them like a champ.
The husband and I went to a wedding outside Berlin in the former DDR this past weekend, which was quite an interesting experience. It was actually quite an interesting experience for the German guests, too, many of whom had never been to Berlin. One of my favorite sights was the wind turbines! I realized that I have never seen one in real life before. They are truly an awe-inspiring feat of human ingenuity. Apparently (according to my green energy industry friend and fellow wedding guest) the area we were in has the 2nd most dense concentration of the turbines in all of Europe. The flat landscape and lack of any other kind of industry made it a perfect area for green energy development.
Back to the lack of any other kind of industry. There are two obvious remnants of the communism state - the lack of people and the lack of industry. The town we stayed in is clearly dying. On a gorgeous Saturday afternoon there was no one walking around town. There were no little stores in the city centre like you find in even the smallest American towns. And similarly, no franchised fast food restaurants! Fast food may be the scourge of America, but it is also an excellent small business opportunity.
None of the guests (nor the bride and groom) were actually from Berlin - a combination of factors led to the party being held there. So the foreigners were not the only ones with wide eyes. In a very capitalist move, the catering was mostly staffed from Berlin and brought to the country and the food was bought from a local entreprenuer organic farmer!
Excitingly, we got a lift back into Berlin after the festivities and so got to experience the autobahn. Very fast. Loved it.
From the sparseness of east Germany came the most ridiculous extravagant affair of a Cambridge May Ball. Don't ask me why "may week" is in mid-June. I have ceased to try to solve the many mysteries that make up life in Cambridge... suffice to say it was another 12 hour affair. My feet are killing me, my eyes are showing my age, and I had to sleep for 15 hours to recover. Thank goodness there won't be any more weeks like this in the near future, but I certainly enjoyed this one.

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