Saturday, July 10, 2010

At Checkpoint Charlie

In the spirit of sharing my father's anecdotes(it's sad he didn't ever write a blog),here's one of his favorite stories about his visit to Germany.My parents lived in Germany for around two years in the early eighties.Germany was divided into West and East Germany by the formidable wall.My father decided to pay a visit to East Germany,possibly because of the notoriety of the communist regime.

A bus full of tourists,my father included,were driven to 'Checkpoint Charlie'.They were made to stand in a line after alighting from the bus.A stern faced communist guard went from one person to the next,scrutinizing passports and facial expressions.Since a majority of tourists were American, the guard had a perpetual scowl on his face.He then came to my dad,the sole Indian tourist,and his expression changed.'This is our friend!',he said,his rigid face breaking into a smile.My father was escorted out of the line and given a privileged seat in the tour bus.This meant that he was seated next to an overzealous,matron-like guide who directed all her commentary at my father and ignored everyone else.

My father admitted that the pro-Soviet propaganda was amusing and quite predictable.The wall came down a couple of years later and the East and West merged into a single country.Nevertheless, the experience was a priceless consequence of belonging to a left-leaning nation that called itself 'non-aligned'.

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