Monkey Tree Banana
Dresden Travel Blog› entry 11 of 26 › view all entries
From Berlin I made my way into Eastern Germany; Dresden.
The countryside rushed past my train as it had each time I made my way around the continent. The ground was gray and cold, steely like the sky, due to the passing of winter. Laying here and there was an "idea of snow" rather than any sort of blanketing.
Even though there was a monotone to the countryside, it was still very different from my own, and I loved to spy those little characteristics that made it so.
Upon my arrival in Dresden I wandered through the chilly evening, following directions from my travel guide. I found out very quickly that this side of the country had been sheltered from the rest of the world, because when I arrived at the hostel I had some great fun with the receptionist, who knew about as much English as I knew German.
We expressed ourselves as best we could with words from both our languages, then moved on to facial expressions, gesticulations, an odd kind of modern dance and then finally we were forced to resort to "show and tell" to make ourselves understood.
After such a fun exchanged I will NEVER forget that "dusche" means shower.
I shared my room with a couple of quiet young East German boys. Once again it was late at night so after we exchanged the usual pleasantries we did our own thing (mine probably had something to do with "die dusche") and settled in for a good night's sleep.
Next morning the boys (Niels and Oliver) and I sat together for breakfast and talked about our day of exploring the city. We went out in search of all the landmarks my guide book described as "Dresden must-sees", including Zwinger, a Baroque styled court in the old city.
As we walked about the place the boys and I chatted about things and places we'd seen. The boys had some interesting facts for me to absorb about the reunification of East and West Germany as they were from the Eastern side themselves.
As we walked, we spotted a group of East Germans walking along the footpath towards us. One of the guys in the group was wearing a black t-shirt with three words, in bold lettering, across the front; MONKEY TREE BANANA.
I laughed at the t-shirt thinking it was a very odd thing to have splashed across one's chest but Niels explained to me that East Germany was excited by anything with English and it was likely that the wearer didn't know what the words meant, just the fact that they were English words made the t-shirt V.cool.
Irrespective of that explanation, I think the manufacturer could still have chosen much cooler words.
That evening we enjoyed more good conversation about the reunification. We had seen much reconstruction around the city and I mentioned I had seen the same thing happening in East Berlin, cranes everywhere, changing the skyline of the city as more and more buildings were being constructed.
The boys explained that there was a rush to bring the Eastern side up to the level of commerce that was enjoyed by the Western side. Naturally it was the politicians that were in a hurry to provide balance but there were difficulties as it was a very expensive process and the West had to foot the bill as the ex-communist East didn't have the funds. They talked about the arguments on both sides, those not wanting to foot the bill, and those who did not want the capitalism that would come with the growth.
Dresden had been the focus of some serious allied bombing and I hoped that the beautiful old architecture that had survived the onslaught would not be lost among hastily constructed boxes of these modern times.
Another interesting problem that was highlighted by the rapid rise of construction was that the school system was gearer towards sending kids to university where they would learn higher skills and be able to earn higher wages, but this meant the country was flooded with scholars rather than tradesmen. There were plenty of people that could design the buildings needed but very few who knew how to mix the cement and lay the bricks of the actual structure.
I still recall the conversation and I can now relate to it perfectly as New Zealand has "progressed" along the same erronious pathway in the past 10 years.