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Berlin, Frankfurt, Paris, Chapel Hill, Boston, Istanbul, Calgary, Washington DC, Austin, Tunis, Warszawa and counting

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Life in Berlin

Coming home for a weekend and jumping right back into life there seems so easy. I carried my sister's and her boyfriend's crap up the stairs for three hours. I had drinks with my ol-timey friends, coffee in the Bergmannstr with more recent ones. Yet, having spent so much time away changes one's perceptions, makes one have a stranger's point of view more than that of an inhabitant at various points.

Case in point. I went swimming Sunday, left Berlin and spent the afternoon at a lake, drinking beers, lying in the sun, discussing life and the such. Good times. The point isn't that I hadn't been at the Sacrower See in ages, nor that things seemingly hadn't changed with the old east-German Datschas still standing, but rather that I was shocked, well not not shocked, surprised would be more appropriate, at the number of naked kids, bare-breasted women and nude adults in general that were hanging out there. A few years ago I probably would have not even noticed this, but yesterday it struck me as a rather specific German cultural element. In France or Spain women might go topless at times, in the US, Turkey or Italia (talking about countries I decently know thus) this virtually never happens and even in the aforementioned countries full nudity is rather rare.

The popular explanation for this peculiar German trait relates it to the oppressive East-German regime which led people to some kind of inner emigration (to the beach) and liberation (by taking off their clothes). While there undoubtedly is some truth to this theory, FKK (Freikörperkultur - free body culture) apparently was far more popular in Eastern Germany than the rest of the country, it does not seem to offer a sufficient explanation as it discounts the Austrian and West German FKKs. Can I offer a better explanation then? No, sorry. I will pass it along if I come across something though.

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