Thursday, February 09, 2006

 

Bruno discovers Denmark: that's the small country north of Germany right honey?

Last week I received an urgent phone call from Bruno:

“Honey I have something important for you to Blog!!!”

“What??”

Was the hijab now allowed in German state schools? Had the German Government started collecting taxes on behalf of all religious groups not just Christians? Had Baden Württemberg’s Muslim immigration test been abolished? Were crosses going to come off government buildings as a sign of their commitment to secularism???

No! He then launched into his Denmark/Mohammad cartoons/freedom of speech crusade. Freedom of speech was under attack we had to stand with Denmark as a sign of our support for hard won liberties.

By the time he’d finished I was so flabbergasted that Bruno had finally registered Denmark’s existence, that all I could muster was:

‘No, I can’t do it’

‘What! Honey, people are sending death threats!’

‘I don’t like to make fun of minority groups and encourage people’s prejudices it’s …. not nice’

‘We’ll talk about it when I get home’.

Bruno and Denmark: a somewhat vague relationship

When I met Bruno two years ago in Nepal we were quizzing each other on capital cities (come on it was a three hour hike in the middle of nowhere!). Bruno was gliding along easily rattling of cities in far flung parts of the globe:

Argentina?”

Buenos Aires"

Indonesia?”

Jakarta

Somalia?”

Mogadishu

I thought I’d lighten it up, throw in an easy one …… “Denmark?”

“Mark what? Densa who? Oh right! Denmark! … hmmmm … ahh”

I thought he was joking.

“arghhh I really should remember that one”

“Are you joking?”

You may find that hard to believe but it is true.

You’d think after that (ever so slightly) humiliating episode that Denmark would have stuck in his mind, but no.

A year later I emailed him a funny quiz (see below)– the emphasis of which is on entertainment not difficulty – however one does have to think of a country starting with the letter ‘D’. From there one must come up with an animal starting with the last letter of their ‘D’ country and then a fruit starting with the last letter of their animal.

On average people come up with: ‘Orange, Kangaroo, and ….Denmark’, or sometimes ‘Apple, Koala, and … Denmark’, one strange girl (my sister) said ‘Apricot, Koala and … Denmark’. Either way I am sure you scientists out there recognise the constant factor in the experiment.

That night I spoke to Bruno on the phone:

‘So what did you get?’

‘Orangutan’

‘Orangutan!’

‘Yep, and Nectarine and’ somewhat sheepishly: ‘the Democratic Republic of the Congo’.

‘What! How did you even know the full name of the Congo?’

‘I looked it up on Google’

‘Oh don’t worry about it, English is your third language Denmark is probably something really different in German right?’

‘Nope it’s Dänemark’.

Fast forward 6 months.

Me: “Honey guess what! The crown princess of Denmark is Australian”

Pause: “In Germany we care not for such antiquated relics as monarchies”.

Did I imagine it or was his mind ticking over: DenmarkDenmark, sounds familiar must be around here somewhere…

Denmark comes home

So imagine my surprise to come home and find Bruno changing our computer wallpaper. What was a nice picture of the beach is now a Danish flag with ‘I support Denmark in it’s struggle for freedom of speech’ scrawled across it.

“Shouldn’t that be I support Denmark’s right to be an arsehole” I splutter into my coffee. “After all what exactly are they trying to say?? Because all I am seeing is ‘get focked”

“It’s the principle! Newspaper content should not be dictated by threats of violence”.

There we stood: two different continents of understanding and experience suddenly stopped by a common need to be understood - something that seemed so clear suddenly isn’t.

It makes for interesting conversation.


Comments:
Hi!!
I've been enjoying your blog (I'll refrain from commenting on the actual post though, haven't had enough time to work out an informed and educated point of view).
I'm reading all the 'expat' blogs with interest to get an idea what's going on in Germany at the moment and be prepared for when we might be joining in a few years down the track. So I'll better do my homework and keep reading your blog :)
 
Hi ,
I had a look at your blog - I take it you are thinking about moving to Germany? For me it has been a fantastic experience (most of the time:)
However what I love most about blogging is the technological side, it is so frustrating for me! and I really want to learn it!
 
Hi Alice - first time visitor. Your blog is interesting and I'm sure to come back for more. I guess I'm not one to post on anything political but it was an interesting read. Does Bruno know the capital yet? :)
 
Hi Alice,
moving to Germany could be on the cards a few years down the track. We're definitely thinking/dreaming about it as we think it might be easier to be a bilingual family in the Non-English speaking country (English is just so dominant ... and the appreciation for a foreign language isn't very great in Australia, as you might know). How do you find studying German?
I remember reading on you blog that you'd never learned a foreign language before (German wouldn't be my first choice had I to chose a language to learn ... too many complicated grammatical rules :O
I know what you mean though with the blogging thing. I'm learning heaps as I'm trying to write stuff (well and my husband is rubbing his hands. He's been trying to get me to learn some programming ages ago and now I'm forced to learn about all this HTML-type stuff ... baaaaahh!!
 
Hi aliceingermany,

great blogs! being german i find it very interesting to see germany through other peoples (foreigners) eyes.
in your blogs i see the kind of humor i wish more germans had.
 
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