Sunday, July 09, 2006
Tale of two states
I stood on the river bank of Jardin des deux Rives (Garden of two banks) and watched the water flow past smoothly beneath my feet. The river changed and was different from moment to moment.
(Looking at Germany)
As they say, you can't step in the same river twice. Indeed this is Rhine, and was called the Rhine before, but under different circumstances the river before me took on different meanings. At that moment I was there it was tranquil, smooth and glistened in the setting sun. But my mind went back to the times when this was the 'no-man's water' between two rival states; to the time when armies confronted each other under the tensions of war(s); to the time when the first small steps were made on the pedestrian walkway (Passerelle) linking the two countries, which had perhaps marked a giant leap for this continent.
(across to France)
Again I realise how crazy it is that people just carve up the world and decide that this is mine or theirs. I mean it's just land, just water, just trees and grass on the same earth.
It's a little surreal to think that you could walk from one country to the next without being stopped and searched. It would have been unthinkable perhaps a decade or so ago. But as today I walked across to the German front, and went back to France again. That simple.
But it must have been difficult to make it that simple today.
(Two men embrace, symbolising two countries that have found each other)