Category Archives: Stories

Socialist Bananas And Limited Ice Cream

One summer, shortly after we arrived in East Berlin, my parents and we children were out and about walking and enjoying the day, when we ran across a stall, which had a long line of East Germans patiently queued for whatever it was being sold.

My father being always curious, decided to look at what the stall had to offer: bananas! Since the queue was rather long, I was sent to mind my younger brother while sitting on a nearby bench, while he and my mother got in line, telling us we’d have bananas for a snack. I remember my Dad being excited because they were very cheap, and smelled good despite starting to have brown spots on a number of them. Later, Mom told me what had happened, while they were there. The line moved along at a fairly steady rate, so it wasn’t long before they were at the front. A plastic bag was handed to my Dad, and he happily started filling his bag with bananas.

My mother started nudging him – first discreetly, then a little harder, then hissed at him in his native Romblomanon to have a quick look at the other people. Puzzled, he did, only to realise that the other people in the queue behind him were glaring daggers at his back, and the others who were selecting their bananas were only taking a few pieces – perhaps only enough for one each of their family members, or enough to cut in half and share if they were a larger family. Nobody was filling an entire bag full, like Dad was!

Shamefacedly, Dad carefully put the bananas back, and refused the stall-minder’s saying they surely could get one each! He and my mother walked back to us, saying we’ll get bananas next time. When we were far enough away, Dad explained that we could get bananas any time we liked from the groceries in West Berlin, as much as we wanted, while the East Berliners could only get these whenever a different socialist country – probably somewhere in South America – sent them something like that, which would then be distributed to sell to the locals in stalls across the city, and once they were gone, they were not likely to get any until the next shipment, which might not happen until the next year. So, it was nicer to let them have their special treat, since we could get nicer, larger bananas when we went across the border.

But for the East Germans, that’s all they’d get.

My parents had a way of explaining things so we would understand and not complain if we didn’t get a thing. (If anyone encounters me in real life, this is why I have issues understanding why children aren’t better disciplined in this day and age.)

I don’t really know where the bananas came from. Dad thought maybe Cuba, or Venezuela.

The other memory I have of such stalls and lines involves ice cream. It was pretty hot that day (a different day from the bananas one), so Dad lined up for ice cream one day. But by the time he got there, they no longer had any ice cream (there had been only two flavors – vanilla, and chocolate; chocolate had run out first, then the vanilla) and all that was left were the little shaped wafer dishes that had been used to serve out a single scoop of ice cream per person, which the stall-minder gave to him as an apology. I remember not minding not getting ice cream, because I liked the wafer; and Dad making an especial point of getting a supply of neopolitain ice cream from West Berlin that weekend.

Some time afterward, I remember Dad telling us not to line up for the things that were sold by street seller unless they were a regularly available thing, like bratwurst, and only to do so to treat our friends, because we could always eat the delicious treats the East Germans were lining up for anytime we wanted, while they might not get those things at all. If we were out by ourselves, we would not line up for those things. The government was in charge of all the things that they would get; and things that they weren’t able to grow or manufacture themselves, well, those were special treats, that the government was able to arrange for. The ordinary Germans could enjoy them – in limited quantity – and if they missed out, oh well.

Speaking of bratwurst, I really miss, to this day, the bratwursts we ate there. I remember them well – fat slightly greyish-mostly-brown sausages, boiling in the cart, put between a sliced piece of brotchen, their juices softening the hard bread, which may or may not have had a thin swipe of butter on them. The sausages, when bitten into crunched as you got through the sausage skin, and I remember hurriedly wiping my chin with the edges of my bread to catch the delicious meat juices. The sausages were slightly salty, and a single one was filling.

We always patronised the bratwurst sellers; they were common enough that Dad didn’t feel bad about buying from them nor did he feel that he was depriving someone else of a treat by getting some for us. I’m rather glad about this, because eating bratwurst, especially on a cold autumn, winter or spring day, was a wonderful feeling, and I remember the men selling them being so pleased that we children were really enjoying the food.

To this day, I can still remember how tasty those bratwursts were.

Spaces

I’m not sure why this one’s been sticking in my head today, but it has. Perhaps it’s the wind, howling outside with the sun shining down through an unrelenting blue sky, that’s jogging my memory…

 

Some years ago, Rhys and I faced a dilemma – how to get his job to recognise that he had a family, and was supporting one, as opposed to being a single man with no financial responsibilities. After much research, Rhys found the answer: to be recognised as a de-facto relationship, a legal definition in Australia which is similar to ‘common-law spouse’, I guess. For this to happen, we had to live together, as a household, with shared finances and living arrangements, for more than six months. It just so happened that at the time, Rhys had been assigned a three-bedroom residence in Sydney. It took some time to decide on logistics, but the time period we finally worked out was bad for our eldest to come and stay with us as she was attending school (and she wouldn’t be able to attend school in Australia for that period of time.) So for a short while, I lived in Sydney with Rhys, and our then youngest, Vincent, who was three years old at the time.

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Old Stories and Memories

I have to say, it’s not often I am met with pleasant surprises, and I daresay this counts as one of them.

review-long

Every now and again, I get a notification that someone has favorited one of my old fanfiction; added me to their list of authors that they wish to be notified with updates of. I have to say, I am pleased that there are still folk who stumble upon Slayers: Dragon’s Cycle and even happier when they leave a review like this. So, thank you, Girl, for leaving it, and I am happier than you can imagine, that you enjoyed it so!

Every now and again, I do think about this story, try to figure out how to solve some of the problems that the characters have. I think of the story with great fondness, as I associate it with good friends and good memories – as well as of loss. The person who use to help me the most with the story, who used to review it and help me tweak it, died in 2003. I still miss Za; and remember the happy days when I would write this story, excited and plotting ahead, cackling with her as we made mischief for the characters. It was all in fun; yet at the same time we wanted very much to make a doujinshi story that was well made and well written, to see a story done that people would read and enjoy in the way we wanted to enjoy the series, all anew.

That there are people still able to enjoy something I’d written for fun, mental breaks taken between homework and the tons of research I was doing in high school and college at the time, tells me that in that at least, I succeeded.

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Baby booms

So, this little vignette came directly out of the delightful madness that’s According To Hoyt’s comments section. It started from here and because WP was retarded, bounced down to here.

Enjoy the random bit of metafiction! The second half was done by Alma herself ^_^; the rest I fixed up a little, now that I’m not half-asleep.

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The conversation about guns sparked an impromptu opening of the gun closet at Chez TXRed. Alma muttered to herself as she sorted which firearms belonged to whom. “OK, mine” She moved a few from one side of the closet to the other. “Dad’s” Alma moved a few more. “Mom’s plus that other one …Dang. We probably shouldn’t have left these alone together in the dark for so long.” She chuckled to herself, remembering the long running joke about owning Mosin-Nagant rifles, and their tendency to multiply, almost like zucchini.

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