Thursday, July 28, 2011


Puuuh, some time again since I bothered my little world with my thoughts. Loaded with a lot of work and the desire to at least make one thing a habit, I chose to work out and the past weeks I hardly did anything than working and working out. Still I was pondering about what to write in my next blog, but nothing came to mind. My brilliant friends suggested to write about housing in the different countries I lived in so far. I thought it was a great idea, because I could not only compose one post but several. So here is the first one.

I grew up in East Germany. The predominant form of housing in East Germany is "Die Platte". The dictionary translates "Plattenbau" to "industrialized apartment block". Hmmm, maybe this is kind of correct. Die Platte is build from preformed concrete plates that are put together to big apartment buildings. The walls are very thin and so one is blessed to share many intimacies with the neighbors. All apartments are basically uniform consistent with socialist egality. Never knowing anything else, I liked to grow up there. Although I mainly had a small room, I never had the sense of too little space. A funny incident comes to mind: my room was only accessible via another room, which was for some time my brothers residence. Now it happened that I was sleep walking and it also happened that my brother chose to sleep on a mattress directly in front of my door (maybe he thought there was too little space, but for some reason my siblings and I thought it also fashionable to sleep on mattresses instead of beds for some time, at least in my memory). Anyway, so it happened one night that I was sleep walking and during my wanderings I stumbled over my brothers head. I cannot remember a thing from that episode, it is here reconstructed from his complaints afterwards, maybe it was also one of his jokes. 

With an apartment block usually came a playground, which was home to the children during the day and to the teenagers during the evening. Having lived in city centers, I often wonder where the children go. They probably have to be inconveniently accompanied by adults to reach the playground somewhere at the other end of the city. 

My parents still live in the same apartment and my mother knows to vary the interior with fanciful handcrafting and decor. Now that all the children left my parents also completely rearranged all the rooms so they could have a big kitchen. Still we gather with about 13-15 people at holidays, cramped on 60 square meters. The town once housing more than 50 000 inhabitants in these industrialized blocks gets emptier and emptier, because people, mainly young people are fleeing to West Germany in the hope for jobs and better income. So complex by complex gets demolished leaving only bare grassland behind. Seeing these vast areas of land it seems that "Die Platte" was extremely efficient. A relatively small field of grassland stays behind, were once hundreds or thousands of people lived.  

Now a global player, I know that apartment complexes are home to people everywhere. My home now might be surrounded by palms and other exotic plants, but the walls are still thin and the neighbors still noisy. Already my mother used to complain in her unique anger after the reunification and the first visits to West Germany: I don't understand why everybody is complaining about the East German housing, here they also have apartment complexes. And she is right, however "Die Platte" might remain a leftover from East Germany in the German mind.

I hope I did not blabber too much about my family and they will apologize the indiscretion. But it is really difficult to talk about the places one lived in, without talking about the people one lived with....


  1. very nice post! :)
    i am very particular when it comes to noise. it can really upset me. in utrecht, the people above me would often start vacuum cleaning between 9-11 in the evening, always when i would be coming home and it made me sooo angry! downstairs the girl played saxophone, but she was only practising boring stuff and that was soooooooo loud; luckily i only heard it when i was jobless for a few months otherwise i guess i would have moved out...

  2. Utrecht was so noisy, but mostly from the streets. Here it is relatively calm, because we live under the roof, but the seagulls are soooooooooooo loud!!!! really annoying.. And because the windows here are really crappy (even crappier than dutch windows) it doesn't help to shut the window....