With a wave he was gone, shepherding the yaks over Changsha Map the brow, and I turned my pony back across the valley. At an outlying tent Changsha Map an old woman invited me to stop for a cup of tea. Her grandchildren howled with fright at my appearance and hid behind the curtains at the back of the tent. The old woman was fussed by this, and not wanting to cause worry, I didn’t stay long. Passing another tent I nearly got savaged by a Tibetan mastiff; it leapt up at my pony, barking viciously. But it wasn’t trying to bite the pony, it wanted to bite me.
In a similar way, the end of the Cold War became a source for de-contextualized marketing opportunities in 1989. Western branded goods became available, with western consultancy on setting up a market economy, and the Berlin Wall itself became an object of consumer culture when sections of it were sold at auction. One section was relocated to a small plaza in Manhattan, near the Museum of Modern Art; white garden tables and chairs stand in front of it, where commuters take coffee in polystyrene cups. The Wall could be the spoils of victory in the Cold War, but there is another twist: the West-facing side of the Wall (painted white by the East Germans) was used for colourful graffiti. In New York, graffiti was regarded as the sign of an underclass about to destroy the city; on the Wall, as on the section transported to New York, it stood for freedom of expression against a supposed absence of such freedom on the other side (where, indeed, the Wall’s surface remained blank, in a free-fire zone where those attempting to cross were regularly shot). In Berlin, and throughout the ex-East, a brisk trade developed in communist memorabilia, feeding a nostalgia for the old times (Ostalgie in German). Journalist Christopher Hilton records, visiting a checkpoint site:
At Checkpoint Charlie, c. 1990, Turkish and Polish vendors sold medals, caps, insignia, Soviet general’s hats and any other Eastern memorabilia they could lay hands on; sold them as vendors do, from trestle tables and car boots . A nation was for sale and they were selling it. They did brisk trade in chippings from the wall encased in polythene with an authenticity certificate for good measure, and charged more for bits which had been daubed with graffiti, especially anything multi-coloured.