Entries from 2013 – Part I
Its been two weeks since I came to Germany. I am currently living in the beautiful city of Wolfsburg famous for the Volkswagen factory , which I have been told , looks exactly like it did during the war. This is my first time outside India, and I sure have got a warm welcome from Germany – literally , since two weeks back it was still winter !! It is spring now, and what a beautiful time to be in Europe I must say ! With spring here, there are chamomiles, dandelions, tulips, wild violets just about everywhere. And the trees ..!!! man oh man !! what colors !
Have bought a second hand cycle for 59€ , discovered there are 3 lakes and a beautiful forest cover in the vicinity of our house, and that there are as many rabbits, geese and ducks here as there are people 🙂 Thanks to that , have discovered a new hobby – following ducklings and rabbits everywhere , with or without my camera !
Have been to a carnival already – one of the scariest haunted houses with a very funny counter – pay 1€ to find out whats in the box, and when you do, someone comes out and spits on you ! Have tried the curry wurst along with the local beer (Adelskronen – Weißbier, Brauerei Braunschweig and Beck’s Pils Bier , Bremen ), and a local dessert – schmalzkuchen (fresh out of the oven !) . Oh yes, how could I forget döner kebab . There are a lot of Turkish restaurants around , and they serve something similar to a shawarma roll – the döner kebab . Its a full meal in itself and is delicious. The next most popular cuisines are Italian and Chinese here, am hoping however to sample the former in Italy sometime soon ! Was gifted some Marzipan chocolates – still developing some taste for these, by my landlady – a wonderful person who bakes the best cakes 🙂 . She invited us to dine with her lovely Russian family where I feasted on some lip-smacking barbecued food and sampled a very delicious fruity drink ( can’t remember what its called). Nazdarovie !!!
I haven’t been able to see a sunrise yet – the sun rises as early as 5:20 (not an excuse this time around :-)), but the sunsets are gorgeous on a clear day . Yesterday we discovered a natural trail through the forest to one of the familiar lakes. Wonderful woods , but I was saddened by the sight of trees felled . I guess that the winter here does not leave much of a choice… More on that later. Anyway, my favorite location so far , is the Neuer Teich , where I go most evenings to watch the ducks get into the water along with their furry little offsprings .
In Contrast to my previous entry on Deutschland, which was primarily aimed at briefing my friends and family , this one is on a more personal level.
The first couple of things that made an impression on me when I landed here were – the signage, how everything was so well designed – very differently-abled friendly, how formal everyone was , how processes worked so smoothly , and yes, how everything was only in German!!!! the last point was more out of helplessness …while I planned on improving my German in the first couple of months, I had assumed that I would be able to make do with English in the meantime.This of-course, has made simple day-to-day tasks adventurous , kind of what I was going for in the first place isn’t it 😉
There is such a stereotype associated with Germans – that they are cold and unfriendly , I find it infuriating now, especially since I have found all of them to be extremely helpful, friendly and direct . There is a genuineness which you feel in their greetings, and they do go out of the way to help you. I have met enough Germans to conclude that such stereotyping , especially in this case , is baseless.
The signage , the universal design, and the discipline were a welcome change from India, though you miss its chaos instantly, the colors and the imperfections spontaneously. All I could think of is – why don’t we have these obvious little small things already in India ? I was , and still am , in awe of the city planning here in Wolfsburg – construction to open space ratio, forest cover, lakes,traffic signage (they have lane discipline for cyclists and pedestrians as well), waste disposal and water treatment…am still exploring these but so far everything seems to be well thought of. Things are simple, because everything has been designed extremely logically…there is no pretense there. One interesting thing I noticed at Penny – a superstore nearby , is that when I buy water (you have to buy water here in Wolfsburg, cant drink tap water), you get 25 cents back if you return the plastic bottle . There is a vending machine where you put the recyclable bottle – Pfandflasche , get a coupon in return (with the amount mentioned – 25 cents pro bottle) and you can redeem the coupon. Another good example of a process in place, but what bugged me was the amount of plastic bottles and the energy spent in recycling. Also , the superstores use unimaginable amounts of plastic – the vegetables , fruits , milk, everything is packaged. We always carry cloth bags with us , but I have not come across any vegetable vendors or markets till now…I have yet to explore farm fresh stores and local dairies. Couple of things I am still figuring out…items like Colas and cigarettes are costly , mostly because they are unhealthy. But then ,why are buses ( local transport ) expensive, is that on purpose? A lot of locals cycle to work when they can , to avoid the Bus expenditure.
Rutvid and myself, we both prefer smaller towns now, and this small town surrounded by lakes and a forest is quite an idyllic setting. The sky is stunning, a lot of rabbits running around in the grass (they will always have their mouths full :-)), and you can hear birds chirping almost all day long. Days are long (5 am to 10 pm) and I have been told that it will get dark only after 11 in the night . You can see a lot of people spending time fishing, kayaking, disc golf is a popular sport here, roller-blading, cycling, playing with their kids. You will see a lot of people camping over-night near the lake , with their fishing gear left out , and then in the morning you will see faces gleaming with the satisfaction of having caught a big fish to feast on with some beer ! Rutvid once saw someone with beer cans in his back-pockets. Although there is a restriction on drinking in public places, it is not a rare sight 🙂 The spring here is a wonderful experience, you can feel the inspiration behind the paintings thoughts and poetry. Nothing prepares you for its beauty, quite an experience for me since I love colors. Bangalore used to be like this some years back. But Gujarat and Delhi, where I have been brought up, offer a very different landscape, though North India – Himachal , Jammu , might be offering a similar landscape during this season with spectacular views.
One common concern from our families is food, since both of us come from vegetarian families . But we two do have meat – primarily chicken , and do not really have a problem if we have to eat some other meat once in a while. But yes, we do relish our Indian meals . One can get all the daals and some of the masalas at an Asian store near ZOB, but aata can be tricky. We ended up with something similar to maida! Actually, it’s not really a problem, just unfamiliarity. Here there is a standard for flour – a numbering . We purchased type 405 Weißenmehl instead of the 1100 series, and it so turned out that the lower number has low fiber content and is mostly carbs. But the Aaloo Parathas turned out yummy 🙂