I know I have been missing from the blogosphere and guys who read me, all 3 of you, have been wondering where I am and when I will be back. Well, worry no more, your prayers have been answered.
While you have been praying for my heroic return, I had been writing my second novel. It is ready and kicking in my belly (Pregnancy metaphor!) waiting to conquer the world. So now that I am done with that, I return to what I liked doing the most. Blogging. so here goes ...
A friend's friend who just returned from the US to settle in India wrote about the top 10 things she misses about the US. That got me thinking, what do I miss about Germany. But the Indian that I am, what do I not miss about Germany too. So given below are the two lists.
What I miss about Germany:
1. German Bakery, which they call just "Bakery" in Germany.
"Bread has it's own taste, it has a special texture which depends on the grain used, the temperature of the oven, the time of the year," said a German friend of mine when I said "Bread is just Bread." She scolded me for being such a jerk and made me apologise to a loaf of bread.
Well, for Germans, bread is not just bread, it is a way of life. And I miss it more than anything else. Ah, those Mozzarella sandwiches, the Mozzarella warm from the warm bread just out of the oven, the cold lettuce, the tomato, the cucumber.... sigh....
So, how do you identify a over-developed country? Good roads? No homeless people? Good public transport? Right? Wrong!
All these things define only a developed country - a US, a Qatar or a Italy. An over-developed country is the one where the buses bend towards the sidewalk as you get down. Yes. They have so much money that they can make a bus BEND!
3. Extra Virgin olive oil
So what is Extra Virgin really? What are other olive oils? Just Virgin? And what about olive oils who have had sex? And what about the ones who have babies? What are they called? Mommy and Poppy Olive oil? And what if they have many babies? Extra Mommy and Poppy olive oil?
The point being, I love olive oil. In India, regardless of how much you pay to get that oil shipped, it just doesnt remain the same.
4. Red Wine.
"You-have-a-to-a-try-a-this," said my Italian friend pouring me a glass of red.
To be honest, I didnt think I would like it. I was hoping I wouldnt, considering the cost of these things. I had the first sniff, sipped it, made it cure for sometime in my oral cavity and yessss.... the thrill of strong Italian wine!!!
"How-do-you-like-a-this?" He asked.
"I-like-a-this-very-much-thank-you" I said. I had become Italian!! With just one sip!
I dont dig alcohol, and I dont understand why people go so crazy over it. Blessed with some phenomenal alcohol breaking genes, I have never gotten really drunk, I have never had a hangover and have always repented spending on booze the other day.
I have had some really exquisite wines in my life. Some of the bottles have cost more than 70 Euros, and all of them have changed me as a person. Okay, maybe not. But you get the point.
Whatever you do, dont spend money on French wine. I told a French friend of mine that french women might be pretty, but your wine is nothing to write home about. She got terribly angry with me. Don't say anything about french wine to a french person. They get mad.
If you are Indian your taste buds are used to a certain amount of tingling which the mild french wine just doesnt offer. There. I said it.
The smell of that Italian wine stayed with me forever. I have forgotten the taste, but I swear I can sometimes smell it when I think about it.
5. Blonde babies
God, they are cute. They are good enough to eat. I should know. Burp.
6. Berlin Summer
If you need any evidence that there is a God, and he is a man, you have to visit Berlin in the summer. The country has a winter that lasts 6 months and there are days when you look out of the window and it's like the end of the world. So any presence of Sun is an invitation for the women to show their legs. I have never seen so many near perfect legs together.
7. Wissen Bier
It is wheat beer. It is made out of wheat grain. It is smoooooooth. Beer is an acquired taste. I still havent fully acquired it and I dont think I ever will but Wissen Beer my friend, that is something different.
If I had a Euro for every time I said - "Ein falafel bitte"
I had so many falafels in Berlin that I became 22% Falafel. I knew the names of the Falafel joints in the city and they knew my name. The Falafel servers were the best German teachers ever. Maybe that is why I speak with a turkish accent! Ah!
9. On-time travel
Okay, so I might be an Indian, but I am more of a Mumbaikar. India is nothing like Mumbai. In fact nothing is quiet like Mumbai. Trains run on time, buses are almost always on time, people dont turn up late for meetings... It is a special place. So, it's not that I am not used to on-time travel. But really, Germany's on time travel is something you could write a book on - for eg-
We were waiting for a bus.
Me: It is 3:43 and the bus is not here yet
Friend: Yeah, it is 3:46 in my watch. Kahan hai yeh bus?
Me: Teri ghadi fast hai?
Friend: No idea. Teri on time hai kya?
Just then the bus arrived and we got in. We quickly checked the timing in our watches. Mine said 3.44 and my friend's said 3.47. The bus was supposed to arrive at 3.41. So according to my watch, it was 3 mins late.
We came home and checked the time online. Turns out my watch was 3 mins fast and friend's watch was 6 mins fast. The bus was on time, our watches werent. We could have adjusted the time according to the bus! No how cruelly awesome is tht?
10. Smooth roads and Mercedes Taxis
Ah, the roads. I have written a very patriotic and moving post about a pothole in Berlin. Enough written.
The 3 pointed star... ah beauty. If I was a car, I would be a Mercedes SLR and I would marry a Mercedes C class and then we would have small Volkswagen mini kids (Dont ask me how two Mercedes give birth to a Volkswagen,it's complicated...)
What I missed about India in Germany:
1. Cheap food
The money I used to spend on eating out in Germany could have been used for nobler causes like feeding Rishi, Shammi and Raj Kapoor uncle ke families. Food is so cheap here. I convert everything into euros when I go out and I have a huge smile on my face when I pay the bill.
2. Cheap domestic help
Yeah, go ahead. Call me lazy. Call me a slave driver. (You shouldnt if you are white, because really, you were the slave driver!) But the truth is, doing household chores is no fun!
Now I have met women whose hobbies included cleaning the kitchen and the bathroom (thts one more thing I miss about Germany, meet interesting women!) but it's not my style. I have a simple funda - Life is about doing what u want when u want. *applause people*
I once calculated how much time I spent in a week cleaning my room. It came up to 4 hours in a week! Do you know how productive I could have been in those 4 hours? Okay, not much, but, I dont wanna do it! And I shouldnt have to spend half my salary on getting domestic help!
3. The weather (Mumbai)
This is true only for Mumbai. Okay, if you talk about the muggy weather, I ask you to name one city where you can land without checking weather.com and carrying extra sweaters! I cite, Delhi's +45 degrees of heat and Berlin's -15 degrees of cold and ask you to compare it with 25 degrees all the time in Mumbai land :)
4. Good veg food
The first week that I spent in Germany, I used to look at all foods with an eye of suspicion that comes after years of travelling in crowded trains with a full wallet (What? I have a rich dad?). Everything seemed to contain meat or fish or some other animal. And they dont even consider Fish as meat. Fish is considered vegetarian! How?
I went to a posh hotel in Paris once, ordered wine, over priced of course and French, of course, they bite if u ask for any other wine. They bit off a friend's small finger, it adorns the walls of that hotel now with a tag saying -'Attention sil vous plait, hand will be bite, if ask for other wine. French wine, best wine. C'est la vie.' So coming back to the point, the restaurant had a menu that ran into pages, but they had no vegetarian dish. Zero Veg dishes. I had to finally order odd tasting noodles with vegetables, for which i was overcharged because - "Monsieur, thees ees Chef's speciaaale noodles.."
5. Hindi movies
Downloading is illegal in Germany, okay I know it's illegal in most parts of the developed world, but there they actually enter ur apartment put you and your laptop in jail, which if u ask me, defeats the entire purpose. For all they know, i might be watching sitcoms on my laptop in jail
Now in India, I can watch Zindagi Milega Na Dobara on the big screen and feel bad about paying money for what I could have seen in Germany for free. Any movie that Farhan Akhtar acts in, should be declared tax free, and that money should be taken from Mr. Javed Akhar for giving birth to a boy who has no acting skills whatsoever and thinks he can act. (Arre, yeh toh review ban gaya!)
6. Rickshaw and taxi tht dont cost a bomb
You know how much a richshaw ride costs me in Mumbai? Rs. 11. That is 20 cents. And I reach my destination in one piece (Well, most of the times)
In Berlin, I had to think if I should take the taxi or not. Okay, agreed that all Taxis are Mercedes, but really, sometimes i just want to get from place A to place B without spending my month's salary on the travel.
7. Air conditioners
In the birth place of Mechanical engg, how come they dont have Air conditioners installed anywhere. In berlin, you can sometimes sweat to death. Fyi, Summer Max temp in Berlin is more than that in Mumbai. There are gang wars in Berlin on which gang will get to use the table fan. Many die every summer.
The thing I love about India is, every big shop has an air conditioner and they do not cost a bomb so most of your engg friends can also afford it, making it logical to remain frds with them.
8. 24x7 transport
Mumbai again. See, how this post became what I miss about Mumbai from what I miss about India? That's how cool that city is. Well, not cool as in cold, it's quite humid that way.
You can get from point A to point B in Mumbai at 3 in the morning. You dont have to book cabs on phone or anything. just walk out on to the street and hail a taxi. Trains work round the clock. They say they shut down for 1 hour sometime, I am yet to find what hour. Note: There is a fair chance you wont get a place to sit in the train, unless you board it during non-rush hours, which again I have told is for 1 hour sometime, I am yet to find what hour.
9. Sunday open
This is only for the troubled souls who have spent time in one the better European country like Germany or France, you know, countries who place a lot of importance on silly and useless things like quality of life.
Sunday, everything is closed that includes malls, departmental stores, drug stores, after all the cashiers at the counter need their rest. It can get very tiring - counting money, opening drawers, returning change, closing the drawer.
Here, in mumbai, (I have quit talking bout India, I have a awesomer place to talk about.) everything is open 24x7x364 (15th August is a holdiday)
10. Friends and Family
Yeah, the sensitive guy that I am, I had to include this. It was either this or "Desh ki mitti ki khusboo" (Which is a real thing, btw).
I missed my friends and family when I was in Germany. I remember thinking about my friends and saying to myself - 'They werent all that bad, eh?'. And I missed my sister the most. I have realised there are so many inside jokes that we share. Some of our jokes are single syllable which only we can understand among ourselves... And I am sure my friends miss me, I mean, seriously, how many awesome mes are there in India? And my sister definitely missed me - she said so once every 3 months, which going by her fake pride means she missed me every 3 days. And why not, my parents dont understand any of her jokes! They give her pity laughs! Pity laughs, my friends!
So that is that. Now that I have showed my sensitive side to you, your heart must be full and your eyes must be watery. I know you must want to pour your heart out to me, to tell me how much u missed me while I was gone. To that I say, wipe your tears, and let it pour in the comments...
Till then... Ich sagt, Gesundheit!
Top 10 things that I will miss in Germany... Top 10 things that I will miss in India
Editor in chief arshat chaudharyCurrent Issues: berlin, german, germany, india, mumbai 8 letters to the editor Links to this post