Friday, November 11, 2011

When you live in Berlin...

The last, crumbling signs of autumn lie dulling on the ground and winter is slowly reaching out its frosty hand, frost being the operative word there. I know I don't usually start with the weather (or do I? Eh, don't really care to remember), but when you're in Europe, you can't not talk about the weather, you simply can't.

See? How can you not talk about it?

More things that happen when you live my life:
  • Your language becomes a royally awkward hodgepodge of English and German that makes you fumble and falter no matter what language you're trying to speak.
  • You realize for the first time in your life how cold some things really are - keys, door handles, coins, zips, for example- especially when you have to heave your hands out of the warmth of your pockets.
  • To your mild surprise, life still has many, many firsts to offer that make you want to act like a child (blow smoke/mist in the air, pick up leaves frosted overnight and stare fascinatedly at everything wintery).
  • You listen to old hindi songs on your mp3 player in the train and cherish the secret joy it brings you, surrounded by people who don't know the language and may never understand the beauty of Kishore Kumar or R.D. Burman.
  • You click pictures every time you see something novel. Which is all. the. time. Oh yes.
  • You begin to want hot chocolate everyday and feel bad about it.You discover that the sugar-less Cappuccino from the vending machine at your uni is surprisingly good.
  • You discover the pure, unadulterated joy of cooking Indian food in a foreign land. Of bonding with your mother and grandmother who taught you to cook, and feeling their presence next to you, guiding you when you're cooking something even though they're continents and oceans away.
  • You cry a little when you have to write a report on the German political situation that you know squat about. You also snivel at German literary texts that you are supposed to read up on and understand. You wonder at how it is possible to understand every single word in a sentence and still not follow what it being said. You nod obediently at people, even when their German is too fast/thickly accented. You wonder or cry about it later (as the case may be, especially if the German in question is spoken by a teacher giving important instructions for the next class). Basically, you cry a lot. And by 'cry' I obviously don't mean sob. I mean your eyes well up a bit/you want to tear something or scream just a little.
  • To put it simply, there are several moments of deep self doubt.
  • ...but then there are days you're proud of yourself because you just did one more thing today you never thought you could have :)
  • You learn to budget a little better. A little tighter. It makes you feel a little grown up. And then you buy Aloe Vera gel for 7.40 Euro and save like a squirrel the rest of the week.
  • You finally stop saying 'Rupees' at the end of every sum and switch to Euro.
  • You learn about some huge cultural differences between India and Europe. You can't wrap your head around them.
  • ...and some things, like smiling at strangers, you love and adopt as your very own.
  • You learn that moving away to a new country means finding new brands of personal products. Which can be a pain.
  • You think you're going to miss your train everyday and run... then you bake in your 50 layers of almost-winter clothing.
  • You wonder how bad and gloomy January will really be, especially with everyone painting such a bleak, depressing picture.
  • ...but you secretly wait for the first snowfall of your life (and hope you can cope with the cold).
  • You do a happy mental dance when you give tourists directions to a place in Berlin.
  • You feel somehow browner, just a tiny bit. It makes you respect your heritage :)
  • You get frustrated at your hair's lack of effort to be presentable in Berlin and its animosity towards the water here. But then, after a couple of weeks, the bounce comes back and you look normal again. 
  • There are some moments that jerk you away from Berlin, from Germany, from Europe and hurl you back to India - to a sight (beige, smooth, sparkling beach sand) or a sound (hundreds of honking cars) or a taste (pani-puri, Goan bhaji, batatwada, hot, soft chappatis) or a person (family). It leaves you bewildered, exasperated and yearning in an incomplete, torn sort of way.
  • You try eating a lot of new things and decide you like most of them (except for duck that one time. And 'tropical fruit tea').
  • Incense sticks never smelt holier.
  • Life was never this stimulating.
More later. Probably. How has everyone been?


The Cyniqueen


unmesh.ronaldo said...

ah, it flows from gloomy to happy back to gloomy, and again i like how you put things. how i wish i could know the joys of one's first winter? i did see snow once, but it was sooooo long ago. and it wasnt a real winter like one in Germany. and btw, i dont know the beauty of RD Burman, nor do i know who he is.

The Bohemian Teacher said...

Hey you! finalement! this was a beautiful post and I get exactly what you are saying and feeling. hang in there, life always gets better! love your photo too! how beautiful is the frost on that leaf!! bisous xx

Cyniqueen said...

@Unmesh - Thank you. And R.D. Burman composed some of the awesomest hindi music ever.

@Carolina Primavera - Thank you so much. Life is actually pretty good - hopefully I will survive the winter and then it will be better still ;-)