Monday, July 09, 2007

Ich bin ein berliner - The Prologue

If I were told that I could go to only one country in Europe in my lifetime and were asked to pick the country, there is no doubt in my mind which country that would be. No, not England as we knew everything about the country and their people anyway. Not France, as for some reason, I have always thought of France as being overhyped[1]. Not Italy, not Greece, as much as I wanted to see the Pantheon and the Acropolis, they would not have been at the top of my list. Definitely not Eastern Europe which is sort of a recent fad and other than the occasional Counts and Vampires, I never knew much about them growing up. Not even Spain, as in so many ways, its not that dissimilar from what we are used to. Instead, I would have picked Germany. I know. I am so boring, aren't I? But what to do? We are like this only.

Why so much fascination for the country? I don't know. To some extent, yes, the history of the last century. Though if one were to go by that alone, why not London or Moscow? Literature, then? Probably. Though I prefer the Russians. Music? Not really. Philosophy? I am not that depressive. Cars? No, but maybe the autobahns. Thinking back, my first impressions of the country had nothing to do with Hitler or Bach, instead it has to do with machine tools. I remember pulling out colorful catalogs from my Dad's work briefcase as a kid and admiring well, milling and CNC machines. (I said I am boring, alright?) Swiss companies but German technology, my Dad explained. Precision engineering. Nobody does it as well as they do. Which is why we will be buying some of these machines from them. So it must be some weird combination of history, culture, and precision engineering. As I said, I don't really know[2].

As it happened, on my first ever trip to the continent a good five years ago, the first city on the list was Munich. This had more to do with Lufthansa schedules and Anoop's "flight simulations" than anything else but that isn't going to stop me from claiming that this was meant to be. We spent just a couple of days in Munich before crossing over to Austria. Vienna, I fell in love with and wanted to move there asap, and Rome had me gaping in awe, but for years, the image that sprung to mind when I think of the quintessential European setting is the outdoor cafes of Marienplatz in Munich, complete with cigarette smoke and beer mugs. So it was no surprise when last year, given the choice of spending the next two years between England and Germany, my first choice happened to be Germany. Bill (and some leftover pragmatism) won the battle and we ended up here in London but it doesn't seem much of a victory anymore for numerous reasons but wait, I digress.

What's the point of all this? I went to Berlin dammit, I went to Berlin for the weekend and that's all I want to talk about. But I am falling asleep over the keyboard and there's so much to write about this wonderful, modern, photogenic (I shot 203 pictures in 2 days, that's 100 more than what I shot during our 10-day Morocco trip, so there) city, so I will break this down into several posts over the next week. For now, just to get you into the mood and to prove to you that I am indeed talking of Germany, here's something we found in our hotel bathroom. Tell me, how can one not love this country?

[1] Proved right too. Why would anyone want to be in Paris when they could be in Vienna is beyond me.

[2] Bill and I had this discussion while finishing up our quota of red meat for the year at a brunch place at Potsdamer Platz on Saturday. Interestingly enough, he claimed to share this German fascination. His point is that growing up in India, we usually tend to hear about the British, French, Germans and the Spaniards and the stereotypes associated with each of them. No one wants to be associated with the British for obvious reasons. The French are too pretentious, the Spaniards are too exuberant. So for someone like him who loves Math and logic and railway timetables, and appreciates a bit of efficiency in life, there is really no one else to turn to in Europe. Hence.


Anonymous said...

geek geek geek

you go to Berlin and the one picture you post is of the bathroom scales?! Woman, and you don't mention drinking there?

black mamba

Cheshire Cat said...

Part 2???

Veena said...

BM: Wait till you see how many buildings I shot. Oh wait, you won't see that! Ha Ha!

Cat: Tonight. I promise.

Veena said...

Cat: I lied. But its all Bill's fault. He was supposed to cook and he didn't!