Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Hochzeit* im Hamburg

Last weekend I was lucky to attend a wedding in town…Normally I wouldn’t have reasons to be tense attending a wedding coz am usually accompanying someone …Back home my parents would take care of the pleasantries while attending the wedding…or if its with friends we usually never bother about the pleasantries part…means we directly go for the kill at the feast…But this wedding was way different.

1) It was happening in Germany european ishtyle and I had no clue about the customs ..
2) I did not have an acquaintance with most folks who were invited to the function.
3) Unlike a panchayat which is roughly the size invited for a Indian wedding this was a wedding attended by 100 odd people…That meant you couldn’t just have your sausage and beer and go unnoticed.

So there was me suffering pre-wedding jitters…or rather pre-wedding attendance trauma…It also meant I had to do my research…Unlike back home where you could walk in to a wedding wearing your old jeans and ‘Che Guevara’ t-shirt. I was haunted by movie scenes from western weddings where men and women of fine tastes strutted around in elegant costumes… And occasionally I have seen some weddings here royal style with a horse driven carriage and all that…Everyone for that matter looked like a James Bond or a Wall Street Banker, polished and suave…That meant I had to actually ‘think’ about what I wear…

Do you have any idea how traumatizing its for an invitee at the wedding to choose his dress??…Someone who normally takes a decent looking polo T shirt from the nearest shop suddenly found himself walking in and out of most shops in Hamburg…The journey finally culminated at Karstadt where a german shop attender at the shop literarily pacified me..

‘Herr Mathias. Das ist nicht your wedding...kaiko tension le raha hein!!!’

kasam se...he said that!!

Finally after research which included lot of wiki-ing, visiting the State library of German Weddings, meeting marriage- divorce consultants, attending self-help groups, secretly filming weddings around town, subscribing to fashion magazines, attending a Versace memorial lecture on trends of 2009, placing calls to fashionably blessed people in Italy, writing anonymous letter to Vanitha magazine seeking guidance, praying and lighting 100 candles at the nearby church requesting the Lord to give me a sign, I finally decided to go for a white shirt and a yorn trouser. A small yet significant step.

The next step was to buy a gift. Well in India buying a gift is so easy… coz you don’t really to have buy one…You just need to pass on the 45th dinner set or the 26th clock which is stocked at home after the house warming function which happened way back in 1990. If you look at India from space, you can basically see that the gifts are never bought, it just gets circulated among the masses from Patiala to Pune to Palakkad and back to son of the Patiala family several years later. But then this is no India…What normally happens here is that the couple would have a list of preferred gifts put up in a popular shop in town where invitees can put their money in full or part if its an expensive gift…This would mean no duplication of gifts!! This couple though had no such list which meant I had to do my espionage to find out what they might actually like as a gift. The process was quite similar to my dress search but slightly less strenuous.. and primarily based on online consultation. It seems like most people like Mont Blanc pens or Swarovski crystals!! L After some path breaking research it was found that the couple were better off with euros than a self-help cook book which I was planning to pen down specially for the occasion. Another small and yet significant step over.

Aug 15th 2009 The D-day

As I woke up I knew it was a very important day in my life…something which could change my life forever.…After grooming myself (I must have shaved 3 times in 2 hrs for continuous harvesting of any concurrently sprouting facial hair), I stepped out of home for the big event. I took the S-bahn (metro) to St Theresa’s church where the bride had just arrived. All around were Reid and Taylor James Bond’s in various hues and colours….bald malayalee James Bond’s, not so bald malayalee James Bond’s, fat malayalee James Bond’s, not so fat malayalee James Bond’s , old Bond’s and new Bond’s, all kinds and I was there in my shirt and trouser.. For the first time in my life I felt like being naked in public inspite of being fully clothed… eww…My mind wandered to a scene from a famous malayalam movie…”ithu pole simple dress itta purushanmare penkuttikalkku ishtam alle…don’t they like” I looked up in the sky just for that sign from god…luckily there were no crows in Germany.

After sometime the arrival of similarly clad germans gave me much needed relief…after all I was not the only one…Inside the church the wedding went smooth…As usual I did lip-sync to german hymns…just making a feeble noise whenever the word ‘Got (God)’ came up….But I think my acting skills were good enough to make me look like a Pavarotti in a passionate stance… Well I forgot to mention the couple…They were two german malayalee sisters getting married to german guys….so it was a double wedding…and indo-german…Of amusement to many were the part of incorporating Indian traditions in the wedding…one of the brides wore a saree...there were malayalam songs….seemati saree exchange…and exchange of thali…Though I think the germans got confused coz they were more familiar with chicken thali at the Indian restaurants than wedding thali…The detailed explanation from the priest saved the day.. Outside the church we had champagne to celebrate the day… Meanwhile I met some familiar faces and made acquaintances in the meantime...

By 18:30 we were at the nearby restaurant for the reception.. The reception reminded me of a scene back home when only the well-abled gatecrashers would have meal in the first rounds after the wedding…People usually have to prepare days in advance for it…Its funny to see peoples faces during the mad rush…torn between voices saying…”maintain decorum maintain decorum” and the rest saying...”food…food...go grab it idiot”…It’s a internal emotional struggle in which people finally succumb to the food…Well here the weddings usually are very small...often the invites don’t number more than 2 dozens….And the great part is there is already a seat in your name at the hall….So its like you already have advanced booking...

There were customary toasts from the grooms…which were so funny coz i noticed everyone was laughing and then the wine started flowing….and soon then the food was ready to be served….Classic Indian fare….and though less spicy it was really nice…fried rice..chicken..beef..noodles...

By 10:30 I had enough food and wine that germans around me nodded in agreement saying…you are one of us now… It was a lifelong ambition to meet german consumption standards… In the meantime I even met a malayalee who had come down for the wedding from US and turned out to a fella from the neighbourhood in my native….again reaffirming the age old truth that all mallus know each other… Pleasant to observe was that there was no Indian “tradition” of sporting kilograms of gold or blatant display of wealth…Everyone were really having a good time…

And then the DJ started playing music….And the couple started dancing ball room style…I was seeing something like that for the first time in my life and the last time I saw a dance was ‘appadi podu kandale’ during a college skit…I noticed that this kind of dance is slightly different…The dancing made all the german couple come out to savor the moment…even arthritis ridden german appachen’s and ammachis started swaying to the music…The Appachen’s danced with bride as well...Though it was funny to see one 7 foot 300 pounder dancing with the poor bride holding her as if she was like a loose thread…just picture yourself dancing with the great Khali!!! Nevertheless I never dared shaking a leg with the crowd considering the serious embarrassment it could cause to our nation and the bigger picture of indo-german bilateral relations.

Oh and btw all along people were consuming copious quantities of liquor…there was a small bar which was set up outside…And it was a chance for me to express my solidarity with Cuba Libre and deep appreciation for white Russians....By midnight the wedding cake was cut…and surprisingly I had enough space in my stomach for a huge chunk of marzipan cake…mighty proud of you my boy!! (a small pat to my tummy)

And around 1:00 am there was the bouquet throwing ceremony…there was a almost a stampede of deutsche Frau’s to catch em...and the music continued….sometimes with small breaks for some video slides of old times...or little games…..At 3:30 am…everyone are out in the open to mark the closing ceremony…they light some kind of hot air balloon and the couple sends them up in the sky…Quite a treat to watch them..

At 4:00 am…I met the couple and gave them advice on how to live further…
Johannes…you shall not drink if your wife objects…
Daniel..*hush*....Tell Johannes the beer is behind the car.....


I think I was very statesmanlike and the couple looked upto me for valuable advice on things in general...like how to lead a noble life...and like that.....At 4:30 am I was on my way home in the metro…The train passes through Reeperbahn…one of the famous red light areas in Europe…and there was a flood of late partying folks entering the train…some clothed partially due to scarcity of clothes in german party scene …most of them had lot of metal parts protruding on their faces….nose rings...ear rings…great hair styles...Mohawks…and outlandish costumes....leather stirrups...

And I was there, the only soul in that coach…neatly combed, wearing a full sleeve shirt neatly tucked to the trouser and sporting polished shoes…you know how it feels to be dressed like that in a coach full of drunk hippies!!;-D


*wedding

57 comments:

scorpiogenius said...

What a post man! Superb.. No one I know can beat you in humour posts! :)

But dey, tell the truth. You did dance with some madammas didn't you? I cant believe the German chics didn't ask you to dance with them. C'mon, be honest. I can't believe you didn't grab a chance to put your arm around a junge dame's waist!

Anyway this would be an Independence day you'd remember all along, wont you?

usha said...

:D
wow! adventure indeed!

reminded me of my experience at a punju family's festivities. Gawd, i was petrified at the thought of going thru that 'pairi pauna' n 'jhappi paale' thingie with all the nanis n dadis n aunty's around, that i jumped off the queue n went n safely deposited myself with the crowd that was done with the ritual. :|
karna padta hai yaar! tension kaiko lena.. hai ki nahin? :D

Biju said...

Hey mathew....nice post. A glimpse of a german wedding :-). Good to know that you reached home safely after a train ride with the punks. They always make me feel uncomfortable, don't know why :-).

~==[[[ Abhi ]]]==~ said...

Kalip post! I loved the fact that German weddings have awesome food and wine. Hope to make it to one someday!

I'd gone and asked one of the German exchange students here after reading this post about the Wedding in Germany and she then read this post and said even though the things are written a bit funny, she loved your descriptions.

So you've a German fan now Herr Mathias! :)

Soorya said...

Enjoyed reading every word of this post :) First timer here... will come back to read more of these :)
Cya!

Anonymous said...

Put sum general pics of the weddng....it wuld b nice accompliment to such a very humourous post ....

Ann said...

Loved Reading Mathew..In fact,if I comment,it may go beyond your post..lol..so Proud for keeping Indo German relations intact or even better..

mathew said...

@scorpiogenius
ayyo..:-)
ishe...njan aa type alla!! hehe...
pinee the german junge dame's came with 6 foot boris beckers!!;-D

well..i must say it was a eventful and memorable weekend..and was lucky to be invited for the wedding too.


@usha
i have never attended punju weddings..but after reading so many blogs about i badly want to attend one..i have started putting special effort in befriending punjus and praying atleast one mallu friend of mine gets hitched to a punjabi lass..;-P

@Biju
haha...actually the hippies are the safest people to travel with...they like indians and morever often they are always to drunk to harm you in any ways!!;-P

@Abhi
thank you..:-)
you should attend one...will surely enjoy it..
I am sure she might how found my version amusing...please say my prost to her!!

@Soorya
thank you...nice blog you have as well...esp the one on kerala weddings...:-D

@Anon
oops...actually i never bothered to take my cam...let me try to get it from friends who were part of it..thank you..:-)

@Ann
LOL!! yeah i play a crucial role in maintaining such bilateral relations!!:-P

Rize said...

I just happened to land on ur blog and just loved reading your post...hehe.. nice happening independence day!

Dhanya said...

kollaallo german wedding :)
sherikkum oru blooper um oppichille? satyam para :)

Arun Meethale Chirakkal said...

‘Herr Mathias. Das ist nicht your wedding...kaiko tension le raha hein!!!’

kasam se...he said that!!

Herr Mathias, ist hilarious (How’s my German?)


“ithu pole simple dress itta purushanmare penkuttikalkku ishtam alle…”

Ha ha ha I know that, don’t you really have crows there?


My eyes have been welled up for I’ve been trying to suppress laughter. (See I’m reading it at the office.)


I didn’t come across anything this hilarious on the blogosphere except Kochuthresiamma PJ’s post on how her brothers as kids behave whenever they have visitors at home and some of the posts by Silverine. Seriously both of them got competition now.

Still I have certain disappointments. I was expecting things to go out of control that’s in proportion with your preparations for the wedding, as in you reached there suavely dressed and something terrible happens, like you fall in a cesspool and you know…be an object of laughter. Now you know I’m evil, don’t you?

“Nevertheless I never dared shaking a leg with the crowd considering the serious embarrassment it could cause to our nation and the bigger picture of indo-german bilateral relations.”

And Herr Mathias you are a wise man. I appreciate your larger concern and restricting yourself from dancing. Can’t imagine what would have happened to Indo-German bilateral relations if you preferred to do a ‘dappan koothu’ ‘appadi podu kandale’ style.


At the wedding you felt like naked in the midst of all those in suits and on board the train you might’ve felt like an overdressed sham among the drunken hippies, right?
How relative everything in life, I wonder.

Had a hearty laugh, cheers! Keep up the good work.

thomas said...

One of your best humour posts in the recent while, hands down. By the way me and my dad belong to those breed of people who, upon reaching the kalyana mandapam, instantly spots the entrance to the food hall. ;)

Ashwathy said...

wot an experience, sirjee! :D
classic post...loved it!
loved the comparisons with indian weddings...

so u finally got over PMS.. Pre MARRIAGE Syndrome! congrats! :D

usha said...

hehehe. the pairi pauna thing is a regular affair there.. u just go visiting n u r expected to do that.
btw, I've never been to a punju wedding either. All my silly friends there got married right after I moved out! :/
psst psst.. lemme know if you get to know of any punju weddings around.. we'll go wedding crashing! ;P
alla, nammade Thiruvanthorathu punjabis onnum ille?

sujata said...

This was the funniest post in a long long time!Loved the preparation and your trauma..and the actual wedding..The great khali...had me rolling on the floor..you just use everything don't you!!

Nanditha Prabhu said...

a nice post , Mathew..
As you said we never have to buy gifts for indian functions , the gifts just gets circulated... this happened once to us .. my parents bought a goddess saraswati frame for a wedding and after 5 to 6 years we got it back for my brother's upanayanam from the same family...
You seems to have had a great time ...keep such posts flowing ...

Nona said...

Herr Mathias. Very Very funny. :)

The first time a friend told me about the "wedding register" I always wished not to be invited for a wedding like this for I will have to dish out money to buy something the couple really wants! My wish was granted and I was never invited for a wedding in the foreign soil. :) (Now, you don't start thinking that I'm anti-social!)

Yeah, their wedding are indeed smaller than our weddings (or is it conventions!).

Finally, about your trip back on the train.. well... ithu pole simple dress itta purushanmare penkuttikalkku ishtam alle…Don’t they like?

Mishmash ! said...

‘Herr Mathias. Das ist nicht your wedding...kaiko tension le raha hein!!!’

LOL :) njanum athu thanneya vichariche..:P

Only u can make a real life incident into such a humourous post...and some of ur comment replies also made me smile...an apt place to come by to relax facial muscles :))

mathew said...

@Rize
thank you..and thanks for visiting this space.:-)

@Dhanya
hey..you know someone i know? If yes, we talk it offline..else..no bloopers at all!!;-D

@Arun
phew..that was one heck of a comment :-)

ur german is quite good...but not as good as mine..hehe

evide crows ondu..pakshe they are all white...caucasians aa..

thanks a lot!!:-)

@Thoma
oh..athu ningalu aayirunnu..i remember i was third!!;-P

@Ashwathy
LOL!! clever one..;-D

@usha
sauna kettitu ondu...tuna ennum kettitu ondu..but pairi pauna is a first for me..anyways thirontramthu vello Nair-Singh wedding ondenkil call maadi!!;-D

@sujata
thanks a lot..glad to know you enjoyed the wedding...do chk out http://poomanam.blogspot.com/2006/05/kalyana-ramans-and-ramanis.html for a really hilarious account..

@Nanditha
hehe..so it really did happen!!lol!! i hope none of the gifts send from home have come back..

@Nona
i kinda like the concept...its true german efficency style...even though the concept is good i kind of like the gift to have a surprise element in it..the whole essence of gifting is lost!!

weddings are very small here coz its way more expensive than india..and people here try to invite only the really close ones..not the collector..panchayat president and all sorts...

@Mishmash
haha..well i did some consultation with many folks here..and it was obvious on their faces..;-D

thanks a lot!!:-)

G S said...

„Teilnehmen oder nicht teilnehmen, das ist hier die Frage für ein Deutsch Ehe“ ...

So, the Bahn was crowded? Did the driver yell through the microphone in exasperation, „Bitte tür freimachen!“ :)

thomas said...

wow, you got the pics eh. nice. and bride is pretty too.

thomas said...

Hmm, ons sister in traditional dress and other western style, hehe.

Mishmash ! said...

hey...good that u uploaded some pics...now that makes it complete :)

Anonymous said...

Thnxx for posting the pics....

mathew said...

@G S
lol!! someone knows very good deutsch... ;-)

The bahn is always crowded at reeperbahn on saturday night!!

@thomas
yup the brides are pretty...yes...for the reception both wore sarees...funny when people in india are trying to go western wear, people here are going indian style..;-D

@Mishmash
:-)

@Anonymous
thanks for the suggestion.:-)

G S said...

Oh no, I just had the misfortune to search for Hamlet in deutsch, by mistake. That aside, Germans seems to consider Shakespeare as one of them -- he must have been born as an Englishman by mistake.

And the other thing. I heard the driver yelling it a hundred times in one trip.

nimmi said...

And where in these snaps is the soul wearing a full sleeve shirt neatly tucked to the trouser and sporting polished shoes :-p....After all u put in so much of effort ..dint ya :))

Sreejith Kumar said...

Wow! Change your blog title to "I am a rockstar", for you are one.... truly! You rock M!

kochuthresiamma p .j said...

great post.could see each frame. excellen narration

Destination Infinity said...

It was a good decision indeed by you, not to dance. I am sure Indo-German relations will improve! LOL. BTW, you have been tagged on the topic 'Fast Furious and Danceable songs' - would be great if you could suggest some German songs for us!

Destination Infinity

Adorable Pancreas said...

Ah, it sounds great and the pictures look good too. One doubt, aren't the bouquet catchers Frauleins?

mathew said...

@G S
LOL!! it takes something for a german to like a brit..;-P
aah..which city are you in..seems like drivers in my place are much better!:)

@nimmi
ahem ahem..i didnot want myself to be snapped without a suit...;-P

@Sreejith
karthaavei....;-)

@kochuthresiamma chechi
thanks a lot!:)

@Destination Infinity
thank god..somebody who understood my dilemma...;-P

@Adorable Pancreas
nice to see here after a long time..Indeed you are right..they are frauliens...;-)

G S said...

I am in Bonn. The drivers are not really bad. Here in the Rhine once there was a fireworks display at midnight by a number of ships, for which a lot of people came. When I returned to home, the bahn was packed tight and some morons used to stand in the doorways talking loudly. The driver could not start the bahn without closing the door, and the above shouting happened in station after station. Once he exasperately cried it out in long, "Tüüüüüüüüüüüüüüüür freimaaaaaach'nnnnnn".. And everybody laughed.

I swear on all my ancestors' graves, that was the only time I have heard Germans laugh. Even stranger are the German kids. They are bravehearts. Not in the supermarkets, not in the parks, buses, never once have I seen them crying. I have seen Turkish kids crying though.

mathew said...

@GS
I have never been to Bonn…though I have come as far as Köln and seen the Rhine….I guess its quite close by… I think there is a cultural difference even within the germans…the folks in Cologne and Nord Rhine Westfallen are more jovial and easy going than folks in Hamburg…And you don’t expect the drivers out here to crack a joke either…not that I would understand it anyways..;-P

I have never really noticed the crying part….I haven’t seen many Turkish kids ei-ther….Anyways I think parents here don’t really respond to a child crying in the same way as in India…I mean they really don’t entertain kids who cry to get stuff…

Apart from that I know for sure germans can have 10 beers and still walk on 2 legs…;-P

GS said...

Jokes? Are you kidding? Germans making jokes? Even in Cologne Germans are Germans. Emotionless people. Didn't blink an eye through two world wars and what not. I think it is their grim emotionless determination that leads to all their achievements.

You didn't lose much by stopping in Cologne and not coming to Bonn. There is nothing to see in Bonn. Unless, you really want to go to the interior ministry etc, of the days of West Germany. Bonn is a small and domestic type of city, though it was the capital once. People joke that it is not the Bundesstadt nor Beethovenstadt, rather the Bundesdorf or Beethovendorf.

I mean, foreigners who come here make that joke. Not that Germans understand the notion of a joke.

mathew said...

@GS
hehe...well well..i agree that its true in general..but one of my best german friend is from Cologne whose sense of humour beats any stereotype of them..:-P

And yeah...maybe i am partial here coz somehow i like germans..:-)

Yeah...I remember by friend telling me that Bonn was made the capital just because the chancellor of those times happened to be from that city...not surprising they call in Bundesdorf..:-P

The sad part is I havent toured much of germany..except for Hamburg, Frankfurt, Cologne,Keil...and a couple of times to Berlin....

Should go Dresden and Munich sometime.....

thanks for the informative comments..:-)

GS said...

I think Konrad Adenauer was from Cologne; maybe in an area that was closer to Bonn. It seems he actually wanted Cologne as the capital, but the western allies feared that the big population in Cologne might create a riot in which event they may not be able to defend their capital well. Thus the honor came to small Bonn..

But I think Frankfurt is the economic center, before or after the unification. Much like Ernakulam in Kerala, or Mumbai in India or New York in the US. It is not necessarily the political capital that pulls the most economic power.

Yeah, it is obvious that you are a German fan. Your attitude needs to be softened a bit with immersion somewhere else. Try spending an year in Paris.

G.S. said...

Have you noticed that all the Strasse-s of these Germans are all named after Germans? The only almost-exceptions I know is one Shakespearestrasse in Leipzig(but after all Shakespeare is a German who was unfortunately born in England), and some few bridge or so named after Kennedy, which does not count because at the time west Germany was essentially under the rule of US, and it is not a perfectly independent naming action.

You can find a Mozartstrasse, a Beethovenstrasse and a Bismarckstrasse in every German city. But among all such important Germans, the most important German is Mr. Einbahn. I think in Bonn 30% of the roads are named after Mr. Einbahn. I was quite pleased about this joke of mine, and told it to a few Germans here. Not a single one understood it. And any other jokes too, for that matter. Which is how I made the chilling discovery that Germans are such morose people.

With my suggestion about Paris, I have betrayed my feelings .. I am a francophile living in Germany .. Maybe the king of such among mallus, I might add. A grand traitor living silently in the erstwhile capital of Germany. Now you understand why I comment sort-of-anonymously... ;-)

G.S. said...

I better explain the above joke, for our fellow-mallus. Stresse means street, or road. Einbahn could be a perfectly reasonable surname for a German. But, in straight terms, Ein-Bahn means one-way. In all the one way streets, there will be a sign, "Einbahnstrasse..

mathew said...

@GS
yeah...that is lot of comments and very interesting too....:)

yes...the Bonn story is quite amusing..i think it would have been the most boring capital ever..;-P

Frankfurt might be the economic center...but Hamburg is a money-powerhouse coz of the port based industries here...I dont know whether you have been here...but its one city in germany you should definitely visit!!

and yeah..spending a year in Paris..only if i was a vagabond artist..;-P Been there as a tourist twice and saying that it impressed me big time would be a understatement...

LOL at the enibahn joke..infact that was a joke which once crossed my mind as well..and as you said i knew that would never click with most germans so refrained from it....;-P

hey a small doubt..i think Mozart was from Salzburg..I know there is some strasse in germany named after a pakistani poet somewhere..and one planned to named after gandhi..neverthless as you said...its heavily dominated by germans...i dont complain when in india we are renaming all names back to indian personalities..

Francophile in germany..better live anonymously...;-P though you dont have to worry about commenting anonymous in this blog...most of readers are hopefully pro-germany by now..;-D

oh..and all the while i could never make out you were a mallu too..;-)

you are the second mallu commenter who resides in Germany!! :)

Are you a temporary resident or permanent..?

mathew said...

@GS
I have worked in France (toulouse) for short durations 1-2 weeks...and I honestly didnot put effort to appreciate the place...There is a indo-german friend of mine who ended up there and now apparently likes the place more than her birthplace of Hamburg now...and she says that inspite of being a german citizen!!! and her husband who is a indian cant believe his wife agrees to it..;-P

GS said...

Temporary... Temporary, of course. If I take permanent residence it will be in Paris!

I am a mallu as much as one could be, and an engineer, to boot.

You will respect our mallu blood and culturual and language connections, wouldn't you? Or are you are such a German fan that you might perhaps reveal to them the traitor lurking here?

GS said...

I am a mallu. I own a Shabdataravali in my home in Kerala. I have read most of the malayalam bible.

I have, without any unnecessary delay whatsoever, in a party, soon after meeting a Dutch colleague, belabored to enlighten him about the Kulatchal war. So now you believe, I am a mallu? :-)

I hate the German grammar with a passion and abandoned all efforts to learn it, and this essay of Mark Twain is just another testimony towards the awfulness of the language. Damn Germans! God Damn German language! You can't ever pronounce the umlaut correctly. Why umlaut, such a simple letter like "r" cannot be pronounced. Especially if a word begins with that letter. But nothing beats the grammar. Who ever created it? I think even the latest IBM mainframe wouldn't be able to analyze it. It will take the cold determination of a German himself, to learn even a portion of it.

Don't you think the German language sounds forceful, loud and emotionless? When you are angry, German is the language to speak in. Once I went out of Germany for some reason, and when I boarded the plane back to Germany, I found myself surrounded by Germans all of a sudden. Then I found the language to be intimidating and straight and angry-sounding. It is unsuited for expressing any emotion except anger. The German language pronunciation is an example of how straight-ass Germans are. "a" is always pronounced like in "aana", "e" always like in "eli", "i" always like in "eli", etc... The pronunciation is straight, and the whole language itself sounds artificially straight. It reflects the German culture and attitude. Very serious, grim, stiff and emotionless people. But the best in determination, once the best in military prowess, etc..

I like it very much here. It is almost like heaven. But I know for very sure that I can't spend a lifetime here. The people are too stiff. Unbending. It is a bit like living in a strait-jacket. If your soul has nice "S" curves and bends, by the time you exit Germany after a few years, it will be all made as perfect and straight as the corners of a square.

But this "Markada Mushti" habit of these guys is sometimes handy. Once there was a problem with the wireless setup in my room, and after trying to solve it myself for quite a long time, gave it to German sysadmin. He also could not get his head around it. He spent very boring three days getting just this problem sorted out. I was hiding my smile all the time during those three days, "now, the German markada mushti will not allow him to let it go until there is an answer", and silently grinned at the poor guy's plight..

GS said...

See. look at my language. I have got into the habit of using long sentences. This is the problem of living here. Damn German language! :)

I have to agree with Mark Twain wholeheartedly:

And eighthly, and last, I would retain Zug and Schlag, with their pendants, and discard the rest of the vocabulary. This would simplify the language.

But the terrible tragedy is that the Germans will not ever understand the deep-biting sarcasm of the above words! So the situation will remain hopeless for ever. God, I am getting more frustrated every day! :-)

Compare this with the French. How soft, you even soften all the vowels, how melodious, how poetic, how better! Boorish and hard German language! I will compare the German language to a big hairy wild Bear, and French language to a sweet lovely blooming French lass.

mathew said...

@GS
First please give a name rather than a abbreviation…atleast a fictional one…since you are a Franco-phile I ll rather call you Colette or say Valerie…:-P

Btw…before you take permanent residence in Paris, I guess you are aware of the Paris Syndrome which Japanese tourists suffer from..:-P Anyways taking cue from good old german forgiveness I think I can excuse you for being the traitor…hehe..

Ayyo…to be honest I don’t know about the kulatchal war…my knowledge about the old wars which happened in our state is pretty negligible..L need to do some research there…anyways nice to see a full fledged malayalee here..:-)

Hey..hey…I agree german might sound harsh….but on the other hand look at the positive side of it…Most of the letters have a standard pronunciation and doesnot change according to context like in English or French… Therefore I guess however nutcracker of words they have in German language I think for a newbie it might be easier to learn german than French….and then if someone knows San-skrit I have heard that its much easier to learn geman!!

German language sounds loud…probably coz you have been hearing too much of Rammstien…there are lot of melodies out there…” Very serious, grim, stiff and emotionless people” that would be a gen-eralization…after all this country made Marx, Beethoven, Nietzche and lot of musicians….J
And I believeGerman culture has change a lot over the years…its getting more americanised in atti-tude just like India….It’s the older generation who fall in the category you have described!!

Well..well..i think its hard to convince a die-hard Francophile anyways…:-P

I have noticed the same thing…markada musthi….hehe…
Lemme tell you…in my office the german takes 20 min for lunch and are back at work….Now when I was in France..people were taking ages…like having food at a restaurant inspite of being in the of-fice…people take 1.5 hrs for lunch sometimes!!! Something we crib about here..:-P

Hahah…I understand your dilemma ….maybe you should start meet other germans who might be francophilies as well..hehe….Actually its surprising that you have such views even though you stay in Bonn where I though people were more friendly….

Very interesting comparison you have made there btw….i agree to it…that’s why most people around the world try to learn French as a second language….And its not surprising that girls develop weak knees when talking to guys who can speak French...and guys fall for girls who can speak French…In fact when I go tls...i just spend listening to the ladies out there speaking beautiful French…its definitely a sexy language!! :-D

GS said...

None of these names suit me as I happen to be a male. But if you really need a pseudonym, I can suggest the name of Jean. This is because I have read the Les Miserables some three times. GS are my actual initials. In any case, I am not ready to be a regular poster in any of the blogs. However, you are most welcome to meet me in person if you ever again pass through the Bonn/Cologne area. Then I would tell you all about myself.. :-)

No, I am not anti-German. Once I went to Spain and fell in love with the place. I think Spain is a place I would like to spend my later years. Still, I wanted to be back in Germany. I admire the German determination, if nothing else. Also I have a certain love for the language in spite of everything, which is why I took so much trouble to try to learn it, though I failed eventually. This Beethoven, Mozart and all are great because of their instrumental music, not because of any melodious vocal tones.

This lunchtime you mention, is another thing that irritates me. Here the Germans go out exactly at 1pm for lunch, and return to the buiding exactly at 2pm. Not a minute early, not a minute less. The phrase "anally retentive" really suits these Germans. All the beer glasses have measurements and they always check that they are given exactly the required amount. I can tell you a thousand instances of this type of extremism. Why, just look at how well-dressed they are. They must spend some three hours daily just for that. I think to get the shoe polished correctly up to German standards, you need to spend a whole weekend. I used to hate the "punctuality headmaster" of my school, and here I am seeing that one whole nation has got that disease badly. No wonder their military was so effective.

The renaissance essentially took off in a full-fledged way in Paris. Paris had the first real modern university. The great strides of humanity were made in the French revolutions. Paris is even now the fashion and art capital of the world. When you see the European cities, you sometimes feel the crudeness and rough edges all the time, especially among Germans. I suppose it is most visible in Berlin. But not in Paris. Everything is refined there. Even the centers of prostitution has a building with such melodious names as Moulin Rouge. If your friend-1 tells you that he went to the red light district in Berlin, and if friend-2 tells you that he went to the red light district in Paris, you would be wondering more about the escapades of the second friend.

German is the language created by Teutonic Barbarians. French was created by some soft, gentle and humane guys.

But you do have a point. It amazes me from time to time that the greatest Composers are all Germans, though the language is unsuited for music. Germany sure does have enough stuff for enjoyment, and I would be here anyday compared to the US. You are quite lucky in that your employment situation seems to ensure that you can stay here for long, whereas mine is temporary, and I might need to wander around quite a bit in future for jobs.

Schönes Wochenende! Tschüs!

mathew said...

@Jean :-D
sorry for making the wrong guess...
thanks for the offere..and would love to have a beer...and you are welcome to Hamburg as well!!! do drop a mail to wetspark@gmail.com whenever you are...and dont worry I wont arrange some skinheads waiting for you for being pro-french...hehe...


oh..believe me...i love spain..spend there 10 days in dec 2007...love that country..i like Seville and Granada esp..:-)

will comment for rest later..as i need to hurry up now...

thanks..bby.

mathew said...

"This Beethoven, Mozart and all are great because of their instrumental music, not because of any melodious vocal tones.
"

exactly why the sound of the language is not an indication of the german personality..;-D

"All the beer glasses have measurements and they always check that they are given exactly the required amount. I can tell you a thousand instances of this type of extremism. Why, just look at how well-dressed they are"

One man's extermism is another man's idea of harmony..for me these are qualities i love in a german...;-D

"When you see the European cities, you sometimes feel the crudeness and rough edges all the time, especially among Germans. I suppose it is most visible in Berlin"

well well.its a question of aesthetics...we i prefer a mercedes with sharp edges than a renault with unproportional humps and bumps..you are overlooking the fact that almost whole of germany was rebuild the war..and the primary objective those times where to build functionally useful house and they couldnot afford the decorative brilliance of paris..

But i wholly agree with you on which language sounds better...french is music!!;-)

btw..thanks for the wonderful long comments..it was quite interesting to read a different view point..

GS said...

Glad to have been of help in providing a few thoughts, if you feel it enriched your blog.

Hmph. Aesthetics. After making a good car, the German language was insufficient to express it and they had to borrow a French name, Mercedes. There is no need to argue about the German language. It is totally hopeless.

You can stick to expressions of Freundschaftsbezeigungenstadtverordneten- versammlungenfamilieneigenthümlichkeiten with your German buddies. I will prefer simpler languages like English. Oh my god, thinking of such long words gives me the sssssshivers! Not to speak of the troubles with conjugating the articles of such words correctly and according to case!

I can share my dirty secret with you, which I discovered thanks to Mark Twain, and I use it in my conversations with Germans when I ask them for directions.

Bitte Entschulgigung! Kennen Sie die richtige Strasse nach das Bahnhof?

(Excuse me, Do you know the correct way to go to the railway station?)

{{A stream of unintelligible German}} I nod profusely: Also! {{Another stream of unintelligible German}} I twitch my eyebrows and cock my head : Also! And so on, with enough Also-s, until the conversation gets over. I figure the correct direction from the hand gestures of the person, and I thank with a Danke, and then go my way.

"Also" does not mean anything, and could be interpreted for just about anything. So I am able to make the Germans happy with a perfect-German-style conversation, and get the thing done, though I do not understand a damn thing at all! ;-)

Now, about the architecture. I will tell you, many German buildings were like this even before the two Great wars. But it is also true that they were in some ways a bit too hasty in reconstruction, a sign of which is the large Turkish communities here and the problems with integration. I cringe when I see the profusion of fat ladies in headscarfs and burqas in the Bahn at early morning hours.

Another problem with Germans is the size. Look at the Cologne Cathedral. They just had to make it that big. I have seen Goethe's collected works. It fills an entire shelf. They really have a problem knowing when to stop, sometimes. I think that is why people like Hitler did all he did. He had genuine grievances from the Great war, but went to such extremities in extracting revenge for the same.

German is very good for swearing and shouting. German is also very effective for expressing disaster, tragedy etc.. Mark Twain says that it is good for expressing peace, rest, etc, too. In any case, I do not think the Götterdämmerung opera could have been written in another language effectively.

But, it is still a broken dream for me to speak in German! Like a German! We Indians are quite good in English, excepting the accent issues. But it is not so obvious with German. Maybe there are a handful of mallu Catholic priests who spent 20-30 years in Germany, and polished the language to perfection.

G.S. said...

In the next two posts, I will copy and paste an excerpt from Jerome K. Jerome's "Three men in a boat"(We all, in the Kerala syllabus, had a few chapters from that book in school, year after year, to study.).

I think the book is now in open domain, so do not worry about any copyright issues.

G S said...

We were a fashionable and highly cultured party. We had on our best clothes, and we talked pretty, and were very happy – all except two young fellows, students, just returned from Germany, commonplace young men, who seemed restless and uncomfortable, as if they found the proceedings slow. The truth was, we were too clever for them. Our brilliant but polished conversation, and our high-class tastes, were beyond them. They were out of place, among us. They never ought to have been there at all. Everybody agreed upon that, later on.

We played MORCEAUX from the old German masters. We discussed philosophy and ethics. We flirted with graceful dignity. We were even humorous – in a high-class way.

Somebody recited a French poem after supper, and we said it was beautiful; and then a lady sang a sentimental ballad in Spanish, and it made one or two of us weep – it was so pathetic.

And then those two young men got up, and asked us if we had ever heard Herr Slossenn Boschen (who had just arrived, and was then down in the supper-room) sing his great German comic song.

None of us had heard it, that we could remember.

The young men said it was the funniest song that had ever been written, and that, if we liked, they would get Herr Slossenn Boschen, whom they knew very well, to sing it. They said it was so funny that, when Herr Slossenn Boschen had sung it once before the German Emperor, he (the German Emperor) had had to be carried off to bed.

They said nobody could sing it like Herr Slossenn Boschen; he was so intensely serious all through it that you might fancy he was reciting a tragedy, and that, of course, made it all the funnier. They said he never once suggested by his tone or manner that he was singing anything funny – that would spoil it. It was his air of seriousness, almost of pathos, that made it so irresistibly amusing.

We said we yearned to hear it, that we wanted a good laugh; and they went downstairs, and fetched Herr Slossenn Boschen.

He appeared to be quite pleased to sing it, for he came up at once, and sat down to the piano without another word.

“Oh, it will amuse you. You will laugh,” whispered the two young men, as they passed through the room, and took up an unobtrusive position behind the Professor’s back.

Herr Slossenn Boschen accompanied himself. The prelude did not suggest a comic song exactly. It was a weird, soulful air. It quite made one’s flesh creep; but we murmured to one another that it was the German method, and prepared to enjoy it.

I don’t understand German myself. I learned it at school, but forgot every word of it two years after I had left, and have felt much better ever since. Still, I did not want the people there to guess my ignorance; so I hit upon what I thought to be rather a good idea. I kept my eye on the two young students, and followed them. When they tittered, I tittered; when they roared, I roared; and I also threw in a little snigger all by myself now and then, as if I had seen a bit of humour that had escaped the others. I considered this particularly artful on my part.

I noticed, as the song progressed, that a good many other people seemed to have their eye fixed on the two young men, as well as myself. These other people also tittered when the young men tittered, and roared when the young men roared; and, as the two young men tittered and roared and exploded with laughter pretty continuously all through the song, it went exceedingly well.

G S said...

And yet that German Professor did not seem happy. At first, when we began to laugh, the expression of his face was one of intense surprise, as if laughter were the very last thing he had expected to be greeted with. We thought this very funny: we said his earnest manner was half the humour. The slightest hint on his part that he knew how funny he was would have completely ruined it all. As we continued to laugh, his surprise gave way to an air of annoyance and indignation, and he scowled fiercely round upon us all (except upon the two young men who, being behind him, he could not see). That sent us into convulsions. We told each other that it would be the death of us, this thing. The words alone, we said, were enough to send us into fits, but added to his mock seriousness – oh, it was too much!

In the last verse, he surpassed himself. He glowered round upon us with a look of such concentrated ferocity that, but for our being forewarned as to the German method of comic singing, we should have been nervous; and he threw such a wailing note of agony into the weird music that, if we had not known it was a funny song, we might have wept.

He finished amid a perfect shriek of laughter. We said it was the funniest thing we had ever heard in all our lives. We said how strange it was that, in the face of things like these, there should be a popular notion that the Germans hadn’t any sense of humour. And we asked the Professor why he didn’t translate the song into English, so that the common people could understand it, and hear what a real comic song was like.

Then Herr Slossenn Boschen got up, and went on awful. He swore at us in German (which I should judge to be a singularly effective language for that purpose), and he danced, and shook his fists, and called us all the English he knew. He said he had never been so insulted in all his life.

It appeared that the song was not a comic song at all. It was about a young girl who lived in the Hartz Mountains, and who had given up her life to save her lover’s soul; and he died, and met her spirit in the air; and then, in the last verse, he jilted her spirit, and went on with another spirit – I’m not quite sure of the details, but it was something very sad, I know. Herr Boschen said he had sung it once before the German Emperor, and he (the German Emperor) had sobbed like a little child. He (Herr Boschen) said it was generally acknowledged to be one of the most tragic and pathetic songs in the German language.

It was a trying situation for us – very trying. There seemed to be no answer. We looked around for the two young men who had done this thing, but they had left the house in an unostentatious manner immediately after the end of the song.

That was the end of that party. I never saw a party break up so quietly, and with so little fuss. We never said good-night even to one another. We came downstairs one at a time, walking softly, and keeping the shady side. We asked the servant for our hats and coats in whispers, and opened the door for ourselves, and slipped out, and got round the corner quickly, avoiding each other as much as possible.

I have never taken much interest in German songs since then.

GS said...

I am sorry for crowding your blog like this; but I just can't resist the temptation of taking another shot at the German language. This one is by Mark Twain. Such events can actually happen, you know. This is no exaggeration, as I suppose you know already.


A Dresden paper, the Weidmann, which thinks that there are kangaroos
(Beutelratte) in South Africa, says the Hottentots (Hottentoten) put
them in cages (kotter) provided with covers (lattengitter) to protect
them from the rain. The cages are therefore called
lattengitterwetterkotter, and the imprisoned kangaroo
lattengitterwetterkotterbeutelratte. One day an assassin (attentäter)
was arrested who had killed a Hottentot woman (Hottentotenmutter), the
mother of two stupid and stuttering children in Strättertrotel. This
woman, in the German language is entitled
Hottentotenstrottertrottelmutter, and her assassin takes the name
Hottentotenstrottermutterattentäter. The murderer was confined in a
kangaroo's cage--Beutelrattenlattengitterwetterkotter--whence a few
days later he escaped, but fortunately he was recaptured by a
Hottentot, who presented himself at the mayor's office with beaming
face. "I have captured the Beutelratte," said he. "Which one?" said
the mayor; "we have several." "The
Attentäterlattengitterwetterkotterbeutelratte." "Which attentäter are
you talking about?" "About the
Hottentotenstrottertrottelmutterattentäter." "Then why don't you say
at once the Hottentotenstrottelmutterattentäterlattengitterwetterkotterbeutelratte?"

GS said...

Now, you, Mathew, who say that German is an easily pronounceable language, please pronounce the above Hottentotenstrottelmutterattentäterlattengitterwetterkotterbeutelratte.

And, you admirer of German tenacity and perfectionism, please convince one of your German colleagues to change from the ancient gmx.de to the wonderful gmail. You will get a dozen reasons why it can't be done, except the real one : The Teutonic attitude of we-know-best, and consequently not listening to others.

mathew said...

@GS
I needed my time to read all the comments...you and mark twain would make life hard for germans!!:-D

mathew said...

well..i think for argumentative sake there are long german words...but neverthless its not the answer to my questions..what i was stressing were..

1) German language rules are straightforward(without any depending on the situation change the pronounciation and like...)

2)I had already agreed that french language sounds more beautiful

3)What else do we expect a country to do...a reconstruction project of a whole country cannot afford artistic extravaganza..

4) Cologne cathedral is large..and i like it..its like asking why you need such a tall eiffel tower..after all it was supposed to be a temporary exhibition..

5) In general people criticise german sense of humour, and their uptight behaviour...but the postive qualities in a german far outweights the negatives of many other nationalities..

And btw origin of word mercedes is Spanish...

GS said...

1. It is not for argument's sake that one admits that there are long words. To be a true German, you have to have the ability to create such long words on the fly. Look at the newspapers and you will find a hundred such longwords in the frontpage itself.

You do not speak in this "simple" German language, do you? You have never tried to learn the grammar, have you? You are incorrigible. Go and learn the German grammar, for a penance for your stubbornness! That will wash off all the sins of you and all your ancestors!

Come to think of it, having to learn this complicated grammar is punishment enough for the Germans for their stubborn attitudes and inability to listen others.

2. :-)

3. The reason is not the lack of time. It is the boorish overall character. There can be a Schubert, Mozart, Wagner and an army of such artistic greats, but the underlying spirit is still boorish. Maybe it is caused by the eternal gloomy weather, the rough language and lifestyle.

4. The answer for 4 is very easy. Eifel is of German lineage. That is why. They have honored him with an Eifelstrasse in Bonn, as a reward for erecting a monstrous structure in Paris.