Saturday, July 26, 2008

Die Reise nach Deutschland (Teil 2)

Well, rather silly of me to've left the last one at that, but I'll continue from the taxi ride. It was a rather pleasant experience. Had never experienced such temperatures, such pretty road-side views, such a good machine etc. and was, therefore, quite thrilled. On the Autobahn (freeway), the driver went upto speeds of 180 kmph which again was new and being rather fond of high-speed machines, I was already in my parallel world putting myself in the driver's place and cutting through the January wind, breakneck. Quite pleased I was. The 30 km drive took hardly 20 minutes (again mind-blowing for a Bangalorean) :-).

The Ascot was, and I guess still is, a very quaint, lovely hotel. It is removed from the hustle and bustle of traffic of any kind (not that there is much in Ditzingen), but is still close to the main road and the Bahnhof (railway station). It is also pretty close to a miniature graveyard, and through the graveyard lies the shortest way to the Bahnhof. :-)

I don't quite remember what I ate that day, but I remember that I spent almost the entire day sleeping. I think we went out sometime in the afternoon for some shopping. Yes, we did. It was a Saturday that we reached there, and on Sundays there are generally no shops open there. So we went shopping, and then having come back to my room, I went into slumber. I don't remember if I woke again that day. Doesn't matter. Sunday brought in a new day and a stern test of my elementary German language speaking skills.

I'd had breakfast from the hotel itself (complimentary) and thought I wouldn't need lunch, but found myself hungry pretty soon. Hadn't carried much food apart from biscuits and chocolates, none of which tempted me then (only then). Was too late for lunch from the restaurant below, so walked through Ditzingen hoping to find something to eat, and also to have a look around the place. It was pretty cold even then, around half past three and it was still freezing. I found a couple of places open actually. One, looked Italian, some name followed by Ristorante (am guessing Italian). But there were far too many people in there, so chose not to go in there and so went further ahead and having walked into dead ends in three separate directions, gave up and walked back to the hotel.

On the way back, I found a Turkish kebab place open. Think it was called Golden Kebaphaus (or something like that). So, considering it a safe option (kebab was about as close to familiar food as I could get then, I thought), I went in. The Turk running the place asked me something in German. It was rather strange, an Indian and a Turk in Germany; the Turk speaking what he considered German, that thought never occurred to me though. I guessed that he must be asking me what I was doing in his place when he'd rather be left alone on a Sunday evening. Well I'd learnt some German (or is it Deutsch) via an A1 course from my company, and so was about time I put it to use. I scanned the menu looking for familiar items, while the owner and the chef surveyed me with suspicion. Then having hit upon a choice, I mustered all my courage and German and said quite fluently, "Pizza!". "Mit?" was the obvious response from them. ("Oh shoot!!!") "Er... salami?" OK, if you say so... and the pizza base first and then the meat went into the oven. Meanwhile, I saw that the place also had a number of chairs and tables and thought it must be like one of our little eateries, where one also gets to sit and eat if one chooses to. I also realized that I might not look too bright carrying a pretty large pizza back into a hotel when I might have well got the same thing from there. So, I just put a small question across, "Kann ich... er... I mean can I sit here and eat?". From what I could see, that quite clearly blew the living day-lights out of them. "What??", one of them seemed to shudder. Then he seemed to regain some composure, or thought that this creature might be out of his mind and too much excitement might induce violence etc., and said "No, no... no eat here... NO!". Hmmm... categorical... Ok... No problem... "Can I have a Coke too?" Might as well have something to drink too. "Take anything, no problem!" Ok. Here's the money. See you... "Your change!" "Oh yes, thanks!" Enough adventure for lunch. What happened to the pizza is of course inconsequential. But yeah, I did eat it back in my hotel room. Not great, but who really cares.

That was the end of Sunday, for I went into slumber again, and woke up only sometime early morning on Monday. I was living in the Indian time zone still, you see. And so when Monday finally came, I was glad. Atleast we would be in office, doing something we could pretend to understand. So, by the 8.50 a.m. train, we went to Leonberg where our office was. And that leads me the essence of watching your step at every... well... step.

Having got off at the Leonberg Bahnhof, we were walking towards our office. It might be a km, probably lesser, the walk towards #6, Daimlerstrasse. As we came out of the station, we needed to cross the road, clamber up about a 150 steps (kidding, about 20, I guess) and then take the straight road to reach our destination. Well, we crossed the road, and started going up the steps. As we reached the first platform, I was offered the laptop to carry and take care off. I slung it over my shoulder and header forward. The next step I took forward, I don't know what happened. I don't remember too much of it, but I was looking skywards. I was seeing stars and below the stars I could also see my boots. Then, realization dawned and yeah, I had slipped. The whole thing might've taken 5 seconds, but time is relative to your position I guess. Not minding bystander gasps, I picked myself, which is a lot really, and header upwards, this time with much more careful steps. The wrist took the weight of the, but I could feel nothing then. Must be the cold. The pain lasted for another couple of days and then slowly slipped away. I think, though, that that is a jinxed place, because I clearly remember atleast two other times I slipped at the same place, but didn't fall. I guess I only slid then, but not very nice, no. Unless you're the onlooker of course, in which case it might have been rather amusing. :-)

That was my adventure for Monday, I guess. Tuesday was the case of the room-key-in-the-wrong-bag.

That, of course, could have happened to anybody. Well, like I said in my previous post (I have, you prolly missed it), I wasn't by myself. I was with my PL and since she had a bag with her, I chose to safely keep my room keys in th bag. That way, it would be safe. Well, not a bad idea. Only if you're going to stick together that is. Well, otherwise, you've got to make sure that the person with the key's going to reach the hotel earlier than you. If neither of them apply, then, well... you're going to have to go off on randomly planned walks after coming back from work. Specially once the lounge is as full as it is at those hours. Well, I did too but thankfully had to walk around only 15 minutes when I managed to see her and well , then it was again quite funny. But not if you're the goof with the big "SUCKA!!!!" cloud written over your head. :-)

Well I've been ranting on and on... I guess I will sum the rest of the trip quickly. The rest of the trip was quite OK. The days went well. Except for lunch with pasta. The weekend also brought with it a trip to the superb Mercedes Benz Museum. The museum is a superb demonstration of what good planning, thinking and execution can bring. The thought that has gone into the museum is exceptional. The display starts at the 8th floor with the preliminaries; and you feel like you're walking through generations as you move down the museum. It also outlines the important happenings of those times. The whole experience is absolutely brilliant. I will try to write a separate post on the museum; am not sure I can fit a half-decent description even in this sham of a post.

The star-attraction of this trip was, of course, the trip back. Having got to the Charles De'Gaulle airport fairly trouble free and having gone through the checks, we had lots of time for the flight to Bangalore. The scheduled time was 11.20 a.m. and the boarding time was 10.50 a.m. We just wandered through the numerous shopping centres and made a few little additions to our luggage. Around 10.30-ish we slowly headed towards our boarding gate. CDG is a huge airport; it takes long between gates at times and so we headed onwards knowing there was enough time. As we reached the gate, we thought we'd keep our boarding passes and passports ready. Fair enough. Only that I realized, to my utter horror, that I had neither on me. Well it was 10.45 a.m., 5 minutes to board and no passport! Wow! Didn't have a choice, ran back like mad to the last store we'd stopped in. A couple of inquiries later, some one had kept it safely. Only, they didn't remember where. Another 2-3 minutes later, someone pulled out the passport, boarding pass and my book holding them all and handed them over to me. Relief! Not yet... Have a plane to catch. That wasn't so bad, but for the fact they'd announced that if i didn't make it there immediately they'd be unloading my baggage. I fortunately managed to reach in time to avoid such a contingency and we finally barged into the plane like we'd run into the plane at Bangalore. Like catching the 43D from the Corporation bus-stop, after seeing it stop when you're still at the Hudson Circle signal. :-)

Wasn't too much fun then on, we just flew over lots of place and got off at the HAL airport at about a quarter-to-one in the wee hours of Monday morning. Of course, to commemorate my trip I had to bungle up there too. And so while the authorities asked me to slip my bag into the scanner, I dropped it onto the belt and the bag hit the big, red power switch promply turning the scanner off. Hmmm... the officials seemed at a loss of words on seeing that, specially now that it wasn't turning back on either. I wasn't too popular a guy in the airport at that point in time I imagine. But 15 mins later it was back to working and our bags were scanned, we got out of there and headed homewards.

That was, of course, a pretty uneventful ending to an eventful trip. But yes, it is one I'll always look back at with fond memories. So long for now, thanks for reading if you've got this far. I know it's been a rather long description of nothing, but then...

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