Saturday, August 13, 2005

First few days...

A trajectory defined by a simple flight journey from Bangalore to Stuttgart translates to a meaningless path reaching miles beyond. Travelling for the first time from a pocket of Bangalore to a huge land mass, bounded by a totally different culture, with a lifestyle conforming to strictly organised ways leading to a socially different being, does not augur well for a first time traveller. The aura of a first time travel is dissipated within minutes of landing in a new place. Feelings of uncertainity creeps in at breakneck speed. Insecurity and solitude forms a bottleneck for further happiness. Life is strange in the sense that you begin to despise what you have been wanting for a very long time. Solitude becomes the sole companion with introspection, retrospection and what not hitting your mind at the speed of light. The luxury of all the time in the world, not with loved ones though, creates an atmosphere that can stifle even the mentally toughest of people. The confined happiness within a confined culture cannot be appealing to an outgoing extrovert from India.

India, with its unpredicatabilities, is bounded by a strong circle of family and friends, imbibing the virtues of life. The realisation dawns on you that your family is thrown into oblivion and the luxury of cramped living rooms in India with everyone vying for the possession of remote controls to take advantage of the channel of their choice turns into a myth, what with the remote being a showpiece object for a single English channel in an eternally switched off television set. Money and power plays a major role in the transformation of an individual. Neither can bring happiness in the absence of people around. The lurking thought is always there at the back of your mind - Is this all worth it? When do I return back to India? The strangeness of the place is compounded by the fact that people are obsessed with a sense of discipline and an organised way of life style.

My first day was spent in the company of friends who made me feel as comfortable as possible. I could get along with people who I couldn't have imagined to get along with some time back. I spent my day in the heartland of the city. The sbahns and the ubahns on the strasses were a revelation to me, with its almost perfect timing being not in sync with the Indian buses. The cleanliness of the city was in stark contrast to the kind of filth scattered on Indian roads. The public response to the rules and regulations specified by the Government was followed to near perfection. Violation of rules is a rarity. Traffic jams here is a common sight but the spacing between the cars is of such a length that there would have been another car and a motorcycle in between the cars if it was for India. The difference in the system here and in India is that everybody here tries to follow the rules and regulations to the maximum extent unlike in India where everyone is taking the first opportunity to bypass the system. How many times have we seen motorists looking at the first opportunity to flee at signal crossings when the traffic constable has his sight elsewhere!!!

A weekday passes in Germany like every other day. An early morning rise followed by a quick shower, brings you to the breakfast table for a quick 10 minute helping of bread, butter, jam, corn flakes and what not!!!(Don't look for idly vadas or dosas in the list) and a brisk walk to the bus stop for fifteen minutes frisks you to office in 20 minutes by the company bus that unfortunately arrives on time. A hard day ensures in the office with people around you working as if there is a deadline to be met in every subsequent hour. A lunch is taken for around fifteen minutes and tea for around 10 minutes and these are the only times during the day when you get to meet your Indian counterparts for a brief chat. A nine hour solid work session ends with a brief walk to the gate to take the bus back to the hotel. A host of other problems awaits as soon as you reach the hotel. A duo of amateurs think vigorously what has to be prepared for dinner and the next day's lunch. Though we have handled quite well with the cooking issues, we try as much as possible not to think about the Indian delicacies being prepared at home. Our day ends with each of us complimenting on our efforts and improvements, with a tiny cupboard called as kitchen being the source of our so called Indian delicacies. We end up eating food that would have been unthinkable if prepared at home. A Satyajit Ray novel ends up within my clasp for a few minutes before I have a sound sleep, with intermittent wake up calls in the middle of the night...…God knows from where. After three-four wake up calls, the morning saga starts with the same old raga!!!!!

I realise that I have learnt a lot in the last week or so, which I have not done in the last 23 years. The feelings of independence and responsibility are new found terms in my life style. Apart from solitude which can really tear you apart, there are a host of other things that this experience can teach for a person who has never learnt to be alone in life. The importance of family reaches a new dimension and you being to savour every happy memory of it. The separation from loved ones and dear ones may drive you to frenzy at times. But, on the whole, the whole perspective of the individual towards life takes a new and exciting turn, building up a more mature personality within you. Relationships are enriched like never before and in the end, the whole trip leaves you richer and wiser!!!

Lets see whether my opinion changes in the next few days…..till then……..:))))

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