Monday, June 11, 2007

A short sweet trip to Duisburg

Well friends, I am back after a small trip to Duisburg, Germany and am overwhelmed by the fact that many mailed me asking for a detailed letter...(And I was thinking you all hated it.. :-))So here is a compilation of my experiences in germany..This time it will not be a story telling but a compilation of small incidents which made a mark in my mind so that I could remember them and mail you back.

News of going to Germany: I am a pessimistic fellow according to others (a different type...I keep hope in my heart but don’t show that to others).So the first time when my PM told me abt my trip to Germany, everyone noticed that I was not so jubiliant. I showed no feelings.I just smiled and said thanks.Much of this was b'cos I knew we can’t believe any fact until it actually happens and I wasn't 100% sure that my company would send me there and there was all possibility of cancellation.So I did not tell anyone abt it.Even to my parents I told may be I will be going but don't keep any hopes.But as days progressed, my hopes were turning into reality....
I WAS STARTING TO BELIEVE THAT ONE OF MY LIFE'S MAJOR DREAM IS GOING TO BE TRUE...Eventhough it was for 15 days, the feeling of just going to another continent made me ecstatic.It was also due to the fact that no one from my family had crossed INDIAN BORDER....!!!!

A dream come true: Finally the d-day came.I had my tickets,knew abt the weather there,knew what exactly I should be doing at airport,had all my clothings to face the dreaded cold weather there.It was time to go to a place where I knew no one...all alone.I got to the airport exactly 3 hrs earlier and then got on to the plane and off I flew.............

Emirates: I had always heard that emirates was one of the best flights in the world and now I knew why...Wonderful seats, huge capacity, gorgeous air-hostess and very good food (?!!).All was there.But the fact I liked the most was the provision of personal TV in the plane, Attached at the back of my front seat was a small TV and its remote in my hand.To watch was a huge list of programmes ranging from Sports, films, plays and not to miss the bollywood masala.There was much more ...You could call any phone using that remote (the other side had a Phone), send sms, and also play games!!!! I wanted to play some games but since everyone else was watching movies, I felt it will be childish if I play Games...So instead preferred watching film DOR & Pyaar Ke Side Effects (Hindi)...I kept wondering at the technology which lets a person to watch a Movie at 40000ft above the earth traveling at that speed...more than 500 miles per hour!!!
And to add to all this excitement, there was a camera in front of and below the plane and the pictures were relayed to us in real time, so during fly off
and landing, U could see what the pilot could see in front and then look below!!!
As for the food can you guess what I got Upma+vada+idli+palak+ice Pepsi....Wine and other drinks were also there but...
So the overall experience was awesome...

Dubai airport: Nothing special to tell here as I waited patiently at one place for my connecting flight. Only thing that caught my eye was that there was a strip, where you could stand and it would leave you to the other end (similar to the escalator, but here it was completely horizontal).So ppl here were too lazy even to walk. Also there was a place where they had placed systems with internet for free!!

The same emirates experience, but the only diff was that once I started to watch films as usual (I was a matured experienced flyer by now)....hey but wait a min ..whats this everywhere I see ppl are playing games..I rubbed my eyes in disbelief. But to my surprise everyone were playing games..and then me too!!!!!!! The person next to me was also from India and had ordered an "HINDU" meal and I had ordered veg meal. TO his dismay, that "HINDU" meal was actually a meal which had prawns, chicken and eggs!! He was shocked, and the airhostess was helpless as there was no replacement for him. But coming form a land of superheros,as usual, I came to his rescue. I asked to the hostess to exchange our meals had saved him from impending hunger.. Nelli ki jai ho...( Actually just before that I was cursing my travel agent from Polaris to have booked a veg meal for me
:-)) everything happens for good only!!And this happened for very good as the airhostess could not stop praising me for my "HEROIC" act !! over and
over again!!

Dusseldorf:Finally I landed,in an unknown area, another continent, strangers everywhere talking in some strange language. The sudden rush of cold air outside the airport reminded me that I had finally arrived!!.Then suddenly a scary thought struck me. It was already 9:00 in the night and I was here with only
the hotel address in my hand...No contact nos!!! I feared at the thought of not finding the hotel and getting taken for a ride which I literally had to be taken via taxi to duisburg.But the fear all ceased when a friendly driver too me to my hotel 20-25 min far from the airport.(Note that he was driving at 120 km/hr which seemed common there!!) .Call it an Indian effect in foreign land..I had already started multiplying everything with 57)...1Euro=approx 57 INR !!

Mercure hotel:Without any problem I reached the hotel, got my key( it was a credit card like thing which you had to swipe through he door to get it open),rushed to my room and slept peacefully....hoping for a nice stay for the remaining days.

The story ends here and incidents start:

Alms for the poor(?!!): While strolling around, a young girl came towards me, she was wearing a red T-shirt and a pair of jeans ,drinking coca -cola. As she approached me she opened her palms and said "Alms for the poor”. I was shocked!! She did not look like a beggar from any angle. She repeated "Alms for the poor"...I looked at her again... and asked in a confused look ...POOOR(!!?) .She suddenly changed her tone ,shouted at me in German and went away angrily
leaving me confused in the middle of the street!!

We felt the need for some spicy snack just to beat the hot weather and in the way found out an Asian market. We went inside it to see all types of
"INDIAN" things available ranging from basmati rice,chilli powder to the spices. We bought a packet of chips and came back to our room. Getting ready for some yummy snacks we put the chips in our mouth only to note that it was made of shrimps!!!(shrimps are small, swimming, decapod crustaceans similar to prawns--basically a sea food) .It was the first non-vegetarian chips I have ever had in my life !!!.

Cycles: Here there is a separate track for cyclists.Ppl from all walks of life don’t hesitate to ride cycles. The track comes b/n road and footpath and ppl can walk on them only when there are no cyclists around...

Traffic followers: The ppl here are terrific traffic followers. There used to be times when we are standing near the circle with no vehicle in sight from any road far far away and still no one used to cross the road until the green light used to glow. The same rules applied to cyclists. This attitude ,eventhough good would virtually torture me as it brought out my animal instincts of Mumbai and b'lore to cross the empty road(or eventhough it was busy!!).I used to keep thinking, if I had crossed then I would reach my office by now ,etc!!But I will have to frankly tell you I loved following traffic here and planned to follow it here too, but to my horror the traffic police itself shouted at me to cross the road when there were no vehicles as he thought ppl like me create a crowd by not moving when there were no vehicles!!

Television: Only 15 channels used to be aired and all those in German !.So I used to blindly watch them for their actions. What else could I do !!) They had a book which had program timetable for the whole week and for over 140 channels. When enquired I came to know that they were pay channels and if I was ready to pay then I could watch them. The surprising fact was that the TV itself had the facility of shouting how much was due from my side for watching xtra channels. though I did not pay , I often saw the bill to see that unknowingly I might not have been watching anything thats payable!!.The TV had many more functions too. It had inbuilt videogame and chatting services with other television owners! Moreover even sms could be sent through them. Only thing I noticed was shilpa shettys face shown repeatedly on television.

Burger: Nothing much to expected I got a chicken burger when I asked for a veg burger :-(

Breakfast: The breakfast facility of the hotel was too good. It was a buffet ranging from all types of burgers, salad, yogurt, bacons, sausages, eggs, fruits,vegetables,dry fruits,diff types of butter,diff types of jams, black tea, coffee, juices etc...and moreover that was free as it was included in the hotel rent itself!! So as one should always do I literally ate like a king those 15 days, eventhough I get to eat 2 idlis in India!!

Chocolates:The office had a seperate corner for chocolates. The rules were simple."Feel free to pick up any chocolate you want.It is for free!! .....But since this is not funded by the company put any amt of money in the yellow box and see to that this corner never gets empty.” I found ppl actually putting money and taking it. BUT NOT ME ;-)

Cyclone: On the 10th day I had been there, there was a news that a hurricane would hit the city and so we should leave the office early. But as we all know s/w engg don’t fear anything and so everyone stayed in office ....working!! until the hurricane actually hit. The power went suddenly., and surprise surprise. there was no UPS in the office and all the systems shut down suddenly!! The reason: The city had not lost the power and thus they did not invest in UPS !!! Also since the city had lost the power for the first time everyone wanted a snap of electricity less city and It was me who had the camera! Also it was the first time in their history that the railways had stopped completely

Toooo late!!:
The shopping area was quite far away and we had to roam for abt 20 min.So we normally would not go out after returning form office. Just 1 day
before I made my return trip, I tried to explore the hotel and found out that we had a shortcut to the shopping street thru the hotel itself which took
no more than 2 min!! MORAL OF THE STORY?? First find your fault before finding others fault!!!
Then one fine day was all over, I finished my work successfully, and so had to leave on the fixed date itself. So came back via the same
way....Duisburg-->Dubai(Little shopping)--> Mumbai!!! :-( And then it took so may days to mail you my experiences!!!


  1. Wow.............

    It was amazing. What a wonderfull description of the whole visit. Once I thought, I am reading some work of Munshi prem chand.

    you should seriously try your hand in writing. (don't take it too seriously)

    Anyway, I still fail to understand... you went there for very short span of time, and in that time, they ppl lost their railway network + electricity.

    "Aakhir kya bigada tha un poor Germanian's ne tumhara"

  2. Hmm.. good one.. As people say it is better late than never.
    And I'm surprised that you wrote so much from two weeks. I cant even write 2 sentences.

    When are you releasing it as a film. Because u know i dont like to read long passages (but for u I did tht also)

  3. Mohan here, hmmm Prajwal's childhood buddy.Hey I never knew you blogged. Twas fun reading your post. I suppose I start reading more from ya webpage as I always had amountable curiousity about you.
    I really enjoyed the meal exchange part on the flight. Also your honesty that exudes in every line that you have keyed.