Germany


I can’t believe I am saying this, but I miss Hong Kong.  I miss the bookstores.

Nick Hornby and the terrible Bill Bryson are very popular among the bookstores here in Cologne.  But try look for Kurt Vonnegut or Norman Mailer in their English books section, it’s more difficult than finding a grocery store that is open on Sunday. 

Page One is my favorite bookstore in Hong Kong.  Its collections of classic and comtempory literatry, art, economics, etc… are impressive.  And if you cannot find what you are looking for, they’d be happy to place an order for you – without additional charge.  

I know, I should use Amazon, or better yet, imporve my German at the speed of light so that I can read Stefan Zweig in his native language.  On second thought, I’d prefer the first option.  But here is the thing, I found buying stuff online scary.  Pretty ironic for a person who spends most of her waking time in front of a computer.

So, can someone knock some senses into me please?

I’ve been taking German lessons twice a week since June.   Now almost 4 months later, I have to admit, my German still ist nicht gute.  That’s what happens when you learn a new language on your expense account,  and the native speakers are so obssesed with the gender of virtually everything.

Today I was ambushed by my German teacher, a lovely Polish lady – so if I ever had a polish accent when I speak German, I know whom to blame.  She asked me to write down two or three verbs and noums, I wrote Hund (dog), Katze (cat), Blumen (flowers), rennen (to run), lachen (to laugh).  Then she asked me to write a poem with them.

Richtig?  I asked her.  She noded with a smear on her face.

Oh what the heck.  Goethe would not come back to hunt me for butchering his language, he is listening Punk Rock these days.  So here is my maiden voyage into the vast see of German words, bear it with me:

                           Mein Hund ist aktiv

                           Aber ich bin nicht Sportiv

                           Ich hasse renen abgrundtief

                           Meine Katze geht demonstrativ

                           Sie denkt sie is attraktiv

                           Ich lache wenn sie hat Stimmungstief

                           Ich weiß, ich bin nicht sensitiv

                           Aber ich bin postiv

                           Wenn sie meine Blumen isst

                           Bin ich nicht depressiv 

A 1,5 hours German lessen: 50 EURO.  Messing up a foreign language, priceless.

I thought blogging was addictive.  I was wrong.  As you can see, my dear readers, I am cured.  

This happens either when I am too busy having fun or too bored to have anything interesting to write.  I have to admit, it is mainly the latter this time.  Not that I didn’t have fun.  I enjoy my work tremendously, my coworkers are awesome, my boss is hilarious.  And, I may soon go on a business trip to the Middle East – really, I have nothing to complain about.

But we women are good at looking at both sides.  Europe can get boring during the weekend, if you don’t have someone sitting under the sun, devouring gigantic ice cream or sipping coffee with you.  Because this is pretty much what you can do on weekends.  All shops are closed for the benefit of window-shopping loving folks.  For the rest of us who want spend some money, our choices are limited: beer garden, cafe, restaurant, and museum.  I’ve tried them all.  But really, how many times do you want to see those abstract paintings if you don’t have an inkling what they are?

That was my point.  But I will overcome it.  Europe is fantastic and I don’t want to be anywhere else (except maybe somewhere closer to my German/English Language instructor) !    

Every country has some ridiculous rules and regulations.  In some part of the States, for instance, water level in your bath tub cannot exceed 35 cm.  Don’t laugh, bath tub cops will bust you if you don’t take it seriously. 

Germany is no exception.  I was talking with a friend about a ridiculous regulation involving sinks and it gave me a business idea.  My company has put me into a nice apartment, but I have to find a place of my own after three months.  So naturally I started gathering info on apartment hunting.  First, I heard the usual stuff: bad neighbourhoods, nasty landlords, unexpected railway tracks next to your bedroom window, ect…Then I was told this bizzar regulation: tannets must take the sink with them when they move.  I know, my jaw almost reached the floor when I heard it. 

Then this brilliant idea of a sink deposit service came to my mind.  I will call my staff the Sink Squad.  Sink Squad will go to people’s kitchen and take out their sinks for them.  Of course, upon request, the Sink Squad will be happy to install the sinks into their new places.  With a fee, of course.  The unwanted sinks will be stored and resold on the second hand sink market – catering to folks who move a lot. 

Not a bad business model, right?  Le’ts hope that IKEA is not already doing it!   

Everyday, I am greeted by concerned faces of colleagues: “How are you?  Do you feel lonely?”  You can almost see their disappointment when they heard me saying “I am doing great, and no, loneliness didn’t hit me”.  I almost added “But Sundays here do get too quite tho”, just so that they feel their concern didn’t waste on my insensitivity towards my lonely life in this foreign land.

But I must disappoint them, for I love it here!  Well, at least I haven’t been here long enough to find it boring.  The Dom still looks magnificent every day I walk by, flower vendors on the street still slows me down, backeries can still easily seduce me with sweet aroma, and… the German language still sounds utterly exotic.  Yes, it still feels like a prolonged vacation, except I need to spend most of the day time listening to colleagues’ multi-language phone conversations. 

And knowing that an one-hour flight  will bring me closer to that special someone?  Priceless. 

Cologne at night

I know, I haven’t updated this page for quite a while.  Not that I’ve run out of interesting topic to blog about.  For instance, the Olympics, that’s exciting!

Well, the truth is, I’ve changed the time zone in which I live.  Yes, I’ve left Hong Kong and am now living in Cologne, Germany. 

This will be a wonderful new experience and yes, wonderful opportunity for me to ridicule the new culture I am embracing with open arms.  One thing for sure, I am going to have lots of fun!