Being an account of my two travels to the Capital of Cars.
“Morgen, Gut, Danke, Tschuess” These are the only words I remember out of the “Easy German in Seven words” we had decided when we were in Germany. And of course, there was a word which sounded exceedingly like a#$hole but which meant a polite inquire ala “is it so?” (One of my friends there got so much habituated to saying this word, that his friends back in India used to berate him every time he called because of his गालीप्रदान)
But I think I should start from how I got there before going on about the story. So, let's go back to October '04. I have just come back from a visit to my parents in Hospet (not my home, it is in Pune, but my father was in Hospet for quite a long time till last year) and I appear in office on Monday morning (not so) fresh from my travel. Our team leader asks me and my colleague to join him for a meeting. The only things I remember from that meeting (I never slept in any meeting I remember of, but still...) are that we had to move across to the opposite wing of the building to get an empty conference room (the same room in which my exit interview was to take place 6 months later, but we didn't know that at that time) and that my team leader asked me to get a visa to Schengen states as I had to travel to Germany to our client's office in 15 days.
After a brief call to my parents to give them the news, I tried to digest the fact that I was going “onsite” and I had to prepare a lot. My preparations had to start from getting myself photographed for visa, getting a decent suitcase and something to survive in the sub-zero temperatures of Stuttgart. All in all, I was ready to go to Mumbai, but the small travel from Mumbai to Stuttgart was the one I needed some help for. The only things I needed to do was talking to my friends already there to get me accommodation, talking to HR for my visa, talking to travel desk to get my tickets, and talking to finance to get my money. So after getting my photos the day I had to submit the visa documents, getting some currency to sustain myself on the day I had to leave for banglore, and getting the so-called “warm clothes” 2 hours before I had to leave for Germany, I was sitting with my parents on Bangalore airport waiting for my flight to be called.
Reaching Mumbai, the first thing, and about the only thing I did was to spend the two hours between the flights productively meeting my brother. The distance between Mumbai domestic and Mumbai International (I guess both are called Chhatrapati Shivaji now, so the names will just confuse) was covered from outside. Thinking back, I have been through both Chhatrapati Shivajis at least 4 time in last 2 years, but I haven't taken the airport bus yet. I took the bus later in Delhi, but that is for later. Anyway, after a full meal, I was ready to board the Swiss airways flight.
The flight was peaceful, and the only problem I had was to run across the entire Zurich international airport with my cabin baggage, as the comforatble 1 hour time difference between flights was reduced considerably by the flight delay. My tryst with the airline companies dates from here. After literally dashing through the giant airport, I was just in time to catch my next flight. After that, reaching Stuttgart, meeting my colleague from office, and dropping my bags in my hotel room (which was booked for 2 days, after which I had to move to a different, and much better hotel room) was a work of an hour or two. And finally, I was ready to face my new work as “On site co-coordinator”.
After that day, my daily schedule was fixed. Get up at 6, get ready and have a sumptuous breakfast at the hotel, get to office by 6.30 by 6.50 bus. I won't bore you with what I did at office, but it should suffice that I was able to get my module back on tires, I mean track. Luckily I wasn't involved in the (in)famous meetings where the language was German, and so we english-speaking people had a translator transwhispering eerything (including jokes) in our ears. After the work, leave by 7.30 or 8.05 bus (else the next one would be 9.30 odd), and get back to the bus station, which was walking distance from my hotel. Then either go with my friends to eat something in hotel (chinese noodles, no.64 was veg noodles) or at their place (omlette and toast, or pizza) or worst late case, go back to hotel and eat some pizza from the shops below. The Friday nights were devoted to going to Indian restaurants (extremely expensive, but then, I was not picking up the tab for my food) and getting drunk (not me, others).
And of course, the weekends were for shopping (groceries and digicam, which was bought one week too late), browsing Media Markt, lazing at my friend's place playing Caeser III (in german, with a german-english dictionary at hand) and of course visiting museums and places.
First on our list was Daimler-Chrysler museum, which is car-lovers' concept of paradise. Four floors filled with cars, each seeped in so much history that you can almost see the dates and histories dripping from it. What else would a person need to enjoy an afternoon? This was the time I rued the fact that I had not bought or brought a camera. I corrected this oversight next week, but it was already late. The Porsche Museum was just one big hall. Well, of course I didn't know that Porsche was into F1 once upon a time, and of course, the Carrera placed there was a sight to behold, but then, it's not on the same level as DC.
While working and enjoying the sights, before I knew the time for Christmas was there. The day Christmas vacation started, I was packed off back to India to work. And after working for 15 days in India while people enjoyed in Germany, the day Christmas vacation ended there, I was on my way back to work in Germany again.
Update: The second chapter of The Love story is online. Please read it here.
Die-hard fans of Friends will recognise the format. For others, I have tried to emulate the format of the episode guide of Friends like here.
Quote of The Day:
Travel is only glamorous in retrospect.
- Paul Theroux (1941 - )
Friday, March 17, 2006
Being an account of my two travels to the Capital of Cars.