Saturday, June 2, 2012

Düsseldorf, Germany: Day 5

To my surprise, today was even better than yesterday.

However, there is still some unfinished business to attend to before I delve into day 5's activities. So I suppose you could call the first section of this entry "Day 4.5."

A number of classmates and I went to a pub in Düsseldorf's Altstadt (old town/city center) for a Stammtisch (get-together) with other IIK students. There, I met some new people and fun was had by all. My friends slurped their non-alcoholic margaritas (German, right?!) and I had my first Altbier as we watched Israel lose to Germany in a friendly match.

I drank... errm, I mean, sipped that minuscule glass you see below. And for me, who has little to no experience drinking, that was more than plenty. I could feel the effects kicking in after the second sip. I'm sure a beer aficionado would find the taste simply exquisite, but I'm by no means a "beer person." I ordered one partly to say that I did when family members ask me at any given obligatory function and to see, just see, if maybe I could be won over by Germany's [arguably] greatest invention. (Never mind, the car, turbine engine, x-ray technology, toothpaste, aspirin nor airbag). Because America's Miller, Keystone and Pabst Blue Ribbon have been anything but successful in massaging my taste buds.

Day 4 marked my first German (and legal) beer.

On to day 5. After IIK's unsavory decision to plan a night out at a bar on a Thursday night, I was forced to eject from my bed at a brisk 7:30 in the morning. I remembered I didn't complete my homework, for which I received a great deal (thanks to me switching class times and missing the first day of my new class). I quickly completely what I could pull out of thin air as I waited for my friend, Ahmed, to finish his breakfast. 

Along the way to the train this morning, we saw the cutest scene: two horses "kissing" each other. Whatever it was, it was so sweet!

I arrived to class. But today, there wasn't the not-so-nice, incredibly condescending and will-interrupt-you-at-any-cost female teacher with messy, black, witch-like hair I had yesterday. Instead, there was a tall, stern (yet friendly) looking German with the most typical of German faces, all the while wearing a pair of glasses. I immediately felt obliged to pay attention to every last word and syllable he uttered for how earnest he appeared. I felt he truly deserved my attention. He executed every pronunciation with German engineer-like precision. I loved it and I did not once look at the clock. The greatest shame of the day was that he only teaches for Tuesdays and Fridays. Verdammt! 

In our class that day, there was a new Ukrainian girl I met, and most surprisingly of all, an American (?!) girl. She had a remarkably good accent. And it was interesting having two Americans in one class who have said remarkably good accents (and I'm not patting myself on the back here, as I receive any number of compliments for how authentic my German sounds). Our discussion during out Pause eventually boiled down to English on account of words we couldn't express in German, but it soon returned to German as we realized the Greek and Lebanese men around us couldn't understand a word we said. 

Of all places, she was from Texas! And yet when she spoke English she sounded like anything but. Her name was the highly German Courtney. To be fair, it could be spelled with a "K." She was only the third American I've spoken to thus far, and I've seen other ones (they stand out pretty good), but not dare to speak to them, oh no! (And yes, Americans do bite.) 

Before returning home, I picked up a Turkish kebab. 


And by luck (destiny) ran into a housemate of mine at the train station before I could eat my [then warm] Turkish delight. And she was nice enough to show me where the book store is so that I could finally purchase my textbook for my class. She led me all the way there and all the way back home via three öffentliche Vekehrssmitteln, U-Bahn (underground train), S-Bahn (street train) and Bus. How nice!

Later that day, my friend Sadeq and I went for a run. And along the way, we saw a group of VWs and other assorted tuned European cars like Seats and Mercedes. I asked Sadeq if I should approach the group. He said I should do whatever I want. As I approached the crowd, I saw them all eventually turn their heads and at first, I felt unwelcome. But after I spoke some German to them, they warmed up to me and answered my initial question, which went: "Ihr seid Autofans, nicht?" Their answer was obvious, but that was intentional. I wanted to ask a comfortable question at first, so I could go off the deep end in my second question. "Seid ihr nach der Nürburging gefahren?," I said. None of them have driven on the legendary racetrack open to the public, but they directed me to a man in a smaller circle consisting of three guys and three girls who has. I approached the crowd with immense confidence and began asking my questions using the second-person, formal "Sie" for he appeared older than me. After time, that transformed to an informal "du" and as far as I could tell, the group and I really kicked things off.

I knew if I never approached the group of people surrounding the tuned cars, I would forever regret not engaging in such a totally organic, spontaneous conversation. Besides, I know car fans wherever I go will be fully willing to share their passion wherever I am from. I think my authentic accent helped them welcome me as well. 

An example of one of the tuned VWs. In fact, this is the exact one owned by one of the Jungs I met named [a very American] Chris. 

The conversation alternated between cars when the guys would talk to me and living in America when the girls would ask me questions. I was impressed how capable I was to talk to total strangers at the drop of a hat. I suppose all there really is to it is that you have to be friendly and willing to joke. Speaking of joking, I'm surprised I could pull them off! I could not believe how much fun it was to simply talk to Germans. We talked about street racing (and how it's verboten), American cars (and my distaste for them), what was up with the meet they were all gathered there for and how one of the girl's brother now lived in North Carolina in the US.  

It was positively splendid!

Bitte kommen Sie zurück am morgen!

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