Saturday, May 19, 2012

Suitcase From Frankfurt

The European stretch of my travel was enjoyable; this was my first visit to Germany and a reminder not to indulge in generalizations based on fleeting interactions and on things one reads.  I had always assumed Germany to be intrinsically cold and excessively efficient as a nation.  Frankfurt, with its large airport and industrial outlook, seemed perhaps not the best place to begin a vacation.  But it was!  Frankfurt is not a gigantic city and is broken into small sections, interspersed with clumps and stretches of trees and grass (much like the entire country itself).

As soon as we strolled out (within half an our of landing), checked into our cheerful, light and airy hotel, I began to settle down.  People were friendly, almost all made a sincere attempt to communicate in English and most places appeared clean, safe and cordial.  This too is based on fleeting impressions, but of a different kind- the kind you get by walking around, stopping awhile in tiny shops and restaurants and gauging the air and feel of a place.

The food was very different from anything I have eaten elsewhere, it seemed a bit like what I had imagined Austrian food to be (but I didn't have enough time to delve into this).  There was no meal without pork (it is fortunate that pork is one of my favourite meats) - and it was served in mind boggling ways, for instance, instead of butter, pork lard was served with bread.  I didn't mind though this is one version my body could probably have done without!  And the breads! Remarkable shapes and sizes and consistencies that left us too full to try any kind of dessert (except once- when we had a delicious concoction of stewed sour cherries, cherry brandy and ice cream).  I began to feel at the end of it that I should have climbed a mountain or two, just to do justice to all I ate and drank in such a short span of time.

German efficiency was apparent in the trains, the streamlined airport checkins and the arrangements made for us by our friends and host.  Nine in the morning meant nine and not a second later!  It was interesting to see how easy and accessible modern 'borderless' travel has become in Europe.  Not everyone agrees, but I found this to be quite a nice concept. Of course, all the efficiency (so unlike what one faces in India) left me with plenty of time on my hands at the airport to dream - to wonder how I would manage if I found myself caught in webs of intrigue and espionage as Agatha Christie described in 'Passenger to Frankfurt'.  An interesting book because it suggested situations that anyone might encounter at an airport.  Of course, in real life, things were all very uneventful.

The only thing of note during our last flight was that Lufthansa didn't transfer one of our bags and we had to trudge down to their luggage section in Boston where we found ourselves trying to describe our 'grey green' bag to a lady who wanted to know if it was actually grey or green.

So, as I wait for the delivery man this sunny evening, I begin to type my blog.  It has been a smooth but long stretch of travel this week, culminating with meeting rather strange U.S. immigration officials- which is a story in itself.

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