Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ode to Joy

Time is best measured in Grand Slam tournaments. Today I suddenly remembered that when I started my internship, we were still discussing Roger Federer's chances at Roland Garros over lunch (and he lost in the quarterfinal). Now it's already Wimbledon. 

One of my friends from back home just had her last final today, which made me realise that it's been over a month since spring semester ended at MIT. In two months it'll already be US Open and a time for me to come back to the US. 

In the meantime, I have become rather used to living in Germany. It took me a while, but my language skills have improved a lot. This is how my response length has changed over time: 
  1. week - one word, mostly "okay"
  2. week - a simple sentence, usually three words
  3. week - long enough sentences to forget which verb I need by the time I get to the end
  4. week - I have now reached the level of 4th grade German a.k.a. can easily describe my day
Last night I found the supermarket. No, it's not lidl, it's not Aldi, it's not Netto. It's Edeka Center! It even has an ATM that accepts my debit cards. It is almost the biggest supermarket I've ever been to (only surpassed by some Walmarts, but then again, Edeka does not sell bikes or furniture). I was in awe. Still, I was done with shopping after about half an hour, but nevertheless missed my bus. So I decided to walk to the next bus stop. ... and the next. ... and the next. ... and the next. As you might have gathered, the bus does not run too often. However, the last next was a bad call. The distance from the third to the fourth stop was far greater than the distance from the first to the third bus stop. There is no better way to fully appreciate the convenience of buses than to try and walk the distance, while also trying hard not to miss the next bus. Apparently, I can't sing even a little. All this time I was humming two lines from "The A Team" and still I could not get them right. 

There are cows and sheep on the way from my dorm to the supermarket. There are horses on the way from work to downtown. The distances are similar, so I've deducted that cows + sheep = horses. I still live and work in Bonn. Germany is amazingly rural. 

I have now visited Beethoven's house (and seen a lock of his hair). According to the traveller's Bible, the Lonely Planet, despite Bonn's love for Beethoven, Beethoven hated Bonn. While I was sitting there, learning facts about Beethoven's life from a computer program designed for children, a woman came up to me, knocked on my shoulder and asked if I wanted to see a/the Beethoven opera in 3D. Well, sure, so we went to the basement. (There were also other people in the room with me, but they were not "chosen".) Afterwards, I went to the bakery (I doubt Germans could live without their bakeries - they are everywhere, and differently from supermarkets, also open on Sundays) and bought a Berliner. 

Obama, who also visited Berlin a week or two ago, has inspired rather different cartoons, though.

I've actually been to quite a few places lately, for example, went looking for a souvenir shot glass at the Cologne Cathedral, accidentally stumbled upon four weddings and no funeral in the Brühl manors ("Alright, the third wedding, but this has to be the last one! Oh, no ...") and saw teenage boys smoking weed where Siegfried once slay the dragon. I've also disappointed quite a few Germans by being able to speak and understand German. 

Scandinavian names of the week are named after the Sun, the Moon, four Norse gods and then there's Saturday, the washing day. So I spent last Saturday figuring out how the washing machine works. While the laundry room in New House is small and very crowded, here it's quite the opposite. The laundry room is huge, it has grey concrete walls and the windows looks out to one of those wholes dug especially for that purpose. However, there are only two washing machines in one corner, one dryer at the other end of the room and a sad old armchair. It is in the second basement and since the dryer takes two hours to finish, chances of meeting another living soul there (apart from the occasional desorientated cockroach) are slim. 

The weather has returned to normal, although we did experience a heat wave last week, sufficient to make our Singaporean curse the weather. I'll now try to say everything I've wanted to say the past few weeks. I went to an art museum where half the pictures were titles "Untitled" - when I was a kid I always thought it was "Unitled", I also thought McGonagall was named McGongall (it is still not completely sure whether I can read or not). All in all, the museum building itself was perhaps even a greater piece of art. There was a video installation with people cursing in their native languages. The museum guard (or whatever the people are called who sit in the room so you don't steal, touch or break anything/make me feel just very uncomfortable) was very excited about this one and really wanted me to see the French guy (I did indeed understand most of the cursing). 

In general, modern art freaks me out. Seriously, whenever I go to a museum and the exposition is starting to look more and more "artistic", it runs shivers down my spine. "Night at the Modern Art Museum" would make a great horror movie. 

I still don't know why it's der Rhein but die Donau, yet I now know that the default article for Nutella varies by region. Apparently, there's a great national debate whether it should be der Nutella or die Nutella. 

I went to Köningswinter two days in a row (and took line 66 more than 6 times) just so the palace would be open once I get there. Yeah, right.
Whenever I go hiking (climbing up/down a hill on a forest path), I wear a skirt and an umbrella. At least this time I wasn't wearing flip-flops but sandals.   
Almost there

Konrad Adenauer street in Bonn/Beuel is huge. His house in Bad Honnef, however, is located on a teeny tiny street with almost no traffic (but a very nice cherry tree!). 
The German way of warning ("beware of the dog")
A reason to become a physicist. The national physics building or something
Der Rhein
The only thing you can buy on the street where I live
Beethoven's house!
The first wedding party (I first discovered them from the picture)
Overexposure at its finest

Cologne from the Cathedral tower
Once I got to Cologne, there was a protest going on in support of the Turkish people (according to the slogans, Germany should do something; Germany should always do something)
PS. I chose the title before learning the most recent news about Wimbledon. Federer's chances at Wimbledon need no more discussing. 


  1. I vote der Nutella.

    I love Germans. and you. so jealous of all your adventures :D

  2. Der Rhein looks so beautiful!! :)