A friend at the Bauhaus in Dessau gave me an insider tour of their university. I opened one of the original Bauhaus chained windows when the security guard was busy.
Beer and trains
The two most easily appreciated things about Germany are its beer culture and its extensive railway network. If I were to add a third, it would be the Schweinshaxe, an entire roasted pork leg with a satisfyingly crackling skin. As if to overindulge. it thus happened that my parents and I were having said pork legs and beer on a train for dinner, on our way back from the Bauhaus, no less.
Our beer was served in three large, round vestibules. I use the word vestibules to highlight the uncertainty of the material.
"These glasses are actually made from glass," observed my father. As a very knowledgeable and analytical person, my dad went on to point out how he could tell from how clear the glass was, and the way light refracted through it.
"But why would they use glass on a train? And why does it sound so dull when I tap it? No, I think it is made of plastic," refutes my mother.
"It's made of glass."
"It feels like plastic."
"It's glass, ok?"
"Why not plastic?"
Now curious, I want to find out for myself. Seeing that the beer glass is fairly thin, I give the lip of the glass a couple of squeezes. To my surprise, the beer glass flexes - a sure indicator it is made of plastic. It must be some kind of high quality plastic made in Germany.
"Hey look," I say, "the glass is flex--" Right then, a loud popping sound. Glass (now we know) and beer everywhere. My thumb and index fingers are cut, and beer just keeps dripping onto my lap as we stare at each other in shock. Three very long seconds pass by. Then, my parents chuckle at my reckless curiosity while the stewardess rushes over with a "well, this is new!" look on her face. Before long, the glass is cleaned up and we are moved to the next table over.
When I come back from washing the cuts on my fingers, there is a new glass of beer and two band-aids waiting for me at the table because, after all, this is Germany.
Guys in fairy costumes
In England and Germany, it is not uncommon to see groups of drunk men. But sometimes, one of them is dressed up in a fairy costume. It's not altogether apparent what is going on, but the one in the fairy costume is usually the most wasted and I always do my best to keep a distance.
In Germany, it is also not uncommon to see women carrying platters and selling small shots of alcohol on crowded streets. Again, not too sure what is going on, but it would seem that the drinks are spiked and related to an elaborate ruse.
Apparently, these are versions of a bachelor and bachelorette party. The groom-to-be dresses effeminately and goes bar-hopping with his friends. The bride, apparently, has to sell drinks before she can go do the same. And to think that whenever these people, in their most joyous of moments, looked around and saw me staring somewhat judgmentally.
After reading on the many interesting marriage traditions in Europe, I learned that a third tradition was to shatter glass on the ground before a wedding. Sure enough, someone smashed a beer bottle on the ground the very next day after we finished dinner. This time, I turned around to look with a smile on my face.
Except, it turned out to be a drunk shirtless fistfight. We can never hope to understand every situation, but the least we can do is be more accepting of the unfamiliar scenes we come across.
graphics in germany
I love the clarity of the graphics and signs in Germany. The signs tell you why you should obey their rules (”Don’t enter elevator in case of fire. Risk-of-suffocation.”) and there was a sign at the train station that, only through graphics, told you to stay behind the safety line due to the vacuum made by passing trains. Pictures were taken like a true touríste).