Moving in Germany (Part 2)


Part 2: Dude, Where’s my Kitchen?!

A very usual sight when moving into a new place in Germany (Photo courtesy )

A very usual sight when moving into a new place in Germany (Photo courtesy Immozippel)

About a month before moving into our new digs, my girlfriend calmly told me that something has to be done “about the kitchen”. Naturally, I was dumbfounded. “What kitchen?” I asked. “The kitchen for our new place, of course,” she said, matter-of-factly. Turns out, I hadn’t been aware of the quirky German tradition of moving places and taking your kitchen with you! Yes, you read it right. People actually take all their belongings with them which includes their kitchen as well. To be fair, though, many people also either sell their kitchens to the incoming tenants or to someone else on the presumption that the new people would bring their own kitchens with them. Continue reading

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Moving in Germany (Part 1)


Part 1: The Search

There must be readers here who have noticed my 2-month absence from the blog. Well, there was a reason for it: I have been busy moving into my new digs. Moving is a complicated process in any country, but in Germany it was a unique and adventure filled experience for me. I have divided this experience into parts to break it down for y’all.

I began the search for a new place with my German girlfriend and partner in crime. We thought a one bedroom apartment should be enough for the both of us, but if we got a good deal, we could go for a two bedroom place as well and then host guests when someone from out of town visited or a friend needed to crash. I was soon to learn, however, that finding a place is not the easiest thing in Germany. Continue reading

States of Germany: Saxony-Anhalt / Sachsen-Anhalt


Germany is a federal republic divided into 16 states. These states are called Bundesland(pl. Bundesländer) and each one of them has their fair share of places to visit and things to do. This series of posts titled “States of Germany” seeks to explore each state one by one and tell you a little bit about them. Feel free to post about things I have missed out on.


Saxony-Anhalt'’s location in Germany (left) and its coat of arms (right).

Saxony-Anhalt’’s location in Germany (left) and its coat of arms (right).

Last time, I posted about the state of Berlin. Our journey now continues into eastern Germany. This week, the state is Saxony-Anhalt which is located in north-eastern Germany. This deeply Prussian state is completely landlocked and borders four other German states: Brandenburg to the east, Lower Saxony to the west, Thuringia to the south and Saxony to the south-east. Also part of the former German Democratic Republic aka East Germany, this state used to be a border state between the two Germanys. The East German government partitioned the state in 1952. The state as it currently exists was formed in 1990 during the German Reunification. With a population of 2.2 million, Saxony-Anhalt is quite sparsely populated. Readers who have been reading my posts about German states would recall that most eastern states of the country are not as densely populated as their western counterparts but are rich in nature. Saxony-Anhalt is no exception. The capital of the state is the beautiful city of Magdeburg. The coat of arms of the state is a merger of the former coat of arms of the Prussian province of Saxony (top) and the free state of Anhalt (bottom). Continue reading

The Pearl of the North: Plön Castle


Germany is a land filled with historical buildings and German castles and forts are among the most renowned in the world. Each week I publish a post about a German castle or fort and tell you – my readers – about its history, important things to see there and much more.


Plön Castle viewed from Lake Plön.

Plön Castle viewed from Lake Plön.

In the northern German state of Schleswig-Holstein, lies one of Germany’s most beautiful castles: Plön Castle. The castle gets its name from the city it is situated in, and the edge of the lake it is built upon. The castle has a colorful and chequered history. It was first built during the 10th century as a defensive fortification on a hill. Schleswig-Holstein is a very flat state and a hill was seen as a natural place to build such a structure. The castle originally called Plön Castle was built on an island on the Lake Plön, but was later moved to the bank of the lake. Plön was initially under Danish rule. During the Danish Civil War – also called the Count’s Feud – the castle was burned and then rebuilt. The estate was transferred to the Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein-Sonderburg. It was later granted to the Duchy of Schleswig-Holstein-Plön. Continue reading

Confessions of a Pakistani in Germany


Sometimes, when foreigners come to a country and integrate into the local culture, they end up liking and enjoying doing things even the locals wouldn’t. These can include all sorts of cultural and traditional activities. One might say, the exoticness attracts the expat who can find no reason for said activity to be embarrassing. Well, this post is about German things which I as a Pakistani expat in the country, love doing or would like to do and which no German I know would ever consider doing. Consider this to be part 1, I’ll write more confessions as I come up with them.

1. The Schuhplattler Dance

Do you like skipping in place while wearing leather pants, slapping your thighs and occasionally whistle and cheer? Then this Bavarian dance called Schuhplattler is the thing for you. Just looking at this dance makes me wanna try it out. I have been begging my girlfriend since a few months to at least go and watch a performance in the hopes that she’d let me join a dance course, but she refuses to do so. Other Germans that I have asked first look at me with a mixture of incredulity and disgust and then walk away slowly shaking their heads. Watch this video below and tell me why, why would you not want to do this?!

2. Lederhosen*

This photo oozes Germanness to me.

This photo oozes Germanness to me.

Continuing the Bavarian theme, I so wanna wear Lederhosen! However, many Germans don’t like wearing them and feel that it belittles their Germanness and gives rise to stereotypes about them. For the risk of looking ridiculous, I have been putting off wearing Lederhosen and strutting around for some time now. In my mind, there is a photo of me with my girlfriend, me in a pair of Lederhosen, she sporting a Drindl; a true Bavarian couple. She has ruled it out on several occasions, but I think she can be persuaded to come around. And what better attire to watch a Schuhplattler performance in?

3. Schlager

Remember my post about Schlager? Well, I have a confession to make. I don’t like many Schlager songs, but I do like others. They sound good to me. I can’t help it. And they sound great in parties too. Especially if you’re standing on top of a bench swaying to the beat with friends. Of course, in front of my German friends I pretend to be a staunch critic of the genre and label it god’s curse on the German land and the people. Privately, though, I find it to be incredibly catchy in terms of both the melody and the lyrics. Let me, however, state in no uncertain terms that I am not a fan of Jürgen Drews. Listen to the song below and tell me it isn’t catchy.

4. I Like Germans and Germany

With great architecture, places, culture, nature and people, who would not like Germany and Germans?

With great architecture, places, culture, nature and people, who would not like Germany and Germans?

Once I was in a diverse gathering of people from many different countries and cultures and I overheard one person telling a German that he liked German people. Many Germans simultaneously turned and asked him if they had heard him right. The poor guy was embarrassed and said, “I mean, if you want me to say I don’t like Germans, I’ll say it. But it won’t be the truth.” And that is sometimes how I feel too. Most Germans are beyond words and immediately ask you to explain yourself if you say that you like Germans. A rapid volley of questions is launched at you: Why? How come? Really? Germans?

Yes, Germans. Many people do like you. But your response to us telling you we like you scares us. So we end up making fun of you and discussing our experiences at the Ausländeramt to allay your fears. And almost all expats I have met in Germany, like the country for a whole host of different reasons. So, Germans, I’m afraid you would have to learn to live with us liking you and your country. My personal favorite thing about the country is the multicultural aspect.

*For those who don’t know, Lederhosen is the traditional Bavarian dress for men. Drindl is the female dress from the same region.

My Apologies…


Dear readers. I have been really busy these past few weeks with stuff that has been going on in my life. I promise to post something in the coming few days (can’t say exactly when). I also apologize to you all for not posting anything in a long time. I thank you for visiting daily. Checking those stats and seeing the bumps makes my day. You guys are the best! I

Straight Out of a Book: Lichtenstein Castle


Germany is a land filled with historical buildings and German castles and forts are among the most renowned in the world. Each week I publish a post about a German castle or fort and tell you – my readers – about its history, important things to see there and much more.


Lichtenstein Castle

Lichtenstein Castle

In the state of Baden-Württemberg in southern Germany, lies one of the country’s most underrated castles: Lichtenstein. Located about an hour’s drive from the beautiful city of Stuttgart, this castle is perched on a cliff, overlooking the Black Forest. Lichtenstein Castle gets its name from the Knights of Lichtenstein who were a noble family in the then Kingdom of Württemberg. The family had the castle built in 1390, after deciding to relocate from a fortress located down the mountain from the new location. This decision proved to be more than worth it because Lichtenstein Castle withstood every single attack mounted on it throughout the Middle Ages. In 1567, the Lichtenstein family – which, by now, were Dukes – shifted their seat to another castle, and the Lichtenstein Castle was ignored. By 1687, the last of the Lichtensteins perished fighting the Ottoman Turks, and no one tended to the castle at all. By 1802, all but the foundations of Lichtenstein Castle remained, and somebody had the audacity to construct an unpretentious hunting lodge over it! Continue reading

Most German TV Show Ever!


Ever since I have come to Germany, I try to find the most stereotypically German things to use in sentences which begin with “I think the most German thing ever is…”. Usually its things like beer or schnitzel. But from time to time I come across something so quintessentially German that I am lost for words. A few days ago, my girlfriend was watching a show on TV which was so German that I just had to write a post about it.

The show promises an action packed hour of viewing, depending on your definition of action and packed.

The show promises an action packed hour of viewing, depending on your definition of action and packed.

You might know from an earlier post how Germans are about Ordnung. Things are done just so here, otherwise we’re no different than animals. Well, this Ordnung-ness is taken to a whole new level by this show called Achtung Kontrolle. The premise of this reality TV show is to follow around people of different professions. They can be the police – which is quite normal, really, since we all know shows like Cops and World’s Wildest Police Videos – but they can also be bizarrely mundane professions like the people who hand out parking tickets, Calibration Inspectors who check if weights and measures in places like supermarkets are correct, Food Inspectors, and the list goes on. While, I don’t want to belittle the jobs these people do, I think we can all agree they don’t lead the most thrilling of professional lives. To be fair, the show also follows German Customs and bouncers, who I assume has much more interesting stuff going on. And then there are the Ordnungsbeamter who are of course part of the show as well. Otherwise it just wouldn’t be Germany. Continue reading

States of Germany: Berlin


Germany is a federal republic divided into 16 states. These states are called Bundesland(pl. Bundesländer) and each one of them has their fair share of places to visit and things to do. This series of posts titled “States of Germany” seeks to explore each state one by one and tell you a little bit about them. Feel free to post about things I have missed out on.


Location of Berlin in Germany (left) and the state coat of arms (right).

Location of Berlin in Germany (left) and the state coat of arms (right).

After what seems to be a very long time, I am doing one of these posts again. Last time, I posted about the state of Brandenburg, which completely envelops Berlin. Berlin, which is my favorite state, also holds the distinction of being one of only three German city states: the other two being Hamburg and Bremen. It is also Germany’s largest city with a population of more than 3.5 million. Of course, Berlin is also Germany’s capital. The coat of arms of the city state is a bear with a five leaf crown on top. Continue reading

What I Don’t Like About Life in Germany


Even though I love life in Germany and am really happy here, every so often I tend to notice things which I don’t like. This list is not meant to hurt anybody’s feelings and badmouth Germany. It’s just my own personal opinion about things here which I could do without. So without further ado, let’s see which things I am not so fond of in the Bundesrepublik.

  1. Dark bread ain’t my thing. I still love me that American style toasted bread.
  2. As if this show wasn't bad already, they got Ashton Kutcher in.

    As if this show wasn’t bad already, they got Ashton Kutcher in.

    As un-German as it sounds, I do not, repeat not like Two And A Half Men. That show was only funny for the first two and a half seasons, if you ask me. All Germans I know except my girlfriend, love it.

  3. German babies are adorable and I make funny faces at times. What I do find weird are the disapproving looks their parents shoot me if they catch me in the act. So now I do it when their backs are to me.
  4. I refuse to call biscuits cookies, even if none of the Germans I know understand what exactly a biscuit is.
  5. Unlike the majority of the Germans, I still engage in small talk.
  6. You see that "Medium" written on the label? That shows the degree of carbonation.

    You see that “Medium” written on the label? That shows the degree of carbonation.

    Sparkling water? No, thank you. While on this subject, I ask you, how can NATURAL water contain bubbles?!

  7. Even though Germans don’t queue, I still try to find the end of the queue sometimes in public places. But this comes more from my school. God knows the Pakistanis are not a queuing nation.
  8. The word Quasi? Still not getting it.
  9. I don’t like or trust Tchibo. I just don’t understand it! Is it a shop which sells coffee and coffee machines? Then what’s that blanket doing there. And what about that garden gnome, how does he fit into all this?!
  10. To any Pakistanis reading this, you remember those lame PTV shows from the 80s and 90s where they would clap in unison and work up an annoying rhythm? Germans still do that.
  11. I can’t watch shows in other languages synchronized into German.
  12. Even though European and German food is great, I feel these urges every few days to binge on Pakistani food. I don’t like eating German food constantly for more than a couple of weeks at a time.
  13. Although I speak (imperfect) German, I have not managed to get rid of a bad habit I developed which is that I can zone out when listening to German and somehow push it to the back of my mind.
  14. The opening timings in Germany are insane. And not in the good way. Coming from Pakistan in general and Karachi in particular, I am quite used to stuff being open 24/7. In Karachi, you could go out at 4am and find breakfast joints open.
  15. Sometimes, though admittedly not always, German formality throws me off. I find people to be too distant at times even when there isn’t any need for it.
  16. I have definitely not been impressed with the bureaucracy here in Germany. But, to be fair, Germans have a really bad opinion of the red tape in their country. This said, German bureaucracy is light years ahead of its Pakistani counterpart.
  17. The German – and actually the European – definition of “stress” is quite lax for me. I think people generally in Europe should be more thankful for what they have. People get stressed too quickly over here over things which aren’t that big of a deal.
  18. Most German homes (like 99.9%) have no air conditioning. Although there are radiators for the winter, there is nothing for the summer. Granted, summer’s only there for maximum 2-2.5 months, it can get really stuffy inside homes. I can’t count the number of times I have wished for a ceiling fan.
  19. Germans like to say that their country is a “service desert”. I have to say that I agree with this statement. People working in shops, restaurants and even customer service are short, to the point and sometimes downright rude. I think it has a lot to do with the face that they’ll get paid no matter how they treat customer, unless they are very obviously unfriendly to people. So they kind of stop caring.
  20. Oh how everyone in Germany cusses when they see this.

    Oh how everyone in Germany cusses when they see this.

    GEMA. That one word can usher in a string of expletives by people who are both German and non-German. If you don’t know what GEMA is and why they are so hated, you can get more info here.

  21. ARD ZDF Deutschlandradio is yet another gem from the people who brought us GEMA. It’s a combined TV, radio and internet licencing fee which frankly seems ridiculous in this day and age.
  22. I absolutely do not like that German attitudes to punctuality are set aside during a visit to the doctor. I once waited an hour and a half to see a doctor even though I arrived 10 minutes before my appointment.