How Germany Has Changed Me (Part 2)


Those of you who regularly follow my blog might remember this post from 2014. Well, now I have a new list of habits which I have adopted while living among the Germans.

  1. Gone are the days of me saying ‘Ouch’ when I hurt myself. Now, I say ‘Aua’.
  2. Scheiße

    Scheiße

    My favorite works-in-every-situation expletive is Scheiße.

  3. I play the innocent and clueless brown foreigner who speaks bad German card whenever I’m in a bind. Works like a charm every time, because Germans are polite and helpful people. Now I feel guilty.
  4. I shoot dirty looks at people crossing the road when the pedestrian signal is red. I have still not quite made the transition of yelling at them though I fear it’ll happen soon.
  5. Even though my German is really bad, I tend to confuse words and start remembering German words when talking in English to people from the Indian Subcontinent. This is the weirdest thing for me.
  6. I do not stand in the supermarket aisle and talk to random people, and find it surprising when others do.
  7. The only time I say hello to strangers is when I enter a waiting room full of people. And then I say it more to the room than to the humans in it, because human contact needs to be avoided at all costs.
  8. I stare straight ahead of me when in an elevator.
  9. My word for goodbye has been categorized by age group: Tschüss for the older people, Ciao for the younger ones. But every so often I whip out a Wiedersehen to keep things interesting.
  10. I am very troubled when people try to get on public transportation before the ones inside have gotten out and wonder whether society is close to collapsing.
  11. Oh yeah. German cake is freaking awesome.

    Oh yeah. German cake is freaking awesome.

    I dabble in the German custom of Kaffee und Kuchen in the name of integration, even though its really for the cake.

  12. Even though I don’t drink much coffee, I drink it German style when I do. (Pakistani coffee is of a much tamer variety; more like milk with a bit of coffee.)
  13. What do we want? Food! Where do we want it? IKEA!

    What do we want? Food!
    Where do we want it? IKEA!

    Like many Germans, I too have aimlessly drifted around a humongous IKEA, only to end up at the restaurant and going home.

  14. I have grown accustomed to the presence of pets around me when I go into public transportation or the city center…
  15. …which, by the way, I call City now.

Germany 101: Karneval – Germany’s Fifth Season


Why? Because its Karneval dammit!

Why? Because its Karneval dammit!

If you are living in Germany at the moment, you must have become aware by now that the fifth season is upon us all. It is time for the big carnival season in Germany to draw to a close. In the last few days, I have met people in every conceivable costume from Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers to soldiers to animals.

The Karneval is Cologne's biggest attraction.

The Karneval is Cologne’s biggest attraction.

Carnival season is often called Germany’s fifth season and begins on 11 November each year at 11:11 and ends on Ash Wednesday of the next year. This year the Ash Wednesday will fall on the 18th of February. The biggest celebration of carnival season though is on Rose Monday (called Rosenmontag in German) which is the coming Monday (16th February). Carnival is known by many names in Germany: its called Karneval in the Rhineland where I live, Fasching in the south and east of the country, and Fastnacht in Baden-Württemberg and parts of Bavaria. Each brand of carnival has different traditions associated with it. Since I live in the Rhineland, I will talk about Karneval. Continue reading

The Presidential Palace: Bellevue


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.


Bellevue Palace is the official residence of the President of Germany.

Bellevue Palace is the official residence of the President of Germany.

This week, I will write about a palace which, in my opinion, is quite ignored by tourists and Germans alike due to its inaccessibility. But just because one cannot go inside unless invited, doesn’t mean we should overlook it. Bellevue Palace is located in Berlin and serves as the official residence of the President of Germany. The President stays in the palace and receives guests and foreign dignitaries there as well. Due to this fact, the palace is not open usually to the general public, however, if you decide to take up German citizenship and are among the chosen few invited to take it directly from the President himself, you will be invited there for sure. Of course, there are other ceremonies happening at the Bellevue Palace for the public round the year. Continue reading

It’s All About the Wurst, Not the Schnitzel


Disclaimer: Before I begin this post, let me apologize in advance for the title referencing Meghan Trainor’s tasteless song.

Germany has a whopping 1500 different kinds of wurst.

Germany has a whopping 1500 different kinds of wurst.

If Germans have a staple diet, it is not Schnitzel or potatoes (although they do come close), it is the Wurst. From time to time Germans feel a calling from deep within themselves; they say naturalized citizens even claim hearing voices in their heads. The calls and voices lead people to the nearest Wurst stands where they binge on the tubular steaks and leave with a silly smile on their faces and a noticeable tightening of their bellies.

Statistically, Germany is one of the wurst (see what I just did there?) countries to be a livestock animal. Germans consume an epic 60 kg of meat per person per year. The global average is 42 kg. Yeah, these folks eat a lot of meat. So much in fact that Germany has a whopping 1500 different kinds of sausages! In this post, I’ll try to skim the surface of the German art form that is the Wurst. Continue reading

States of Germany: Brandenburg


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.


Brandenburg's location in Germany (left) and its coat of arms (right).

Brandenburg’s location in Germany (left) and its coat of arms (right).

This week, we continue our journey into eastern Germany and explore the state of Brandenburg. Brandenburg is the second of two German states completely enveloping another state; the first being Lower Saxony. Brandenburg completely envelops the city state of Berlin. It was also part of the former GDR (DDR in German) and – due to the GDR’s different system of administration – was constituted in 1990 after German reunification. The capital of Brandenburg is the beautiful city of Potsdam. The city has immense historical value and was important throughout German history. The city of Potsdam has a population of roughly 160,000 which is not bad for a state capital. The state of Brandenburg, on the other hand, is home to about 2.5 million people. The state seal is a March of Brandenburg (the name of the region during the times of the Holy Roman Empire) eagle on a white shield. Continue reading

Majestic in Ruins: Heidelberg 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.


The Heidelberg Castle.

The Heidelberg Castle.

In my first post of 2015, I have chosen one of Germany’s most well-known and recognizable castles which takes its name from a city which is quite popular with Germans and foreigners alike: Heidelberg Castle. Located in the city of Heidelberg, in the southern state of Baden-Württemberg, this castle is a landmark. It dominates the skyline of the old city because of its position atop a hill towering over the Neckar valley. The castle was the primary residence of the Prince Electors of the Rhine, and is a great example of German Renaissance architecture.  Continue reading

2014 in Stats


cropped-apaki_4.jpg2014 is now ending and 2015 is almost upon us. It has even arrived in some countries already, as a matter of fact. But this year was a very important one for me. I started this blog in July of this year and it was much more successful than I ever thought it would be. It might not be a sensation yet, but its my baby and I’m proud of it and even more proud of you, the readers, for visiting and reading my posts. Without further ado, let’s talk numbers. Continue reading

How the Germans Celebrate New Year


In Germany, the arrival of the new year is celebrated in very non-German ways. It’s a chance for the Germans to lean back and let off a little steam. A collective release of energy, if you will. New Year’s Eve – called Silvester in German – has many traditions associated with it. I will talk about the most common ones in this post. If you have experienced something different which I have not mentioned, feel free to let me know through comments and feedback.

Just so you get the scale of the party in Berlin...

Just so you get the scale of the party in Berlin…

The highlight of Silvester are undoubtedly the fireworks. Usually, the Germans are a very composed lot and carry themselves around with dignity. On New Year’s Eve, however, all hell breaks loose. In every city and village, no matter how big, people set off fireworks throughout the evening. The roar becomes deafening around midnight. Even the Ordnungsamt has been known to lay off that one evening. Although some bigger cities, have organized fireworks displays, it is usually a rarity. Which is a pity, in my opinion. I enjoy organized fireworks more than a have-it-your-way sort of thing. How very German of me, eh?

The big nationwide highlight for Silvester is the party in Berlin. The crowd starts from the Victory Column and ends near the stage at the Brandenburg Gate. The party features performances by famous bands and artists and is a great place to have fun, put your hands up and forget the past year. More info on the party can be found here. There’s a special temptation to attend this year’s party: The Hoff is coming! \m/ Continue reading

A Very German Christmas


Germany is a diverse country and it really depends on the family, where they live and which version of Christianity they follow – if they follow one – how they celebrate Christmas. In this post, I will talk about the Christmas traditions I have experienced so far in Germany. It could happen that they are really different from your experiences. Let’s all delve in together and see what Christmas in Germany is all about.

A typical German Christmas Market.

A typical German Christmas Market.

Christmas in Germany is strictly a family affair. The Christmas season officially kicks off in Germany on the first Advent. Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas eve which falls on the 24th of December. It is around this time that the Christmas Markets start to open in villages, towns and cities across the country and the first Christmas merchandise starts appearing in the supermarkets and stores as well. People also start putting up Christmas decorations in their homes and the first batch of Christmas cookies and goodies are baked. For children, there’s a special treat from the 1st of December onward. Continue reading

States of Germany: Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania / Mecklenburg-Vorpommern


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.


Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania's location in Germany (left) and its coat of arms (right).

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania’s location in Germany (left) and its coat of arms (right).

Last time we explored the German federal states state of Schleswig-Holstein. This week, we will check out the state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania. It holds the honor of being the first state I talk about which used to be part of the country formerly known as the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Yes, my blog is a status symbol now, deal with it. Needless to say, the GDR was quite undemocratic for a democratic republic. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania – I will hereby refer to it the German way by calling it Meck-Pomm – has one of the coolest state coat of arms; Harry Potter fans will appreciate this one specially. The coat of arms is divided into four parts: two parts make up the bull’s head of Mecklenburg on a field of yellow, and one part each is composed of the griffin of Pomerania and the eagle of Brandenburg to which the state has historical affiliations on fields of white. Very cool. Continue reading