The view from Berlin

It’s a rare occasion. I’m blogging while overseas 🙂

I’m currently in Berlin for work. It’s my first time in Europe and it’s been an interesting experience. Well, information that’s on the Internet helped a great deal, because some things I had already read about before I arrived, so it wasn’t such a great surprise.

Like the fact that Berliners like carbonated drinking water as opposed to the usual plain water that we would expect in Malaysia. Normal mineral water would be called “still water”. Funny how they’d want to drink carbonated water. It isn’t even flavoured or anything like that. It just has gas.

While I’m here, I get the feeling like locals are wary of me. They seem to look at me with a certain look of distrust, though I did nothing to earn that and just happened to cross paths with them. Perhaps their experiences with Asians have not been pleasant? Who knows…

Based on my stay here, I’d say that Germans aren’t rude, but they aren’t extremely hospitable either. They’ll help you, or give you something you asked for, but nothing more than that. I guess I regard this as abnormal, because in Asia (at least in Southeast Asia), when people help you, there is a tendency to go the extra mile when it comes to kindness and favours. Of course, there is the other extreme where Malaysians can be not helpful at all and even downright rude. But at least we’re not curt. Which is the kind of feeling I get when I deal with these Berliners.

It’s lovely to see that they’ve preserved old architecture in the city. That’s one thing that we don’t do well in Malaysia. We simply more or less abandon our past, whereas here it is cherished and even though its historical significance may involve harshness or bitter memories, they choose to remember it anyway.

Graffiti, however, seems to be a problem. It’s practically everywhere, including on… the… Berlin… wall. That was rather disappointing. How could a piece of national heritage be allowed to be ruined in that way? I wonder if any action was taken against the vandals. Or perhaps that’s how the locals feel about the wall? That it’s meant to be dishonoured and disregarded because of the painful past that it stands for. Hmm.

Meanwhile, food-wise, it’s extremely gourmet driven. But that could also be because we were eating at more premium-ish restaurants. Possibly the cafes and other kinds of food outlets may be different. It’s also funny that they don’t serve much of their own local cuisine in their restaurants, and instead, prefer to offer diners Italian and… *gasp* Chinese food.

Well, I didn’t come halfway across the world to eat Chinese dishes, I can assure you. We have plenty of those back home.

Anyway, it’s been not too bad a trip for me here in Germany. It’s amazing to see how a country that has been through so much is like today. I wonder if Malaysia will ever reach a state of maturity as these European countries do. Well, of course, that’s not to say that they’ve gotten everything done right, but it is also not wrong to admit that we Malaysians could learn a thing or two from them.

Have to get down to packing my stuff now. I leave tomorrow. It will be great to get back home. There is truly no place like home.

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