Humming and Drumming; It’s That Time of the Year Again

I feel like I should apologise for my absence from my lilac sessions. I know I was supposed to upload the sequel to my Flowers in My Hair post, and I assure you, that it is saved in my drafts and in need of some touch ups- a few lines here and there- but to be frank, I just couldn’t bring myself to post a text that revolves around my sunny days and warm nights on a Thursday so foggy and gloomy as the one I chose to write a new post on without making the sequel read like a requiem. Flowers in My Hair (Part II) will be posted, soon, perhaps on a day when I am finally rid of the humdrum of the year’s remaining two months. Late November and early December weeks have never been my favourite hours. It’s not just the depressing amber, auburn, sienna and ginger shades that bring me down, but actually the fact that I am the farthest away from hope, season-wise. You see, after Autumn comes nothing but a bone-chilling winter that can freeze your spirits as well as the laundry hanging to dry. Yet, I always manage to get through winter with the aid of two things, excessive layering- something my mother finds aesthetically unacceptable. She had to be familarised with the onion strategy- and the anticipation of 21st of June. And although Germany has disappointed me in ways more than one when it comes to weather, I tend to cling on to the hope that the first day of summer, has some resemblance to my favourite season. However, no matter how much I miss summer and how badly I want to escape to Australia (that being an actual plan rather than a mere fantasy), I cannot stand to scroll through the pictures of Instgrammers treating every day as Throwback Thursday reminiscing about countless lazy hours on sunkissed beaches of Spain, Greece and Portugal.

“So I hear you’re getting me a new camera for my birthday.” I said to my father the other day on Skype, although it was not true. Photography is a big passion of mine, and it’s the only thing I do that has nothing to do with my personal and academic life. One, who knows the slightest bit about me, would argue that writing is my biggest passion. True. But writing has become such a big part of my life and career that I sometimes need a break from words… And what better replacement than images. That’s when photography steps in as the friendly substitute teacher, with big round glasses and a chirpy voice. It is only with photography that I can focus on details and cherish them without using a single word. My mute writing, if you may… And I selfishly allow no interference. I do take advice from photographers and media dabs (Parker sitting on the top of my list), I follow blogs, read articles and borrow books on photography, but when it comes to choosing, purchasing and enjoying the means, I prefer to be left unchaperoned.

20131121-232652.jpg“Yes” my father laughed, “we are getting you a roll of film.” I hoped he wasn’t implying that I had been tainted by the hipster phenomenon I had recently briefed him on. Though I must admit, I do enjoy hipster jokes, this one being my favourite;

“How much does a hipster weigh? -An Instagram”

Speaking of photography and hipsters and Instagram (one would think I intentionally brought the app up twice in the last two paragraphs), let’s embark on that phenomenon for a few lines. Although the application ranks high on my favourites list and it’s quite safe to say it’s one of the three most used icons on my iPhone (Messages and Mail taking the first and second places), I do not for the life of me understand the irrelevant hashtags that appear under selfies (hats off to pop culture for forcing the word “selfie” into the Oxford dictionary, beating other nonsensical expressions such as “binge-watch” and the less PG-rated term “twerk”). I find myself giggling at the implausible combination of generic quotes and square pictures accepting the assistance of filters provided by the app itself. I beg thee to not get me wrong. I am a strong supporter of words, quotes for that matter, the more inspirational the better. But when they are pasted under selfies that draw the attention of a fellow viewer such as my female self to the bust, cleavage, abs and buttocks, before even reading the quote, I find it hard to be convinced that they really did want to pass on a word of wisdom…

On a brighter, less critical note, I managed to get several chuckles out of the jokes my friend made while visiting me in Heidelberg a couple of weekends ago. He is not a Heidelberg virgin, this was his third time to be exact, yet he fails to be surprised by the number of students and tourists he sees here each time he walks the streets of the ‘Berg as Sam likes to call it. He, a Bavarian, born and bred in the German lands, articulated his astonishment about the number of people who converse in English here. Knowing Heidelberg was a university town, an elite university at that, he did get a kick out of accusing many of its students of being hipsters. Their choice of attire was his main target, and proof. He himself sported a pair of Princeton orange pants, a grey cardigan all while a having a blue woolen scarf wrapped around his  neck. For a guy who liked to coordinate colours, he was being a hipster himself. And when, on a Sunday morning, he heard the sound of horse hooves on the cement pavement outside my apartment, he could not believe that there were actual horses and riders “right outside my window”.

“Is that real?” he said his face plastered on my glass balcony door “what’s next? Is he going to take out his typewriter now and study?”

I managed to chip in the joke making, though mine had a totally different humour. “Excuse me while I go attend to my knight in shining armour here to collect me on his white horse.”

I tend to drift off from what I was initially saying, making my texts resemble a stream of consciousness babble rather than a constructed piece of writing expected from a grad student in the field of Humanities… Humdrum. November/December. That’s where I left off.

WritingWorking in the media department at SAP, I am required to give my team members a thorough explanation of the year’s readership review of the portal before everyone packs up and leaves for the Christmas holidays and comes back with New Year’s career resolutions that seem inspiring in the months of January and February, but by the time the calendar hits November, no resolution can be less appealing. Although I have become a pro in Excel, the horrendous task of gathering data, and organising it in a way that deems  comprehensive before writing a report, leaves me not much time to focus on any other work  assignment these days. However, having been offered a new position in the same company for next year, this task could have not come at a better time, allowing me to sum up what I have learnt and done in the team I worked with for twelve months. My new job allows me to travel, photograph, plan events and write. But when I received an email, one day after I had signed, sealed and delivered (in person) my contract to HR, from an interviewer I had met with back in the summer interviewing for a position in the social media lab,that couldn’t hire me for the mere reason that they needed me to start right away, now asking if I was still interested in taking the job since they had a new opening for next year, I couldn’t help but wonder why it had to come in such close proximity to the one I had already accepted. “It’s for the best” my mother concluded on the phone  and my father, among the three other people I declared my confusion to exclaimed “Now you know you can get any job you apply for. You have an 100% success rate.” Being the physicist that he is, the world and all its happening can be explained and bettered by numbers.

My day did become more interesting to say the least when a middle aged German colleague, one I had never seen or spoken to, snuck up behind me while I was dipping my peppermint teabag in my cup at the coffee corner and quietly, in German, said; “you have a very pretty sweater.” I am guessing my confusion and startlement were visible on my face, since she assumed I didn’t understand German and said it once again in English. I am going to go ahead and make the stereotypical comment of Germans not giving compliments, especially strangers, because that cannot be farther away from they truth. They know exactly how and when to give sweet remarks. My surprise came from how she had managed to slip behind me without my noticing and suddenly give me the kind remark while touching the fabric on my arm. I replied with a mere “Danke!” and smiled humming back to my office.

BeveragesNow those who know me, or have stumbled upon a couple of my blog posts, know that I am not much of a food person. Before I start rambling about how I do not enjoy food or appreciate a dish other than a recipe from my homeland, I will save my readers from the confusion, disbelief and even skeptism -for how can someone not appreciate food – and not go into the details and leave it at that. I will, however, let the world know of my passion for drinking. And before any concerned reader of mine reaches for their phone to message me contact details of “this AA group that really helped my friend”, I will clarify that my list of things I enjoy drinking is endless; smoothies, juice, black tea, hot coco with melted marshmallows or the typical Heiße Schokolade mit Sahne that they serve in almost every cafe in Germany, wine (my preference lies with red, dry and spicily fruity;  Shiraz to be precise), beer, and my most recent discovered passion, spicy ginger ale to name a few. I do also have a sweet tooth. I can go through an entire box of chocolate within minutes and still crave a Kitkat. I can fast on ice cream (of any kind, vanilla, chocolate chip cookie and Saffron and pistachio ranking high on my most mouth watering list), Tiramisu, cakes of any kind (I have even enjoyed a few bites of an onion cake, sounds disgusting, but when served cold with a beer, it can be quite pleasing), pies and cookies, for weeks and not get sick with the sight of sugar or any cavities for that matter.  While my mother was visiting me in October, she pointed out a fact I had managed to unintentionally ignore, that Heidelberg was the place to eat and drink. The numerous restaurants, bars and cafes welcome tourists to enjoy the sundry menus they offer, abetting Heidelberg’s rank on the places to see in Germany. It was her comment that gave me the idea of compiling a list of all the places I could drink at (bars, restaurants, cafes, clubs) and checking at least one each week off of that list. I had to draw from my own experience of the three years I’ve been living here to pen down a few, and did a bit of research, internet based as well as word-of-mouth based, to compose the ever-growing list that I fail to resist the temptation of letting it be and not adding more spots to each time I open my laptop. I pledge to dedicate a post or two to my experiences, not only of the flavor and savor of the beverages and desserts, but also the atmosphere and the “feel” (if that’s what the kids are calling it these days) of each and ever destination accompanied with pictures, reviews and details. And in order to not keep my readers thirsty and hungry for too long, I will divide my list into two parts, spots to be visited in the warmer months being separate from those in popped in on in the colder ones, since cravings do tend to change with the climate, as do our preferences towards the atmosphere. I could rarely be found dining indoors, or alone for that matter, in spring and summer. It would be safe to expect a post devoted to Glühwein, Stollen, Lebkuchen, and Brataepfel after having stuffed my face with the treats at the Heidelberg Weihnachtsmarkt and before giving my writing a rest for the fortnight of Christmas holidays.

XmasOn that note, I should get back to my more, ehem, academic writing, my thesis. I leave my readers to enjoy the remaining days of November. And while we all complain about how much we hate buying Christmas gifts, all I see on Hauptstrasse these days is smiles on the faces of eager shoppers, skipping steps to rush into the warm and garnished atmosphere of shops, presenting their customers with 3 for 2 offers and well wishes for the holidays.

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