Written by Faith Oneya
This is for all for the people that asked me: “How was Germany?” and I replied “It was fine.” Consider this my apology for this limp answer that you got!
Before my first visit to Germany in April this year, my closest interaction with the country was through the TV series Derrick which aired on the National Channel KBC when I was about ten years old. Derrick was German TV series about Detective Chief Inspector Stephan Derrick and his loyal assistant Inspector who solved murder cases.
Derrick fascinated me as a child.
Perhaps it was his leathery face and huge bags under his eyes that made him look like the white version of my grandfather. Or maybe it was his kind, watery eyes as he stared into the eyes of criminals. Derrick was my German connection. Years later, my favorite aunt would name her first born son Derrick, making the character a permanent fixture in our lives.
My visit, not unlike the Derrick TV series, was wrought with extremities: Tension, happiness, frustration, flying tempers and wonderful conclusions…making the perfect recipe for a travel story (A Lonely Planet Guide and a Map I could not make Head or Tail of in hand)
My friend Melissa and I leave the aircraft only to be received by a mean-looking policewoman who demands to know the purpose of our visit.
“Wedding”, we say.
No need for full sentences for this woman who cannot piece together a good polite question. She scrutinizes our invitation, our passports and our faces. Back at our faces again. She nods sideways for us to go ahead.
The immigration officer subjects us to the same treatment. Protocol, again. We have had our share of protocol.
“Wedding”, I say when he asks the purpose of our visit.
The blonde man does not smile. He looks at my passport picture and back at my face again. His movements are slow as his beady eyes (not like Derrick’s big watery ones) take stock of my facial features. I can imagine him trying to contend with the fact that the photo with the tired looking face and baby locks is actually the person standing in front of him. My locks have come of age since 2008.
“Fine,” he says, nodding us through. Melissa gets her special protocol treatment and we are free. At last.
The doors will not open. It takes our third-world psyche a few minutes to figure out that they have sensors.
The nice trolleys you use to carry your luggage at the airport won’t budge. A nice-looking dreadlocked man tells me: “You are from Africa? You have to put in a few coins for it to budge. You will get a refund outside.” I quickly change my mind and decide to put my strong back to good use.
The cold in Germany in April is a huge fist. It punches you in the face, stomach and knees the minute you step out into the fresh cold air.
Berlin City is beautiful!There are all kinds of backpackers in the city…we stay at a backpackers hostel…where the most common thing we all seem to have is that neither English nor German is our first language. Someone has offered a ‘Free Walking Tour of Berlin’ but it turns out we have to tip in the end. My friend Melissa adds an extra 5 Euros to the tip because “He is so cute, the tour guide.” Personally, I think he is too model-like and probably knows he is cute so I “stinge” on the tip. The tour is totally worth it. Intense lessons are shared on Berlin’s culture, politics, media, and science. I feel like I am bloated with History.
The Pub Crawl tour beckons at about 7pm the next day. Here is where I meet the craziest bunch. There is the Frank the Irish man with Frizzy, Orange hair and a loud belly laugh. He tells me that that he plays Irish Folk songs.We bond over M&M’s as we wait for the rest of the team to join us. There is also Frank the Nigerian-German who joins us . He is about 7 feet tall, I swear, and he proudly says he has illegally acquired Dual Citizenship. Frank tells us he is moving to Nigeria to be with his daddy. He also carries ear plugs to the club because “The noise is too much.” Stay at the hostel then, Frank!
We are meant to go club hopping. Immediately, I can tell that my relationship with my cute party dress (Which I did not bring all the way from Kenya to just sit in my suitcase) will be that of freeze and shine resentment. The first club we visit takes us back to the 60-ties. What pleasure is there in such? I will tell you this for free: NONE. We club hop to the next bar. There are night girls on the streets. They ask us to “Shut Up, Hey?” .We continue giggling away and making new friends. The night ends well…with my dreadlocks and dark skin I am practically the most exotic patron at the club.I have the time of my life that night
In clubs here, you have to tip the cleaning lady in the washroom. So says the chic I meet in the bathroom. “Because she is cleaning your shit,” the chic clarifies. I release a Euro for this noble task.
The journey is too much drama. We get lost twice. Twice? It occurs to me that I should have paid more attention in the Geography lessons. I mostly read Mills and Boon Novels during such “interruptions”. If I had paid attention to the lessons, then I might have caught a few nuggets of knowledge on how to read a map?
We arrive slightly past 8pm. The wedding happens early the next morning with the bride warning us of keeping time. “The bus will leave you” are her final words. Bless her. We are up, dressed and ready to go by 9am when we go down for breakfast to find that we are the only dressed up lot! The rest come for breakfast in their pajamas. We pretend we are cool about sticking out like neon lights
The wedding day is blissful, blissful. The bride is glowing.Glowing! The after-party is to die for. We have formed a dance group “the Fabulous Trio” , and all attempts to recruit extra members fail. Finally, we treat the guests to a fabulous dance routine. We receive a standing ovation.The End.