For the Christmas this year, I had an invitation from an Assamese lady Meenaxi Ba (who became quite close to me after the Assamese-in-Europe Get Together in Götzis and the North-East-India Anthropology Conference in Göttingen) and her German husband Stefan to spend the Christmas holidays with them in their home at Volkach. I reached their place on the 23rd noon – and after 4 days i.e. right now, I am on my way back (27th Dec). What an amazing weekend it was!! Here, we were a group of nine people – Me, Stefan, Meenaxi, Inez (Stefan’s elder sister), Haans (son of Stefan from his first wife), Ruth (Stefan’s eldest daughter), Christian (the husband of Ruth), Paula and Florian (the 5 years old daughter and the 2 yrs old son of Ruth).
A weekend spent in a complete German style!! Morning breakfast with different kinds of Bakery products, variety of cheese and choices of juice, a 7pm heavily rich dinner followed by sweet dish and cream, after-dinner sit-and-chat-time with wine/juice and cookies!! Supposedly life is lavishly luxurious in a German Family during Christmas time! From the one and only experience I have, it is completely true!! Here, I learned from the sweet old lady Inez how to make small lovely lanterns! Wishing to make her happy in return I showed her many pretty cospics from this blog – regions where stars are born, how normal sun-like stars die, how it looks when the massive stars die, how galaxies having thousands and thousands of stars interact and stuff… She was really pleased!! Though I think I was more pleased with the cookies that she has made. We ate a lot – chocolates, cookies, cheese (basically, intake of countless calories)!! Another nice thing that happened was – I decorated a Christmas tree all by myself (quite an achievement – for this was the first time!!)
I made two new friends – Paula and Florian. I do not remember regretting so much for not knowing German properly before! But then, well, we did interact pretty good still! The idea was to let them speak till they feel like and finally smile or say ‘aahaaa!’, ‘hhhhmmmm!’, ‘aaso!!’ or repeat the last word of their last sentence in a lower voice or just make a funny face as the reply… and believe me, they are happy and content with it!! The very few sentences I learned in Innsbruck did help a bit – but you can not really ask these children ‘What is your name?’, ‘Where do you come from?’, ‘Where do you live?’, ‘Which languages do you speak?’ or say ‘This is a house’, ‘This is my house’, ‘This is a book’, ‘This is my book’, ‘This is your book’ again and again and expect them to still be interested in being with you! So, I preferred silence over this nonsense-speaking and that played the trick. We played the piano together (and I realised that even random noise can sound musical), watched funny videos of laughing children, went for evening walk (Paula made me jump-and-walk with her for a long time), played with her kitchen set and the building blocks and made faces across the dining table as the adults sat and ate properly conversing in a very decent way – not paying much attention to the kids (and me).
One of the really nice things I noticed here is the tradition of Greetings Card being still alive. Every day after lunch, they will open all the newest cards that have arrived that morning – cards from friends and family – from US, Chile, Austria, different parts of Germany and even from the family staying next-door. I was reminded of how exciting December was for me when I was in Vadodara and my dad used to buy many manny New Year Cards for friends and relatives in Assam. I remember him making lists of people to be wished and involving all three of us (me and my sisters) while buying the cards, writing on them, writing address on envelop and posting them! This itself was a festival! Ohh! Good old days!!
Anyways, after five days spent in the festive mood, carrying some nice memories and a few extra pounds of fat, I leave now! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone!! 🙂