An Irish friend of mine who had never been to Germany before observed that everyone got off the airplane in a very orderly and efficient manner. The same when leaving the train; no pushing, no shoving, no hysterical laughter from someone who is “terribly sorry” but has to go back through the whole carriage again to retrieve the bag s/he forgot, no screeching children who don’t want to get their coats on and block the aisles in their bold protest.
An Indian visitor on business to Germany overheard our conversation and joined in. That’s because they do everything in straight lines in Germany. Have you seen how straight the fields are separated one from the other, even as they go up the hills. In India, everything is twisted and windy, and that’s why we never get anything done, because we’re always going round in circles.
I can’t believe my ears, my German companion burst out. I dream of one day wandering along the meandering paths that crisscross the luscious tea plantations of the Madras hillsides, or of travelling round Ireland, the land of a thousand welcomes, where everyone is so polite and patient and friendly. We Germans don’t ever have any time for our fellow human beings. Didn’t you notice how silent everyone was getting off your plane? Can’t you see how unimaginatively our countryside has been landscaped into perfectly boring shape, sliced by a tight grid of motorways every few kilometers.
Ah, best thing of all are the motorways, my chorus responds in a rapture. No tolls, no speed limits, easy access from everywhere…