Feeling at home in the land where the Cuckoo Calls

The inside of a sloping roof greets you first thing in the morning. You wake up, get ready and find yourself in a lawn where spread for you on the table is a typical homemade European breakfast - eggs, fruit cakes, marmalade, bread with butter, cheese and homemade jam. You are part of a European family, chatting away merrily and entertaining you like one of their own. Then you are shown around the garden and a sauna erected in the garden. Doesn’t it seem something right out an Enid Blyton book? I have often wished to experience something like this since the time I started reading Blyton books. And unexpectedly the wish came true one fine day. When my European friend invited me home for a weekend during a visit to his country. The country was Germany though and not England. But I don’t think I lost much of the experience except for not being able to converse properly with my friend’s kind mother who was not so well versed in English.

After the delicious breakfast I was to be taken on a tour around the town named Haslach im Kinzigtal. Even the very name had something exciting about it. My friend had to go have his hair cut and carry out a few other chores. So he asked his father to take me around. His father who seemed to be hold a great regard for his son’s friends took the mission really seriously and set about his task. He began to explain to me, “See we have the two parts of the town – the new town and old town. I am going to take you to the old town which has old Roman remains and has lot of history attached to it.” I nodded my head.

“This is the old city wall,” he said pointing to the wall as we reached the old town. “This divides the new town from the old town.” Then we moved on to the church and then to an old house persevered in old fashion for benefit of tourists. Then we came towards a statue. “This is a respected man of our town – a politician who represented our town back in the nineteenth century,” he said.

I had already been to quite a few cities in Europe and was quite familiar with these kind of monuments and relics. But it was all together a different experience being shown around by a local gentleman. In the former you see the place as an outsider. In the latter you see it all as an insider if you get what I mean. It was a small town and my friend’s father knew almost everyone. Almost anyone who passed by on the road stopped to talk to him and he wished them and introduced me to them. They nodded at me with a smile and spoke a few words of greeting. All this made feel so much part of that town. I had earlier stayed in Germany for 9 months on one occasion and 2 months on the next but never had the feeling of being part of the local community. It felt more like I was part of an Indian community living in a parallel dimension sharing mere physical space with the Germans. Now here I really felt kind of integrated though it was only a short trip.

In the afternoon, after lunch, it was my friend’s turn to take me around. He took me to the local farm where he got me a bottle for fresh Schnapps made from berries. Then he took me to a place called the hunter’s lodge which a museum of sorts. But it was shut. Then he asked me what else I would like to do.

The place I was in was in Freiburg district where the Black Forest is located. The Black Forest is known for its cuckoo clocks and my wife had expressed a desire to have one. I wanted to get her an authentic black forest Cuckoo clock. So, I mentioned it to my friend Manuel. He knitted his brow and said, “Today is Saturday. The shops will be closed.” Seeing my disappointed face, he said, “Wait! Let me see if I can do something.”

He made a quick phone call and then said, “Come on.” We were outside a shop. An old lady came with the key and opened the shop. Since he knew the shop lady, he had called her and asked her to open the shop specially for me. I saw the various clocks and finally picked a decent looking one within my budget. She explained how to set the time and wind it. Now I must say something about this magnificent clock. It is an intricately carved wooden clock made from the special wood of black forest. It runs completely with no battery. Not only does it show the time, but a cuckoo comes out and coos every hour the number of times equal to the hour of the day. Some of the more expensive clocks even have music playing and set of small figurines dancing around as the hour changes. And all of this works on mechanical principles – using a pendulum and weights. Every day one had to raise the weights and as the clock winded down the weights began to go down. Remember potential energy and kinetic energy from school physics? It really seemed something special to take home from this place. Made more special having a kind shopkeeper open a shop just so that I could take a gift home for my wife.

When I reached their home, Manuel’s mother insisted I take some of her homemade cake with me. I reflected mothers everywhere were just the same. As I boarded the train and was on the way back to Frankfurt, I carried with me lovely memories of a the day spent as part of a German family. Being a World traveler and going on trips of Exploration to different parts of the world did make you more Open Minded and Love the World more and more. Travel Inspiration I call it.

Lufthansa seeks to support your dreams of being a World Traveler and this post is an entry for a contest they are holding as part of their campaign. Click here to see the campaign details. Do take a look at this video to see the spirit behind this campaign.


Janani said...

This is by far my most favourite one in the series. The Enid Blyton kinda start made me so nostalgic and jealous at the same time. This Cuckoo clock is something that I've always wanted to own. So I can totally relate to the feeling expressed. Beautifully written and looks like such a fun trip.

T F Carthick said...

Thanks a lot Janani.

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