My first evening in Kiel
Jet-lagged and one suitcase lost I got off the “Hamburg to Kiel” bus haggard. In the middle of my first scrutiny of the town, my weary eyes fell on a tall woman: dolled up, glossy blond hair, chicly clad in LBD and high heels. She had difficulty walking. She took a few wobbly steps and found her way to the ground with a thud. At first, I thought it was my jet-lag, and then I thought it was her high heels. I peered again and I saw her friends picking her up and helping her walk. A drunken woman and it was a Monday, “I moved from one pub town to another”, I told myself.
However, my first impression of Kiel lasted only one night. It took a 180-degree turn when I stepped out the next day. I couldn’t believe that there were no smokers on the streets, and then it dawned on me that there were no people on the streets. I could literally count the number of people walking on the street with one hand, perhaps two but not more for sure. Then I had to remind myself that I was coming from the 2nd highest populated country in the world.
A phone shot to show I was not kidding.
Crossing the road
After spending two days in Kiel, I managed to learn the basics of “how to cross the road” and feeling slightly optimistic I ventured on my own. It felt like giant characters from the movie Hobbit, albeit in jeans and jackets minus the beards, were shadowing me – The Hobbit. Six feet and a few inches seemed like an average height of a German, including women. Sigh.
With so many signals for vehicles, people, bicycles, I crossed the road anyway. Immediately, the only person across the street, an old woman with a worried look confronted me. She started a conversation, I understood the word “Gefaerhrlich” meaning dangerous and realized I probably did something wrong. I also heard about the Germans’ fixation of the rules. In the little German I knew, I started explaining myself to her. I told her that I did not see the signal and she understood that I couldn’t see at all because my eyes were Kaput. She felt very sorry for me and I felt very sorry for me. I continued walking, I walked on the lanes meant for bicycles and got belled at, a few times. I somehow managed to reach the university in one piece. But my adventure didn’t stop there.
My first day at the University
The doors of some offices were so gigantic. It was meant for strong and tall Germans, I thought. Pushing one such door with all my might, I entered the office sweating in the cold weather, and the door closed behind me. Adding push-ups to the to-do list in my mind, I turned around to look at the mammoth again. I saw another student behind the door press a button and enter the building. I flushed, I just forced opened an automatic door. Gladly, no one saw, or so I thought.
Then I proceeded to the library looking for some books for my course. The keyboard of the computer, I’m supposed to use to find my books, was at my shoulder height. I literally looked up at the computer and used the opportunity to thank the computer for its service to humanity. Suddenly the student, standing tall, next to me said/asked something in German and I promptly said “nein”, no in German. I don’t remember what law I applied at that moment and decided that saying a no was way better than saying a yes. I found out from an English speaking student that the student next to me just asked me if he could borrow my pen.
Food shopping in Kiel
And the quest continued, I went to the grocery store and picked up the most nutritious food on the display. When I arrived home my flatmates gave me a worried look and asked: “do you know what you are eating?” I found out that I bought food meant for hardcore athletes and an ordinary mortal’s tummy might have difficulty digesting it. The bright side was, at least I didn’t pick up Dog food. Gradually, Kiel resigned to its fate and warmed up to my adventures.
I never imagined I would live on a coast, a mean and cold one at that. Baltic sea is considered one of the coldest seas in the world. It took me a while to wrap my head around the concept of seeking solace by the cold and breezy beach. I shudder when people say “let’s go to the beach and relax.” But coming back home to the Seagulls flying right in the middle of the town; squawking and sometimes perching on my windowsill and making life decision while pooping makes up for all the suffering I endured on the beach.
I came with the mindset when it rains life must pause for a little while, but in Kiel it doesn’t work like that. When it rains, I have to wear a raincoat and go to the University, for it rains in spring, summer, autumn and winter, sometimes 5 days a week.
This is how I go to the beach!
Having said that, the truth is, I love it here. After getting used to so much rain and peace and quiet, sometimes I even wonder if I will ever be OK to go back to living in a noisy, busy and happening city again.
“OMG there are Seagulls” was my reaction when I saw the first Seagull
My camera is very people friendly
Brrrrrrr… was what I said to her
Opera House and still no people
Kiel could be the capital city of Seagulls
And a capital city for Kite surfers too
Also read A day in the town of rum, aka Flensburg