Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Meat-eater Germans

A few days back, one of my colleague invited the whole research group to his town Bingen. It is a small town located on Germany's biggest Rhine river in the most beautiful of areas. It is a hilly area with lots of grape fields and forest. That's why this area is called weinstraße (wine-street). The river curls through the valleys hosting the largest density of castles in the world. It has 40 castles in just 65 kilometers. We took chair-lifts, walked through the forests on hills viewing the rhine river below and the small towns located on it and took small cable-cars. We also visited the statue called "Germania". It is the statue of a woman representing Germany.

In the evening, our colleague took us deep inside the town to a restaurant to have a special dinner. This restaurant had seats in its lawn with wines growing long to produce a roof. I as usual looked for fish and ordered smoked fish. When it came, i was surprised to see red slices of fish meat spread across the plate. I tasted it only to find out that it was uncooked. My colleagues told me that it was only half-cooked. I somehow managed to finish it, trying to keep it down my stomach. By that time others had finished their dishes and a couple of them had ordered some snacks containing some sort of meshed tomatos. When i proudly announced that i had finished the fish, they asked me: "do you know what we are eating?". Upon accepting my ignorance, they declared they were eating what many Germans eat: beef. Not just beef, raw beef!!! completely uncooked. I watched them in utter disbelief as they continued eating it with bread and butter.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Living the Football Fever in Germany

Football fever everywhere in Germany. Each day fans, both locals and guests, turn out to take part in city parties, parades, festivels and head to the viewing arenas to watch their favorite games. My city Kaiserslautern has posted two giant tv screens at two different locations. Both grounds have stalls selling drinks and edibles. The main road between the two arenas and the area around them is also decorated with stalls and joy-rides for children. There are groups of famous street performers performing in them. We went to one of the arenas to watch the first game of the worldcup between Germany and Costa Rica in Munich last Friday. Naturally there were lots of German fans flooding the tv arenas. We got there after the game started, so couldn't get in. There were many people outside the arenas as well watching the match as much as they could see. Germans got very happy when their team won 4:2.

This Monday Kaiserslautern got its first game of the WM (german name of world cup - Weltmeisterschaft = world-championship). The game was between Australia and Japan which was won by Australia 3:1. Swarms of fans flooded the city that day literally blocking the pedestrian pathways of city center. People had to jump over benches to get through. Yesterday i watched a sensational game between Brasil and Croatia. Though Croatia lost 0:1, they played surprisingly a very beautiful game against the WM favorites. Obviously there were more fans of Brasil in the arena, but they started cheering Croatia in the second half for their fearless play. They made more attacks than Brasil and their goal-keeper ended up saving less direct shoots than the Brasilian goal-keeper. Everyday three matches are played in Germany (3/4 pm, 6 pm and 9 pm), which are telecasted live on giant tv screens in major cities. See the football fever in my city Kaiserslautern at: Kaiserslautern Football Fotos.

Friday, June 09, 2006

FIFA worldcup - from Germany

FIFA Worldcup kicks off in Germany today with a lot of anticipation. The first match is between Germany and Costa Rica in Munich. Many month-long parties have been planned in major cities. Giant screens have also been put up in these cities to show all matches. In Frankfurt, a giant screen has been placed in the river Main to be viewed by people on the river-banks and on boats. In my city Kaiserslautern, they have placed a big screen near the city-center. Almost all the many construction points are completed in my city. All hotels and hostels are booked. Cities are making tent colonies to host the fans. I have been getting requests from people for a place to sleep during the worldcup through Hospitality Club.

It has been reported that Germans want to show their openness using this event. Traditionally, the world has viewed Germany as a closed society and as a result tourism has failed to develop in the beautiful country. The theme of the cup "A Time to make friends". They are working against racism and discrimination. The authorities are worried about a million foreign fans arriving here. Special arrangements have been done for English fans, although disorder by them has almost vanished since the last two worldcups.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Book of Mormon

This Saturday we got a visit from a couple of preachers. They were Christian boys, one American, one German. We sat with them thinking they would preach Christanity to us. Instead, they presented a new book to us called "The book of Mormon" and emphasized that we should turn to God. We were confused and after some time asked explicitly their place in Christanity. They said that they were Christians but also believed that Bible was changed and is no longer in the original form. However, another book was written about 400 years after Jesus using quotes from some other Prophets before and after Jesus This book was burried to be discovered in our time. A guy in the US was instructed in nineteenth century by an angel to go to a place and dig up this book. He digged it up, translated it in English and gave the original book to the angel. Since then, they have been following the teachings of this book, which is similar to Bible. This group is called "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints". They have had many prophets and are still having them. One important thing that they mentioned is that though their story may not be very convincing, its only a matter of faith and belief. We offered them cold-drinks but they said they were fasting. They'll come again next weekend and bring the book translated in Urdu. Their website: LDS

On Monday, we organized a party given by a Pakistani fellow to his university working group. We prepared Pakistani food and asked them to eat it Pakistani style. Photos and details on a friend's blog: Danish's Blog