Monday, June 27, 2005

Achtung baby, Germans are here

Achtung baby, Germans are here
With Beethoven, Oktoberfest, Potato Salad And Engineering
The Times of India

Bangalore: When the Scorpions performed at Palace Grounds to a roaring audience, the rock regulars in the city had a revelation. Tall, broadshouldered men and women speaking in a guttural lingo ruled the roost, making their presence felt, like loud.

The Germans are here in swelling numbers and by consensus, well-settled with their engineering designs. Unlike the Tibetans and Nepalese who immigrated for political and economic reasons or the researching Americans, the Germans are here mostly because of the call of the vocation. And the minor exodus to Bangalore was thanks largely to the structural and engineering boom in industries. Germans in the city themselves put their populace at 300 dotting nooks at Koramangala, Indiranagar, Vasanthnagar.

The day starts with a Guten Morgen (Good Morning), an Indo-Bavarian breakfast later, the Jurgens, Bergs are ready to take the famed German engineering mind to a different paradigm. And for sure, memories of Munich, Duesseldorf, Hamburg linger, but apparently they have been happily reframed with English suppers at Koshy’s, hanging out at Max Mueller Bhavan’s Cafe Schorlemmer, idlis and dosas and attending Bharatanatyam performances.

Christiane Harjes who has been in Bangalore for three years now, says the city has a special charm making it easier for expats to settle down. “My husband is with the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board. The book-shops, coffee-shops, libraries, the very easy atmosphere puts any foreigner at ease in no time. Siemens and MICO Bosch have a large number of Germans. We don’t really have a formal community but we often network at cafes and at festivals like Easter or Oktoberfest.’’

Because the Germans are largely perceived as arrogant and finicky about everything including food, cuisine is often a topic of discussion. Axel Schorlemmer who runs an eponymous cafe at the Max Mueller Bhavan explains: “I’ve known India for a long time. In Germany we have plenty of Indians. The cafe is actually for Indians who want to have a taste of Germany. The potato pancakes which are popular in Germany are relished by Bangaloreans here.’’

Max Mueller Bhavan, a meeting place or linkage betwixt the two cultures, offers a patch of home to German expats living here. As Bhavan’s programme coordinator Maureen Gonsalves says: “There are books, magazines, newspapers in German here.’’

Christiane says she loves listening to Gangubai Hangal “without understanding the lyrics.’’ Much like we groove to Rammstein’s anthemic Du Hast. Guten Tag, mein herr.

The numbers: About 300
Places: Mostly Koramangala, Indiranagar, Vasanthnagar, Lavelle Road, Airport Road
Vocation: Engineers, structural designers, automobile industry
Major festivals: Easter, Christmas, Oktoberfest
Popular German jargon: Guten Tag (good day), Achtung (pay attention), Tschus (bye)


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