Two freelancing engineers. One developed software and the other needed some tweaks and add-ons. Thats how this Indian and that German got to know each other. The Indian invited the German to India. The German came once and then came every year. He and we became friends. Our kids grew fond of him. He was like this favourite uncle visiting us every year, spending about a week with us and then taking off to different parts of India and continuing his vacation. By now he had seen more of India than we had! By now he started telling us that we must visit Germany.
Up until then we had gone on trips with our really tiny kids. But at most for a week. We had known of ‘foreigners’ taking long breaks, ‘foreigners’ working six months and travelling the other half of the year, ‘foreigners’ who worked to earn enough for the next long trip. While the idea was not alien, we didn’t think that we would do something like that too; until ‘German Uncle’ threw our idea of visiting Germany for a week out of the window! And for the record, it was our first LONG trip – 18 days in all (excluding our flights from/to India).
We went to Germany when Indians didn’t think of it as a travel destination.
We stayed ONLY in 3 cities and a small town (Munich, Berlin, Luppa/Bautzen, Hamburg).
We hired a car and drove close to 1700 km.
We went on day trips.
We rode trams in Munich, cycled in Berlin, took the U-Bahn & S-Bahn in Hamburg.
We travelled SLOWLY.
We did something that would interest the kids too. So they spent time in parks, streams, playpens, fed ducks, cycled around in a village farm, fed snails (if placing a leaf close to a snail counts!) in the Englischergarten, steered a boat (or so they thought they were doing!), visited a submarine, ate LOTS of ice-cream (Magnums were still not available in India then). So when we wanted to do some serious sight seeing they let us be.
In Munich we ate most of our meals at this little Italian place close to our B&B. He knew no English and we knew no German. So we communicated in an unique manner – I spoke Spanish and he would reply in Italian and we somehow managed to never make a mistake with the order.
My little one sang ‘Dashing through the snow’ without any inhibitions in the month of May on the tram rides and I think I spied a smile on the otherwise stern faces of the passengers.
At the end of the trip, this same little one told everyone that he didn’t feel cold anymore because he had been to the Alps!
Once we came back, the kids wanted to visit Germany again! My older child got an opportunity to go again recently and the not-so-little-one hopes to go again some day. You may not believe me if I tell you that they were bitten by the travel bug and have since participated in planning every trip we have been on. Proud to say that my older one is soon going on her first solo trip. We must have done something right!! And ‘German Uncle’ is a friend for life!