Why I can’t keep running

writing journal
The dandy dandelion!

I should thank my dear friend Monica for sharing this web article with me about the benefits of running. It ‘jogged’ my memory, and I recalled the last time I had gone traipsing along the Saar.

I am sure many of you will resonate with on this- any form of exercise, running  included is immensely difficult to sustain. Especially if you haven’t paid that monthly subscription fee to keep yourself clawed into an establishment. It occurred to me that I must try and get back into running, not merely because I want to stay healthy, because ‘staying healthy’ is a reason so often thrown about casually that it fails to impact anyone anymore. It is almost  the same as telling smokers that cigarettes are unhealthy. We all know it, but continually fail to act. So I told myself, if I was to arrest continuing investment in larger cupsizes, I must put my running shoes  back on (Ladies, you know what I am talking about, don’t you?)!

The only thing which worries me, however, is staying motivated. Everytime I get slightly regular, I end up faltering. It is always either too cold, or too hot or I just washed my hair. And everyone knows how hard it is to get back into it once you stop. Also, the problem with all these articles about running, is that they try to point out the magic, the fresh air, the endorphins making us giddy like chocolate and cheese do (not together, of course). In my humble opinion, is far from true. Running is a mind numbing exercise, during which all you can think about is how to get the next bout of oxygen to your starved lungs, while somehow courageously and miraculously not stopping. There are no miracles to witness. No cheerleading squads await you. There is nothing to keep you going on, but yourself.

So I reckoned, if I am to sustain this habit, I must try and get used to the routine. I must make friends with ‘monotony’, who in turn (if I am lucky) might introduce me to her friend ‘discipline’. With the newfound excitement for the impending boredom, I hopped out of house, on to the riverside. As a sunny spring late afternoon would have it, I saw several people walking in groups, couples holding hands, children on their tricycles and skateboards, dogs playing fetch with their humans. And to my surprise, I even saw a solitary human or two jogging, as though telling me to carry on as well. To add to that, grass was ludicrously green and the river smelled like the soggy fragrance that was the sushi restaurant. Logs and twigs hitchhiked with the river creating a soothing environment and soon, I was having more fun than I imagined. Could it be the endorphins as the article had suggests, I couldn’t figure out. And then to my utmost horror, I spotted a dandelion in the grass and lost all my shit.

As I walked back home, I was trying to soak in the amazing hour it had been while repeating to myself that I couldn’t expect it to be the same everyday and it was alright. A few minutes from home, I saw this child on the pavement trying to tackle three steps to get back into the house along with his little bicycle, tripped and fell down. As I rushed to help, I saw that the mother was standing by the door, waiting for the child to get back on its feet. And she did. I suppose she was trying to teach her how to climb the stairs. Although, could she be teaching her that even when there is no-one coming forward to help us, the best thing that we can do is to trust ourselves and carry on?  I am waiting to see if I can trust myself this time.

P.S.- If you feel like you have encountered something similar yourself, comment below and let me know how you stay disciplined with regard to working out, or something else you were having trouble with.

 

 

 

 

 

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Lessons after two consecutive days in bed

 

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‘Yours is the light by which my spirit’s born’, said my lamp (E.E. Cummings) to the setting sun.

As the title might suggest, recently, I had the pleasure of spending two days straight in bed when I got up only to eat, visit the bathroom and a one and a half hour german class to the university. I would describe this experience as one which made me feel immensely lazy despite having slept more than enough and tired while having done nothing at all. I cannot be sure of why it happened, but I concluded that it is easy to slip into this state. Before you go ‘Oh, this is so you!’, I want you to know that I am making progress, so here are some lessons I jotted down for myself for future reference:

  1. Readjust the bedside mirror so your reflection isn’t seen in it while you sleep, or you will have the recurring nightmare about having to fly to Moscow without roubles.
  2. The slight ache in your lower back that you have soon after you wake up will go away after you get out of bed and move about. If it doesn’t, you might want to change your mattress or consult a physician. (Disclaimer: Please do not take medical advice from this blog, whatsoever!)
  3. The bloated feeling you have, doesn’t necessarily mean you have a stomach disorder. Try getting out of the bed and peeing. (Disclaimer, ibid)
  4. Although, bedside table is a convenient place for storing consumables, you might experience an increased propensity to drop cups full of tea (in my case, fortunately the sheets, laptop and the carpet were spared). Therefore, try to train yourself into not drinking tea in bed.
  5. Three seasons of ‘Girls’ is not too many to get through in two days. However, if you get a headache, try reducing the brightness of your laptop screen and focussing (with your eyes) on a distant spot in your room or out of the window.
  6. The ‘still not unpacked’ suitcase lying in the middle of the room is a safety hazard.
  7. Unplug the phone and/or laptop charger once you begin to feel drowsy. Also switch off the bedside lamp before falling asleep or it might remain lit through the day with an increased chance of you not noticing it.
  8. Try not to clean your room anytime during this spell because you will be too lazy to replace the vacuum cleaner to its designated place afterwards.
  9. Fold the duvet back for a sense of closure.
  10. Refrain from spending two consecutive days in bed.

 

 

Message for idiots everywhere- “Don’t look it!”

In my limited flying experience, I have encountered people dressed a variety of ways. But it is the immaculate dressers who never cease to amaze me. Men wearing razor sharp suits at 7 in the morning and women gliding in their 7 inch heels ready to outdo the plane on the runway. I always marvelled at why anyone would go through so much trouble merely for a commute. I observed these specimen from the comfort of my track pants wondering what it would take for me to become them. Except this one time when I was scheduled to fly back to Frankfurt after a month spent at home it was slightly different.

Owing to my meticulous planning, I had reached the airport early. Owing to some packing decisions, I was dressed in a a new outfit. I had also just gotten a haircut so I wouldn’t have to get one in Germany. Long story short, I looked okay. As I kept glancing at the information board to check if the counters had opened. When they did, I ran up to the counter, feeling immensely smart for having the foresight to have done a web- check in. The lady at the counter was wearing a dark blue overall and a red lipstick. After looking at my passport for a minute, she informed me that my visa had expired. Convinced that she was mistaken, I explained to her that I had a one year multi-entry student visa, which could not have expired in six months. After consulting with her colleague and seemingly convinced with what I told her, she handed me my boarding pass and my passport. I glanced at the visa stamp on my passport only to realise that she was right. The visa stamp on my passport had printed October 2015 int he ‘valid upto’ column. I remember thinking, either that was a typo, or I was in great trouble. Still wondering what the problem was, I trotted along to the immigration. Now I know from experience that immigration is a line of government officers viciously guarding the duty free shopping area. I remembered before my visit to Thailand when a sleepy looking salver-kameez clad me with hair spilling out of a braid, encountered an immigration officer who seemed convinced that I was a victim of human trafficking even after I presented every document that he asked me for.

This time, I wondered how I had managed to turn up to the airport with an expired visa. This seemed like something one would prepare for in advance. As I walked up to another immigration officer, I tried to assure him that the expired stamp on the passport was all the visa I needed. However, unlike the ‘lady at the counter’ he did not give in and kept insisting that I must have a ‘card’. As I politely pleaded aimlessly, I was increasingly becoming convinced that I was not going to be able to board the flight. Somehow, just before I was going to give into dejection, my rational brain decided to come back to its senses and I realised that I had obtained a one year residence permit months ago. I showed him the  permit, and was cleared in less than three seconds. As I walked on, I couldn’t help but think, how I had managed to obtain the boarding pass despite the obvious inadequacy and the way the immigration officer had the patience to repeatedly explain to me what he needed after I had failed to produce the singular piece of evidence required to be presented at immigration.

As I pondered this enigma over breakfast with idli-vada and filter coffee, my thoughts were interrupted by a friendly looking airport worker, who came up to me and asked, “Seri?” (which in this context translated to “Are you finished?”) before whisking away my plate. Pleased for having been mistaken for a tamil, I thanked him and proceeded to my boarding gate. Over the walk from food court to the boarding gate, I realised that instead of a security tag only a loose string remained attached to my handbag. Clearly, my troubles for the morning were not over. I dreaded having to go all the way back to some security counter established for fools like me who misplaced their security tags. But there was no way I was going to be able to get in without a security tag. Helpless, I went up to the gate crew to tell them that I was going to need another tag. Funnily enough, it turned out to be the same lady who had issued me the boarding pass. She merely smiled and informed me that one of her crew would shortly help me, and I merely had to wait. Surprised and happy that she hadn’t told me to go back to the security check, I waited and waited, until the boarding finally began and I was still without a tag. As I proceeded to board mouthing and pointing that I was still without a tag, I was merely ushered on with understanding nods. How could that be right, I was being let on a flight with a bag minus a security tag. I was a self- declared safety hazard.

As I approached the the last checkpoint I saw an officer checking boarding passes and security tags and I became convinced that that was going to be the point, where I am sent back to redo a long string of security processes. Amidst mounting tension, as the lady before me was checked for her tags twice, I awaited my ordeal. However, contrary to what I expected, I was let inside with a mere look at my boarding pass and a huge smile.

I could not understand this behaviour. The day was turning out to be contrary to everything I had experienced on flights thus far. Despite my callous behaviour, the airport staff had been unfathomably patient and helpful contrary to numerous occasions when I had to deal with numerous hassles despite having had proper documentation. And then it dawned on me that the only difference that airport staff perceive between me today and me every other time was the appearance. Every other time I had all requisite security tags but was plainly dressed. This time however, even though I acted like a certified idiot, I happened to be dressed fine. The realisation that the world judges you merely on how you look was not a surprising one but was unsettling nonetheless. I wondered how many well dressed idiots are walking amongst us being allowed to do what they are doing as long as they look all right.

Peeing on a bus

No good story begins with desperation. Or it might. I don’t have much experience of it. But I learnt something regardless- desperate times call for desperate measures. And the desperation I am talking about relates to not being able to pee. Not clinically, just for not having access to a toilet, or anyplace appropriate (woods, desert, in a cup in a hospital, et cetera). Also when one takes a bus. Don’t get me wrong, I can take on long journeys in rickety buses without feeling the need to pee. Coming  from India, you are trained to zen yourself into not peeing. You achieve the ability to drink the right amount of water you need to without dehydrating or overshooting your bladder capacity. I would start rationing my water intake from the night before if i were to undertake a long bus journey the next morning. Healthy or not, that’s the only way you are going to survive.

Here in Germany, buses are equipped with toilets which function based on the vacuum ejection system, same as the ones you find installed in aircrafts. But sometimes these toilets don’t function. So what do you do, if you get on a five hour journey, without spending that 50 cents that you know you can save since there is going to be a toilet on the bus. However, once you get on and realise that the toilet isn’t available. First stage is shock and disbelief. You read the trilingual sign slapped on the door thrice and it still says the same thing- closed. Then comes denial. You deny that you even need to go, try and forget about it. When that doesn’t help, you start to pray to every god that you can imagine. Once it dawns upon you that God is probably busy tending to things more important than facilitating your natural calls, you decide to take matters in your own hands. In my case, I surveyed the surroundings, everyone was fast asleep. Which I thought was a good setting, if I were to bend down in front of my seat and pee in a bottle. So I place my backpack next to my seat to camouflage my feet. The next step was to obtain an empty container. My problem was that I didn’t have an empty bottle. I considered drinking the water in the bottle before peeing in it. But somehow that struck me as suicidal. I, then saw a McDonald’s cold coffee slurpee container in the mesh pouch diagonally placed to my seat. I appropriated it, only to realise that it wasn’t empty. I toyed with the transparent plastic glass in my hand for about two minutes, before replacing it in its original place. By now, an hour and half had passed since I started hatching the brilliant plan of peeing inside of a bus without getting spotted. I concluded that whatever that it was that took to pee in public view (possibly in case things didn’t go as planned) in a bus, I didn’t have it. I was then forced to imagine the horrendous conversation I would have had to have with the german bus driver, if I had to beg him to stop the bus for a pee break. “Können Wir eine Toilettepause machen, bitte?” As I repeated these words to myself, I saw that the driver was pulling the bus to the side in front of a tiny cemented structure with a roof, which was presumably a toilet. My heart took a giant leap with joy, as I jumped out of my seat and out of the bus.

Neues Jahr in Berlin

This was the first trip in Europe which Namrata and I had carefully planned over our Christmas break. We decided to meet in Hamburg and after spending a day there, we went to Berlin. We had chosen to be in Berlin for new year because we thought that it would be a crazy place to be at for new years and we were right.

Every year, on the new  year’s eve, an open party featuring sing and dance performances, food and drink stalls is organised at Brandenberger Tor. At 8:00 p.m. we decided to leave for the venue because we wanted to beat the crowd. Even as we walked early towards it, we saw hordes of other people who had apparently decided to do the same. In our journey to the Tor, we crossed two checkpoints of security checking and arrived at the ferris wheel in front of the Tor. There were stalls selling noodles, crepes, sausages and whatnot. Gluhwein and cocktails were flowing. Radio jockeys were hollering at you for attention from their high mounted stages. There was a light drizzle which was slightly uncomfortable but covered in our newly purchased jackets and caps, we felt alright.

As we were crossing the third check point, the security guard told me that rucksacks was forbidden from the venue. We tried arguing, pleading, sneaking but nothing worked. Another frustrated girl complained that this information was not given to us at the previous gates. Finally, we were forced to walk back to the central railway station where we thought we could rent a locker for the rucksack. It was a long painful walk, but even more painful was the walk back to the Tor. By the time we got back, most gates were closed, for overcrowding. However, about two hours later we had managed to cross the checkpoint where we were stopped earlier. We could not get ahead,  since the area in front was already full, as we were told by the message flashing on the screen in front of us. The spot we found ourselves in was still nice since we could hear the music and see what was going on at the stage. It was around 10:30 p.m. by now accounting for the walk to the central station and back. We were both a little unhappy because of the fiasco but realised that there we still had enough time. As the evening progressed, we began to enjoy the atmosphere, despite the rain and alien music. Finally, the clock struck twelve giving way to the fireworks. We wished each other slightly soaked but happy nonetheless for having resuscitated the evening.

A little while later amidst the growing chaos, I noticed a man howering about us as I clicked a picture of namrata on her iphone. That man had taken the liberty of touching the screen as i was trying to adjust the focus. I didnt attribute much to it then, but  Namrata told me later he had been by her side throughout, creepily hanging close for comfort. Not much later, a man approached us and began talking to me. After I returned his hello with a smile, he continued talking and poking me with his elbow and wouldn’t shut up despite being ignored. We decided to move from our spot which we had dearly held for most of the evening. By this time the crowd had thinned out and the area beyond the third checkpoint was accessible. We jumped barriers and ropes and arrived several yards from where we originally were. Seconds later, however we noticed that the man had followed us. A couple more attempts to run away were unsuccessful as this man would always manage to find us. Finally we lost our head caps figuring that it was easy to spot a white and a blue cap in the crowd, we found a spot where we could stand. As I constantly looked over my shoulder to check if we were followed, I was reminded of the feeling of vulnerability which had managed to find thousands of miles away in another continent.

We asked a man perched atop a railing to take our photo. As he clicked our photo we felt a presence close behind us. As we turned back we saw the same man who had been following us, was standing triumphantly posing with a victory sign. The man taking our photo told him politely in arabic that we wanted a photo without him. He however egged him to click  it with him still in the frame. We firmly refused him and this time, instead of leaving, we stood resolute until he left.

Still later, as the party was in full swing, when we went ahead to see what was going on. Everyone was dancing, and things looked joyous. As we walked through the crowd, several people would go “happy new year” seemingly inviting a hug. Namrata and I merely smiled and refused the invitations with horizontal nods and walked ahead. Interspersed in the dancing crowds  we saw a woman having been encircled by a few men, with all their gazes fixed on her. As she continued to dance the men encircling her waited for her to stagger close to one of them. As it happened, one of them attempted to kiss her. Visible annoyed  and disgusted, she pushed him away and continued to dance. The man merely laughed, and continued to stand there.

A few minutes later, as we walked back to the train which was to take us back to Babelsberg, we were disillusioned and slightly relived that the evening had concluded.

 

Can people turn into snakes?

It is interesting to live in an unusual habitat. One gets to meet unfamiliar people who often have interesting perceptions about you and your affiliations. These perceptions, often flatter, annoy and amaze you.

In the past one and a half month, I was mildly pleased when someone noted that the Indian GDP growth rate has been flourishing, and responded with, “Not as well as China though”. And when I heard that Indian software developers are unmatched, I thought, “Yeah, certainly so”. But then there was the, “Do you have elephants in all your streets?” to which I responded saying, “probably not, even if you inhabited the Sal forests of Jim Corbett”. And then of course when I heard, “Whether ancient Indians had the capability to transform into snakes?” shortly after we finished watching Sridevi gracefully hiss in ‘nagin‘ on youtube, I was just a tad short of yelling out, “What!”. Instead I simply stared, flabbergasted.
A recurring theme of questions, though has been the state of women in India. Most of them related to their safety, and some about their subservience. These were the difficult ones to answer. Back home, I would frequently engage in heated discussions with my friends where a sense of anger and disgust regarding the state of affairs which is common us all. This was, however, was the first time I felt ashamed, for it felt like I needed to answer to someone outside. So, the first time I was asked whether women are really unsafe in India, I reluctantly admitted that as a society we had indeed failed to ensure safety for women. Things were getting better, just not fast enough, I added.

I do admit to checking out country wise rape statistics, later, something I had never done before. It felt strange. Almost like I was preparing a defence for someone who I knew was guilty. Also it seemed incorrect to approach a problem by comparing how much worse off your neighbours are. But while I was doing that, I realised something Adichie sums up really well in her talk about ‘multiple stories’ and their significance in building complete understanding of something which we are not familiar with. We cannot judge anything effectively without context. And it is sad that more often than not, we are unaware of the remaining context. We could blame the media here, but despite their inadequate self- regulation and race for the next viral phenomenon, media personnel respond to what they perceive is in demand. There must be something wrong in the way we choose to access information, for even when it is available in heaps, we fail to obtain the truth, or more so discern it from trash. But since it has turned global attention to the issue, it makes me think, why not now? If we are going to make this debate, now seems like the perfect time to discuss patriarchy and how it affects the vulnerable gender.

Recently, when someone asked me about how women were unequal in India, to my own surprise, i confidently answered, “Ofcourse, but it is a global problem and the least we could do is to acknowledge it.” Except, I only could say the first part out loud.

First time in Saarbrücken

A week old in Cologne after having managed to find groceries and my way to the institute, I thought I could conquer anything. So, I woke up on the second sunday morning of September, and decided to travel to Saarbrücken to find myself an apartment. At a crowded Cologne Central station, I found my way to the ticketing counter and stood in front of the woman wearing a pleasant smile and an eye shadow in the shade of striking silver. The badge on her vest probably said Joanna.

“Where to today?” she said before I could ask her if she spoke english.

“Saarbrücken.”

“Ok. Would you like to take the ICE or the local train?”

“Umm… What is the difference?”

“ICE is faster. Also if you take the local train you will have to change once.” She said as she turned her computer screen towards me.

As I evaluated both options, I couldn’t help but notice that the price of the local train ticket was half of the ICE fare, so I told her that I would take the former.

“Very well. One way or round trip?” she asked.

“Round trip, but I want to be back by 11.”

“All right. But remember, you must catch the 7:20 p.m. train back or you’ll have to buy the ticket again.”

She printed out the ticket and highlighted time of change and platform number. I stood there and repeated the details twice as though displaying my skills in reiteration. Then, I ran towards the platform and and saw a sign which announced that the train to Trier would arrive next. To confirm whether I was about to catch the right train, I turned to the man standing next to me. Nodding, he pointed me to another man who turned out to be Raza, a middle aged Pakistani TV journalist who happened to be on the same train as I. He owned a flower shop in Bonn and did wedding photography. He was in Cologne to buy supplies for his shop which had run out from a week long wedding rush. We boarded the train and continued to talk.

“Where are you from and when did you arrive in Germany?”

“Oh. India and a week ago.”

“That’s really soon. What do you do and how long are you here for?”

“I am here to do my masters and then I go back.”

“Why go back? Stay.” He said with a convincing smile.

He continued to talk for the remaining journey. He chuckled about his observation that Indians and Pakistanis have the same narrow mindset about most things. Germans, he thought were different. He also pointed out that women had more freedom in Germany as compared to Pakistan or India. He also jokingly rued that you couldn’t keep more than one wife, although he did have a friend who had one wife and three girlfriends and 48 children. He was also still amazed that to be able to keep pets, you needed to take them to the vet at least thrice a year. In India we didn’t keep out our children with so much care. I told him I was happy to hear a familiar tongue.

The view from the train gave no indication of what was about to unfold
The view from the train gave no indication of how the day was to unfold.

At Bonn, Raza deboarded after wishing me luck for my apartment hunt and I waited for my connection to arrive. About 15 minutes later, the train stopped at Trier and I got off the train and walked on to platform 11. In the middle of the afternoon, It was already very cold and I sought a spot near a pillar, shielding myself from the wind. A couple stood leaning against the very pillar in an embrace only opening eyes to wipe a disobedient tear. They were probably saying goodbye. Once I was on the train, I saw that an offeror had responded to my request and agreed to allow me to come and view it the same day. I now had three houses to see. With my kindle tucked inside my bag unused, I decided to spend my time clicking selfies. I stopped only to preserve my phone battery which had drained to about 50%.

As I walked out of the train station eating a slice of pizza, I was pleased to discover that the first appointment was close to the train station. I stood outside the apartment building as a French girl, walked out. She was the girl who was going to vacate the room i was about to see, to go for an internship to Luxembourg. She told me that someone was already upstairs viewing the apartment, so I sat down on the pavement with her, waiting as she lit a cigarette. We introduced ourselves, and I told her that I was here to do my masters. She told me that I stood a better chance compared to others since i was the a girl and the right age. When I looked at her a little surprised, she explained that Peter thought that young people cared less about cleaning and were less likely to stick to cleaning schedules. She, however, thought that age had little to do with one’s tendency to clean. She told me that she preferred to clean whenever she found anything dirty, and it wasn’t fair to be asked to follow a schedule if she was travelling for, say, a whole week.

Once the boy walked out, we went up to meet Peter who was the longest staying inmate and de-facto in- charge of apartment affairs. He showed me the room which had two big windows and spacious a walk in cupboard. The bed and the rest of the furniture could be spared at a throwaway price of 100 euros.

“Oh and there is a also dog who lives in the apartment but it is currently on ‘vacation'” Peter said.

“Oh that is great. I do not mind dogs.” I said, second guessing.

“Do you smoke?”

“No.”

“Do you have any questions for us?”

“Actually, I do. How do you manage with the shower being installed in the kitchen instead of the bathroom?”I had thought a shower in the kitchen to be odd while answering the advertisement, but thought it was probably an extra shower mistakenly installed in the bright yellow kitchen. I saw that it was the only shower in the house.

He told me they had an understanding that whenever one of them was going to shower, they would close the kitchen door beforehand so the rest knew not to go inside. He asked me if I was okay with that arrangement. With the most genuine expression I could muster, I assured him that I could get used to it.

“So the rent starts next week?” he asked.

“Next week? No that definitely won’t work. You see, I have already paid the rent for this whole month in Cologne and I am only looking to rent October onwards” as soon as I said it, i realised that i should have cleared the issue of the date of moving in before coming all the way to Saarbrücken. Peter told me he would write to me when he had made his decision. But I already knew that I wasn’t going to live there.

The next appointment was sometime away so I went to an outdoor café near the Europa Gallery and ordered a cup of hot chocolate. I looked around trying to absorb a little bit of the city which was going to be my home till next the end of next summer. It felt alien for it lacked the familiarity which I had come to associate with Cologne in the past week. With an hour and a half remaining for the next appointment, I walked to the nearest bus stop (Johanneskirsche) and asked a bystander how I could reach reach the city centre near University. He didn’t know but consulted his phone and told me that bus no. 101 goes in that direction and that I could ask the bus driver to help me with the exact stop.

I thanked him and got on the next 101 and attempted to ask the driver about the stop nearest to my destination. He was; however, only interested in seeing a ticket or a card I told him that I didn’t have a ticket but I was ready to buy one. He clearly couldn’t understand what I said but kept trying to explain something to me, not a word of which i understood. Since there were no other passengers whom I could turn to for help, I couldn’t do anything but get off as he showed me the way out at the next stop. In hindsight, i am embarrassed for not having handled it better, but at this point I was scared for having committed a felony by getting on without a ticket.

I stood on the road, evaluating my options, I could either abandon the remaining appointments altogether and figure out my way back to the station or I could go on and find my way on foot. I checked google maps which told me that it was about 4 kilometers away and would take about an hour to reach. Thinking I shouldn’t give up just yet, I began to walk.

Hopping through curves, bends and intermittent stairs, I continued, until google maps guided me into what looked like a thicket of trees. As I stood in front of the way which would require me to walk through a forest, through a trail, complete with tall trees and vines engulfing the moss covering them. I must have been surprised at forest trails having been recorded on google maps, for I continued walking, skipping any thought process or decision making. As I walked along, I wondered what would happen if I were to lose my way or fall into a ditch.The walk, after all didn’t turn out to be difficult, despite the a wrong turn or two and a draining phone battery. I managed to it with only a brief pause and finally clambered into Guckelsberg. I had reached the destination in an hour’s time just as google maps had predicted. I messaged the flat owner and waited.

This is where I arrived after the 4 kilometer trek
Guckelsberg bus stop- scheduled destination after the 4 kilometer trek

With my phone battery was at its alarming red fifteen minutes later and no sign of the flat owner at 6:00 p.m., the disaster management lobe of my brain decided to take the wheel as I headed into the restaurant around the corner to ask for a charger and directions to the train station. The restaurant owner handed me with the charger promptly, for my face must have shown signs of acute distress. After i charged my phone for about 15 minutes, a friendly looking teenager helped me with the bus route and pointed the way to the bus stop.

The helpful teenager at the restaurant with his phone
The helpful teenager at the restaurant allowed me to take a picture of the route.

The flat owner still hadn’t turned up as I walked to find my bus back to the city, but i didn’t have time to regret the hour long fruitless walk for i was determined to make it back to the city in time and catch the train. I learnt that once I knew where I had to go, I merely had to name the station and hand in sufficient money to the driver and Voila! The students merely flashed their identity cards. I didn’t deserve the penalty I had been handed out at my first attempt. I reached the city in what felt like a swish of air and ran all the way to the train station which was about half a kilometer away, a sight which can probably be best likened to a lunatic running from the falling sky. Nonetheless, I succeeded in catching my train back by a margin of three minutes. As i found a seat I decided to not consider the failure the day had been. I was hungry, thirsty and a little terrified, but thankful that i would be home in a few hours.

Soon as I dozed off, I was woken by an announcement as the train slowed down and several people began to descend at the next station. I asked the person sitting behind me if it was the last stop already which seemed to be the right question to ask at the time. The fellow assured me that the train would go on, and it did.

As we were about to reach Trier, I thought to check my ticket to confirm the station and platform of the connection. This turned out to be a good idea only I was a little late in its execution. I realized that I had missed my connection an hour ago. It had passed after the announcement which I had heard. I was suddenly reminded of my gripping childhood fear of being left parent-less in a bus which slowly began to move. As I sat fearing the discovery of my next mistake, I tried not to think about what I would do if I reached Trier to discover that no trains going to Cologne that night.

Upon reaching Trier, I found an automated billing counter at the station where an angel of a lady helped me extract a ticket to Cologne.(As I write this more than a month later, I think I probably would have been able to do it myself but for my shattering nerves at the time.) As I stood waiting on the designated platform, I could only feel the chill and a strange twitch in my left thigh. The ICE back to Cologne scheduled to leave at 10:13 p.m. was late.

I somehow managed to get through the train ride back to Cologne terribly tired, but strangely alert. At an hour and a half past midnight, as i got off the local train close to my house, I didn’t mind the soft warm drizzle or the last fifteen minutes of walk which led me to my bed.