They sprung up like mushrooms in the monsoon, the Christmas markets all over the city. Everyone was excited to visit them, the pretty lights enticed us poor students to forget our poverty woes and to make our way to these little commercialised cribs of food and festivity. It wasn’t to my taste. Too many people pushing me while I try to eat my overpriced pommes and worry about spilling my “Glühwein” (a wine served warm that is very similar to port wine courtesy Goa).
My first ever actual homely Christmas awaited me. I had picked out presents many days ago, but put off wrapping. On the very last day, I made my way to the supermarket, expecting the over-organised Germans to have stopped selling Xmas wrapping paper and moved on to selling sunglasses for the summer by now. I was relieved to see many other last-minute wrappers like me, lined up at the counter. But I was at a greater disadvantage to complete this task on time! My mommy wasn’t there to do it for me. Since the invention of birthday parties and presents, it was the first time I had to do this myself. Luckily, quite like the first time I had to peel garlic, (no easily available ginger-garlic paste here) it took a while, but I was pleased with the result.
I landed up in Kaarst, a little town near Düsseldorf, 7 years after I spent a month there on an exchange. I resolved to converse in Deutsch till I bored the family, this time around!
They had a dog now, and a new fridge. But other than that, little had changed. I was greeted with warm hugs. I fell easily back into the routine of sitting at the little kitchen table and gorging on yummy German (Aldi) cheeses, salamis and breads. Sipping on bubbly orange juice while joking around with mom and little brother (who wasn’t so little anymore!). An early morning walk in the forest with dad and dog while discussing Wirtschaft got me all charged up!
24th was the big day! We brought in the little tree and got out the ornaments. They were so beautiful close-up and outside of television. I excitedly decked the lights, hung the orbs, tied the bows and admired our handiwork from all angles. we hummed to the Weihnachts Lieds playing on the radio. Attending a Christian school meant I sang along to many of the hymns, albeit in another language. I'm disappointed that my favourite "We 3 Kings" doesn't exist in German nor Italian.
After a lovely meal of light soup, fish and apple pie – we ended it with a typical Hungarian liquor: Unicum. I hear its made from herbs and aids digestion. When consumed in the right way with the right company, it tastes quite nice. Then it was time for presents! And it didn’t disappoint! I can’t decide if the look of surprise and happiness on a face at opening my present is better, or the joy of receiving a perfect gift.
The next day too passed by easily with lots of homely cookies and conversation. We ended it with me trying to explain cricket to a very confused audience and followed by a French comic movie dubbed in German, about cultural stereotyping of the Chinese, Arabs, Blacks and Jews. On that note, a Multi-kulti Christmas came to an end.