Initial apprehensions shoved aside, there was this burning determination in me to find out what makes a person tick in a strange environment. Are we really as social as we think? After the simple streets of
Then it was in a supermarket that I learnt a certain truth about myself.
I had wandered everywhere the previous couple of days, unable communicate with anyone in this very international yet fiercely German city. The people I knew had been reduced to international phone numbers. Faces with voices emanating directed at me were mere images in my head. And the checkout girl at Kaiser’s.
The grocery store was similar to any that can be found in a western society. Gleaming bottles of preserves, various cheeses, meats, boxes of cereal. I walked in the aisles trying out my ability to connect English with German, and stubbornly (read stupidly) not use a dictionary. A good quarter hour later, my basket was bursting with groceries and my mind with the need to talk to someone. Maybe the girl at the checkout counter? I still hoped.
She calculated the prices and looked up at me. Ooh maybe she will speak English and I could ask about the weather. Or something else. I cleared my throat, ready.
“Drei und zwanzig Euro bitte.”
Sigh. No point.
And then suddenly there appeared around the counter an old couple, obviously tourists. A soprano voice rang out,“ What time does the shop close?”
Desperation won the day.
Later, I did meet Berliners who spoke flawless English and became great friends. But that day at the supermarket was an eye opener to a tech lover like me. Whoever said that in these days of mobile phones and internet, one does not require human touch to survive needed to get his head examined.
It was then that it struck me. No man is an island. Is it natural to just talk to a phone? To type endless messages in the chat window? To just write emails all day or order groceries online, or buy things off of ebay? The need to see people, hear them breathe, feel the swish of fabric as they walk past you, is very strong and very real.
To see sunshine on faces and hear familiar tones of voices.
All so essential for the survival of sanity.