Monday, November 9, 2009

its friday it must be bookgroup (BG)

The first friday of every month is the our English bookgroup 'meeting'. A group of English speaking mostly expats (a German native sneaks in now and then - they don't last long because we have a really BAD habit of using BG as a forum for sounding off about everything that is German that annoys us...) as I was saying, mostly expats, mostly women (I'm sure men do read books but maybe they just don't like to talk about them?) we get together the first friday of every month to discuss the book we agreed to read last month, put the world to rights and consume as much red wine in as short a period of time as possible...

So this Friday we were 2 Ozzies, 1 German, 2 Yanks, 3 Brits and 1 Indian (the token male), the book we'd read was 'The Little Stranger' by Sarah Waters, a ghost story. We actually managed a halfway decent discussion about the book too, which doesn't always happen - we are always hindered by the fact that you can guarantee that we haven't all read the book, this time 3 of us had and 1 was almost finished (same old story Rebecca!) 3 had a very good excuse that they were new to us though.

But the reading and discussing of a book is only really a reason for meeting, it is more about the social aspect, being in a group of people who think and speak in the same language as you at the same speed that you do and who often share the same cultural references - 2 instances made very clear on Friday...

1. at 11 o'clock on November 11 Remembrance day is observed in the 'Commonwealth of Nations' We remember those who have died in wars around the world but also specifically the first world war. To those of us expats who grew up in the countries that observe 2 minutes silence at 11am it is an important day, it's part of who we are and how we were brought up.
In Germany November 11 marks the beginning of 'Karneval' (the time the Germans are allowed to go officially crazy and enjoy themselves).
As you can imagine, Kanreval and Remembrance Day don't sit very well together but the Germans say that they don't feel that they can remember the fallen without maybe offending the Jewish community and also that the Karneval date does predate WWI...
However, even with this in mind 1 Ozzie and the 1 German certainly had a very heated 'debate' abouth 11/11...the rest of us sat and watched!

and the second cutural difference...

2. spicy food, and the lack of.
Germans love currywurst, but you know what currywurst is? 1 large sausage sliced, smothered in an innocuous tomato-ey sauce and heavily sprinkled with paprika. Now I love currywurst, but curry it's not.
I, and most of the expats are used to curry that is spicy and hot and full of flavour...which you just don't get here. Kamesh being Indian is used to very spicy curry and treated his new German colleagues to a homemade curry night - he had to dilute it down with so much yoghurt for them that it was almost unpalatable to him, they thought it was wonderful and felt so adventurous...I think next time he's going to forget the yoghurt & see if he can blow the tops of their heads off!

So back to the rest of the evening, I recall a bit of hair tossing (can't remember how we got onto that - I blame the tempranillo) and I also remember claiming to have 'had' David Beckham before Posh was a response to a comment about the shortness of my hair/Posh style-ee, it must have been in context as the comment went down well at the time...

I got home sometime after midnight so I'm lucky I hadn't turned into a pumpkin and am also lucky not to have had a hangover in the morning - clearly managed to drink enough water before getting into my bed!


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