Saturday, February 13, 2010

A question too far?

Several months ago I had a bizarre telephone conversation with a German who, as far as I can remember wanted to ask me about my opinion of living in the city of Essen.

Fast forward to this year and another odd German phone call, wanting to follow up the questionaire with some more in depth questions, the appointment was made and was Thursday...

He was very punctual, turning up bang on the dot of 4pm as arranged, the dog was very pleased, Logan loves visitors.

The questionaire was all about how people who live here, be they native Germans or migrants from another country, view life and their integration (that of the migrants) in Germany.

It took us 50 minutes to get through the whole thing, he'd said it'd only take 30, but that's probably with people whose German is better than mine, I had to translate some of the silly big words (they do love to 'glue' 2 or 3 words together whenever possible) so I guess that slowed us down.

The questions covered the basics such as our nationality, my parents' nationality, marital status and all that other standard guff (and they always have that one at the end wanting to know what the monthly household income is - I always refuse to answer, why should they know that?)
Then there was;

- do I have a German passport
- no, of course not, I'm British
- if you could adopt German nationality would I?
- no again, I'm British and I like having a queen
- what religion are you?
- he didn't have a box marked 'atheist' unfortunately
- did I think that just teaching kids about christianity in school was fair?
- no
- did I think everyone should be able to believe in their own religion?
- of course, if someone wants to believe there's a teapot in the sky, fine by me
- has anyone ever treated me differently because I'm not German?
- so I told him about the woman who called from his office before he did, who was a right snotty cow (shame I didn't know the Deutsch for snotty cow) & the uppity doctor's receptionist from this week (but she might be horrible to everyone) and the mad woman from the bakers up the road who ALWAYS mishears our order (but it's possible she's deaf)
- what language do I talk to different friends in?
- kind of depends on what nationality they are doesn't it...
- what language do we access newspapers/magazines/TV/internet in?
- English - 'cos your TV's crap (I restrained myself from saying that...)
- where do I feel most at home?
- that'd be here, in my home, durrrrrr
- how much do I enjoy living here?
- very much
- do we plan to live here for ever and ever and ever?
- I pointed out that somewhere warmer might appeal when work is no longer an issue (after all we do have snow on the ground again and it has been minus 4 all day)
- are Christians treated differently to Moslems?
- had to say 'don't know' as I personally haven't witnessed anything, although I would imagine yes.
- should migrants congregate or would it aid integration if they didn't?
- better for integration if they don't congregate but safety in numbers and all that!

So that should give you a feel for the grilling I got, it was fun in a way and a great way to practice my German, which I need at the moment seeing as my teacher has skived off to sunny San Francisco for 3 whole weeks, she really will do anything to avoid Rosamontag and the enforced jollity of Karneval.

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