5 ways to #minga

Sitting on the Dubai airport floor, I hit jackpot and found something of immense value for free- Wifi. I logged in and the first thing I did was to change my 'current city' on Facebook from 'New Delhi' to 'Munich'. It was only after, that I messaged my husband about sitting on the gate for my connecting flight to him. 

That was almost 5 years ago. In these 5 years life has changed in innumerable ways. I possibly can't list all the changes but here are the top 5 things I realised. The ways in which Minga changed me.

1. Exercise can be free. From going to paid yoga classes and a yearly subscription at the gym, I graduated to free exercise- walking. In this city, almost everyone walks. From home to the grocery store (there aren't any free home delivery stores here like we had back home, not without a minimum order atleast) from there to the Ubahn station, from Ubahn station to the Tram stop, from there to the Bus, from Sendinger Tor to Marienplatz.... one just walks. Those who have difficulty walking use adult walkers that allows them to rest when they are tired but still they walk!

The intensity of the-walking-love dawned upon me when in my early days here, I asked a German neighbor if she would like to go for a coffee date with me. She refused. Point blank. She said 'No' but we can go for a walk instead!!!!!!

Waking is free+Walking is an exercise= free exercise. So now I save money every month!! That's how I #minga.

2. Honesty ≠ rudeness. After my encounter with my neighbor, I stopped asking people out on coffee dates, I asked them out on walks instead. It was cheaper and healthier but that wasn't the only thing I learnt from my neighbor. 

One day I baked an Apple cinnamon cake and decided to share a slice with her. I sprinkled it with some more cinnamon sugar, added a swirl of chocolate to it. I made it look like a michelin star chef had baked it. I knocked on her door and smiled the brightest when I offered her the slice of pure heaven. She looked at the plate, then looked at me and said 'No'!!!! Yet another no. She added later that she was on a diet but that didn't mean she could be rude, I thought. I turned around with a red embarrassed/hurt/angry face and thought that truly Germans were the rudest race. 

I was WRONG!!! In time I learn that they were honest, brutally honest and that is so much better than sugar coated sweetness. Would it have been better if she had taken the cake and dumped it in the dustbin because of her diet? Instead she made sure that me and my friends enjoyed one more slice. That's how she taught me that honesty is not equal to rudeness. That's how they #minga.

3. When in Germany, do the German. Another story of my early days in Munich- I wanted to bake my first cake and went shopping for the ingredients. I asked the guy at the store for Vanilla several times. I used hands, gestures, talking slowly.. everything that I could think of. I had Google translated the Vanilla to Vanille at home but somehow forgot to end it with an 'E' at the store. The man refused to understand. I came back empty handed that day. 

There isn't much difference between the English and the German name for that bean. Without the sweetness of my cake, the bitter truth became clearer- I couldn't survive in the country without the local language.

BOY, is it a difficult language to master or what! I still haven't mastered it but I have gone from Vanilla bean to Vanilleschote. I can't remember the English word for a kinderwagon, I sometimes confuse between the English Brief and the German one and I have gone from 'Ein Bier' to 'Ich möchte gerne ein Bier haben'. 

That's how I have #minga-ed. 

4. Bier is holier-than-thou. Life was so difficult when I came to this country as a GNT/white wine girl. I didn't have many choices of drinks that were affordable when I went out. Having a Gin and Tonic meant paying for 2 things separately. Buying water was more expensive than buying Beer. What other choice did I have but to convert!! Radler became my saviour. Not purely beer yet acceptable and available everywhere.

I have learnt so much since then. In Germany, Beer is better than medicine. If I were here when I was 16, I didn't have to hide while tasting the beer the way I did back home. When I don't know what to have for breakfast, I always have the choice of having flüssiges Brot (liquid bread/ Beer). While I was still breast-feeding my little angel, someone told me that an alcohol-free Weiss beer would make more milk flow through my glands. And the final blow as to how 'German' I had become over the years was when I asked the nurse in Maistrasse post surgery, "ich habe viel durst, darf ich bitte ein Radler haben?.'(I am very thirsty, may I please have a Radler?) Mind you, I was still partially under the effect of anesthesia when I said this. I had immediately slipped into unconsciousness post uttering my desire. That's how I continued to #minga.

5. A friend from each country. I forgot to mention above- Beer also makes it easier to make friends. And what does Munich/Minga do? It helps by making sure that we can make friends from each country of the world. The diversity within this tiny-big-village is so enriching. Tourists and expats are always in sufficient supply. They are usually open to new friends since they are also trying to form their tribe here.

I always wanted to learn about different cultures, experience their festivals, taste their food, try on their clothes, work with them. Thanks to this city, I could. I could be foreign and yet I could be local. I could be different and yet I could be similar. I could be an Indian and yet in parts I could be German or American or Spanish or Arabic or from whichever country I made friends from. I have made friends on the train station, I have had interesting conversations in cafes, I have connected to people in expat events, I have some locals as friends. 

I am far from having one friend from each country but I know I could there if I wanted to in Munich. That's how Minga #mingas  

By the way, my coffee date-and-cake-refusing-ex-German-neighbor is one of my closest friends now. She truly helped me experience minga.