Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Another brick in the wall

Act I(Travel plan and design)

When my brother and his family of three visited us in Amsterdam, touring  just in the city was not the main activity .We were also planning to see some other countries , or any city which we haven’t  seen/traveled before .
So one day during  our end of the day activities,(which always consists of lots of cholesterol and distilled spring water from Scotland!), we decided to go to Berlin.
Berlin. A city where the Right brawled with the left,  the tyrant stink spread during the war , Red battled with the blue ,the cold wall in the midst..
A city not to be left out.
So we decided , yes, let us all go to Berlin. So we were 5 from my side and 3 from my brother’s side , summing up to 8 people . And I have a 7 seater , Opel.
2 in the front, 3 in the middle and 2 in the back(for kids, as a thumb rule!)
8 people. 7 seats.

Houston! We have a one seat short! Are we ready to set off?
The morning  before we left , I took two pillows,  jammed between the last two seats and put a heavy blanket on the seat, so that , from a distance it looks like a Maharaja’s diwan!
(I even covered the seat belts , so that my car itself had a Royal look!)
We started off and in one hour I could hear my son asking , Dad when are we going to reach and when I looked through the rear view mirror, it was from the one in the middle (the pillow seat! )
Throughout the journey, the same question was asked by all the three kids , which means one of them was having the Diwan trouble!
When I saw any 8/9 seater rented car on the road, I just gave myself a grin and said.. No one knows how to cope up with the economical strategy of travelling !
Reached Berlin , spend a day there. On the day back to Amsterdam, we thought , how about a drive to the German-Polish Border and visiting the nearest town at the border. We figured out that it is a town called Kostrzyn , but we wanted to visit a little more bigger city. So we thought of going to Poznan.
Like always, the “7 seater opel Zafira” aka “8 seater Tharian Stuffira” was ready to steer.
The kids were jumping in the back, listening to some good music, and the sun shined on the metal.
Perfect pix .
Suddenly a Police car overtook us . I just said, kids be careful. Don’t jump.
I was just one minute late to tell that.
I could see they put the lights on  and the sentence “follow” in German. Well “to follow” in German or Tulu or Chinese , we don’t need the alphabets. All we need is a police car and  sudden flashing lights !
We followed them to the nearest gas station.
Unlike in US, here in Europe we follow the police! There the Police follows you and in India we follow no one  ;)
Act II (Highway and gas station)                                                                         

The music was still going good. The singer was telling “ Such a beautiful day and everything seems to be fine”. The singer became my greatest enemy at that moment!
Cops came . Rolled down my window. Said something in German. I smiled.(Luckily I spend an extra 3 minutes for that day brushing).
I gave my license. Everything looks good. Asked my papers. Checked it .
And then I saw , his eyebrows just went like the Amsterdam bridge. He checked the car , the paper , the car and I knew the singer was wrong! . Hated that singer even more!
He peeped inside. There in the Diwan, the three kids, (with no seat belts and no child seat)  gave a big smile. They were so happy to see the German police this close.
And he said to me( in English).. ''Hmm no belts.. no child seat...
You are finished !  ''( I think he was trying to translate his German, like , you are in trouble!)
My wife thought “ If my husband is finished, who is going to drive us back !”
The cop asked me , so how many seats does this car have. I said 8.  He said something in German to his colleague. I think he said something like” I never knew Opel makes 8 seater Zafira for the Dutch people!  Damn Dutch!”.
The cop asked me to step out and open the hatch door. I opened . Some stuff fell out and there , these two German cops saw the most funniest thing after Mr.Bean’s car.
Two seats .Two normal seat and in the middle space , a pillow trying it’s best to come out between that space!
I didn’t hear their laugh! But actually I felt like laughing!
He said, ''hmm.. Now you are not only finished, you are in Big trouble.''
He said , ''two offense, one, the kids not having proper safety and another having an extra kid in the back seat.''
I think he also wanted to tell , “  and you insulted a German Car company with some local pillow !''   ;)
So I asked him , what to do now. He said, you can call a taxi from the nearest  town , go there, buy the car seat  and the kids have to go in the cab as well to the town.
Which means I have to tell the cab driver to get two child seats too!
Nearest town! We were in the middle of nowhere! Even Santa doesn’t come to this place, and the cops expect me to get a cab!
He said “The nearest  town is 10 km from here(lucky me, we were only 10 km from the border!). Since it is Sunday, the chances are very low for the shops to be open. But first let me finish off the paper work and the penalty procedure.”
I walked to the station with them.
Act III.( Inside the station) 

One guy was looking at the rule manual and it took him some time to see the rule “where the owner  changed the number of seat to more!”  And they have rule for that!!  So I am not the first guy who did this!!
 Another Cop was seeing the TV program . If you watch that program for 10 minutes, you will curse the man who invented TV!  And my cop( oh yes! Now he is mine!) , opened his computer.
He asked me ..So where were you heading to( in his broken English) and I said Poznan. And he asked where are you from, I said Amsterdam and he asked  , so what is in Poznan and I said, “well Just want to see the town for 10 minutes  and have a coffee”
He looked at me so astonished , as if he just saw a Martian in brown color.” You drove all the way from Amsterdam just to see Poznan for 10 minutes and a coffee!''
I couldn't control my laughter. But the actor inside me was so serious.
“No.. No .. We were in Berlin yesterday and today while going back to Amsterdam, we thought of seeing Poznan.''
So he understood. We have a communication problem here rather than the 8 seat problem!
After some time , he showed me something on the screen. I checked and it was in German! And next to it, in another window , the Dutch translation of the German sentence!
Ha ha ha ! Now this is too much! I still held my laughter!
This cop had gone to Google translation and wanted me to understand clearly, what he meant!
So he was trying to translate the German sentence  to Dutch.  Looking at the Dutch sentence , I actually wanted to tell him, “Please open another window, so that I can translate this Dutch to English !”
Anyway, since his German was also poor, the sentences were very short , so Google was ok!
My friend came inside. Germans were talking in German, we were talking in Malayalam, and on TV nobody knew what language he was talking !
Finally “my cop”  said, well the main concern is the safety of the kids.(using computer/translation). Because if he tried to speak, he might say something and I might think he is more concerned about the safety of ‘his’ kids because of ‘my’ driving !
He said he also has a kid, the cop who is watching the TV also has kids, the cop who is writing the penalty also has kids.
My friend, who is still a  bachelor is the only person now left out in that room! ;)
4 fathers. One Bachelor All four of us thought. Lucky bachelor! ;)
The penalty came up to 80 Eur. Luckily he didn’t try to translate 80 Eur.
My cop typed in his computer, “Shall I call the cab?.”
The TV cop called the Cab  agency. He said something. My cop wrote that on the computer and  Google translated.
I read and tried to translate it to English/Malayalam. The price is 40 Eur for the cab from the town and back.
I started to act. I said, My god! 40 Eur. I nodded and my expression was like .. “If I pay that , what am I going to do with the mortgage for this month!!” ( I need to act in these kind of situations!).
So I was like , looking here and there , down and up.
So now all the eyes were on me plus the guy’s ear who is on the other side of the phone.
It was like the last scene of a Manoj Shymalan Movie. No one knows what is going to happen.
I have to say a yes. So my friend was about to tell “Ok”
I said, “buddy try to act as the 40 Eur is like 4000 Eur. So we both were like amithab-dharmendra, Sharukh-Salman, nazir-madhu , Mel-Danny, ..
Finally , I said with a deep breath.. “Ok. Please..”   ( I could hear ..”And the Oscar goes to ..”)
So we have a 80 Eur penalty. I opened my wallet. I took 70 Eur and I told my friend.. Anyway we've got penalty, let us finish off the weight in our wallet. So we took all the possible change.
Like 50 cents, 20 cents, 10 cents.. Finally we gave him like a handful of money  with lot of clinging sound!
I came out and went to the car. Kids were still excited. They not only saw the German police so close by, but also had the chance to touch German police cars !!!
I came and said , we got a penalty of 80 eur and my wife said. Only 80! Wow! Wow!  I thought it will be like 450!
What ? She never thought of my job promotion, she never thought of my favorite food, she never thought of the color of my underwear.. and here at the polish border she thought of 450 Eur!
Lucky Bachelor!
For a moment I wanted to tell her “ please go inside and watch that TV show for some time. Your mind will get little more clear! “
Now we were waiting for the cab.
So the plan was , My friend and two kids would go to the nearest town. (provided the car will have two car seats). We will follow them to the town. Go to the Railway station. From there they will take the train to Berlin.  Then ,We would go by my car to Berlin.  And From Berlin , either “we all” go together  to Amsterdam(650+ km on German road) or they take the train to Amsterdam.
So our thoughts were all on...... 650+km on German highway.
I was picturizing,
a radio wave about 8 seater in a 7 seater opel , dutch registration.  5 police cars chasing. I am at full speed. The radio still singing the same song. Kids getting more excited..  Now 5 police cars..wow!''
I don’t want anyone to get any more excited!
The cab came. Coincidentally , another Opel Zafira!  The only difference was that ,it had no Diwan. ;)
For my eldest son , the car seat was merely a thermocol piece seat and for my second son it was a proper car seat. When we saw the thermocol piece, we just asked the cab driver whether we can buy it from him. We asked him the price and he said 15 ( which only costs 5 or 6 in the shop) and we said Yes!  (The cab driver, thanking the person whom he saw first, that day.. for his lottery.)
So now the plan changed. I can get one more kid in my car! ( which saves a train ticket!).
I just asked him how much it would cost for the cab drive to Berlin and out of joy he said 120 and we said YES!
Another lottery for him. (later we came to know it will be at least 200 Eur from there to Berlin). I think the cab driver, out of excitement , said 120!
(later ,he  must have cursed  the person who he saw  first , that day !)
So now we saved two train tickets from the nearby town to Berlin( If there is a train) and the most important,  the Time. Because we had to go back to Berlin now .So Poland was cancelled.
Actually we wanted to go to Sauchensen Concentration Camp near Berlin. But if I ask the cab driver to drop us there ..that will be too much !  ;)
Now my second son was transferred to the new car/car seat. My friend went along.
(The previous day , we were at Check point Charley in Berlin where the US and USSR used to exchange spies during the cold war.)
And now my second son thought “ Oh my , was I a spy.. I never knew.. and they are transferring me. At the border. Is this the Tharian check point!”

So now, two Opel Zafira going back to Berlin. We went to the camp. My friend and my second son went to Berlin and then to Amsterdam by train . They reached at 10.30 p.m and we reached at 02.00 early in the morning.My friend had made some nice dish and also another friend of ours had brought some Biriyani for us.
Had food.
My second son saw me the next day and he still couldn’t believe that he was at the same old house.
Maybe he is thinking  that he is a double agent!
And I was humming,  “All in all it was all just bricks in the wall......”


Madhu said...

Nice one ! Especially the Act 3 !!

Madhu said...

Ha ha ha ..:)
Germans were talking in German, we were talking in Malayalam, and on TV nobody knew what language he was talking !

Nick The Schemer said...

Good one Knobz! Guess we can always expect something interesting to happen when you are around! Well written.

SathishSastry said...

Thank god, I read this when I am at home! I was laughing like crazy. Hilarious!

Titto said...

Spent good 10 minutes laughing this morning reading this blog. Keep it up buddy.

123parul said...

Too good!!!!Was laughing out loud reading....

Venu said...

Cool stuff Noby.

$R! said...

Ha ha ha :) - I like the international conversations going around in the station. Thats ultimate.

Super - keep blogging!!!

vava said...

broerr...like it , like it...

Anil said...

When is your next trip? :-) Nicely written.. Feels nice to laugh about it now, but can imagine the state you would've been at that time...

Soney said...

Haha HA Kidillum writing... keep posting!!!

ROSY said...

noby,really good presentation.I felt I was near the polish border again you must have thought you sister- in- law was quite brave when those policemen came Did'nt want to admit,but i was practically terrified and if u knew it, u would have had to change the title of the blog to " Another brick in my
sister-in-law's pants"

Jayaprakash said...

hey knobs, when u r in town and in action(all the time), we can expect something nice to read out ur experiences. :) keep traveling, keep writing, but this time not with Zafira :))

Binu said...

super duper kollam story macha.....

Muthu said...

Rolling on the floor, clutching my sides and three little girls (two brats of my womb and one in number niece) totally gobsmacked. The fat one's gone dotty and is heading for the loony bin for sure this time is the expression on their faces!! Thanks old boy....keep writing!!

Renju said...

Machaa... Adipoli...Wish I was also there with u guys..so that we cud have doubled the penalty...
Iniyengilum oru baliya vandi vaangedo manushyene....

Dibin Das said...

LOL!!!, good 10 minutes read.. loved it..