Author: Agnieszka Paletta
Title: Doing Germany
Publication Info: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (2013)
This is a book I idly picked up from a Kindle sale, because I enjoyed travelling to Germany. What a surprise that the author declares early on that she never had any interest in visiting German. As a Polish-Canadian, moving back and forth between the two nations, Paletta’s real love is Italy. She only ends up in Germany after meeting the man she calls M in a Cracow nightclub, falling in love, and deciding to move into his Munich apartment for three months. That three months turns to years as the couple are engaged, married, do a lot of house shopping, and have a child. Along the way, Paletta records the cultural adjustments of living in Germany. Her stories are episodic, a bit gossipy in tone, and she seems unusually wed to traditional gender stereotypes. I could offer criticisms, but forget that. Everyone thinks that they can write a book about their travels and life abroad, but few do, so good for her. And Agnieszka seems like a fun person who’d I’d like to hang out with, perhaps to go dancing. So it’s a breezy travel/memoir/life adventure story, and I’ll leave at that.
“I can also relate to keeping one’s roots and traditions alive and not changing your culture just because you’ve changed borders. Canada is great that way – it promotes multiculturalism. Germany is more like the US: once you cross the border, you’re expected to drop everything and mould yourself into a citizen of your new homeland.”
“Unlike on that typical bike, you don’t sit leaning forward; you sit up like a lady, much like in a chair. Therefore, you don’t crane your neck to look up; your head is as God meant it to be – straight on. It makes cycling dignified and comfortable.”
“M tells me it’s impolite to stare and talk to strangers here. You don’t ask how their day is going, how they are feeling. Basically, you don’t intrude because it’s none of your business. So like, they’re not trying to be rude or cold, but polite. They say good morning or God bless you but not how are you – that’s a private matter and none of their business.” (Note from Liam: this is probably why I like Germany. They follow the same rules as Bostonians).
Recommended books: My ‘Dam Life by Sean Condon