It was early 2014 when I first had a discussion with my colleague to join the project in Munich. I heard it is a challenging project and was known for escalations. I had some really nice and relaxing time with some good people for about 5 years. May be that’s why I thought to have a change and try to move to other side. I had this feeling always that I may not like this idea, once it becomes a reality. But, that is true with almost every change, isn’t it?
This discussion restarted again in April. After multiple iterations it was finalized by end of June. It took 3 more months just to get allocated to project and travel to Munich. All things that happened in between, gave a feeling that I am forcing my way to reach the destination. It was like digging a tunnel to reach the other side, because someone has blocked the normal road. Every step had its challenges. It also may be was a hint why this project is in mess; that is another topic though. Finally, after all the hurdles were crossed, I landed in Munich in the beginning of October. I have spent a month now in this city and thought to reflect on my experience and feelings about the time here.
Coming from Basel (Switzerland) and my small town in India(Khanna), the 1st experience was the size of the city. It took me about an hour to reach my address from airport in taxi. A lot of traffic, vehicles, slow moving highway was a very welcome sight. I could see big shops, office buildings, rising towers, Allianz Arena (FC Bayern football stadium) on my way. All the signs of big city showing that there is a lot of work here. People have means to earn. For me it meant, fast life, long travel times, less personal time. It gives you a reason to think how to find that personal space for yourself.
The city gives various means of public transports. It has Underground, trams, S-bahn, BOB, Bus network, and local trains. They are supported by local taxis, private cars to keep the automotive and petroleum industry going. The big travel distance was very helpful for me. There was not much time left for exercise in the day, due to long travel and working hours. Running behind Bus, U-Bahn and trams gave me an interesting way to keep me fit.
House search is also a fun activity here. It may be the case in other places too, but I cannot speak about those from my experience. It is like a puzzle game to solve, mixed with physical activity. Identify your limits for distance of travel, amount of money, requirements of house, locality etc. Once you have made your list, you start searching. Every search makes you realize you need to change some of the requirements and adjust your parameters. It is made even interesting by the fact that you do not know, if you would get the apartment, even if you like it. The house owner/agency collects the application from all interested parties. Then it puts all those applications in a magical box. It does a big data crunching using Google, Amazon, Microsoft’s cloud computing engines to find out who will get it. The formula of this processing engine is not known. I am sure as a reader you would have guessed that applicants knowing this process has also applied in other houses and waiting for results. When one house owner declares that applicant “A” will get the apartment, there are high chances that Mr/Ms “A” has signed/selected another apartment. Now the fun begins again from the starting. It is a really beautiful way of keep people engaged. One need to align with the idea, only then one can really enjoy this game. I was unlucky and got out of the game quickly in 4th week. I just had to send my interest to about 60-70 advertisement, got response from about 10, went to see 6 apartments and got 1. That happened when I changed some of my conditions, alas!
General acceptance from people to outsiders (I am talking about me) is also very warming. I am not ignored when I am walking on the streets or sitting on a bench waiting for bus or tram. People look at me. Some are so warm hearted that when I am walking, they take the pain to keep focus on me even if they have to turn their heads. e.g. I was walking to my bank last week to make the deposit to my account. 3 ladies were sitting on a bench. They were so good that one of them looked at me, “smiled” and also poked the next one. By that time I had noticed the movement from corner of my eyes. 2nd lady quickly turned 180 degree to show her interest. 3rd joined soon. They kept looking at me till I was 50m away from them. I also noticed this while travelling in U-bahn (underground) or other public transports. Despite the busy lines and crowd, people were so respectful to provide space to sit. This was especially, when I am sitting on a seat of 4. People will take the pain to stand and make sure that I have enough space for my-self not to feel suffocated. Once I even noticed that I was sitting on seat of 4 with one more person facing me. In opposite lane in other set of 4, some people were sitting. A stop came and only 1 person was left on the other side. The person sitting with me immediately moved to other side to give my space. How kind of him!
Living cost is also an interesting factor here. Lots of people told me that things are cheap here, especially food and daily living items. I am yet to see that side of the city. I have eaten at lots of places already, thanks to the travels that I had to do during house search. I liked the food and variety this city provides. Bakeries are in abandon here. One can find a bakery at every corner. I happened to come across some very local, home-made bakeries also. Cakes and coffee at those places are simply yummy. Coming back to costs, I still do not know if I can call it cheap. I think I have already spent almost my monthly salary here. As I had to pay fees for apartment deposit, rent, agency fees etc. All including, I had to transfer-in amount from other accounts to enable the payment. May be I am simply not earning enough or doing some wrong things. I should be able to find in coming months.
Being a big city, it offers lots of activities also. I am part of some groups already and have participated in some meetings and events. I found people friendly here and willing to interact and share experiences. I need to slowly find out which activities will fit with my dynamic work schedule. It includes finding and joining a Badminton, Tennis and swimming club as well. I know there are places. But now, as I have an apartment, I need to start the search for nearby places. This would be made easy once I get my bike/cycle. I am looking forward to that in coming months.
Whatever may be the city, however one thing an individual carry to the city itself. That is his/her smile. That smile can change the outlook of the city as the person perceive it.
Paddy lurches out of the pub and bumps straight into Father Murphy, the village priest.
“Patrick,” says the priest, “I am so sorry to see you come out of such a place as that!”
“Well, then,” says Paddy, turning around, “I will go right back.”