Monday July 16, 2012
On the street where I live
SAMBAL ON THE SIDE
By BRENDA BENEDICT
City life is sitting well with our writer so far. Itís a matter of getting acclimatised to less birdsong and trees, and more street sounds and action.
ITíS BEEN two weeks since we moved to the city and Iím getting used to one of two exclamations whenever I mention the street on which I live.
Itís either: ďOh my goodness, you live just down the street from the best ice cream parlour in the whole of Frankfurt! Itís never emptyÖ well, except for when the owner goes off on holiday. Mensch, wie toll! (Man, how great!)Ē
Or: ďOh my goodness, you live beside the best Greek restaurant in the whole of Frankfurt! Ja, it is pricier than the others but the food is kŲstlich (divine)! Mensch, wie toll!Ē
My prognosis is that the street on which I live seems to be where the life is. From the underground line that runs right under our noses to the two hospitals and the police station within close range, it means that this is a part of the city that, quite simply, never sleeps. If itís not the rumble of the trains, itís the blaring of sirens or the tooting of horns. Thank God for triple glazed windows.
And yet my husband and I seem to be walking with a spring in our step. It could simply be the whole euphoria of moving somewhere new, which could well dip, and which youíd eventually read about here. Or it could be because our daily commute has been made that much simpler.
Since we moved here, Iíve yet to see my car. No, itís not been nicked. Itís just that given the limited parking spaces in the city, it has been parked somewhere alongside the Frankfurt Main Cemetery. Yes, we also live within reach of that as well as the Main Library.
Meanwhile, Iím now in travel heaven. No more waking up at 6am to be on time for an 8am lecture. Sure, Iím still trying to commit to memory the vast maze of suburban and underground train, as well as bus and tram, lines that ply every corner of the city.
You also feel like a contestant of The Amazing Race when working your way through the labyrinthine Frankfurt Main Station while dodging other hurrying commuters as well as gypsies begging for money. The Husband found himself on occasion in trains heading in the opposite direction or worse still, back to our old home.
Iíve also become very alert when walking on pathways shared by both pedestrians and cyclists. Given that it is now the height of summer, there are even more cyclists zipping around. On that token, bicycle owners must also practise vigilance, as Frankfurt is apparently notorious for bicycle theft.
There are also flip sides to everything being within walking distance. While I foresee toned upper arms as a result of heaving heavy shopping bags, items that are too heavy (like say a crate of water) can be burdensome. Parking illegally to merely load your car boot could result in you getting a ticket if youíre unlucky. Besides, itís too choc-a-bloc to even park illegally anyway. Since I cannot bring myself to buy a trundle cart as used by most aunties here, such chores would have to wait until The Husband is home and free.
Finally, being a city of many expats means that the weekends here can be pretty quiet, unless of course there are special events happening. As I write this, cyclists vying to be crowned Iron Man 2012 are whizzing past the cross junction.
Criticisms in online forums are sometimes not so forgiving. One described Frankfurt as ďa small city at the end of a very long runway.Ē Another referred to a quote by British writer, comedian and actor Frank Skinner, who is also known for having collaborated in the football song, Three Lions (Footballís Coming Home).
When once asked about his worst travel experience, he was quoted as saying: ďUntil youíve had a long weekend in Frankfurt, you donít know what a long weekend really is.Ē
I guess it depends on what you fancy Ė and also what youíre open to learning about. Museum buffs (like yours truly), for instance, would have a field day here, just as the arts and nature lovers would.
Besides, this was where I used to ďescape toĒ when I first moved here because it reminded me of the bustle of Kuala Lumpur. Like in any other city, it pays to be street smart.
And so Frankfurt continues to grow on me Ė warts and all.
● Brenda Benedict is a Malaysian living in Frankfurt. She hasnít tried the renowned ice cream or Greek food yet.