When I lived in DC, I met a very nice British couple and when I invited them to a party at our house (a St Patrick’s Day party no less), the husband said “I’ll be in Blighty”. At the time, I had no idea what Blighty meant and so I googled it. Turns out it’s the name for Britain which was originally used by British Soldiers stationed in India who were trying to say bilāyatī (meaning Britain).
We’re back in Blighty after our wonderful week in Germany. Germany is so beautiful and what’s not to love: beer, no speed limit on the autobahn, lots of green open spaces, castles, snowy alps, beautiful cities and everything is very clean. Although my German language skills are lacking, I did remember the most important phrase “Weißwein ~ trocken, bitte”
Having lived in Germany for many years, there are several cultural behaviors I’ve observed that still make me chuckle. Just as I know people chuckle (or worse) when I commit typical American actions. Germans, for the most part, don’t have a lot of concern for personal space and I have a need for more personal space than most people. It took me awhile to get use to that aspect of living in Germany. The other is standing in line ~ not something most Germans do willingly. I learned early on to guard my spot in line ~ no daylight allowed between me and the person in front of me. Once I had an older woman in the Aldi store bump me with her grocery cart from behind. I think she was hoping I’d step out of line so she could jump ahead, but after the third bump, without looking back, I put my foot on the front bottom part of her cart and pushed as hard as I could. Finally, she stopped bumping me with that blasted cart.
The other day, when we got to the Easy Jet check-in counter at the Munich airport, the desk wasn’t open yet but a line was already forming. Logan and I left John with the luggage (3 bags) and we went to get juice. We were gone about 5 minutes and came back to see the desk was open but John was further back in the line than when we left him. When I asked John what happened, he laughed and said he was too slow moving the bags forward so people just moved in front of him rather than wait until he moved the bags. Never would that happen in the UK where queueing is an art form and rigidly adhered to ~ if someone dares to jump the line, they’ll no doubt be chastised.
I make these observations, not as a critique of the Germans, but because the customary actions made us feel even more comfortable being back there. Just as we feel comfortable being back in Blighty where we know what’s the expected behavior. Or as the saying goes “When in Rome…”