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In Germany, do as the Germans do

For every person who wants to visit or live in Germany, it is necessary to understand the socially accepted norms of behaviour. Here are a few tips, the result of my observation of the country for 24 years:

1. Germans are particular about their time. In India, we have a completely different philosophy of time. They keep everything aside in that slot they give you.

2. Germany is very green conscious. If someone stays as a private guest they expect you to turn off the lights when you don’t require it, that you don’t waste water. Also they maintain their green space -- Germany has the largest green space for public – in a religious manner. Do not cross the lawn diagonally but walk on the path.

3. Managing trash. They very carefully separate the trash before disposal. Never throw trash on the road. It is an offense.

4. Personal questions should be avoided. First of all you should address them with surname - Ms Myer if it is Andrea Myer, Professor Myer if she is a professor and Dr Myer if she is a doctor. Never ask if a person is married or not. Asking age, marital status, political affiliation, monthly salary are all offensive.

5.You are not expected to eat with your hand. Always use cutlery. You are always expected to wish Bon Appetite to others. When you share a table with friends for a meal or coffee, in India, we share the bill without looking at what each person ate. In Germany unless you are ‘invited’ you have to pay for your own bill.

6. In India, you find boys putting hands around shoulders, girls holding hands. That’s just friendship. But in Germany if two people hold hands, it is considered they have an intimate relationship.

7. When you go to a restaurant order only what you can eat. They don’t want natural resources to be wasted.

8. Obey the queue system. They never break queues. Observe the traffic signals.

(Dr Syed Ibrahim is Honorary Consul of Germany for Kerala)

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