Oct 14, 2008

Munich II

Marat is a German-born citizen of Turkish descent. We got in touch with him via http://www.couchsurfing.com/. (In German, you say that “boont com” and you throw your hands out in front of you when you say “boont” like you are setting the dot in mid-air) Looking for Marat in Munich, he was the second person we approached. He was heading home from work and wanted us to jump on the train (subway) with him and leave our luggage overnight back in the Central Station lockers. Interesting. Overnight without my toiletries or a change of clothes? A second night sleeping in these clothes and then a third day wearing these clothes? What the heck. OK! We jumped on the train.
Marat proved to be a wonderful person and his English was very good. After we rested, he drove us to a place for an authentic Bavarian meal. I had the world’s largest hunk of meat with a Ka-noodle (sp??). The Kanoodle looked like a scoop of mashed potatoes, but was rubbery, gooey, very yummy, if you can tolerate it’s consistency.

Over dinner, we discussed politics with Marat and compared countries. I was surprised to learn that Germany is very interested in our presidential campaign. Intellectually, I knew the US leads the world in many ways, but I always thought that was pompous and perhaps incorrect. Marat confirmed: As goes the US, so goes the world. O’bama and McCain are usually front page news right now.
Here are the things about Germany’s government I found especially interesting.

1. No more immigration allowed, except for those who marry German citizens and they havce to know the German language before they can enter.

2. Nobody can own a gun and both their rape and homicide rates are a lot lower than ours.

3. You can get one year on unemployment, then the government will force you to move into their housing, abide by very strict guidelines and receive a very small amount of money. There aren’t many, if any, homeless. I haven’t seen any at all. The government confiscates them and it is as if they become government property until they get a job and work.

4. Healthcare. 15% of your gross salary goes to health insurance before you even see it. 6.5% is withheld from your check and 6.5% is matched by your employer. While America is all about personal freedom and I’ve always been a big believer of it, I have to admit Germany’s program seems to be working great. It probably won’t be so great when government corruption creeps in or a loony tyrant, but Marat insists that won’t happen – Germany learns from it’s mistakes.

We taught Marat one thing: the phrase “rip off.” He used that phrase and he was confused. Once we explained it, he loved it and used it. I’m so proud.

We fell asleep on Marat’s couch fairly early. The jet lag took it’s toll. Sometime in the night, I awoke to find myself astonished to be sleeping on the couch of a total stranger and I marveled at my Chutzpah. Then, with newfound respect, it came to me that Uncle Moose invented couch surfing. And I nodded back to sleep with visions of Uncle Moose, Patron Saint of couch surfing, sleeping on my couch ten years ago. --Gnarly, dude!


Anonymous said...

From the looks of Tom’s “beer” belly I think you guys are enjoying the food way too much. How about some larger pictures of Cousin Barb. No mention of Starbucks – any in Germany?

Anonymous said...

I must be totally out of it, I had not idea y'all were staying with people you didn't know?! WOW!! I'm impressed! Hope you're having fun!

Anonymous said...

HEY careful about the comment about beer bellies. I think Toms belly is just perfect. If you saw me in person (or a picture of me) you would understand why I feel that way.