Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ikea escapade

I was always fascinated by Ikea furniture. Whenever I visited Germany, I used to make a trip to Ikea atleast once (during some visits even more than that). So the natural choice for furniture shopping when I had to furnish my newly rented apartment in Germany, without a second thought, was the Swedish trä.

But Ikea had more than just Möbel in store for me this time. Ikea turned a guru for me giving me my first lessons in Germany - about Germany.
  1. Always ask for the process in Germany
  2. Always follow the process in Germany
  3. Have lots and lots of patience in Germany

Day 1, Ikea Ludwigsburg

Logged into the shop as soon as the shutters went up. Chose all needed basic furniture for my apartment which would let us eat, sleep, place my ass on when tired, hide clutter of having clothes around the house and finally a place for my not yet bought flat chested television. It was soon closing time at Ikea when I took out my credit card and headed straight to the counter. The shocking news awaited me there. "Wir nehmen keine Kreditkarte. Nür EC Karte (We don't accept credit cards. Only EC card)". The place where I came from had credit card acceptance even in the tiniest shops. Headed back as the last bus from Ikea would have left in few minutes, leaving me an option to walk for 1hr to reach the nearest railway station. It was too early for me in Germany to own a EC Karte.

This was my first lesson:
Always ask for the process in Germany

Day 2, Ikea Ludwigsburg

Wanted to put an end to our stay in the one-room hotel apartment as soon as possible. It lay in 
the hands of Ikea now. Visited two different ATMs and pulled out all the money I had. Wanted to seal off any possibility of the deal with Ikea not happening today. Had 2 hours in hand. All I had to do was to hand over the money at the counter and place a order for home delivery.

The lady at the counter said. "Wir nehmen Kein Bargeld (cash). Nür EC karte". Holy cow! The shop doesn't want the EURO notes I offered, but wanted only its proprietary electronic form.

Took a while to regain my senses, after which I explained my plight to the lady. The story unfolded. 

In Ikea you choose the furniture you need, go to the warehouse and pull it out on your own, pay for it, take it home. I knew this, but I also knew about an Einkaufs- und BeladeService for 25€ which would privilege me to move straight to the counter and the Ikea guys would pull out the boxes for me. Not bad for 25€ I thought. But this came with an asterisk, which was the show-stopper for me that evening. You need to make the payment for 25€ plus the entire payment for your furniture using EC Karte (because the service is offered by a third-party for Ikea) . That means, No Credit Card. No Cash.

With only an hour left until the shop shuts down, I was left with no option but kick off this service and pull out the giant boxes on my own. It took me exactly an hour to bring all the stuff to the counter in 3 trolleys back to back. The message was at the counter:

Always follow the process in Germany

Day 3, Ikea Ludwigsburg

My wish of not having to visit Ikea for a long time was cut short when I had a look at the Ikea bill. They billed a bed I ordered, twice. With no money left in my bank accounts, this money was my only source that would help me and family survive till month end. At the Ikea service counter again and I get my further lessons.

"The bed you ordered would be delivered at your apartment (yes! the two beds). Inform the driver that you want only one. Make a protocol with him and get it signed. The driver would bring the extra bed back to Ikea. Visit Ikea again a week later with the protocol and you could have your money."

Have lots and lots of patience in Germany

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The !ncredible pain of giving birth

The digital sticks on my clock says it is 23:04. My dinner is getting ready in the small kitchen of my hotel room. 

The water just broke few minutes back....

I kept the phone down after a long chat with one of my close friends. We talked about my apartment hunting, German tax system, terrorism in India (post the 26/11 Mumbai attacks), the education system in India (can be compared to terrorism to some extend) and many other topics. And then.... in between these, he infected me with this idea of starting a blog. No, he didn't tell me to start a blog.

I knew the word blog from the time it started. I always wanted to have a blog of my own. But never had the courage to start one. What do I write, who will read it. Just today I realised that a blog could have a different meaning. I needn't write it to educate someone, I needn't write it for someone to really read it. I will write to for myself. I will write it for myself to read and reflect.

My friend, who I was talking to, made this point that I should capture these new moments in my life. The new phase that I chose. The new deal I opened with Germany by relocating to Merkel's land. Yes, this was the moment I was waiting for. An eDiary. And I have now enough reasons to buy one, with all the new experiences I am going through.

And finally the water broke... after many years of pregnancy.