When I came to Germany two years ago, I was disheartened to see that buying English books was not an easy task. I would keep walking into bookstores, only to realize that they did not keep any English novels.I missed picking up monthly copies of ‘Reader’s Digest’ and reading the English daily over breakfast. It felt very strange to see books all around, but none in the languages I spoke or wrote.(My German is still not strong enough to read novels:( ) Reading news online was one thing, but how could e-papers and e-books substitute the heavenly feel of lazing around for hours with ‘The Sunday Times’ or spending hours in a bookstore deciding which books to read first? Occasionally,I would spot an English newspaper at a Kiosk.But, my excitement would be dampened looking at the price printed on it. I was saddened,depressed and felt handicapped a lot of times.I suppose the first time I got excited finding a whole lot of English books was at the Munich Airport, when I was flying home a year ago. I hadn’t been able to resist buying a copy of ‘Dead Europe‘ then to give me company on the long flight back home.
A few months ago, I moved to Heidelberg. Smitten by the natural beauty, I got around to exploring the city on foot during the first two weeks of my arrival. Hearing a lot of English on the streets was quite surprising! I realized that there were a lot of people from different countries who came to Heidelberg for their studies, research or work. I had already fallen in love with the city as soon as I had arrived though. As soon as I would get off from work in the evenings, I would take the direct bus to Bismarckplatz, and keep walking around.
On one fateful evening, as I was walking along the Hauptstrasse, I suddenly realized I was walking past a bookstore. Hang on!Did I see some English titles staring back at me? I rushed into the store to give shape to my doubts. Voila!There was indeed, an entire rack full of English novels!I couldn’t contain my excitement and expressed my disbelief to the girl at the counter.Whoa!, I thought aloud, I finally found them in Germany! Not surprisingly, I spent the rest of my evening in that store, browsing through all the titles they had and leaving only when they had to close it. That discovery had made my day and I couldn’t have been happier!
Or so I thought until a few days later. I was (as usual) walking around dreamily, past the Schneeball (or ‘Snowball’) selling cafes and stores, when I spotted piles of books kept outside a store. ‘Antiquariat Hatry’, it was called. On going closer, I realized that many of these books were infact old. Ahh, could it be?I stepped inside the store only to find myself lost in a deluge of books of all kinds- old and new, English and German, classics,self-help and modern fiction, to name a few! I couldn’t believe having walked into a huge store which housed innumerable old as well as new books right in the city I lived! By the end of the hour, I was on the floor, buried deep inside an old classic novel , while surrounded by piles of books on all sides. Infact, I got so engrossed that I didn’t even go up the beautiful spiral stairway to explore the store further. I felt the same way as I had on my tenth birthday, when my parents had complied by my wish for getting books as presents, and had greeted me with a huge pile of Enid Blyton‘s ‘Faraway Tree’ collection and other fantasy novels as soon as I was up.It was complete bliss.
Move along a few months. I had been having quite a few difficult days. I was disturbed,low and stressed.Today, in particular, I thought I would be suffocated if I directly went home from work. I wanted to breathe in the fresh air and relax my mind.I wanted to talk to someone to feel lighter, but at the same time, didn’t want to bother any of my friends (who are now in different cities) with my rants. I had no idea what I would do in the city, but went ahead anyways. Strolling past UniversitatsPlatz, I spotted my favourite Gummi Bear shop. I stepped in to buy a small pack of ‘Mango Fruchtgummi’ and then continued to walk back and forth. On my way back, I happened to notice Jokers, a seemingly big and fancy bookstore. I decided to step in, unsure of what I would find apart from greeting cards, calendars and German books. And lo Behold! There they are again!Multiple shelves full of English titles!Believe it or not, THAT was the instant cure to all my depression.I kept picking up multiple novels, until I rounded up on two of them. Paying for my newest possessions, I left the store,smiling. When I thought money couldn’t buy happiness, I hadn’t thought of this. This was Happiness undefined for me.