A Lady in Distress


One and a half weeks after returning from the country of endless comforts, which for me felt more often than not like restrictions, I thought I had adapted to independent German life again. However, having spent half of the time at home fighting with my computer or my technical inabilities and the other half at my parent’s place, helping them out, I realise that I am still in Pakistan modus when let out on the street. Before travelling to the country of fashionistas I used to think of clothes as something that keeps you warm in winter and something that should only minimally cover you on summer to allow your skin to breathe and get a tan. Since shops give me a headache and my hair starts flying around my head after changing a few times I am exulted when I have finally found something that suits me and will wear it with minimal interruption for the next few years. People who want to make a statement through their clothes and end up looking like clowns have always puzzled me.
Now things have changed. After a few days in Karachi I discovered that clothes are Pakistani people’s alcohol. Soon I could see why they worry about substances that might make you addicted. My friend’s sister on law changed sometimes twice a day. Each time I was bedazzled by the different fabrics, colours and patterns. When, in the first week she and her cousin suggested going to the mall, I would protest as shopping centres are places where I usually really only go to when I seriously need something. However, soon things changed and I became infected with the princess virus. I could spend hours going through the displays in boutiques or the samples in my friend’s relatives’ wardrobes and invent a new feminine self.
Now, back in Germany, I enjoy wearing my Pakistani clothes. I usually get compliments and proudly tell people that I got them from the country of fashionistas. Occasionally people say that these are very nice maternity dresses. I can see where they are coming from as it’s not common to wear loose clothes in Germany unless you have something to hide. I enjoy playing with people’s expectations and stereotypes. After all I spent a month disappointing people in Pakistan because being from Germany didn’t automatically make me rich. Okay, that wasn’t everyone, probably it was just the airport attendant who kept robotically repeating that he is airport attendant and while I was wondering if he was an actual human being, I could see in his look that he was considering calling a doctor when I refused to pay 900 rupees in order to be allowed to sit in the VIP lounge.
As I was sitting in my second class carriage in the train, which is the only place that my student ticket allows me and nobody has ever come along trying to persuade me to chuck out the premium for sitting in the first class, I wondered if I should go to Potsdam main station and catch a tram there that would drop me off close to my apartment or drag my suitcase down the stairs of that station closer to my home which will probably never get a lift no matter how many families and people with bikes live nearby. I associate this station with being out of breath while carrying my bike up the stairs while watching others drag up prams and suitcases. I go for it anyway, as it will mean arriving home a few minutes earlier than with the tram. When I had arrived at Frankfurt airport I had fought with all might to keep my fellow passenger from carrying any of my bags. “It’s just because you have three and I have only one.” “So what, even if I had 300 and you had none I would still carry them on my own as long as I have two functioning arms and legs.”, I replied in Pippi Lotta style. Now, facing the never ending staircase I wondered how amazing it would be if a German guy ever came up with the idea of helping me carry my suitcase. Maybe I should do an experiment and stand at the staircase for something like ten minutes and see if someone will help a lady in distress. The one at the train door in front of me is definitely too good looking to come up with such an idea. Not as good looking as to be in need of a burka though. In my usual hurry I overtake him on the platform, wheel my suitcase up the stairs, put it down and get ready to sling it on my back in some way. At that moment the same one appears from behind me and asks: “Can I help you or would you be okay with that?” Surprised I reply: “That would be nice, actually.” I almost fall back into Pakistan mode and want to leave him with my bag and only carry my dress, my dupatta and my Swati cap down the stairs. But luckily I wake up from my Jane Austen novel, grab the other strap and remember that I am not a lady in distress but that it’s much easier for two people to carry a bag down a long flight of stairs.

2 thoughts on “A Lady in Distress

  1. Great blog ! My favorite line: ” I enjoy playing with people’s expectations and stereotypes.” That actually is fun !
    I will be staying in touch with your blog. 🙂 Nice to read about your experiences and people will definitely enjoy reading –

    Felicitations !

  2. Loving every bit of it. Nice observation especially your observation regarding clothes (fashionistas). Good job waiting anxiously the next blog.

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