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Winter and Weather

29/01/2016 - 09:32-0 Comments by | kenya flag

Winter is one of the few seasons that has the ability to interrupt Germany’s transport system, which is famed for working like clockwork. And without much complaint from the commuters.

Last week, following snow storms in my town, the night bus service (I live in a town with only a bus service, no trams) was shut down as buses could not travel the roads. You can imagine a group of students having dashed to the bus station from a relatively rare dinner in a warm and cozy restaurant, only to find the personnel at the bus stop clearing people from the stalls with the news that the buses would not come. After catching our breath, we braved a 20-minute walk in the snow and flurries, and got home with one of us soaking wet and teeth chattering because he had not worn weather-proof clothes. He had assumed that he would be mostly indoors and then in the bus. And even for those of us who had dressed better for the weather, the effect of the cold was evident especially in our toes and fingers by the time we arrived. They were all stiff and painful and needed some thawing out.

That incident reminded me of the main girl scout lesson I learnt in primary school – ‘always be prepared’. In Germany, I have learnt to apply that lesson practically when it comes to the weather. First lesson: always have somewhere in your bag an umbrella, a scarf and a shopping bag no matter where you are going. And this is irrespective of whether it is autumn, spring, or winter. It is only in summer that one can afford to be a bit ‘careless’ in this regard – leaving out the umbrella, not the shopping bag! The latter doesn’t help with the weather, of course, but comes in very handy when one suddenly remembers that they need to pop into the supermarket to pick some supplies.

Second lesson: develop the habit of faithfully checking the weather forecast every morning. This one still makes me laugh, because I remember growing up with the saying that Europeans are so boring that all they talk about when they meet is the weather. I will (very softly) admit that nowadays I talk about the weather too as a conversation starter – and it is actually a relevant topic – perhaps because here the weather is ‘in your face’ and really affects what one can or cannot do.

Third lesson: dress appropriately – in other words, embrace layered clothing :-). As a good friend of mine once told me – “there is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothes”. True. For instance, I was recently in my professor’s office for a meeting and just after I left, he dashed after me calling my name urgently. The reason? I had forgotten my jacket in his office. He handed it to me with three words: “this is winter”. Were I in a more tropical country, it would probably have been days before I realised that I was missing my jacket, because I hadn’t really needed it. Here it is essential. I think that even if I hadn’t been called back, the moment I stepped out of the building the weather would have clearly reminded me that I was missing a vital item of clothing, and I would have retraced my footsteps to my professor’s office.

That said, each season truly has its own delights – the warmth and long days of summer cannot rival the beauty of autumn’s multicoloured leaves, and these are no match for the crispy coolness of winter air with white landscapes and the sound of crunching snow under your boots as you walk. And of course spring, with it’s first blossoms, stands out as the season of new beginnings.

Stay warm this winter.

Tags: English Blog Post, Everyday Life, Useful Links & Tips

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