quick reads

The big news: SC asks states to take immediate action to reduce pollution, and 9 other top stories

Other headlines: At least 339 people were killed in a powerful earthquake near the Iran-Iraq border, and 20 people died after a boat capsized near Vijayawada.

A look at the headlines right now:

  1. SC asks Centre, UP, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi to take immediate action about pollution: The Delhi government has asked the NGT to allow exemptions to its odd-even scheme as air quality deteriorates, and Congress leader Deepender Singh Hooda said he will introduce a Right to Clean Air Bill in Parliament’s Winter Session.
  2. At least 339 killed, over 2,500 injured after powerful earthquake strikes near Iraq-Iran border: Most of the casualties were in Iran’s Kermanshah province, where 129 people died and over 900 were hurt in the 7.3-magnitude quake.
  3. Twenty die after boat capsizes near Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh: State Home Minister N Chinnarajappa said 20 people had been rescued from the Krishna river.
  4. India, US working for future of humanity, Modi says after meeting Donald Trump: The two leaders met on the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Manila.
  5. Swine flu cases rose twentyfold in India in 2017, shows Health Ministry data: Over one lakh people were affected and 8,562 succumbed to the H1N1 virus in the country between 2010 and October 2017, the report says. 
  6. OPD services across Karnataka likely to be affected as doctors protest against medical bill amendments: The ‘Belagavi Chalo’ protest comes on a day when the state government is likely to pass the bill as the Winter Session begins.  
  7. SC asks Centre to clarify its stand on the Ram Setu within six weeks: The bridge connecting India and Sri Lanka has been embroiled in controversy since 2005 after the government’s Sethusamudram shipping canal project was planned.
  8. ‘Vested interests win,’ says senior bureaucrat Ashok Khemka after 51st transfer: The Haryana government transferred him, along with 12 other IAS officers, a month after he asked a minister to return a vehicle to a junior officer.
  9. Wife of Aligarh Muslim University professor claims he divorced her over WhatsApp: The police registered a case against Khalid Bin Yusuf Khan after the woman alleged torture in her complaint.  
  10. SoftBank to invest in Uber after the two strike a billion-dollar deal: The Japanese venture capitalist is also a major investor in Ola, the cab-hailing firm’s main competition in India.  
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“My body instantly craves chai and samosa”

German expats talk about adapting to India, and the surprising similarities between the two cultures.

The cultural similarities between Germany and India are well known, especially with regards to the language. Linguists believe that Sanskrit and German share the same Indo-Germanic heritage of languages. A quick comparison indeed holds up theory - ratha in Sanskrit (chariot) is rad in German, aksha (axle) in Sanskrit is achse in German and so on. Germans have long held a fascination for Indology and Sanskrit. While Max Müller is still admired for his translation of ancient Indian scriptures, other German intellectuals such as Goethe, Herder and Schlegel were deeply influenced by Kalidasa. His poetry is said to have informed Goethe’s plays, and inspired Schlegel to eventually introduce formal Indology in Germany. Beyond the arts and academia, Indian influences even found their way into German fast food! Indians would recognise the famous German curry powder as a modification of the Indian masala mix. It’s most popular application is the currywurst - fried sausage covered in curried ketchup.

It is no wonder then that German travellers in India find a quite a lot in common between the two cultures, even today. Some, especially those who’ve settled here, even confess to Indian culture growing on them with time. Isabelle, like most travellers, first came to India to explore the country’s rich heritage. She returned the following year as an exchange student, and a couple of years later found herself working for an Indian consultancy firm. When asked what prompted her to stay on, Isabelle said, “I love the market dynamics here, working here is so much fun. Anywhere else would seem boring compared to India.” Having cofounded a company, she eventually realised her entrepreneurial dream here and now resides in Goa with her husband.

Isabelle says there are several aspects of life in India that remind her of home. “How we interact with our everyday life is similar in both Germany and India. Separate house slippers to wear at home, the celebration of food and festivals, the importance of friendship…” She feels Germany and India share the same spirit especially in terms of festivities. “We love food and we love celebrating food. There is an entire countdown to Christmas. Every day there is some dinner or get-together,” much like how Indians excitedly countdown to Navratri or Diwali. Franziska, who was born in India to German parents, adds that both the countries exhibit the same kind of passion for their favourite sport. “In India, they support cricket like anything while in Germany it would be football.”

Having lived in India for almost a decade, Isabelle has also noticed some broad similarities in the way children are brought up in the two countries. “We have a saying in South Germany ‘Schaffe Schaffe Hausle baue’ that loosely translates to ‘work, work, work and build a house’. I found that parents here have a similar outlook…to teach their children to work hard. They feel that they’ve fulfilled their duty only once the children have moved out or gotten married. Also, my mother never let me leave the house without a big breakfast. It’s the same here.” The importance given to the care of the family is one similarity that came up again and again in conversations with all German expats.

While most people wouldn’t draw parallels between German and Indian discipline (or lack thereof), Germans married to Indians have found a way to bridge the gap. Take for example, Ilka, who thinks that the famed differences of discipline between the two cultures actually works to her marital advantage. She sees the difference as Germans being highly planning-oriented; while Indians are more flexible in their approach. Ilka and her husband balance each other out in several ways. She says, like most Germans, she too tends to get stressed when her plans don’t work out, but her husband calms her down.

Consequently, Ilka feels India is “so full of life. The social life here is more happening; people smile at you, bond over food and are much more relaxed.” Isabelle, too, can attest to Indians’ friendliness. When asked about an Indian characteristic that makes her feel most at home, she quickly answers “humour.” “Whether it’s a taxi driver or someone I’m meeting professionally, I’ve learnt that it’s easy to lighten the mood here by just cracking a few jokes. Indians love to laugh,” she adds.

Indeed, these Germans-who-never-left as just diehard Indophiles are more Indian than you’d guess at first, having even developed some classic Indian skills with time. Ilka assures us that her husband can’t bargain as well as she does, and that she can even drape a saree on her own.

Isabelle, meanwhile, feels some amount of Indianness has seeped into her because “whenever its raining, my body instantly craves chai and samosa”.

Like the long-settled German expats in India, the German airline, Lufthansa, too has incorporated some quintessential aspects of Indian culture in its service. Recognising the centuries-old cultural affinity between the two countries, Lufthansa now provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its flights to and from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they are More Indian Than You Think. To experience Lufthansa’s hospitality on your next trip abroad, click here.

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This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.