Things aren’t much different in Germany since I’ve been here last, in 2007. It’s been three years, but they still have the same foods in the supermarket, and a few more, and they still watch the same shows on TV, and a few more. The same re-runs, the same American Sitcoms, the same German original content that nobody watches. The yogurts are still the same, the cheeses, the chips. The chocolate aisle is the same length (yes, a whole aisle just with chocolates), but the types are a bit different, a bit more refined, a bit more exclusive. I still would like to eat my way across that whole aisle, backwards and forwards, but I’m still not allowed. There are a few less small stores, because the economy isn’t kind to the mom and pop store at the corner, and a few more immigrants because the economy here is better then elsewhere. There are a lot more ecological products available, Bio-This and Eco-That, even Ikea sells Biopasta on the kids menu. They only Walmart they had went under, and the milk is sold in bottles. The neighborhood looks the same, but the trees are bigger, and the cars all look even smaller. Yes, they have pretty small cars here. Hardly any Smart Cars, because most of the cars I see are not much bigger then those, and cost less. And because there are smaller cars, and the gas costs more, the streets have become a wee bit slower. A wee bit, not much. I drove to Ikea today with Thomas in the backseat, and at one point I made him notice that we were driving indeed 170 km/h, and he was stunned.
“Aren’t there any speed limits here?”
“Not here”, I say. He wants to know anyhow what the posted limit is.
“There isn’t one,” I keep insisting.
“So nobody can give you a ticket for speeding?” he wonders.
“Nope,” I say, “not on this Autobahn.”
He thinks for a minute. And then he replies: “I love the Autobahn.”
He’s 8. I’m already scared of when he’s going to get his driver’s license.