I felt that the possibilities were endless. If I could see a brightly lit world at midnight, the world surely had to be a magical place.
I came to Bremen in August 2014 as an exchange student from India, with little money and too much hope. And I left 5 months later feeling like a burned out matchstick - dazed over the loss of fire and hugging the leftover heat. It changed my life. Traveling is supposed to do that. But perhaps this trip broke something that defined me. Crushed my soul. Let me take this blogpost to explain why.
I grew up loving maps and atlases. I never felt at home amongst the coconut trees and sunny skies of Kerala. I fantasized of running away. Spent hours every night at my window wishing I could fly out through the gap in the bars. I read and reread all my Enid Blyton novels, imagining myself shuffling through the snow, sipping ginger beer and fitting in. You might have felt this too. This yearning to escape. It is beyond curiosity, it becomes the reason to live. And as I grew older and the fantasies became marred by the logic of physics, I went into claustrophobic panic attacks looking at the iron bars on that window. I had to escape.
I found my way soon enough and my dream came true. Perhaps too soon.
As I boarded the flight to Bremen, my heart pounded and I wept. And as I was shown my quaint hostel room with it’s white walls and gigantic window, I couldn’t contain myself.
We (my co-exchange students) soon set out to explore. From long supermarket aisles to the dew-grazed flowers on the roadsides to the ancient streets of Schnoor (more on Schnoor later). The air smelt like buns, not smoke. The buses came sharp on time and my co-passengers were all excitingly unique. I bought ginger beer and relished the wait for the first snow. And as summer wound to a slow close, we got bicycles, frequented a lonely park and enjoyed the bright nights from my window sill. Bremen, you see, was perfect. It was small, exciting and full of ancient wonders in it’s city centre.