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Sunday, February 27, 2011

Navigating Through Da with a Ding

Its German class tonight and I am late. The navigation in my car keeps taking me to a location that is making me doubtful.

A few weeks ago I was treated to a traffic sign information session by some friends. There are round signs everywhere here. Some with X's through them, some with lines, and some with round circles. During this same discussion, they also gave me an abundance of information on everything Austrian. The result was the retention of a few facts, most of them not the slightest bit useful, but fascinating to me nonetheless. Facts such as learning that a reclusive man lives nearby in the mountains and makes boots so cool that he has had to outsource making them in order to keep up with demand.

Not at all helpful, and I am now filled with a nagging hesitation as I stare at a round sign with a line through the middle of it. My cars navigation is telling me to proceed on through and frankly I am not so sure. I find I am really wishing I had paid more attention to the traffic sign talk. The large planter in the middle of the road is also telling me in it’s of so subtle way that this way is likely forbidden. But damn it, the navigation says that in order to get to where I need to go, I must proceed.

Fifteen minutes late for German class. Surely they are already conjugating a whole new set of verbs and I will be clueless in the room full of keeners. Fun.

Slowly I inch towards the planter and consider driving on through the area and pleading ignorance if it is indeed a forbidden route. The problem is that although I believe that rules are meant to be challenged, Austrian society is incredibly respectful of them and this makes me a little bit nervous. I call my Swiss friend who in turn makes me annoyed because he has no idea about the sign I am trying to describe.

“Please proceed to the planned route,” says the navigation.

Twenty minutes late. I consider skipping it.

The problem here is that the road system makes no sense to me. In Canada, most cities with the exception of Vancouver, are built on a grid. Here everything twists and turns and feeds into places you never expect. Normally I love this, but twenty-two minutes late and I can find nothing positive about the situation.

I decide that I do not want to risk losing my license in rule filled Austria and will instead find the location on my own. It worked. And although I showed up 30 minutes late for class I was able to learn important words. Like “da” which means here, and “ding” which means thing. I love these words. I also learned that “nicht” or “not” is often the third word in a sentence. Now I can say things like “was is das ding?” (what is this thing) which is actually a whole of fun to say. Or better yet, “Das ding ist kaput!” which is exactly what I have to say about my navigation.

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