The Backerei Woman

I didn’t like Out of Africa. I’m sorry, I just didn’t. Yes, Dinesen does descriptions of land and scenery beautifully. Yes, she is very good at bringing the land she loves to life. Yes, she did make everything seem mythic and even sometimes mystical.

What she didn’t do is make me care. For some reason I couldn’t connect with the narrative. It was weird. I kept trying to come closer and get into the story, but something stopped me from really getting into the text and connecting with Dinesen.

I did, however, like the fourth section, The Immigrant’s Notebook. It was a compilation of little scenes and stories about things or people Dinesen encountered. I was inspired enough to write my own about Germany. This is my favorite one:

The Backerei Woman

Blonde haired woman

Every morning my housemate and I rode the bus to Am Sande, the center of Lüneburg, and got breakfast at a bakery. I got to know one of the women who worked there very well. She was in her late thirties, possibly early forties, with strawlike blonde hair. On busy mornings she bustled around behind the counter, putting new pastries behind the glass case, punching the dysfunctional espresso machine with a lot of muttered Achs and Schades, and bantering with the ‘usuals.’

In the beginning, we stumbled through early exchanges with pointing and pantomiming.



“Kann ich Ihnen helfen?” Can I help you?

Milchkaffee“…ummm…ja. Ich….eine Kaffee. Und…das…” (vague gesture to a pastry that looked good) “Und…wir…nicht hier essen.”  Ummm…Yes. I…coffee. And…the… (gesture) And..we…not eat here.

Eventually she started using her limited English (which was about as good as my German). We started to trade languages. Every morning for five minutes we would talk. She in her broken English and me in my beginners’ German.

“It RAINS today. Rain! Regnet! I learned RAIN!

“Ja! Heute es regnet,” I would agree. Since it rains nearly every day in Lüneburg, we got very good at talking about the rain.

I would proudly find an excuse to show off my improving German.

“Gestern BIN ich ZU Hamburg gefahen! Ich BIN gefahren!! Yesterday I went to Hamburg. (With extra excitement about choosing the correct modal verb)

By July, it would be like this:

HER: Hello! Hi!
ME: Hallo! Wie geht es Ihnen? Hi, how are you?
HER: I am good. I practice lots of English! Listen: Today it is SUNNY. Tomorrow it WILL rain!
ME: Ja! Es ist sehr schön. Aber morgen würde es regen. Futur! Ich lerne mehr immer Deutsch! Yeah. It’s very nice. But tomorrow it would rain. Future tense! I learn more always German!
HER: Sehr good. Very nice! Almost right. What today?  Käse Brötchen
ME: Ummm…ich möchte…diese.  Ummm…I would like…these.
HER: No. You must speak.
ME: Eine käse brötchen. Meine Lieblints…dinge. A cheesy bun. My favorite…thing.
HER: Sehr gut. Very nice. Und..And…coffee. Mit…with…zwei…two….ehmmmmmm Zucker….Zucker…Schade.
ME: Genau. Zucker…Auf Englisch sugar.
HER: Ja! Sugar. Eine Milchskaffee mit zwei  Zucker! Yeah! A milk coffee with two sugars!

It seems that even in foreign countries, I can become such a regular that baristas know my order. My mornings in the bakery trading languages with a German woman are some of my fondest memories of Germany.

Rating: **
Up Next: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and Rameau’s Nephew. 


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Hannah on August 18, 2012 at 8:44 am

    haha hilarious. You should write a whole bunch of these.


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