Culture From The Couch: Off To Berlin

Culture From The Couch: Off To Berlin
Oktoberfest fair ground in Munich, Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com

Word to the wise—brush up on your German before the weekend

Roshni Subramanian
June 12 , 2020
07 Min Read

Festive celebrations, historic sites, world-class beer and an unlimited supply of sausages, Germany has it all figured out (except, maybe a sense of humour). Trust us here. We do not back that ‘humour’ claim by any means. But, let’s face it. Statements like these sure do make you wonder whether some stereotypes are in fact true. More on that later. Coming back to the German folks, from what we’ve seen, their curt demeanour might seem like a bummer in the beginning, but once you peel back the layers, the land of Oktoberfest never disappoints. If you still find it hard to believe, then binge watch these shows, podcasts and books to know all about Germany!

Berlin Belly

Did someone say food and feminism? We are all ears! Food, conversations and conversations about food. Berlin Belly is the only crash course you’ll ever need on traditional German cuisine. Featuring interviews, recipes and anecdotes from incredible women working in the Berlin food community, the podcast sheds light on the culinary circuit of Berlin. Started by Irish writer and photographer Elizabeth Rushe, this one tops the list for all the right reasons

A Flavour of German

Back in high school, while I was stuck with the language of the dead (read: Sanskrit), you fancy folks were busy ‘widening your horizons’ with ‘hallo’, ‘bonjour’ and ‘gracias’. Honestly, language barriers can lead to some embarrassing cringe fests and wiggling your way through them can be tricky. Whether you’re striving for fluency or just looking to survive a day in Berlin, a little lesson on German etiquette and language never really hurt anyone. A Flavour of German from the makers of Coffee Break German focusses on idioms and common German phrases. The 10 episodes of the show are each 8 to 10 minutes long. Once you’ve aced the basics, this is the way to go.

Stromberg

 
 
 
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The Germans definitely do appreciate a good sense of humour. Come to think of it, most of it might have gotten lost in translation. Slightly astringent and satirical in their style, the German fondness for the sitcom Stromberg might seem a bit unusual, but loyal fans of The Office will beg to differ. A spin-off of the popular American and British series, Stromberg has topped the charts for five consecutive seasons and is amongst the most widely viewed series in the region. Centred around a fictional insurance company, the show might not fit the ‘culture’ bill, but makes for a great weekend binge when in the mood for some laughs.

Babylon Berlin 

 
 
 
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Cryptic, mysterious, thrilling with a hint of romance. The neo-noir Babylon Berlin is nothing less than a gold mine. Set in 1929, during the height of the Weimar Republic, the show captures the civil unrest, police brutality, political paranoia, allowing the audiences to draw close parallels to several modern-day disturbances and agitations. Essentially a detective thriller on the face of it, the series manages to portray the German democracy on its last legs, on the brink of being swept aside by Hitler and the Nazis. The show first premiered on Netflix in 2018 and has three seasons under its belt. We’d suggest adding this to your lockdown watchlist.

German Men Sit Down to Pee and Other Insights Into German Culture

 
 
 
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Yes. We see those raised eyebrows. Just as quirky as the title, the book penned by Niklas Frank and James Cave is a collection of German peculiarities and offers insights into the unknown aspects of the culture. Tongue firmly in cheek, it lays down a set of rules that most Germans consciously and unconsciously tend to follow. In fact, see it as the Yoda to your Lukea guidebook highlighting the cultural norms that an outsider might find hilarious but would be borderline blasphemous if not followed. 


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