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July 4, 2011

Book Review - 39 : Der Deutsche Sommer

Author: Arnab Chakraborty
Publisher: Wordizen Books

Der Deutsche Sommer is a memoir of a young Indian student of DAAD (Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst or German Academic Exchange Service) who travels to Germany under a student exchange program. The author, an ardent soccer fan, is fortunate to experience the excitement of the FIFA Soccer World Cup 2010 held in Germany during his stay there. At a personal level, he is enamoured by the fair and beautiful German women, which entices him to visit the famous Amsterdam red light district where he and his friends exhibit their masculinity. The memoir captures his experience as a student who is travelling abroad on his own for the first time — the excitement, the anticipation and the enthusiasm to make the best of his three-month stay at Aachen, Germany.This opportunity makes the author determined to not only succeed in academics, but also to learn about the history of Germany and especially, delve deep into the background and characteristics of the iron man, Adolf Hitler.

Living abroad, even if it is for a short duration can be a life altering experience. It can make up for some riveting read as i mentioned before in the case of Neeraj Chibba's Zero Percentile. This book, however, is written more in the travelogue form describing the excitement, the anxieties and the various experiences of the visit to Germany. The author has an eye for detail and each of the initial incidents of taking the first international journey has been written competently. The immigration long queues, the culinary experiences specially if you are a vegetarian, the bouts of patriotism and the home-sickness are dealt with honesty. Most people, like me, who have lived abroad for some duration should be able to relate to it. It would have made a much more enriching reading pleasure if the author would have sticked to these experiences. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite happen.

The basic flaw in the book is that it plays with the inherent spirit of a travelogue. When you pick up a book in this genre, you expect to see a country through the eyes of the writer - his/her own experiences, observations and yearnings. Instead dozens of pages and pages describing German history - about Hitler and his whole life, his contribution towards the World war 2, his ultimate demise; all this is inserted into the book. Not only this, history about soccer, world cups, visit to London and Amsterdam and their history completely sap your energy. If i am looking to know such details about these people or places, i will buy a history book and NOT a travelogue - or worse, i will just use Wikipedia to know the details, for free mind you. All these details interspersed within the narrative is exhausting and the book falls into an incoherent mess. It requires patience to appreciate the portions of actual travelogue, once the author reaches Germany.

There is a huge build-up for the visit to the red-light area in Amsterdam. There are sexist jokes, females are looked and scorned with lusty eyes all through the narrative and lewd remarks are thought off each time a species with two breasts come in the vicinity. All this would have still worked if there was a proper closure when the group of friends reach the area to satisfy the carnal pleasures. But those particular scenes are shoddily written and are touched upon at a superficial level. To say the least, it is too much of a foreplay in the writing with very little reward in the end.

I am going with 2/5 for Arnab Chakraborthy's German travelogue, Der Deutsche Sommer. It is well researched and gives you glimpses about the European lifestyle. But in the end, it is neither a history book nor a travelogue. It is one of those books where editor slept his/her way through or may be was not paid at all. Just arm yourself with tons of patience before you decide to read this one.

1 comment:

Oldfox004 said... the point!
But i might just wanna read it anyways:)