16 August, 2006

An Unusual Observation

While travelling recently on the brilliant ICE (speedy) train of the Deutsch Bundesbahn, I made an observation… given the choice of sharing a train compartment/department (sorry don’t know which word is correct) with a group of gothic punks or a screaming baby, surprisingly a good number of train passengers choose the former.

Sara and I were in a nearly empty compartment, and a group of gothic youths came and sat next to us. In the next compartment, a crying/screaming baby made his or her presence know.

Just about every new passenger who entered the department after that point in time, took a look at the punks, glanced forward to the next department, saw the baby’s carriage in the corridor and (presumedly) heard the screaming baby, and they chose to sit down in our department.

Now, these youths were not only a bit unusual in their attire (e.g. black make-up, lots of chains, pierced body parts both visible and easily-imagined, a T-shirt with “Cannibal Corpse” logo and respective drawing on it, and a hat with some slogan about primal nuking, just to give you an indication), they were all, for the most part, listening to very loud music through their mp3 players’ headphones. Now, I am not just talking a bit of light Vivaldi here, but reallyreally heavy metal it’s-all-in-the-base music. The type of music we call head-banging music because not only are the drums and electric guitar perpetually trying to outdo each other, the acoustic singer doesn’t sing but screams.

Not that the gothic guys were not charming people to share a train journey with, but I just wondered what it all meant. Are most German travellers perfectly comfortable with youths who main purpose in life is to present a form of fashion and behaviour, which is provocative in the least, and confrontational at it’s worse? Or is the dread of encountering that four-letter alien* (baby) so monumental that most people chose to share the company of “a known devil rather than an unknown angel”, as the Arab saying goes?

*For those of you that don’t know, Germany has the lowest birth rate either in Europe or the world, I can’t remember which.

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