May German Indian food

More than beer and cars - Germany for Indians

Indians are fascinated by how Germany developed after the world wars and how it left the ugly past behind, how it became a happy and modern country. I think this is something that Indians can learn from given the rise in religious fundamentalism of many Hindus in India.

Most popular with Indians are those countries where there are many Indian emigrants, but only comparatively few Germans live in India itself. But more and more Indians are studying in Germany, mainly natural sciences and technical subjects. Generous scholarships have helped - there is even a small community of Indians studying German literature.

These students bring with them stories about everyday life in Germany. The first thing they say is that you can afford life in Germany better than in other European countries. You report on a broad middle class that lives with affordable rents and is very satisfied.

Berlin is particularly popular

Berlin is the most popular European city among Indian artists. The German capital is not only considered Europe's metropolis for art and culture, it is also celebrated for its alternative artistic scene.

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan's film "DON 2: The Return of the King" made Berlin popular in India. The German embassy in New Delhi recently used a Bollywood song for a PR campaign. Former Ambassador Michael Steiner produced a YouTube video showing him and his wife dancing to a Bollywood song. The title: "Kal Ho Na Ho" ("There may be no tomorrow"). The clip shows an Indian politician courting Steiner's wife, but the ambassador manages to win her back. The video spread very quickly and several TV channels reported about it. Steiner told me that his intention was to break cultural stereotypes.

Thanks to the increasing number of Indians traveling to Europe, we know Oktoberfest. Many restaurants in India use this time to make beer known in the country.

Cars and emissions scandal

Soccer is gaining more and more supporters among urban young Indians who watch the games of the German national soccer team. Germany's top soccer club Bayern Munich has a growing, if still small, fan base.

Shivam Vij writes for DW from New Delhi

Of course, nothing beats a love for German cars. Audi, BMW, Mercedes and Volkswagen are objects of desire, status symbols. They are the reason why first-class engineering and design are part of Germany's image.

Most Indians have little interest in foreign news. Hardly anyone cares about the current refugee crisis in Europe. The rescue of Greece and the euro crisis, however, made headlines here and many commentators seemed to have sympathy for Germany's tough stance.

More recently than any other news from Germany, however, the affair surrounding the German automaker Volkswagen, which has falsified emissions in the USA, has hit. The scandal came as a surprise to the Indians because they previously considered German cars to be safer and technically better - in contrast to cars from Japanese or South Asian manufacturers, which were considered to be more fuel-efficient but also less reliable.

Mutual appreciation

On the question-and-answer page Quora, a computer science student reported what Germans think of Indians. How many people are interested is shown by the fact that his account on Quora has been accessed almost 75,000 times.

He writes that spicy Indian food is so popular with Germans that they would have torn down the Berlin Wall much earlier if they had known that there was hearty Indian food on the other side.

The appreciation is mutual. Indians love pretzels, cheese and beer. No wonder that in view of Germany's increasing popularity in India, Chancellor Angela Merkel paid the country a visit in order to create even closer relations.

Shivam Vij is a freelance writer and journalist based in New Delhi. He writes for a number of international media including