Christian and Daniela Brillinger on how they are loving life in the city
An old mauve-coloured Ambassador in mint condition with its old-fashioned steering gear and plush maroon and gold interiors has pride of place in the garage of city-based Germans Christian and Daniela Brillinger.
The duo are often to be found expertly navigating the cumbersome oldie through the traffic in the city, even inside Chala… something that you don't often see foreigners attempting to do hereabouts.
“It's not easy to drive the Ambassador in this traffic or to maintain it for that matter. But we relish the adrenalin rush that it gives us,” says Daniela as Christian nods in agreement and adds: “Manoeuvring the Ambassador is actually one of the joys of living here. Back in Germany, on the Autobahn [highway], we can drive spanking new cars for miles at crazy speeds without encountering a soul, let alone another car. Where is the fun in that? Here driving – and life too – is so exciting. You can stop, chat with strangers whenever, wherever you want. All the effort that it takes to drive here is totally worth it.”
It is with this upbeat attitude that the couple from Baden-baden in the Black Forest region of Germany, wax lyrical about their love for Kerala, recounting how they first came to the city “by chance” some 15 years ago when they were students and simply fell head over heels in love with the State.
“We were told that a trip to India is incomplete without experiencing the lushness of the South. We just looked at a map and decided to come to the Southern most city – Thiruvananthapuram. We ended up staying for six months in Kovalam. We've travelled from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and everywhere in between but Kerala, its people and the way of life are beyond compare. We even wrote a book – Au die Kinder des Lichts (To the children of light) – on our experiences in India,” says Christian, a real-estate contractor who shuttles between Germany, Spain, Saudi Arabia (where currently his projects are) and the city. Since Trinity, their daughter, goes to school in the city, Daniela – an interior designer, who is also associated with the projects, resides here permanently in their beautifully decorated home, which is full of quaint artefacts that they have collected on their travels.
Having been brought up in an Ayurveda rejuvenation centre run by her parents in Baden-baden (Deepak Chopra was first employed there before he became famous), Daniela is no stranger to Indian culture but says: “If you dare to jump into the bandwagon of life here you have to think differently. You've got to love the opportunity otherwise you won't get the feel of India.”