May 29, 2013

My Stammering Experience in Germany

Hello All, probably some of you know me and some don’t. My name is Chandan Nagaraja. I’m from Bengaluru. I'm part of Bengaluru SHG, since its inception in February 2012. I’m currently living in Ingolstadt, Germany. I’m Mechanical Engineer and currently I’m pursuing my Master’s in 'Automotive Engineering' in Ingolstadt University of Applied Science.  I would like to share my stammering/stuttering experience in Germany.

It’s been nearly two month since I came to Ingolstadt, Germany and I think it’s been great journey so far with many adventures, mixed emotions, many surprises and lots of leaning about my life. Coming to my stammering part, of-course I stammered when I’m talking to people in Ingolstadt, Germany. Stammering part will be there, sometimes it was a piece of cake and sometimes it’s just hell underneath deep inside my head and in my words.
Before coming to Ingolstadt, I was scared, one reason would be (naturally) stuttering and another reason is that I was going to lead my life alone without my parent’s supervision and I was going to miss my comforts zone. There I was getting ready to leave the country, packed all my stuffs in just 3 piece of bag for next 2 years and wondering….!! wow..!! my whole life’s package just fits in 3 piece of bag (40kg)…Oh…??  I finally boarded the plane, luckily I found an Indian on the plan, and he was travelling to same place and was going to be my batch-mate in same university.
Finally, I landed to Ingolstadt with mixed emotions and with lots of question popping out in my head? Did I take correct decision to pursue Masters? Am I capable of talking to strangers and am I ready to take up all the risks, troubles and strange reactions of people, when I stutter? Hmm..!! Does my language skill is good enough to start and engage in the conversation? Do I really need this to go through, when I did have a good job in my hands back in India..?  So many unanswered questions..????? uuff….!!??

I had quite big problem in searching the house in Ingolstadt (Whoever had lived in Germany, will understand the difficulty to find a room for rent). The Ingolstadt city is small and it has Audi Car Company’s world headquarter, so to rent a home is quite expensive and difficult. During that process, I had to converse with the people - there was no other options. If I don’t ask or inquire with the people, then I don’t get a home or apartment for rent? Then I may be probably have to end up living on the streets. I got really anxious and scared. And there was another barrier of German language. I knew basics and I can make basic conversation in German language, but cannot talk continuously like an English or Kannada. I need some time to buffer the vocabulary. Actually it did add an advantage, while my mind was busy in buffering the words – it did not much focused on stuttering. During those 7 days of searching home, I interacted with so many people. I called tons of people. I stuttered a lot, but never stopped talking. May be, because I was caught up in the puzzle cage where I had no option other than to solve it. I soon realized that no one will help you in foreign land and there will be no mysterious power, which will come and rescue your stuttering or break your hard rock wall into pieces. I should take actions on my own, it’s my own journey. I should only climb the rock wall, may be people can help me to buy the ropes and other things or they may guide you the way to climb the wall, but ultimately it’s my decision to quit it or just climb and pass across the wall.
During this time, I realized local people are very helpful, kind and have tremendous amount of patience.  I thought people at the university and in the city may react weirdly when I stammer and also when i take sudden pause in between our conversation. But to my surprise, I saw none of my imaginary-fantasy weird faces in people’s face. Instead people in Ingolstadt were very kind and helpful. Most of the people asked me to take your time to answer the question. Ah..!! It was the biggest relief for me. I can tell you that hardly 2 or 3 people reacted badly or didn’t care to listen to my full conversation. I don’t know how this German people are such open minded..? From there on I didn’t feared to ask question to people or to professors in the class. Although, I did stutter while talking, but I no more had to worry about it or I was fearless because I knew - students will not tease me in the end.
First day at the university – I talked with couple of people in office. No problem, it went smooth, but at the end of our conversation they asked my name and country. There I go struck with starting of my name letter “Cha” like most of stutters. I asked sorry to them and in few seconds I told my name without stammering. Like this whenever anyone asks my name I took a pause and said my name “CHANDAN NAGARAJA”. During introduction, I stuttered my name with an ease – smooth stuttering.
I have nothing against Indian mentality, as the elders say “Truth is always bitter to digest it”. But whatever I observed, I’m sharing it. I may be wrong, but it’s just my point of view. I met many Indians here in Ingolstadt. (As you know we Indian’s are everywhere around the globe...!) While interacting with them, I stuttered to my name, my place and other things. Oh God…! You should see the reaction on their faces and in their behaviors, when I met them next time. It was like I have done something terribly wrong and they just want to punish me with their looks. There were hardly any Indian people who encouraged me to speak when I struck in between the conversation. The ratio of Indians who are open minded and have patience to listen to full conversation is exactly opposite to Germans. As of now I have more number of other country friends than Indian friends. I was never an introvert person when it come to make friends (back in India) and I guess it did helped me here too.
Add to my basket of surprises… You can find Indians dividing themselves in the name of LINGUISTIC and RELIGIONS here too. I thought i had experienced enough of  this unethical practices back in India. But, No it didn't leave me even after coming to Germany. We Indian never mentally grow up, wherever we are. In my experience, I have seen that people don’t talk or help to some Indians when needed, just because he/she is not from his/her state and cannot speak his regional language. You can see big groups like Tamilians, Telagus, Kannadigas, North Indians and etc.. I was disappointed by the fact that even after coming out of India, people think or consider themselves as Tamilian or Kannadigas (etc.. like that) but they don’t see everyone or consider themselves as only INDIANS, nothing more than that. I wondered, what’s with the attitude boss…? We all came from same country living in foreign land. You should see Chinese, Japanese or Mexicans – they will help out each other and stay united.
First thing, I learnt in Deutschland is that I can speak as long as I want with local people, even if I stutter – it’s okay as long as I don’t insult their culture and lifestyle. I can just relax and talk without the fear of stuttering. Nobody is gone judge you. Second, I have no parent’s pressure. I’m not living with them and I no more have to worry about their status and dignity, if I stuttered badly.
I never cooked in my Indian home or cleaned or washed my cloths. When I got home from university (in Germany) – I had to cook, eating in restaurant daily will going to cost fortune to me. Then, I started cooking on my own, first it was difficult and hard – but life finally thought me the art of cooking and cleaning my own plate after eating and also washing my own clothes. I guess what I’m trying to say is  – unless and until I was pushed into a situation where there was no alternate option other than the talking, I just started talking and talking. I have only one hard option to escape i.e. to Talk and talk, at that time I guess I took my action, sure I had fear and non-sense thoughts, it’s just that I didn’t concentrate on those parts. I think I performed my actions to survive ( Like the way I learnt to cook).
Darwin rightly said – “Survival of the fittest” and “Change is inevitable”. I realized nothing is permanent in life – money, lifestyle and stuttering. I just realized the importance of Darwin theory, never understood it in school days. Everything can be changed, when we act in the right direction with positive attitude. If you have right Aptitude to improvise something, then you will discover the Altitude of it.
Above all, the biggest help I got is from SHG. I got to know and understood about my stuttering. I want to Thank all the members of Bengaluru SHG, who directly or indirectly helped and still helping in the journey of my stammering. Special thanks to my good friend Abhinav, with whom I used to share my stupid thoughts. If I had not attended the shg meetings, I would have never got courage to come to Germany and face the problems fearlessly. Probably, I would have still been in my comfort zone with boring life.

Thanks for reading it patiently……. 


Amitsingh Kushwah said...

Great Chandan! Thanks for sharing this experience.

Joy deep Majumder said...

@Chandan..great leap indeed..have fun..learn from the Germans .they are known to talk less and create more..make a mark of your own..

abhishek said...

Great Chandan.. so happy to see u grow in life, visit new places and face your fears boldly.. :)

Chandan Nagaraja said...

@ AMit SInghji... Thanks...

Chandan Nagaraja said...

@Joy - Indeed u r rite. There's lot learn from Germans...

Chandan Nagaraja said...

@Abhishek .. Thanx bro...

Manimaran said...

Chandan, I think God has pushed you to a corner where you got no other option except to talk... So make use of this opportunity and come back to India as an ex-stammerer after 2 years.
In western countries, all are educated and there are SHGs for even a small problems. And people awareness about any handicap / disability is more there than in any other part of the world.So they know about each disability and will act accordinly.

Regarding 'groupism' like Kannadas, Tamilians etc I think there are three reasons for this.

1.Before British rule, India comprised of so many countries with different cultures, languages, food habits etc.I feel only a common culture will have a strong bond among people.

2.India is land of spirituality with so many Ithigasas and Puranas with so many religions and castes.All the religions are teaching the same thing though in a different ways.In my opinion people are reading religious books and not practicing in their life. They are running behind materialistic things.

3.The last but an important reason is politicians. In Tamilnadu, there is a political party for each caste. The leaders of these political parties are for making money only and they are not even helping people coming from their own caste. For the sake of vote bank, national political parties also encouraging them. God only save India!

OK, Chandan. God has given you the best opportunity and sufficiant time to become more courageous Chandan, to become an Ex-Stammerer,to become a good cook, to become a post-graduate engineer and above all to become a good human being.So make use of this opportunity fully as you won't get another one like this in your life time. May God bless you.

Rajesh V said...

Wow Bro, superb. Thanks for sharing. All The Best !

Er. Umesh said...

really inspirable. it will inspire many others to break their comfort zones. thanks for sharing

sachin said...

Vielen Dank für Ihre umfassende und interessante Beschreibung Chandan...Ich genoss es sehr.

Yes, we Indians have to learn a lot.. Hope and pray that we wont take another 5000 years doing so!!

You take care and keep writing like this- to inspire and educate others..

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this entry. Very informative.