30 November, 2007

Oh those smokers!

Yes Hun, it was a fine evening. Not that we planned to do something spectacular but it happened to be a very enjoyable moment for this week.

The original plan was that we needed to go to the local tax or finance office, or as they call it in German ‘das Finanzamt’, to sort things out a bit about our income and tax. We went there in the afternoon with a bit of hope that the office would still be open and not too many people queuing for the number.

On our way to the tax office, we got stuck in a cute handicraft shop that sells cute and nice random stuff from different regions in south East Asia. So we popped in for a while and found out that not only the shop sells exotic and fine stuff but also gorgeous furniture with reasonably fair price. My partner managed to buy a nice wooden vase for Christmas presents, as well as a colourful made-in-Nepal hat. We were really pleased that we somehow stumbled into this shop so that for our future preferences we know where to buy stuff for presents.

After having bought stuff for presents, we then walked to a small Thai Restaurant called ‘Goldener Buddha’ near the Schönhauseralle tram stop for dinner. I didn’t expect to get seated that easily because when I was there last time, not only the place was packed and I hardly get a seat but I had to wait for quite sometime before I got a seat. So, after food was served we started to enjoy our meal and had a chat about random stuff.

Somewhere in between, the young German couple who sat just next to our table started to lighten the cigarette whilst they were waiting for their food. I gave them a stern look but they didn’t seem to be bothered with that and kept continuing spreading the nicotine. It really ruined the ambiance, as well as my mood, but as I mentioned they didn’t seem to care at all about the feeling of other non-smoker customers in that restaurant. I looked around and tried to collect a little bit of support from some other customers but it appeared that we were the only one who got really irritated by this adolescent’s manner.

My partner started to ask me questions about smoking and how I feel when I see people smoking considering I used to be a rather heavy smoker myself. And so the conversation went.

To be perfectly honest, one of the reasons why I quit smoking for more than two years ago was partly because of my partner’s influence. I managed to quit in a rather extreme manner and ever since I just can’t cope sitting around people smoking. I tried to connect myself with these people because I know the feeling being hated for smoking in a public sphere. The truth is I can not do that! I simply can’t connect myself with my previous part of me who used to smoke like a madman. It feels like the other part of me which has been eliminated and now I clearly see people smoking without being able to hide my annoyance look towards them.

They say when you’ve been through stuff you will become more tolerant about this because you know exactly how it feels like to be in that position. But as strange as it may sound I have almost zero tolerance for people smoking and this is why I particularly said I quit in an extreme fashion. I disregard smoking people and I clearly think that they are selfish and to a lesser extent hypocritical!

Selfish? They never regard other people’s feeling about the smell of cigarette or the harms being passive smokers and even though they know smoking is going to disrupt the clearness of the air, they still do it anyway. Hypocritical? Smokers also know that cigarette or nicotine can cause serious damage to your health sooner rather than later but again they still do it. Based on these arguments, you can see why I can’t connect myself with part of me who used to do the same thing and again to be brutally honest with you, I still feel really awful and horribly guilty sometimes by the fact that I used to be one of these people!

Now we move to another fact. Looking to the German society in general, I feel slightly upset by the fact that the awareness of society towards cigarette is arguably low. Fact said last night, there was no social pressure to this young couple from other customers even though they knew the smell of the cigarette ruined the nice ambiance of the restaurant. Okay, it was not a non-smoking restaurant but it does not justify that you are inconsiderately able to smoke whenever you like. And if such event occurs there is nothing that stops someone from smoking besides social pressure or social stigmatisation.

If I am allowed to compare it to Britain, you can really feel the significance of social pressure towards smokers. This is partly due to the fact that the British government has been promoting and implementing smoking ban in public places. The same similar ban is coming into effect in France from the beginning of 2008. Apart from smoking ban, as far as I observed, you can always feel the awareness of the society about this issue. Every time you try to light up your cigarette in a public place you get a stern look from people around you unless you are in a designated area for smokers. The bottom line is, the German society in general, this includes the government arguably, might have to push or raise the awareness of the people about this issue by giving the smokers uncomfortable feeling every time they start to light up the cigarette in public places. Self fulfilling prophecy is not just an obscure term and I do believe if people are being positive to campaign anti smoking in public places, the energy might spread throughout the country!

So kids, i really want you to put out that cigarette!


elvy said...

lucky me living in this part of germany where they ban smoking in restaurants. :D

but there is another thing even worse than to have your neighbours in restaurant smoking... it's to have people walking in front of you smoking, early in the morning. you're hoping that you can have a small exercise and enjoy the fresh air, walking from your apt to uni, but instead you have schoolkids smoking around you. >_<

Jakartass said...

Next time you're in Jakarta, you may be surprised how much less smoking there seems to be.

I often go home by bus and it's very rare to find anyone lighting up, even the drivers. Given that I stopped two years ago, that really pleases me.

playingdrama said...


Yeah, i remember having the same problem several times from those horrible school kids and this is another saddening fact in Germany where you witness 14-15 years-old school kids (don't know why but mostly they are female!) walking around with cigarette. Even though the cigarette automatic machine requires you to be above 18 (which means you have to insert your ID card or driving license to be able to get a pack of cigarette from this machine) but still you just can't stop wondering where or how those kids managed to buy their nicotine. =(


Actually, I was wondering about how it is nowadays in Jakarta or in Indonesia generally. Last experience meeting with bunch of Indonesian students in Berlin in a so called 'music festival' was not really appealing either.

Admittedly, I was really shattered knowing the fact that there is no differences between the young generation here or there (or maybe everywhere). But given the fact that smoking in public places is now prohibited in Indonesia (isn't it?), that really pleases me as well.

I am usually rather skeptical when it comes down to Indonesia. However, after having read your comment, a glimmer hope emerged and maybe, just maybe, there's still a light at the end of the tunnel.

Jakartass said...

PD. If you gave up smoking two years ago, why are you hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel?

playingdrama said...

good one, J! ;P