German Memoirs – Part 3

While I was still doing rounds in the various departments of Siemens, my father turned up. Once again, a pleasant surprise was awaiting me when he met one of his friends who commented that his son was keeping the flag flying. I couldn’t imagine what wonders I had done to merit this comment because apart from being regular in attendance, I had done nothing of note and college had not even started. Anyway, my father was happy and so was I!

That particular carnival was quite uneventful, but I did learn some dancing. I visited my father’s friends often and so their respective secretaries came to know me at close quarters. They would often jointly invite me to their places for dinner and insist that I dance with them. That is how I learnt some basics. And that was good enough to go through in the carnival season as nobody bothered how good or bad one was. I never did any formal ballroom dancing. While working in the winding department for motors, I made another friend – Otto Hertlein. Both Ernst and I were assigned to work with him and he taught us all the basics. This guy, Otto was a very friendly young man a father of two young kids and a wonderful man person. He had been with the German army during war years and loved shooting. He possessed a couple of pistols and revolvers – I don’t know whether licensed or not – which he would bring to the factory and practice target shooting in the basement, with big wooden drums as targets! We quickly befriended each other and I was often invited to his house over the weekend to Spalt, a very small town near Nuremberg. His wife, Gerda, was also a cheerful lady. Otto did travel once to India, but not to Bombay. He was a part of setting up a steel plant at Rourkela, in another state, which was being built with German collaboration. I did meet him a couple of times during my visits to Germany, post-graduation, but he died fairly young. It has been my misfortune to lose dear friends in my long life spanning eight and a half decades, but then such is life.

Just like Otto, I met Karl Plietsch in the electrical testing department. Also a father of two young kids, Monika and Peter, he lived near where I did in Nuremberg. He too, was a very amenable man. Needless to say, I was often invited to his house for dinner during winter. We would often go tobogganing to Schmausenbuck, a hillock nearby. While tobogganing was great fun, I never learnt skiing. After he retired, he settled down in a nearby village where I used to visit him during my trips to Germany. But somehow, we lost contact, I don’t know when or how.5

 

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