German Memoirs – Part 6

Thus, the third semester was also cleared. Upcoming was the toughest part; some students opted for Power Engineering while others chose Telecommunications. I opted for the former as did most of my dear friends.

Halfway through the fourth semester came carnival time. Oh boy, we were certainly not going to miss out on the fun. Our gang decided to go somewhere in fancy dress. I thought I would tag along dressed as an Indian. So I went attired in a kurta-pyjama (a sort of long shirt and drawstring pants) outfit. As usual, I was happily sipping my Coke when a German girl asked me for dance. We got chatting, when because of the fluency in my German, she could not believe that I was actually India. She had thought that I had used make-up to look like one. To check it out, she literally licked my cheeks and when no paint came out, she said, “Ah, so you are really an Indian!”

Having heard so much about the carnival in Cologne and Dusseldorf, we decided to spend the last three days, which are the highpoint, there. This turned out to be the best carnival I have ever attended. The streets were all full and there was hardly any place to stand. As the carnival procession began, my friends and I hopped on to an open truck, joined by many others.

I will try to describe some part of it to the best of my ability: there was one float it depicted the story of a queen in tattered clothes, whose husband the king, was slain in battle by another king whose help she now sought. In one corner of the truck, you could see the queen holding her baby, tears flowing down. In the opposite corner, was the victor’s head just popping out of a tower in the castle. As the queen started crying out loudly moving in the victor’s direction, her tears started squirting onto his face. In the meantime, he had extended his neck by means of some mechanism to cover half the truck and reach the queen, who whispered something in his ears as he nodded his approval. In all this commotion, the baby woke up and urinated copiously. Seeing the flow, a clown standing by happily washed his face in this! I tell you this was hilarious – but nowhere near what followed!

Came a procession of about a dozen men in shorts and torn shirts walking in single file. Out front were two guys holding a banner. Their shorts were covered with butter paper and a copious amount of mustard had been applied there, making it look like they had soiled themselves but not bothered to clean up. A bundle of sausages hung round their shoulders and in their hands they held a very large tin pot containing beer. Every now and then they would break off a sausage link, thrust in the bum of the guy ahead and enjoy the mustard covered sausage! Once in a while, they also offered a juicy bite to the bystanders. Sound tempting?

The procession over, it was now time to disembark from the truck. I was one of the first to jump down. Being very chivalrous (ahem!) I offered a helping hand to others get off. This included a group of about six or seven middle-aged ladies. As soon as the truck was empty and before I could realize what was happening, one of these ladies grabbed me and planted a kiss on my lips, saying “Young man, you have to be rewarded for the help you have rendered.” I was totally taken a back! this was absolutely against our culture and I was not brought up to handle such a situation! Not that I did not like the kiss, but an open demonstration embarrassed me a lot! Not to be outdone, the remaining ladies also left their marks on my lips! Seeing my discomfort, my friends were roaring with laughter and I am sure this added to the bystander’s fun too! Simply put, this was the best carnival I ever participated in. By the way, I have never attended any such carnival thereafter.

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