German Memoirs – Part 9

Fifth semester over, some celebrations were naturally called for. So our “Skat” gang – we were three regulars – plus two others, decided to play Skat through the night at a friend’s place and then attend a ball the next evening. My mother had come to Europe the previous year and had taught me to cook spicy potatoes the Indian way. She had brought some spices with her and the leftovers were still with me. Some of my friends had acquired a taste for this dish, so it was decided that chef Yogi would cook potatoes for lunch. Next day, we played through the night and again after a quick breakfast. Lunch was prepared by my friend, Otfried’s sister and another friend, the potatoes being reserved for the chef! After lunch, we were at Skat again, when around 5 p.m. we realized that we should now be getting ready as our other friends were due to arrive in order to leave for the ball by 7ish.

I was in the bathroom, shaving brush in hand when the bell rang. It was Heinz Schmitzeh, the fellow who had taught me Skat, along with his wife. Heinz was a great guy, always laughing, teasing and absolutely loveable. He was fond of a drink, too. Since alcohol was forbidden at the dance hall, he had brought a bottle or two to celebrate beforehand. He barged into the bathroom and introduced me to his, insisting I have a friendship drink with her. That rascal put me in a dilemma. He knew only too well that I did not drink and a refusal to have a friendship drink with a lady was tantamount to an insult! I was forced to down that glass of cognac, much against my will. I continued with my shaving but this loveable rascal had other plans! Soon two or three other friends arrived on the scene along with their girlfriends and poor Yogi had to swallow some more of that stuff! I had just about finished shaving and dressing up when Uschi or Ursula, Otfried’s girlfriend arrived. Which meant one more drink. Uschi was a chatterbox who showed great interest in India. She started firing off questions, when the alcohol started having its effect. I had downed at least four or five cognacs in about half an hour and I was already feeling miserable. I asked Otfried for a cup of coffee, excused myself from Ursula and just plonked on the bed. When everyone was ready to leave, I was in no condition to move, so it was decided that Otfried’s sister who had a job nearby, would pick me up later when I had stirred. By then, my head was really spinning. It was January, but I had two cold showers to rid myself of the effect! After some time, Otfried’s sister called and asked me to get ready. I did, but by the time she came, I was again lying in the bed, socks and shoes on! I just requested her to untie my laces and remove my shoes and there I was again in horizontal position! She left without me but not before giving me a hangover pill given by her doctor cousin. It was around 2 a.m. that I heard voices. Otfried and some friends had come to check on me. Somehow, I managed to go with them but was absolutely in no condition to enjoy the proceedings, so we returned around 5 o’clock early morning and everyone crashed straight to bed, but now that pill was working on me and I just couldn’t sleep! It was my turn to be a chatterbox while all of them pleaded with me to shut up, but after what they had done to me I was in no mood to oblige! So that was the end of our great celebratory evening. I am glad I did not have to go home to Nuremberg in that condition, otherwise I would have received some nice “pudding” from Wally!

As an aside, the doctor who gave me that pill also gave me a daily calendar printed on toilet paper, given out by a pharmaceutical company called Temmler. It was only given to practicing physicians and every single tissue had a juicy medical joke printed on it, the underlying idea being that the doctor’s life being hard one, at least every morning while on the WC, he could pull out one tissue, read the joke and with a broad smile on his face, use the paper for the purpose it was meant for and then flush it down the drain! I thank my stars that I am not a medical practitioner and therefore have been able to preserve that calendar. It is my precious possession, a treasure trove I have not willed any of my three children because none of them will be able to appreciate the beauty of those 365 juicy German medical jokes!

By the time I cleared my fifth semester, my dearest friend Guenter had to give up studies because he had once again failed in German! I really can’t understand what the language had to do with Electrical Engineering – the guy knew so much about technical subjects! He was again there to help me in my sixth semester. We had to do some detailed planning of a service station, which included receiving and distributing electricity and what have you, which involved many calculations and balancing of various equipment. Well, Guenter did everything – and I mean everything – for me. The term ended, exams over and Yogi passed! A childhood dream had become a reality!

God had intervened for the third time! Had it not been for Guenter and Horst, this would not have been possible. Came July the 15th 1957, the convocation was held. I duly received my certificate and heaved a sigh of relief.

A few weeks later, I left for Berlin. This time, as a Trainee Engineer specializing in the field of cable manufacture, as Siemens was building a factory in Bombay to manufacture cables. Ultimately though, I did not join Siemens but worked in our own family concern manufacturing winding wires, where my training in the manufacture of cables came in handy.

Then in June 1958, I set sail for India, a qualified engineer.




2 thoughts on “German Memoirs – Part 9

  1. Some of these I knew, some are new even for me. Happy that I could meet some of your friends. You’re blessed to have just a close group which has kept in touch over time & distance. God bless you all!


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