Sunday, September 9, 2007

A.. Aah ! Aachen !

Julia and me had an early breakfast and rushed to the Arnsberg Railway Station by car. It was very cold for the morning. Must be around six degrees celsius. As we reached the Station, Julia took ticket for us from the Ticket Vendor and then consulted one of the touch-screen machines to get different combinations of our travel plan. That was important so we could plan our travel even from here. We have to change twice to reach Aachen. The train, a very short one reached in minutes. It was 9.05. We entered the train that was almost empty. The heater was running so that we do not freeze in cold. We got down at Hagen and took another train in minutes and then at Monchengladbach for our final destination for the day : Aachen. Well, I had a very interesting experience as well. As the door to the engine was open, I walked to the engine and was watching the driver. I was amazed by the way the semi-automatic engine was being handled by the driver, a middle aged, little fat man. He was quite friendly. He allowed to couple of photos of him. I can not imagine getting access to the engine in India. People are accessible!

At Aachen, since we had some time in hand, we walked through the streets to reach the Cathedral at Aachen. It was in this church the German Empire was first declared, and Charles the Great was crowned. Aachen had been bombed several times during the World War II, but the church had escaped. The Church still draws lots of crowds each day as a sign of German Unification and Leadership. But the city has lots of very old buildings interspersed with new, as a mark of bombs that had destroyed the old where the new buildings have come up.

At 2.00 p.m. we had the meeting with Ms. Lobo-Badr. She was very courteous, supportive and friendly. She also showed keen interest in knowing how Misereor had supported us in the past, and what changes those programs had brought about. She promised to support the programs of Raiganj within her capacity as much as possible. For lunch, we had some backwater fishes fried in oil with flavours and some flour. On our way back, we were informed about half an hour before we reached Hagen that someone had fallen sick in the train. The train stopped at the next station within minutes, and the ambulances arrived. The man had a heart attack. We were delayed by about 20 minutes. And so, we were late to get the connecting train to Arnsberg. We got some time to walk around Hagen station. Hagen is an old town with lots of industries around. We had some Chocolate Macchiato (Coffee) and took the next train at 7.13 and reached Arnsberg at 8.00 p.m. At home, we had a very long chat till almost 11.00 p.m. Julia has a very loving mother Barbara, and a real gentle man, Mr. Rudolf, as her father. They helped us plan for the next day's Indian Dinner and the Presentation of my projects to the people. The sixth day of September saw me for the most of part of the day in Aachen.

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