Monday, September 3, 2007

The Gengenbach Story

First of September saw me spending little extra time on the bed, after seeing off Bettina & her family on a trip to northern Italy. We had a good lunch and little talk in the morning. And then went off to take some rest. I was watching a detective movie on the T.V. while resting on a beautiful bed prepared by Anja. At 1.40 p.m. we left Geslingen and traveled to Gengenbach through the dense Black Forest. The forest seem to have got its name “black” due to the number of tall long needle-leaved deep green pine trees that fill the hills in southern Germany. These pines, due to their color, do not allow the light to pass down to the ground, giving the name “black forest”. Since we rode through slowly, enjoying the nature, we took about an hour and a half to cover the 80 kilometers. At Gengenbach, me, Anja and Michael were welcomed by Evelyn and Peter. It was Peter’s birthday. Soon, more and more friends and family members joined in. Matze, Marcus, Gabi and so many others! Well, Matze, the great “cook” and brother of Michael & Evelyn began preparing the food. At 4.00 p.m. I accompanied Michael to Offenburg to bring Dr. Joachim Schmerbeck. He too joined us in the Birthday party. We had some good meal, and lots of discussion on Natural Resource Management programs in West Bengal, and also about what could be done in Raiganj.

At 8.00 p.m. we reached Joachim back to Offenburg so that he can leave for Freiburg. On return from Offenburg, the party continued. We three of us, left at 10.30 p.m. to the house of Gabi where she and her husband had prepared two well furnished rooms for us. I fell on the bed immediately, as I was feeling sleepy.

One important thing I must mention here. While working with Dr. Joachim, I realized that since the previous day, I have been noticing that there are two three-pin plugs in Germany! Oh, no! I just can’t charge my lap-top. Peter and Michael worked on a wire with a double pin to temporarily connect it to the laptop’s power cord, so that I can charge it for the day. Attention Everyone: If you are traveling to Germany or other European countries with your laptops, beware of your power cord!

In the morning, I woke up by 6.00 am and had a very good bath at a “beautiful” toilet at Gabi’s. Then I had a short walk around the house. That is when I realized that the family of Gabi deals in Minerals. Soon, I was treated to one of the best views of my travel. I was taken to the cellar where they have several rooms, entirely selling and researching in minerals. Hundreds of types of minerals, all in various shapes and sizes! Waw! I spent some time in the midst of minerals brought from various caves, mountains, seas and mines all over the world. Simply the passion of these two persons for the nature has entirely changed their life. I could see the garden all around their house, again filled with the grandeur of nature. The Gabis gave me a small medallion made of a rare mineral! We had breakfast at the house of Evelyn & Peter, bid farewell to everyone there. (I was informed that the party went on till 5.00 a.m, as Matez continued to play Piano till then!)

Well, Michael and Anja have been so generous to me. I do not know, how will I be able to repay them. They brought me to Stuttgart. The distance of about 200 kilometers was covered in an hour and a half, with Michael, sitting on the driver’s seat, hitting 175 km/h at most of the time. The high way close to Stuttgart was having lot of rush, and the roads were crowded with cars. Since the time I landed in Frankfurt on 30th, I had not seen a police man. But today, I could see some of them. We had a look around the telephone tower of Stuttgart, the soccer stadiums and then the large marketing plazas around the Stuttgart railway station. Where there are no spaces, people have made large spaces by creating lot of underground structures for marketing, railway stations and for almost every human need. I learnt another very important thing. The people and government have worked together to create a clean, litter-free country. We must do it. Yes, Indians can do it.

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