An Afternoon beside the Neckar

As the summer approaches, in countries like Germany, where the sun shines for longer hours and the harsh winters are gone, people come out of their homes to celebrate the warmth. So there was I at the Lebendiger Neckar, the festival on the river Neckar to take part in the revelry. (Here I must acknwledge that I had the advantage of having someone to tip me off about this otherwise it would have gone un-noticed. Daniel, who has been living in and around Heidelberg all his life, told me a day before, to check it out 🙂 Bless him.). There were lots of people even though the weather was not so great. The sun tried to peek from between the clouds but that was not so easy for it. So finally it left the struggle and let the clouds rule the sky. If I were alone, I would also have left the field and gone back to the hotel. But thankfully, I had a colleague who was also there with her friend and very graciously asked me to join them. We first took a pedal boat where Constanze took pictures while Peter and I pedaled seeing the Neckar around us.

The sun was there for a few minutes and then we had the cold wind blowing around us. But all in all, it was a good start.
Then we walked around a bit and saw the stalls that had been put up. But before that, we saw boys making a splash into the river with their bikes, after climbing a slope. They did it in different ways, one twirling the bike before the dive, one relinquishing the bike before the dive and so on. It was really brave of them to dive into such cold water.

But probably the applause made it worthwhile for them. (It is such a universal feeling to feel nice when you are the center of attraction and people appreciate what you are doing! More so when you are young and have what is called the joie de vivre.)
Next we went to a stall which was from a group which promoted awareness about the trees. So they had put up a kind of “Guess the name” game wherein, there were numbered tree trunks with some of them having the pictures of the corresponding leaves pinned on them, and then the participant was given a sheet with names of the trees. So all one had to do was identify the tree and put the number beside the correct name on the paper. Constanze and Peter managed to get quite many names correctly and then she received a book as a prize :-).
Then we went to see some other stalls where they got the information about the hiking trips in and around the region. Next we watched the games that were set up for children to play, along with a mini zoo!It had some varieties of grasshoppers kept in a glass case with a plant, a millipede which was exchanging hands because many were seeing it for the first time. Then there was a stall with a kind of incense-box in which the people were supposed to recognize substances by their scents and I could recognize four out of the five scents :-).
After all the walking, we went to a small ship, turned into a restaurant for refueling ourselves. There we had a nice Flammkuchen and I also had some Kashmiri chai (I thought of it as the height of weirdness – an Indian having something very Indian for the first time – in Germany! But in the end it turned out to be nothing more than the normal tea that is made in almost all Indian households along with some cardamom (elaichi). The only additional ingredient being clove and milk was conspicuous because of its absence!). But it was nice to have the tea in that way after a long time.
After the fuel, it was time to dance. Constanze had come prepared to do the Tango, the dance-floor for which was set-up just beside the restaurant ship. She went to get her shoes while I watched the couples dancing. Then when she returned I saw her dance a little and she made me also take a crash course in Tango with her partner Jo :-).
Then I decided to call it a day and left. But there were two more strange things to happen. Details of those will come but a little later. Till then, as the Germans would say “Bis Spaeter” :-)!

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