During my visits to Germany, I used to stay as a paying guest in the bread-and-breakfast homes on the outskirts of Frankfurt, Hamburg and Düsseldorf. I learnt that if the name of the town ended with 'burg', it had a castle, while if it ended with 'dorf', it had a big church. My visits also gave me the opportunity to get to know about the German lifestyle.
Germans live in a hierarchical society. The formal way to addressing each other during official meetings extends to their homes. For instance, the managing director with a doctorate in engineering was addressed as herr doctorate engineer Manfred Klaus and he would address his subordinates as herr diploma marketing Martin Getzemeir or herr diploma engineer Peter Herfe. At home, the lady calls out to her husband possessively as "my man Philip".
The world wars had left an imbalance in the male to female ratio, resulting in females far outnumbering the males. The dice was loaded heavily in favour of the men, and they acted pricey.
Once in Ashafenburg, I stayed with a couple, Philip and his wife Anne. I had picked up a bread-and-breakfast deal at Frankfurt Flughäfen (airport) for forty euros. I took the train from the Hauptbahnhof (main station) and when I reached their house in the afternoon, they were having lunch. I wished them 'guten tag' (good day) and they invited me to join them. It was a typical German lunch with bread, butter, salamis and sausages, accompanied with red wine.
I finished lunch and picked up my plate, Anne took it from me and kept it for washing in the kitchen. This gesture of mine made a good impression. When I returned from an exhibition in the evening, both Philip and Anne were waiting for me in the lobby. Philip poured me a glass of beer and we sat down talking. I presented them with a set of silk cushion covers. Thanking me, they invited me for the wine festival in the town later that evening. I changed and wore a turquoise turban.
At the wine festival, people were dancing to live music. The Germans are very fond of beer and wine and indulge in drinking passionately. The festival drew to an end late in the night and a young girl was chosen as the wine queen of Ashafenburg. As per tradition, she kisses the man she likes the most in the crowd. To my amazement, she chose me, probably because of my turquoise turban, which stood out in the crowd. Later, Philip remarked, "I have been staying here for the past 40 years and no wine queen has ever kissed me." I replied, "Philip, you should tie a turban next time for better luck."
Six months later, I was again in Germany and went to meet Philip and Anne. The wine queen of Ashafenburg had been selected as the wine queen of Germany by then and the town people were honouring her. My bright orange turban stood out and she came by my table and presented me with a bottle of wine with her picture on the label. She wanted to be lucky again for the next crown so she planted a kiss on me. She was competing for the 'Wine Queen of Europe' title. Hope I was her lucky charm again with my turban trick.