Such are partnerships!

Delhi Police and police of Saxony could be prime partners in harassing innocents, writes Varupi Jain.

india Updated: Sep 14, 2005 01:08 IST

Against the backdrop of the Second World War, German cities started partnering with other German, European and even non-European cities in order to boost cultural exchange across borders and facilitate convergence of people and cultures.

While typically German cities have one major partner city, some of the cities have partnership arrangements with many cities dotting the globe.

While exploring the city appropriate for partnering, factors like the size of the city and its structure (predominantly rural/urban) play a role.

The city governments also investigate if there are established contacts between local residents, schools or municipalities that could be intensified to form the basis of a partnership. Once such criteria match adequately, administrative heads like Mayors of the respective cities exchange visits and the partnership is formalised by signing an agreement.

The formalisation of the partnership is followed by organising cultural events related to the partner city.

While thousands of German cities have partners spread out in countries as (culturally and geographically) distant as Namibia, Japan and China, the presence of Indian cities is curiously feeble.

Believe it or not, Pune is the official partner-city of the North-German city-state of Bremen, Chennai partners with the city of Halle, Alan-Kuppam (Pondicherry) with Langerhagen while Mumbai is the partner city of Stuttgart and Rourkela has a friendship agreement with Werne in North-Rhine/Westphalia. Why one almost never senses any vibrations of their partners in the respective cities on either side is anybody's guess.

In any case, the Indian embassy in Berlin is keeping up with its promise of spreading the flavour of India. The embassies in Berlin organise the All Nations Festival every year when they throw open their doors to visitors.

Just like previous years, the Indian embassy was one of the most popular ones attracting over 5000 visitors in a single day.

Besides the day-long cultural programme which included sitar, tabla and kathak performances, other events like bindi and mehndi demos, saree and turban tying, promotion of Indian tea, food and drinks were a total hit - so much so that the visitors offered to pay a price for custom-made services.

German Police: with you, for you, always?

Well, one could debate on other aspects, but Delhi Police and the police of the state of Saxony could certainly be prime partners in harassing innocent citizens.

My first and hopefully the last encounter with the German police was most hilarious. Four of us were waiting at the tram-station close to midnight; my three companions being tall, dark and capped Indian friends.

Muttering curses to the German weather Gods, we were delighted to see the tram trudge through the snowy track.

Suddenly, a police car screeched to a halt just metres away from us and three armed policemen and one un-armed policewoman approached us almost ferociously.

"We want to see your passports," demanded the leader of the four. I told him that we usually do not carry passports with us and showed him my University identity card which thankfully had a recent picture. "But you surely know that according to the law of the state of Saxony, everyone is supposed to carry a valid proof of identity and we are authorised to check it even without suspicion of crime?"

The last tram just left without us and the thought of walking back home in -5° C crushed me while I was being enlightened on the intricacies of German law.

One of my friends, who was leaving Germany for good the next day was perhaps more optimistic.

In the hope of getting a free ride back home, he asked the policewoman if they wanted to accompany us back to check our passports. No, they declared, snatched away the identity cards of my three friends and disappeared into their station wagon, with the last policeman waving to us to follow him towards the car.

Wow! We thought, by now exploding into fits of laughter - finally we will get a free ride and get to see the interiors of a German police wagon.

Much to our disappointment, we were told to wait in snow while the Herrschaften - in their wagon which was apparently good enough for forensic investigations - cross-checked our biographical data with the records of the city of Leipzig - in the middle of nowhere, in one-feet snow, past midnight.

Finally, our identities were re-established - as harmless students from India. The police were almost surprised and disappointed - how come we were not a gang of runaway terrorists?

"You may go," announced the lady. "But we missed the last tram," I dared to answer back. "Wait for the night-liner," she shouted, as they took off to hunt for their next victim.

Duty in devil's clothing, we chuckled.

First Published: Sep 14, 2005 01:08 IST