I returned to Bonn, the city where my life in Germany began in 1993. Since departing for India in 1994, I had been back only once and stored the memories of the brief interlude with the city at the very back of my mind. Spending the weekend with a dear friend was an interesting experience, not just for the re-discovery of the city, but because we both realised we had come full circle in our lives.
Bonn is not a spectacular city or large metropolis like Berlin or even Cologne, and now that all the government offices have moved away and relocated in Berlin, it has strengthened the character of a university town. Walking around the old haunts, rediscovering the quaint alleys, and remembering why I fell in love with chestnut trees was both comforting and uplifting somehow. The old cliche of walking down Memory Lane suddenly became a reality.
The Poppelsdorfer Allee was my street, with the centre, leading from the Poppelsdorfer Palace on the one end, all the way down to the Hofgarten and with a dual pedestrian carriage on both sides, all lined with noble chestnut trees. These trees defined the season and inspired me on the worst of days while adjusting to German winter.
I moved to Bonn towards the end of autumn, so it is peculiar, almost creepy, to return in autumn 25 years later. I found the old apartment, and even managed to navigate around the old city, which is not difficult to do in Bonn considering how small it is. Nevertheless, it felt like a homecoming of sorts, and to be there with the woman who was my first friend in India after moving away from Bonn, was almost straight out of a book. I suppose it was, the book of life.
The Rhine River is spectacular and breathtaking in summer but my favourite season to contemplate it is actually winter. There is something poetic about all the bare trees along the banks and the imposing castles along the river. The part of the Rhine that flows past Bonn, however, has to be one of the most boring parts, especially if coming from Cologne.
Now that I have come full circle, a new beginning looms in the horizon.