India gets all the bad rap for our caste system, and rightfully so. But if this isn’t a caste system of a different kind, then what  is it?  Put in the compromising position and also sensing John and John’s silent approval of me, Dr. Girardet, feeling however  awkward, invites Heinz to join us. And Heinz isn’t even in socio-psychological frame of mind to gracefully decline the invitation and wiggle out of his predicament. If Dr. Girardet has personally invited him, then all he could say is: Danke. Gerne. It enormously pleases me. And relieves John and John of whatever discomfort they must have felt.

‘I have never forgotten that.’ Heinz has often said to me.

So yes, we have bonded. And yet, there remains a certain amount of indignation that I can sense in Heinz. We never talked about it, but I could imagine him feeling at times that here I was, the devil in what was his paradise. Albeit a friendly one and likable even, making it harder that at the end of the day, I would have the final say on the matters we couldn’t agree upon.

There would be small annoyances and disagreements that would play out between us in front of people of the printing company, and whereas before Playboy’s arrival, he would be the only one to scratch his signature on the corrected forms (normally 16 or 32 page on large sheet of paper), now had to be okayed by both of us. But we always managed to reach a compromise and never allowed those things to come between us and our favorite watering hole Amboss nearby. The place we referred to as Axel’s – after it’s owner’s name.  An added attraction was Axel’s Rubenesque but very pretty and flirtatious wife Bärbel. That is until…

Must have been around 3:30 and we are looking at a form and doing color corrections with Girardet’s Hans (Potisch). I no longer remember the exact nature of correction or the extent of it, but we couldn’t seem to have reached an accord and agree to a compromise. If I insisted and Heinz resisted, it must have been something that would cost Bauer fair amount of money in labor, material and lost time. Something Heinz is responsible for. Whatever it was, it must have been important enough to me to correct. An argument ensued. It gets heated. Normally, Hans would step in and suggest a middle way. Not this time. At some point, Heinz gets so angry, he throws his China marker wax pencil across the viewing table. Frustrated he spews out:

‘Verdamt! Du machts was du willst, Ich habe nicht damit zu tun!‘(Damn, you do what you want to do. I don’t want to have anything to do with it.)  Huffing and puffing, he darts out of our loft viewing room and I hear him thumping down the spiral stairs, opening his office door and then violently slamming it close.

Left behind in bit of a daze, after a while, Hans  picks up his wax pencil and begins to mark the proofs spread out on the table and us two finish the job. He rolls up the pages, shoves them under his arm.

‘Gute nacht Haresh. Bis Morgan!’ And he leaves.

I sit down at my desk and take a deep breath. By then it must be 4:30 or later. I got it my way, but I am far from being happy about it. Heinz and I have grown on each other and I thought we had found a way to work together. And we had. And suddenly, there is a lapse.

I gather myself and walk down. Even though the door to his office is partially closed, I know that Heinz is still there. I don’t even think about walking out of there without wishing him good night. I slowly open the door. He is sitting at his desk. Looking pensive and down like a defeated warrior. I hold the partially open door and say:

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