Trip Down Memory Lane of Past drupas: Experiences, From Surreal to the Comical
It’s hard to believe that drupa 2016, which kicks off May 31 in Düsseldorf, Germany, will mark my eighth drupa exhibition. Like forever remembering that idyllic first kiss, I recall my first drupa in 1986 just as vividly as the last one I attended in 2012. I had been named editor-in-chief of Printing Impressions in 1985, so drupa 1986 marked my first time in that role on an international stage.
Some co-workers refused to go, fearing potential acts of terrorism. The United States had just bombed Libya in April 1986, and the news was filled with speculation that Muammar Gaddafi would seek revenge. Security was tight and nothing happened — except for the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the USSR and subsequent fears of airborne contamination, even in Western Europe. I recall the locals advising us not to eat the eggs, which they said were mainly imported from Poland.
Fast forward to several drupas that followed, and recollections of experiences remain clear, but the years in which they occurred are partly cloudy. The drupa where I had my briefcase stolen the morning I arrived at the Düsseldorf train station from Frankfurt sticks out the most. The exhaustion of flying overseas was quickly overshadowed by the realization that my briefcase contained my U.S. passport, medications, American Express travel checks (including the check numbers you’re supposed to keep separate), my drupa itinerary, business cards — and even the keys for my car parked back at the Philadelphia airport. Luckily, a U.S consulate office was nearby to issue me a temporary passport and the drupa organizers quickly helped get me up and running again.
I attended another drupa as part of a vendor-sponsored contingent of mostly U.S customers. We first made a side trip to Scotland, where we feasted inside a tent next to a castle one evening. One of the host’s sales reps decided to relieve himself in the surrounding moat, only to fall into the water. Naturally, everyone teased him for the rest of the trip.
Then there was the nighttime train ride to visit Cologne, followed by a 25-mile taxi ride back to Düsseldorf after realizing the trains had stopped running. Arguments ensued over who would try to expense it.
Of course, every drupa sojourn has to include visits to the Altstadt (old town) for Spargel (white aspargus) and Schweinshaxe (roasted pork knuckle), accompanied by glasses of Pils or Altbier. Recalling the product introductions from one drupa to the next eventually fade, but personal experiences — both good and bad — remain etched forever.
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