Great Honor for Lucknow Scientist in Germany

It is a rare thing for any Indian woman to achieve such high recognition as Mrs. Dr. Qamar Rahman of Lucknow, India has achieved in Germany. She is one of the few foreign scientists who have been awarded the Honorary Doctorate from the highly respected University of Rostock in 2009 and is invited every year in summer to teach the students as a visiting professor. As a matter of fact Dr. Qamar Rahman is the first Indian who as been awarded this honour in the 600 years history of the Rostock University, situated near the Baltic sea in the north of Germany in the former East German territory. She is also listed as one of the ten biggest women scientists of India.

The charming, dynamic and highly cultured lady Dr. Qamar Rahman is proud of her Lucknow background and culture and has very good knowledge of Urdu poetry, quoting in her charming conversation lots of Urdu verses, particularly from Ali Sardar Jafri. I have always had pleasure in talking to her on Indian matters and Urdu literary problems remembering many common friends. Dr. Qamar Rahman is in these days again in Rostock, as a visiting professor. She has come this time when Germany is experiencing one of the hottest summers in its history. Recently when she called me from Rostock, I was highly delighted and decided to write about her contributions in Germany.

To me it is a matter of proud that a personality from my home town Lucknow, whom I know so well and admire has achieved a highly respected position and is now again in Germany. Naturally it was an excellent opportunity to get a brief interview from her. I conversation follows as:

Qamar Rahman Saheba, You come here every year to teach in Rostock. Of course I remember your short visit to Berlin also. Now you have come to Rostock when lots of people from all over the world are coming to this city for enjoying holidays in the Baltic Sea. But you are busy in teaching in the university of Rostock. May I know how do you like Rostock as a place and when did you come first to Germany?

It was 1981 when I first came to Germany on the invitation of Prof. Schilkotar, Director of “Institut f¸r Lufthygiene”, to give a talk at D¸sseldorf. I remember my drive from Frankfurt to D¸sseldorf; it was looking like flames everywhere, as the leaves turned orange, due to winter. A fascinating sight. Then in 1994, I came as DAD’s Visiting Scientist at Toxicology Institute, Karlsruhe, in the south of Germany and Institute for Physiological Chemistry, University of D¸sseldorf and stayed for three months. In 1996 I stayed in Karlsruhe for two months as a visiting Scientist for two months on the invitation of Toxicology Institute Karlsruhe. Among other activities I had the opportunity of visiting the beautiful hilly place Baden Baden (in Black Forest). Where the great writer Dostoevsky had lost his money and later wrote his world famous novel The Gambler. In 1996 Prof. Dietmar Schiffmann from the Department of Biological Science Institute for Cell Biology and Bio systems Technology, University of Rostock, invited me to give a talk. Later we developed several programmes with CSIR and DFG and as you know I have started coming to Rostock every year from 1998 till today.

Qamar Saheba, Rostock as you have seen is a beautiful city at Baltic Sea. It is every time full of tourists and lovers of swimming. This year you have come here when people are enjoying one of the hottest summers in the history of Rostock. How do you feel here? What are you impressions?

I feel Rostock is my second home, after Lucknow. The very same question, which you have asked me, is asked often in India also. Why do you go to Rostock? And every time my reply is, that this gives me freshness in my life. Every year when I come here, I feel I am getting a new life. People here always welcome me with affection and open arms. I have never felt home sick here. Academically as well as personally I have gained a lot here. I published scientific papers with Fellows and Professors from this university in the Journals of high impact factors. Guided several Indian and German PhD. students. Still my students are working here as Post. Doc. I am the first Indian in the 600 years of this university who got Honorary Doctorates and I have shared this platform with great Scientists like Einstein. I have got wonderful friends who cared about me like close relatives.

Can you mention few of them?

Well, Dietmar Schiffmann, a true friend who showed me the whole Mecklenburg state (in the north of the Eastern part of Germany) describing its history, he always use to come to receive me and see me off at Berlin Airport. A genius scientist, a knowledgeable person, a real gentleman, a selfless man, who always gave priority to others. He has a unique collection of books on various subjects, music records and system.
Dieter Weiss, Director of the Institute, superannuated from University, but has not retire from creations, established a big microscopic centre, where you may find microscopes of different periods. He always supports his staff and students and helps them.

Mr. Joachim Wittern, Chancellor of the University. Indeed a very graceful man with great sense of humor, dignity and administrator, who retired recently. A good and helping friend.

Mrs. Gabriele Witten, a very artistic and sophistic lady. The International guesthouse (IBZ) was established under her supervision, under Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. I had the honour as 1st guest over there.

Dr. Elke Dopp, an ideal woman, a role model as daughter, wife, mother and friend and on the top of every thing an established scientist.

Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schareck Rector, I met him in 2009 and immediately realised a real academician under whose umbrella this university will progress a lot. Another very descent person with vision, which is very good for the University. He always presents me good books about Rostock and his University. In fact there are so many persons who can be mentioned.

What about other parts of Germany? Which other cities you have visited and what are your impression?

As I have mentioned before the Black forest area Karlsruhe and Baden Baden they are very beautiful. Fry-burg is another beautiful city where each lane tells you about the old culture. Heidelberg University, where I was talking about Sir Mohd. Iqbal. The German Prof. who spoke Urdu as if she was from Lucknow (I think Dr. Qamar Rahman was mentioning about one of my former students of the Humboldt University Berlin, who is now Professor in Heidelberg).

Qamar Saheba mentioned further: I enjoyed walking at Iqbal str. Heidelberg castle; it’s like a painting. Munich the English Garden and the museums are so beautiful. Berlin, another most beautiful city, where from Gardens to museums to politicalize buildings people like you are living. Wherever I went whether small or big I found beauty.

When will you be returning to Lucknow? What do you miss of Lucknow in Rostock?

I miss here my nice friends, which are in Lucknow and after going back I will miss blue sky, peaceful environment, calm Baltic Sea.

Arif Naqvi

Writer is an eminent Journalist, Social Worker, Poet and World famous Urdu Author.
Born in Lucknow,
 Now based out of Berlin

(Published in The Lucknow Observer, Volume 2 Issue 18, Dated 05 September 2015)

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