Kabul is a long way from Bonn, Germany, but for Feros, a young Afghan bartender, the city on the Rhine is home, especially during the crazy days of Carnival.
Feros tends the taps in his Carnival pub in Bonn-Buschdorf
Standing behind a row of beer taps, the bartender smiles at his customers. He draws a beer, hands it to them and turns up the volume on the music. A popular melody floats across the smoky air, and the guests sing along, lifting their beer glasses in a toast.
It’s Carnival time in Bonn–Buschdorf, a small village outside Germany’s former capital. And the town is gathered for a few beers and lively talk in the local pub, "Old Buschdorf".
During this time of the year, colorfully decorated pubs throughout the Rhine region open their doors to party-hungry guests, but Buschdorf’s old town pub is slightly different.
It’s owned and operated by an Afghan family.
So instead of the usual older, heavy-set German typically found in small village pubs, a young Afghan tends to the taps and chats with his guests. His name is Feros and he’s 20 years old.
Sixteen years ago Feros’ family left Afghanistan and came to Germany. First they went to Rüdisheim on the Rhine and then to Bonn, where Feros grew up, learned German and went to school.
"Bonn is pretty okay. It’s my second home, after Afghanistan," Feros says.
A year ago Feros and his mother and father took over the ownership of Bushdorf’s oldest bar and restaurant, turning the turn-of-the-century building into a popular meeting point for the village.
In the summer, the courtyard behind the house doubles up as a beer garden with colorful lights. Feros and his father grill lamb steaks on a giant grill and serve traditional Afghan fare on long picnic tables.
During the winter, the pub is rather quiet. Only the regulars come, sit around the bar and exchange stories.
But at Carnival time, Feros’ pub livens up. It becomes the "royal headquarters" of Buschdorf’s own Carnival prince and princess. Every night Gerd III and Ilona I reign over the foolish festivities. They drink beer, buy rounds for the other regulars, laugh and tell jokes.
The business of fun
This is the first year Feros and his family will be directly involved in organizing traditional Carnival activities. And they’ve got a lot planned.
All the festivities will break out on Thursday with the traditional "Weiberfastnacht" or Women’s Carnival. For the big night, the family has installed a sound system and set up a beer keg in the garden. There’s even a dance floor and a disco lamp, and a local Buschdorf band will stop in for a few rounds of merry-making.
"It’s going to be a big party here," Feros says sweeping his hands confidently around the pub.
The people will come and laugh, drink, eat and have a good time, he says.
Asked why he’s going to so much effort to impress the people of Buschdorf, Feros replies, "I want to show everyone what we can do."
As for costumes, an integral part of Carnival, the barkeeper has that worked out too. "I’ll probably go as a devil, with a scary mask," he says, "or maybe with a clown’s nose."
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