I have about 6 posts in my blog’s dashboard, all in various stages of completion. This single fact gives me hope that binario1 is here to stay and grow old gracefully with a head full of posts, some black, some grey and some a sunburnt brown. Unlike my previous blogren.
And everytime I open this page, intending to complete one of those 6 posts so that I could publish them, yet another random urge to write something else overpowers me, and I end up blogging something totally different. Like this time.
Its about time in fact, that I wrote a travel entry.
I’ve travelled quite a bit. To 18 countries in Europe and Asia, and to about 110 cities (Thank You, ‘Cities I’ve travelled to’ application in Facebook, for inducing me to do this count one jobless afternoon!). Not that these fairly decent numbers take away my wanderlust by the tiniest bit, No Sir! I want Brazil! Africa! Turkey! New Zealand! I want to drift off to sleep in a Caribbean beach, I want to cry out lost in a Peruvian forest, I want to peek through a train-window at the Carpathian mountains!
I havent had a single interview in my life in which I’ve not talked of my urge to travel. Nor of football, but that’s another matter altogether.
I was never a beer-lover. Until I got to Germany, that is. We, the lucky few who went to Europe on exchange last fall, were fortunate to have a lot of fun events overlapping with the semester. And arguably the best of them was Oktoberfest!, the unbridled Bavarian beer bash of drinking, music and merely embracing a relaxed way of life for 2 whole weeks.
Oktoberfest is held every year in Munich to commemorate the marriage of crown prince Ludwig and princess Therese. The festivities (the drinking) are centered on 14 large tents, laid out in a huge field called Theresenwiese (Yes, names after the princess). Bavarians dress in traditional costumes, men in funny Lederhosen and women in pretty Dirndls.
We arrived at Theresienwiese on October 2, in the 2nd week of the fest. I was particularly keen on reaching early, after having read sob stories online on how tourists came all the way to the field, only to get no space to sit inside the tents, as they were completely filled out. I had done my research, and knew the exact tent where I wanted to be in (Schottenhamel – the one with all the young people and in which celebrities frequently dropped in, according to my resource website. If any did towards the evening, I had no clue of it in my drunken haze). If I remember right, we reached by about 7 in the morning, and yet had to stand in a winding queue full of foppishly grinning Germans, who had converged in Munich from all parts of the country. Most of them were already tipsy, having ‘practiced’ a bit of drinking early on, to ‘prepare’ their stomach for the litres of beer to follow, as the guy ahead of me in the line informed me matter-of-factly.
The line grew and grew and yet they weren’t allowing anyone to enter the tent. Some friendly shouting was going on, followed by some very Indian pushing, with everyone laughing uncontrollably as they were pushed into the person ahead in the line. Aye, we are still talking about the methodical Germans. Its crazy how the right amount of alcohol can loosen you up.
An elderly giant of a Bavarian with a fancy hat grunted something out loud and the tent doors opened, followed by raucous shouting as reveler after reveler rushed into their home for the next twelve hours or so. My friends and I found seats in a table with a German group, who were students in Munich, and belonged to other, smaller towns of Bavaria.
About time I mentioned that Germans are the friendliest and the most helpful natives we had met in Europe. Most, if not all, of the exchange students looked forward to their German trips, not just because of the awesome rail transport, but also due to the natives’ charm and clear attempts to make life comfortable for tourists. Why? I often asked myself.. One predominant reason could be their fluency in English, as opposed to most other residents of Europe. They feel more confident when communicating with tourists in English, while most of the rudeness associated with the French, Italians and Spaniards can be attributed to their natural discomfort with their proficiency in English.
Back in the tent, as soon as everyone’s first litre of the finest German brew was sipped down to satisfactory burps, the singing and the dancing began with much gusto. Every single song being sung was German, most of them turning out to be traditional Bavarian folk songs. They all had such catchy tunes that you just had to sing along, even though you had no clue where a word ended and where the next began. The Germans in our table had plenty of fun trying to teach us the lyrics, and finally we did put up a reasonably impressive (well at least to a tipsy me) display of ‘Viva Colonia‘. I was wearing some idiot’s idiotic pair of blue party glasses by now, and thinking how smart I looked.
2 litres down and lo and behold! Weren’t those English words that I could hear, even though a profanity seemed to be predominant in the mix?! The blessed band had decided to sing a song in the Queen’s language, and finally, I could sing along with no qualms regarding the lyrics. Alice! Alice! Who the f*** is Alice! (As can be noted, I’m as yet undecided as to the uncensored/starred nature of this blog). To this day, Alice remains my favourite party song, as it somehow wrapped in the folds of its lyrics, the entirety of the fun and frolic we had that day in a tent in Munich, with some German students and plenty of flowing ale. Here’s to you, Alice!
As everyone in my table banged down their mugs after the 3rd litre, the inevitable sentiments started to set in. One of the Germans suddenly seemed conscious of what we visiting Indians thought of their ways and manners, as could be observed from the Oktoberfest.
Him to me – “Hey man, you know that we dont wear clothes like these every day, dont you?
Me to him – “Hic!”
Him – “We dress like you guys too, man. Please don’t think that we always act like fools!”
Me – “Of coursh not! I love the Germansh! I love your caaarrssshh!”
Him – “We go to office in normal clothes, you know. Even the girls. They are wearing these dirndls just for the fest..”
Me – “BMW!! Benz! Oh god, Audi! You guys make amazing caarssh!”
Him – “Really, you Indians are so good at Maths. But we are really as normal as you on other days. I had an internship as a manager in a factory last month! I went dressed in a suit and a tie, you know..”
Me – “I’m shoo gonna shpend my first yearsh’ shalary on a BMW, man.. (Thereby showing my amazing Mathematical proficiency or my as yet uncharted ambitions. Whichever.)
Him – “It was the BMW factory in Munich..”
Me – “Wooot! You worked in the BMW factory??”
And then we exchanged high-fives and called for the 4th litre.
It was sundown when we emerged from the tent, floating on an indescribable high and secretly pleased that we had matched the Germans, litre for litre. In a classic IIMA exchange moment, some 25 batchmates converged in the square outside Theresenwiesen, all suitably inebriated and madly in love with life (In those days, you couldn’t drop a pin in a major European city without hitting a Wimwian scratching his head in the middle of a street, perusing a Lonely Planet). The rest of the evening was spent exploring the city, posing in funny hats and singing German songs out loud, with beautifully concocted lyrics. A day well lived at the festival of beer!