after a couple of chilly, windy weeks which prompted us to bring all the plants in from the balcony, we're now having lovely mild autumn weather - clear skies, no wind - t-shirt weather. "wiesn wetter", say all the locals, & it's true: the oktoberfest (wiesn) has started & so, like the dirndls, the lederhosen & the tourists, warm weather has come to münchen.
the whole oktoberfest thing is a bit hard to get one's head around until you understand that there are 2 oktoberfests: the traditional one, & the tourist one. the traditional one is about community, it's a local thing & for many münchners it's about catching up with friends & family who you perhaps haven't seen since last oktoberfest. it's about dressing up in your finest trad gear & forgetting all your daily worries to just have a nice time with friends & family. the tourist oktoberfest, on the other hand, is about getting completely shit-faced on a couple of maß (steins), behaving like an idiot, spending a lot of money on nothing much & puking on the way home. charming.
the traditional oktoberfest can actually be fun; after half a maß i can almost cope with the band playing an easy-listening version of "country roads" for the fourth time in the last hour. there's a certain excitement to the bustle of the tents, the impressive weight-lifting skills of the bedienungen who sail through the crowds with 5 or 6 maß in each hand, the tacky side-shows outside, the over-sized brezn - even the overwhelming smell of roast chicken becomes a part of the merry whole. and yet ... i just can't get over the feeling of being in a high school musical; it's the costumes, & the music. most of the dirndls look like they've been made out of material intended for tablecloths or curtains. combined with the puffy-sleeved cleavage-explosing white blouse & the obligatory contrasting apron, it's too much like what our mothers obligingly whipped up for the annual school production - "anne of green gables", "fiddler on the roof", "west side story" - ok, the costumes were a little different for "west side story"; but all the others required a chorus of 20 teenaged girls in demure long skirts, aprons & blouses. just like oktoberfest except mostly (definitely in my case) without the cleavage.
& the music - ok, i won't even start on that. i guess i'll just accept that i'll always be an auslander in bavaria, no matter how many colloguial insults i master or how much longer than a local i can hold my maß out at arm's length. but even a foreigner can enjoy the wiesn wetter, the community spirit of the wiesn, a maß or zwei & a gorgeous sunset ...