‘Oktoberfest is nothing but a lot of beer,’ a friend had said to me before we left on our recent Bavarian sojourn. It was a dampening statement for someone all pumped up about gallivanting on the streets of Munich during the fest, witnessing folk dances, music and having dollops of fun. But then again, you don’t draw conclusions from hearsay, do you? The taste of the pudding is in the eating, or in this instance, sipping.
Our (as in husband and me) philosophy about travel is not to have definite itineraries. We always went with no clear notion of what we were going to see. We land at a random destination blindly and slowly discover its secret delights during our stay. No, we don’t believe in ticking the boxes. We believe in life revealing itself each day, taking in each sight and sound at our pace. That which we get to see is our gain. That which we don’t, never a loss.
So on a bright Monday morn, we took a train from the remote town we were nestling in, all set and stoked to the hilt. Oktoberfest it is going to be, nothing less!
We sauntered into the huge fairground lined with massive beer tents invaded by hundreds of lederhosen and dirndl clad men and women, mirth splashed all over their manner. Ginger bread souvenirs and pretzels greeted us from either side as we walked the centre aisle undecidedly. And then on an impulse, we entered a sprawling tent to see hundreds of people around tables, crying ‘prost’ and raising a toast every now and then. A live band on the centre stage belted out a fusion of folk and jazz music. It was a perfect setting for letting go of all the saddles on your back.
We had been previously informed that finding a seat inside one of the tents is nearly impossible unless you have a ticket. There were so many who had settled for one outside. But didn’t I say we love waiting for surprises and living it up? We got accommodated in the huge jamboree after all and soon got talking with our German table partners. They, in bits and pieces of English, and we, with Google translator. Trust me, the most memorable moments of a trip are the ones when you connect with strangers.
We had a lot to converse. Life in Dubai. Life in Munich. And life in general. And somewhere along the way, Tomy, the young man who could speak more English than the rest, said, ‘In the end, we are all the same. White, brown, black.’
What he had just said melted my innards. It echoed in my ears in spite of the cacophony around. Who said sozzled men don’t speak sense? It was a profound moment that I added to my vault of indelible memories.
As we took our parting selfies, Tomy said, ‘I will visit to Dubai someday. I want to see the Burj Khalifa. And when I am there, I will ask people for Asha. I am sure they will be able to tell me.’
No, Oktoberfest for us wasn’t about beer alone. It was about going to a place where boundaries disappeared and life became a plain driftwood.