Big doings in Bavaria. Today was Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday/Faschingsdienstag the last day to let off steam before Lent begins. Quite a few people take the day or afternoon off from work to party auf dem Viktualienmarkt. Thomas had more than one meeting where the participant count was well below par. One meeting, at which eight people were expected, two people showed. The rest were presumably donning dayglo wigs and rummaging in their wife's lingerie drawer for costume inspiration.
Now, I've been to Carnival in Brazil and Fasching in Munich is nothing like it. Not even close. Here are some key differences:
- The weather. Carnival in Brazil is hot. Do you hear the chorus of Hot, Hot, Hot drumming in your head? Fasching in Munich is NOT. It was 20 degrees yesterday. So no matter how much Germans love throwing a couple of nekkid breasts into every newspaper, magazine or TV show there was no headlight action yesterday. In contrast, Brazil is one giant homage to the Nancys. To summarize: Germany - Jack Wolfskin parkas; Brazil - pasties and thongs.
- The floats. Floats are a matter of national pride in Brazil. Starting with the music/band to the fresh flowers to the glitter which accounts for 75% of the gross domestic product. It takes months to build and decorate a float. In Germany, it looked as though they pulled out the hot-glue gun at midnight after consuming a case of Edelstoff. By tomorrow the "floats" will once again be assigned to hauling cows to the high pastures.
- The atmosphere. In Brazil, the mood is sexy even slightly dangerous. In Germany, the mood is silly. The closest thing you'll find to sexy are the transvestites working a pair of five inch stilettos. Fasching is more like Halloween except instead of kids with bags of candy it's adults with cases of beer.
- The dancing. Brazil - samba, samba, samba. Elaborate headdresses and masks, glistening, nearly naked bodies gyrating nay THROBBING with sexual tension. And in Munich? The middle-aged Market Women, dressed in dirndls and wearing fruit and flower laden straw hats, dance around the Maypole. Who knows? Maybe they're wearing Agent Provocateur corsets under their dirndls.
- The music. Brazil - live bands all day and night. Even in the small towns. Munich - your choice of Lady GaGa, Katy Perry and DJ Ötzi piped in from a local radio station or traditional Bavarian music fresh out of the 8-track player- think Perry Como in Lederhosen with a cow bell.
- The food. We've been here before right? I should say that caipis were being served which I thought was a generous nod to fellow revelers in Brazil. But beyond that we're right back to the Bratwurst and Bier. Oh, and the Krapfen - basically a jelly donut. They are everywhere during the Fasching season and so very, very hard to resist.
I admit that I was not decked out in a costume so perhaps I didn't experience the full effect. But I have to say, the idea of standing in the freezing cold, drinking beer that in approximately 10 minutes I will have to evacuate but not before standing in an outside line for 30 minutes doing the hoppy dance is not something I put in the "good times" category. But I have the feeling that if I'd just had 4-5 beers, I would have had a GREAT time and might even have intuitively learned all the words to Ich bin ein Döner. And, and, AND if I'd worn a really unflattering costume - say a cow costume - I could wear lots and lots of warm layers underneath while at the same time avoiding the whole bathroom scenario with a double stack of Depends. I am so ready for next year.