German Memories in Asia: My Bavarian Experience!
I was seated in one of the chairs at the beach - end table facing the Indian Ocean. I had hardly seen any objects in the Ocean, but the shining stars in the far distance and the Bavarians near me triggered my thoughts back into the good old Bavaria over the Alps.
Now I could see the several beautiful rivers across Bavaria. The Danube, the Main, the Isar and the Inn were passing so silently. I could also visualise the largest lake in Bavaria, the lake Chiemsee with other picturesque lakes Starnberger and Ammersee near Munich and in the little distance the lake Königssee in Berchtesgaden, which is surrounded by the impressive mountains of the Alps.
The lake Bodensee, one of the largest lakes in Europe, which belongs to Bavaria, is silently shining to sun beams.
The scenic panorama of the Bavarian beauty in the vicinity of the Alps lasting for many centuries was saturating my mind. Now I could see with my inward eye the very impressive Alps Mountains with its highest peak Zugspitze offering a breathtaking panorama across several hundreds of peaks with a scenic view of four countries, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Germany.
Bavaria is one of the oldest states in Europe. The ethnic group of the Bavarians had come to be mixed with Romans, Celtics and Teutons some 2500 years ago. The Otto of Wittelsbach founded the State of Bavaria.
Hitler takes over power in 1933 and Bavaria is no longer an independent state. After Germany's capitulation in 1945, the American Forces occupied Bavaria.
The events were moving in my inner eye one by one towards the present day Bavaria. Fredrike Wagner has inspired me a lot on Bavaria and the Munich on our tsunami visit to the Northern part of the Island. When I remember Fredrike Wagner, my mind used to recall the legendary Richard Wagner who revolutionized German opera by making the music secondary to the dramatic action. Still in Bayreuth every year the Wagner festival takes place - a high society event. Wagner' most famous works "The flying Dutchman", "The ring of the Nibelungen" and "Tristan and Isolde" are such fascinating works which could inspire any one in the world.
Bavaria is the largest land of the federal republic of Germany with nearly 18 million people. Munich, the capital of Bavaria with more than 1.2 million inhabitants is one of the dynamic cities in Europe and in the world.
A number of students from Bavaria told me that the culture in Bavaria is very distinct from the rest of Germany.
They have told the differences are very marked still in the rural areas but are less significant in the major cities.
The religious faith in Southern Bavaria is the predominant faith of Roman Catholicism, contrasting with the more Lutheran-Protestantism in the Northern parts of Bavaria.
The students told the typical expression of greeting in Bavaria and Austria is: "Grüss Gott!" which means God greet you. Bavaria could be proud of the present pope, Benedict XVI, his name being Joseph Alois Ratzinger who is from the Marktl am Inn in Upper Bavaria.
But when I asked Fredrieke Wagner which religion she is practising, she told simply, "I don't have religion". I wondered and couldn't make out whether she does practise a religion in the Catholic -dominated Bavarian region or she had expressed a mere pleasantry.
I heard that Bavarians resemble the inhabitants of Latin countries and tend to give great attention to their personal appearance, while folks in some other parts of Germany dress more casually.
It is fascinating even at business meetings to see southern Bavarians wearing traditional clothing.
Bavarian cities and towns, whether they are rich or poor, are the best looked-after locations in Germany.
The students also told me that Bavarians are very proud of their different dialects and most of them speak with a Bavarian, Franconian or Swabian accent.
I also heard from some of the German students and others that the Christian Social Union, which has ruled Bavaria uninterruptedly since 1957, is arguably the most inward looking of the major German political parties, which combines socially conservative positions with an advocacy for extensive involvement of the state in its economy.
About the Author: Rajkumar Kanagasingam is author of a fascinating book on German memories in Asia and you can explore more about the book and the author at AGSEP