Every time when I see these nutcracker dolls, both of sweets and cold memories have come up to my mind. The first episode is the cold memory.
I have been to Munich of Germany for business, three times. All of these three times when I visited there were in the midst of the coldest season, at the end of January. I still remember the terribly cold day, when first time I arrived at the airport. In front of the airport building, I went outside for taking a car. However soon I found that I was almost frozen from toe to head. By only standing on the ground for a while, the heat of my body was taken through my shoes, body, face and head. The temperature was minus 20 degrees Celsius.
Inside of the hotel, the temperature was just nice, not so cold and not so warm. However once we were about to go out from buildings, we have to wear a lot of cloths, desirably overcoat and hat made of furs. But I don't have such warm cloths. And it is useless to buy winter cloths there for only a few days' short stay. Therefore I tried to wear many cloths at the same time. I wore three pieces of underwear, a white shirt, a sweater, a business suits and a trench coat. My body swelled as if I was a snowball. I even wore a ski cap. I haven't experienced such an ugly style before.
In Munich I attended a business meeting gathering many countries. Some participants from Norway and Sweden were wearing blue snow boots specially designed for winter, which I haven't seen before. The side-cover of the boots was very thick and at the bottom of the boots there were deeply curved many lines. And that they seemed to get used to such cold weather. But an American gentleman was just the same as myself, because he was also trembling outside, wearing a thin trench coat. I asked him whether he had experienced such weather. He said briefly, "No I haven't."
After our business meeting finished successfully, we felt very happily, thinking we were unloaded. So we went for drinking beer, as Munich was famous for Oktoberfest celebration (the October Festival), which is the beer festival. The beer-restaurant that we entered was named as Hofbrauhous. This is the most famous beer-restaurant in Munich, because Adolf Hitler enjoyed himself and even delivered a speech there, if my memory is correct.
At this restaurant, there were many people drinking beer with red face. It was so noisy and smoky, but soon I went into this drinkers' happy world. We ordered beer and sausages. Most of waitresses brought 10 beer-mugs with both hands at the same time. As the weight of one mug full of beer should be more than one kilo for beer only, thinking the weight of mug, it meant that she carried more than 15 kilos or so, with her both hands and arms. None of Japanese girl could carry them like that.
While I was chatting with my friends and drinking beer very happily, one old German came to our table. He seemed to be more than 60 years old, with gray hair, having a hunting cap. He faced to me and said, "Are you a Japanese?" I replied with a loud voice, "Yeah! Japanish!" Then he touched my shoulder with his arm, then he said, "During World War II, we were friends but defeated. Next time, shall we get a victory?" Maybe it was a joking for him, welcoming Japanese with not so bad intention. But I suddenly became sober and couldn't drink any more. It was really strange night, as if I saw a ghost of 50 years-old age. Outside there was snowing and it was a calm night.
Next day as I have a time to spare between business meetings, I went to the Marienplatz, to see the Old Town Hall (1470-80) and other famous buildings & gates of old style, such as three of the seven town gates : Karls, Sendlinger, and Isar, all dating from the 14th century. Especially the Munich's cathedral, the Church of Our Lady (Frauenkirche; which was built 1468-88) was remarkable landmark building of center area. I enjoyed watching their classic style. I think that they have a taste of European wisdom.
In World War II Munich heavily suffered from the Allied bombing raids, which destroyed of more than 40 percent of the buildings. When I went into a church, there was only a fragment of fresco painting at the upper part of the wall. The guide said that after the bombing, the citizens dug and found this fragment out of the ruins. I was very impressed by the zeal of German to restore the cultural assets.
I reminded that in World War II, Kyoto and Nara of Japanese old historical cities escaped from the Allied bombing raids. This is owing to an American scholar, who loves Japanese culture. I was wondering the luckiness of these two cities.
Walking around the Marienplatz, I watched people passing by. I found a very nice couple of quite old ages. They seemed to be more than 70 years old, but their style was wonderful and outstanding. The old husband wore nice Tylorian hat of dark green color with some bird's feather, a dark green half jacket and white high socks. The old wife had a long coat of the same dark green color as her husband's jacket and hat. As their style was so impressive, I couldn't stop myself at a department store to buy the nutcracker doll, which had exactly the same style as the husband. This is the doll that I showed its photo as the beginning of this article.
At the Marienplatz, there was another group of people, who attracted my attention. They carried attache cases of nice dark-red color. I suddenly think that I want to buy it. After continuing my walk, I found a shop that sells it. Luckily it happened to be sales season. The price was so reasonable, which I could afford to pay. I bought it without hesitation. Since then I have continued to carry it every day. It is a very tough attache case, just like a German.
As it was lunchtime, I went into a restaurant. I ordered a glass of white beer firstly. When the waiter brought it to me, I tried to order some dishes. However the menu was written in Germany. The only words that I could understand were a sour cabbage and sausage. As the waiter couldn't understand English, I tried a blind order. But I was surprised to see the coming dish. It was a boiled baby pig of one body. I tried to take it all, but in vain. The taste was too plain and the volume was too big for my small stomach. This blind order was completely in failure.
As Munich is famous for not only its historically rich city, but also the Mecca of opera. Before I left from Japan, I asked to book the ticket of opera. Then on a Sunday night, I went to see it. I visited to the Opera House as if I was in New York. It means that I didn't care of my style. Without any thinking about the dress code, I arrived at the House. When I went into the entrance, I found that people have dressed up, gentlemen were black-tie and ladies are evening dress, as if it was a social dancing party.
I was in a very rough style, which made me so shy. However I had no other way to go in and to sit in my seat. The location of my seat was very good. It was the 10th line from the front seat and just in the middle of line. I was hesitated to take a seat, which was so outstanding. Anyway I sit down. Soon I noticed that something was so strange in front of me.
Then I found that the young lady, who was sitting in front of myself, was naked. To say accurately, I saw only her back, because she was sitting in front of me. But there was no cloth or other things to hide her back. So her back was really naked. And what I could see was only her back, so I felt like that.
I realized that she wore an evening dress, which had such style as exposing all of her back. I was thinking to study the story of the opera before it started, but I couldn't concentrate into the scenario, as her back was there. This was really a kind of "worldly passion". After the lights of the theater had become darker, luckily her back was also disappeared into darkness.
The opera finished. I stood up at my seat. The young lady also stood up and changed her direction and started to walk. I saw her evening dress, which was rather plain dress. I thought that this dress is not the one to be seen from front side. With walking to the exit, I found a formula of European lady's formal wears. The more formal lady's style is, the more she is approaching to naked. Oh! It's a bad joking.
With the above memories, I finished my first visit to Munich. But I didn't expect that the next year on the exactly the same season I visited Munich again. The following was my second experience in Munich.
As I got terribly cold experience of the previous year, I have prepared for winter wears beforehand. I bought a very warm and light overcoat. When I went out from the airport of Munich, I was surprised, because it was very warm weather. The temperature was more than 5 degrees. To compare with the former temperature, it was warmer by 25 degrees. This was out of my imagination. My new warm overcoat was waste of money, which made me so disappointed.
However this was just nice temperature for me to walk around after my packed business meetings. On this time, I visited museums. Especially I was so impressed by the Deutsches Museum, which is located at an island in the Isar River. This is one of the largest and most comprehensive museums in the world. They showed science, engineering and technology. There were historical planes, industrial machines and even U-boat submarine of old days. Luckily as my hotel was just near to this museum, right after I went back to my hotel, I could rush to this museum, just before it was closed.
By the way, I loved this tiny hotel that I stayed on this second visit, because it has very classic style and good atmosphere. For example, Just entering into the hotel with getting bellboy's bow, there was a small bar, where a pretty waitress serves us beer, using beautifully brass-colored beer-server. The contrast of brass, red carpet and brownish wall color were so nice to see.
On this visit, We were invited by our counterpart's president's house. His house was located in a very quiet place as if it were in the midst of a small forest. His graceful wife welcomed us. She was so nice gentle lady of blond hair. We are guided by her to look around his house. The living room attracted our attention, because it was full of African goods, such as wooden sculptures, safari photos and so on. We enjoyed watching them and having a chat with them.
On the way back to the hotel, at a bus, a drunken English man suddenly started singing a song. It was the old Beatles' song, the yellow submarine. Of course I knew it, I made a humming to his song. Then an American began to sing a song, but as it was his national anthem, we ignored it. The bus happened to pass by a fur shop, which lighted up their gorgeous furs. His American's wife screamed and said, "Wow! Stop here! Let me go for buying! This is the shop that I looked for!" Oh! Noisy, but it was really funny bus ride for me. It was really international
On the third visit was the next year, on the same season. When I arrived at the conference room with my counterparts from many countries, I saluted to my old friends from many countries. One of them told me a rumor, which surprised me very much. He said that the president, who invited us on the last time visit, divorced just recently and that he got marriage again with one of his vice presidents! We know her very well through business, so this story was double-shocked for us. Soon it was found that this rumor was true but not false. I was wondering the fate of his former wife and their African goods correction.
As weekends came, we had a free time, after very intensive meetings. We had a short trip to Augsburg, one of the oldest cities in German. The name of this city came from a Roman Emperor Augustus, because he made the foundation of this city. In the Middle Age, Augsburg was prosperous for doing salt business.
The Fugger family earned huge money for doing this business. At the same time, this family returned their property for charity. One of the most outstanding assets for them to leave was the Fugger House for the poor. Fugger constructed some apertments for low-income people and rent it by nominal charge. Even now it was there and rented such people for one dollar or so for one month.
The Fugger House was one of the main sightseeing spot of Augsburg. It was several double storied houses. When we visited, I couldn't believe that they were built in the 15th or 16th century. The outside was nicely decorated by flowers and beautifully colored brick. There was an open house. We entered in. Oh! It's very nice and neat. The space was bigger than I expected. Oh! My God! This house is far better than my small house in Japan. It means that my standard of living is lower than the 15th or 16th century here. As I was disappointed, with closing my mouth, I went out from this house.
At lunchtime we had a walk in the center of Augsburg. There were a lot of antique shops. We looked into some of them. One of my colleagues is a collector of antique cup and saucers. With changing his face, he energetically visited these antique shops as much as possible, and he became a victim of talented shopkeepers. With accompanying him, I found a small ornament, having a man and a woman's picture. I bought it for my memory of this city.
After we enjoyed our shopping and walks, we went back to Munich. It was the night when we could see a full moon. I really had a very good time in Augsburg. At my room of the tiny hotel, with looking up the wonderful full moon, I was relaxing. Suddenly a phone call interrupted my pleasure of recalling my good memory.
It was from my Tokyo office, saying that a very big issue happened in Tokyo and needed my help. It was the issue that I was worried before and after I made up necessary counter measures, then I came here. But as the things happened, I had to resolve the situation. With blue feelings, I took the flight to Tokyo. This was the beginning of my torture that I had worked even Sundays and Saturdays for three months. However, this wonderful memory in Munich and Augsburg made me often cheer up under the hardest situation.
(December 1, 2000)
(c) Yama san since 2000, All rights reserved