Thursday, January 04, 2007
I spent most of my time in Germany in Munich at Dita's house. In the summertime, Munich is known for not only its beer, but its beer gardens. You can bring your own food and drink really good beer outside in these gardens. They aren't very popular in the winter. On Christmas Eve we visited the cemetery, like you do in Germany on Christmas Eve. It was hopping with lots of people lighting candles and decorating the graves. "Is it making you sad to be at the cemetery?" Dita asked me. She's been to the States a lot and has hosted many Americans so she knows that many Americans don't like to talk about death and related topics. Ever since Dia de los Muertos in Mexico, I've become pretty interested in the cemetery as a cultural treasure chest. As Dita lit candles on her mother's grave site, I asked if it would be alright if I took a picture with her in it. "With me on it," she said as she looked up. "Not in it," she emphasized with a laugh, providing me with some cemetery humor.
I found it soothing that it was so easy it was to talk about our relatives who have passed away, as well as the logistics of having a cemetery in the middle of such a large city. I had a lot of questions, once I realized it was OK to talk about it. Dita told that bodies are usually buried for 30 or 40 years and then removed. "After all, we don't need to have a grave site to think about our loved ones. Thirty years is enough," she pointed out. At first it seemed foreignly practical, but then I realized that we probably do the exactly the same thing in the States. We just don't talk about graves, cemeteries, or dead people, so I have no idea how long bodies stay in a grave in the States.
The entire time in Munich was full of good food. Dita is amazing in the kitchen. "Do you feel like having a mocha machiato?" she would ask. And then a few minutes later she would come out of the kitchen with two mocha machiatos. Every meal was artfully crafted. I haven't eaten so well in my whole life. I think I gained 5 kilos! This was Christmas dinner in Munich. We had duck!
On my way back to Tampere, I stayed overnight in Frankfurt and enjoyed a few museums and lots of people watching. I heard a loud, American accent say "this is such a cute square, it looks like it was modeled after Disneyland!" Oh dear.