Sunday, July 29, 2012

When in Munich, follow the music

The girl sitting next to me on the train hummed quietly and started singing as we got off at the same stop. The sound of her voice travelled on the still evening air and reverberated through my body. As we seemed to be heading the same way I followed her somewhat enchanted - until I met up with my friend Gina - and was temporarily released from the spell.

Some of the most beautiful things about Munich are chance encounters - walking home on a summer's evening and being lured by the sound of a classical street quartet around the next corner. Or a travelling trio livening up the tedious wait for an underground train with a few chords on a Spanish guitar.

Someone told me in passing that the Munich locals sometimes dance at the Diana Temple in the Hofgarten (Court Garden) - weather depending, of course, as this is an open air garden structure. And on this summer's evening Gina and I decided to pass through the Hofgarten on our way to dinner.

It was full moon - and the summer air was thick with humidity and magic.(I know, almost over-the-top romantic but somehow these kinds of moments really do take on a surreal sort of edge).

Gina and I crossed the Odeonsplatz and lingered for a while to take in the passion that a pianist brought to the evening. However difficult it must be to transport heavy musical instruments such as a grand piano, it is so worth it from a spectator's side. These kinds of performances make classical music, theatre and even opera freely available to anyone and everyone - right there on the sidewalk - and adds an incredible soundtrack to the city.

From Odeonsplatz we continued into the Hofgarten. As we got closer to the Diana Temple the tango music increasingly possessed the air around us, gently willing us into a silent awe. Candles flickered on the temple tiles and dancing shoes carefully moved across the scattering of rose petals, infusing the air with the sweet smell of flowers.

And there she was, the girl from the train, dancing the tango as though in a trance, her eyes filled with a collected madness - as though there was no other person in the world but her partner and no other moment than this.

I remain but a spectator, the story teller rather than the story - but moments like this remind me that, just sometimes, its worth taking a step back from this mad rush we call life. There are moments that require one to be truly present. To own your moment. To live with abandon. And to keep dancing even if everyone's watching.

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