Winter Tollwood 2015

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Mum, Dad and I took U3 to Odeonsplatz before switching to U4 heading in the direction of Theresienwiese, where Tollwood was being held.

The sky was a dark and cloudless ocean of midnight blues and twinkling whites and yellows. Just a few at first but in no longer than a half hour later, thousands of stars could be seen up in the Heavens… if only I could’ve captured them on my camera.

Thank goodness for my eyes.

Tollwood is a cultural tent festival in Munich twice a year. In Summer, the Tollwood festival is held for about 25 days in June/July, and in Winter, the festival starts just before the first Advent Sunday, offering a Christmas market through to December 23 and cultural events up to New Year’s Eve.

I recall a funny conversation Dad and I had when I told him about Tollwood. It went a little like this:

“Papa, let’s head over to Tollwood with Mama!”

“Tollwood?”, he said with a little scrunch to his face.

“Yes Tollwoooood?!” I was beginning to entertain the thought that I may have had pronounced it incorrectly.

“Sorry I don’t get You, why are You talking about rabies?”

“What? What RABIES??” At this point I was utterly and helplessly confused, so I checked the German-English Translator on my phone and realised that… “rabies” translates to “Tollwut” in German!

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But I digress. This was what greeted us as we hopped (okay not literally hopped, but You get me) off the train and made our way to the festival grounds. Lo and behold, it was the TRASH PEOPLE by HA Schult – 500 of them to be exact. The “Trash People” bring across the message that the trash we produce will consume us at the end of the day. In the words of Schult: “We produce trash and we will become trash”. Schult considers his work as a political statement. Read and see more *here*.

My Dad initially thought this exhibition meant to portray the number of men left standing after the war, while Robert thought that trash was killing us (i.e. killing our environment and thereby us), hence the fallen “Trash People”. However I realised that the fallen sculptures had collapsed because of the terrible wind we were having in Munich!

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The entire festival grounds had no streetlamps/ spotlights set up anywhere. Instead, the area was lit up with the lights either coming from the quaint little shop houses or the queer sculptures set up every few metres. By “queer”, I mean a-band-of-monkeys-playing-instruments-or-a-frog-in-a-waiter’s-outfit-greeting-guests-outside-the-food-tent kind of queer.

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There were tents sprinkled all over the festival grounds – from little dainty ones selling Bavarian delicacies, winter essentials and decorative trinkets, to medium-sized standing bars selling the famous Glühwein (Germanised mulled wine usually prepared from red wine, heated and spiced with cinnamon sticks, cloves, star aniseed, citrus, sugar and at times vanilla pods. It is sometimes drunk ‘mit Schuss’ (with a shot), which means that rum or some other liquor has been added) to really large tents which house food halls or indoor market places.

Going from one tent to another brought back childhood memories, where I used to build forts out of blankets and sofa cushions with my sister. We’d ‘set up shop’ in them, selling tissue packets, key chains or stickers which we owned (for 5 cents each) before asking for the items back from our customers (hahaha) which were usually our parents, each other, or neighbours who would drop by to say hello. We’d also play hide and seek in our make-shift tents with our parents, who clearly knew where we were hiding but chose to pretend they hadn’t spotted our feet sticking out of the tents so my sister and I could truly believe that we were masters at hiding.

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There were beautifully hand-painted ceramics,

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madagascar-themed table lamps,

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cosy house shoes,

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clay pots, cooking demonstrations,

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and Baobab goodies. I was particularly drawn to the Baobab booth because it was not only 100% Vegan, but also because all of its proceeds will go to charity. They had bliss balls, baobab butters and even all sorts of body products in a creative range of different baobab flavour combinations. Think Baobab-Apricot-Cranberry soap!

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These are special star-shaped Christmas lights made out of craft paper with various creative patterns carved into them, such that when these lights are lit up, these patterns (e.g. spirals, circles, zig-zags, etc.) would illuminate onto the walls and ceiling of the room. I would have bought it if not for the fact that it would have only added more volume to the amount of items I’d need to move when I shift to another part of Munich early next year. Oh what a magical touch to any room it’d give!

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This sculpture was made out of giant nuts and bolts! The entire festival had such an artsy fartsy feel to eat, I loved it.

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Now this was taken at the main food tent where cuisines from Hong Kong, Jamaica, Turkey, Greek, Indian (yes, even Roti Prata!), Italian, etc. could be found. My parents shared a meal from the Turkish stall and perhaps it was due to their unfamiliarity to Turkish flavours that they found the dish pretty bland.

I spotted the Vegan Falafels, Burritos and Rice Bowls which Annie had given me the head’s up for!! Oh my my did they look tasty. However, I was still feeling satiated from a rather filling lunch so I had to give it a pass then. Perhaps I’d head back there with a couple of friends and try out the Vegan delicacies they have to offer! Wheeeheeee 🙂

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“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” – Norman Vincent Peale

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To end off our sparkly evening, we entered the ‘Weltsalon’ tent to visit an art exhibition titled “ÜberLebens-Wert”, which translates to “The Worth of Survival”. The tent was shaped like an urban backyard with scaffoldings, wheelbarrows and an old car placed between waste containers and rubble. It had 16 interactive installations which invite the visitors to explore and discover the unknown but also encourage them to reflect upon their lifestyle.

  • What is leading to a more peaceful social coexistance? 
  • What is happiness? 
  • How much less may be more? 

“Kunst ist grenzenlos,” (“Art is borderless”) said the artist behind this exhibition. Besides making visitors aware of the future they’d be facing if they kept living the way they did, he intends to use these art pieces to convey messages from those who have something to say but are unfortunately not listened to in our society.

For example, the children in Syria. There were portraits of these children hung across an entire corner of the exhibition. They weren’t simply ordinary right-side-up portraits though. It appeared that these children were hung upside down (safely, of course, I mean, I’d believe) and the photographer took a picture of them in this position before rotating the photo 180 degrees to achieve an appearance as though these children were experiencing gravity in an opposite direction from all of us – from above, that is.

There was a single quote printed below each portrait – something which each child had uttered during the short conversation they had with the photographer. One which made me stop in my tracks read, “I don’t know a life without war.“

Imagine a childhood without playing in the sun (or rain even) with siblings or friends, going for excursions with school mates, travelling with Mum and Dad or even something as simple as having a safe classroom to study in. What may seem inconceivable for many of us is a reality for these Syrian children.

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I didn’t really get this section of the exhibition where the artist featured a bathroom scene. It looked well-equipped to me and pretty clean as well. I’m not too sure if this was a type of bathroom one would see in Syria,… but either way, it had a creepy vibe to it (maybe it was the lighting and the overall gloominess of the exhibition). The only cheery thing about the bathroom was what was lipstick-ed onto the mirror. It read, “Du machst much glücklich!” (You make me happy!)

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Messages such as this one were strategically pasted in pretty much every little corner, peeping out from behind a couple of the art set-ups, almost as if the artist had meant for these sneakily hiding quotes to not scream for attention but rather hold the attention of the viewers when they do get noticed. They were like the little moments which one couldn’t shake out of one’s head so easily because they had messages so powerful and intentions so raw.

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This was a little peculiar… It literally was a ball of Earth hung from the ceiling, with roots protruding out of it in all directions. Viewing it felt like looking up from below the ground. I felt so trapped, so consumed and so overwhelmed by the claustrophobia I felt in that setting. Would the future really be as such?

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This was a little room at the end of the exhibition where people could sign off with their thoughts/ what they managed to reflect on during the exhibition. (Chalks were placed on top of the little trash cans to allow people to do so.)

So “WORAUF WARTEST DU?” (What are You waiting for?)

“Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen.” -Michael Jordan

This isn’t my Earth, it isn’t Your Earth, it’s ours. Let’s not be greedy to satisfy our needs. Think about the billions of other people we need to share Earth’s limited resources with and let’s stop hurting Mother Nature more than we unfortunately already do. If You have the possibility to recycle, then recycle. If You have the possibility to take shorter showers, then take shorter showers. Mahatma Gandhi said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.”

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