The guidebooks may not say this, but if you are not a city dweller, the metro should be on your list of things to do while visiting a city. To do the metro is to feel the city’s pulse, it is to see in one place denizens of many neighbourhoods, it is to sense the city’s infrastructure, its wealth, its security. The underground is a reliable guide to the city above (even the weather can be gleaned from what people wear and carry), and the metro is a good place to begin a city tour. This is what I did last Friday, on my way from the hotel, in the outskirts of Munich, to the Indian consulate near the city centre.
Munich metro took me by surprise. The stations wore a spotless, classy, modern, colourful look untypical of underground stops. People were dressed formally: men in woollen coats with quilted sleeves, designer scarves, and shoes so shiny you could comb your hair looking at them; women in cable-knit cardigans, branded leather handbags, high heel boots. They were all whites, they were all on their way to work or to school (where else would you go at 8 am on a Friday morning?), but they seemed dressed for a concert, or a dinner party. The carriages were not crowded (everyone had seats), and all the getting off and getting on was done with no fuss at all, as though they were quietly stepping into a dining room for supper. This was no metro: it was a luxury carriage service for rich Münchners.
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12 thoughts on “Munich with a map”
This calls for a sigh, but you don’t like that. So what to do?
I was a bit taken aback by the description of the U-Bahn on the first page (to some extent) but the description on the last page resembled the picture I hold in my mind of München 🙂 Your post echoed my observations of Munich !! You are quite right that it is tough to find changes there but one change I found was along the Isar near the Reichenbachbrücke. They were making some real changes there. But that was when I went there last time to see a match between Köln-Mün 🙂
Chardin is new to you? He’s one for you, I assure you 🙂
Another supremely enjoyable essay.
What a brilliant piece of writing. I love your style: familiar, verging on the informal, and ever so slightly tongue-in-cheek. I haven’t been to München, and that is perhaps why I was surprised by your description of the U-Bahnhof there. I have often availed the U-Bahn at Berlin, and though the ambiance really depends on the time of the day and the station, I have often found it slightly disconcerting. The Deutsche Oper Bahnhof, for example, on a Sunday afternoon is desolate, and fittingly points out that the U-Bahn after all is the underground, lying beneath the city, and reminiscent of the ‘underbelly’. At times and at certain places, I found the U-Bahn experience ziemlich unheimlich!
An absolutely wonderful essay. I was in Munich in 1976, and probably wouldn’t recognize it now, so I loved seeing your photographs (each one better than the last!) and reading this description. Yesterday I sang di Lasso’s “Miserere mei,” which would have fit quite well with that Michael Jackson memorial…what a strange interconnected world we live in! (p.s. I will send you a piece about a Chardin exhibit in New York, written some years ago, but I think you’ll like it.)
Ah…here is the link: http://www.cassandrapages.com/the_cassandra_pages/2010/03/the-cat-and-the-ray.html
“I carry an obsession for trains that borders on the homoerotic.” If you are (or Colours is) afraid that you are alone in this category, fret not. Surely you have seen us before!
What a lovely ending. I earnestly believe that many an essay can salvage itself with a perfect ending. Not that your essay needed that. But still it makes it all the more delicious.
Parmanu: Beautiful pictures. I particularly like the b/w ones. The absolute stillness of the people in the cafe intrigues me (just like the pic with the lock, you posted a few years back)…
Thank you, all, for your generous comments and the interesting links. Each one was a pleasure to read.
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We will be in Frankfurt Hbf for an hour in late November enroute to Berlin from Paris (finally getting our feet wet in Europe after dreaming about it for over two decades). If you could, it would be fun to meet up 🙂