Monday, 2 July 2007

The hills are alive

We went hiking yesterday. Last week we learnt about the kumm auffi event in Filzmoos. The most interesting highlight are couches and armchairs on top of the mountain, as a sign of coziness. A living room by an alpine lake ("das Wohnzimmer am Almsee"). We found it a great idea, and a loop hiking trail of about 15 minutes turned out to be the perfect activity for my light hangover after having had some drinks with friends on Saturday night.

As we were hanging out in this wonderful living room, eating our sandwiches with an Almdudler, some people started singing popular Austrian songs. Or at least I guess they were, because other people joined them, something that was happily welcome by the singers ("nicht nur zuhören, mitsingen!" - "don't just listen to, sing along!"). They were probably a choir, as they sang in several voices. The dramatic landscape, the mountains, the traditional costumes, ... it was just as if the von Trapp family was about to appear any moment!

Tradition is very important to Austrians. One of the most representative examples are the costumes. You just need to walk around on a Sunday and you will see many locals in Lederhosen (men) and Dirndl (women), which are the traditional costumes of Alpine peasants. It doesn't really need to be Sunday: you might find them everywhere and anytime. People get married in them, especially on the countryside. We got a little lost once while driving along a narrow road that got suddenly blocked by an Austrian wedding: some 50 guests, all dressed up in lederhosen and dirndl, pointing at us and saying "Oh! Espania! Espania!" (yes, we still had our Spanish license plates on the car then).

Sometimes I feel a little envious of them. Because they have been able to keep their customs in a way that I can't imagine in Spain. Where most of the traditions have been monopolised along History by certain political views. Where saying Spain is your homeland constitutes already a political option.

There is something wonderful in the contrast between an old couple dressed in traditional costumes, a youngster with the skater look as-seen-on-MTV, an Indonesian tourist taking photos and a Muslim woman hurrying up to cook dinner for her family. I cannot avoid idealist thoughts about brotherhood among all peoples in the world. Sadly, not everyone shares this vision: some people (here, there, everywhere) do not approve the others' traditions, and they hold even stronger to their ones. A minaret in the heart of an Alpine valley? No way, it doesn't belong to it! What do they look for in here? They are not willing to integrate themselves. We must defend ourselves. They build ghettos. We don't want them here. They. We.

I was once in the bus, coming back home. An old man was sitting near me. An immigrant, probably from the Middle East, tired, with a subtle but indelible sadness in his dark wise eyes. A young Muslim girl got into the bus. She was pretty and had her hair covered by a headscarf. She greeted the man kindly, sat next to him and started talking. He articulated with a little difficulty. She wielded a graceful Austrian dialect. Both were talking German. After some five minutes in which I listened to fascinated, the bus stopped and the girl stepped out. She bid him farewell with "Servus! Salaam aleikum!". I was almost moved to tears.

No comments: