To delve and dive deep into this moment, let’s time travel together. On the morning of 3rd October, let’s take two buses from Bielefeld to reach Muhlenhof Freilichtmuseum in Munster. Why are we visiting this place? Because the focus of our course is the time period around 1900, hence we need to discover how the advancing industrialization in 1890s impacted the countryside life and the different occupations practiced there. Why you should board these buses? Because you want to see what it would be like, to be in the 19th-century Germany, what they were doing, how their typical day looked like. The very first thing that attracts your attention when you enter the museum is the watermill that is still functioning and pull out dried plants into jute-like thread material. You can go inside this wooden house and see these huge wooden wheels being moved by the water. Then on the next stop, you see how they built store houses on elevated platforms to protect their harvests from attack.
Furthermore, these platforms are surrounded by water, to keep the rodents away. Their ingenious techniques will keep coming up as you move forward. The next fascination for me was the way they built their roofs to make it impregnable for the rain water deploying bamboo straws so that water slides down the sloped roof. The ride goes on, next you are in awe of their beautifully carved furniture, the huge windmill. But, pay attention, this windmill is different from the most of the windmills that you would have seen, in this one it is not just its wheel that rotate with the wind, but it itself changes its orientation in the direction of the wind, so that no matter in which direction the wind is blowing, you will find its wheel rotating. This windmill can be an old own, preaching- no matter where the life took me, I have always made the best of it, altering Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem- „The Brook“, singing something like-
"Wind may come and wind may go, but I go on forever"
Welcome to a beautiful landscape set across five acres- it houses buildings, which are not what we are used to seeing but the ones either recreated on the pattern farmers and craftsmen earlier used to live in or actually ferried to this place from across Germany. It is like walking into the pre-modern lives of blacksmiths, weavers, peasants, craftsmen bakers, bee-keeper. The surrounding grounds, the windmill, veggie gardens being the icing on the cake.
The place is redolent of everything Germany used to be before and during early industrialization. It is simple but yet picturesque and charming. The course is making us aware of the arts and aesthetics around the industrialization era and its importance in modern life, which will be the topic of my next blog, but this place is filling life into the words- wanting to be in the moment, away from the hustle of modern-day world, where you do not have to be anywhere. You see people taking a stroll, kids making paper boats to see their boats floating in the stream or playing in the crystal clear water, in which the pebbles below the stream of the water shimmer beautifully under the face-kissing sunlight. Some people are sitting near this stream, some dabbling their feet in the brook. Their goes a cart with two magnificent horses, their heels breaking the momentary silence. I am brooding, hadn’t it been for the observations that we have to make on the themes pertinent to our courses, I would accompany these waters too.
Now let us draw somewhat more near towards our mesmerizing moment. I along with my group make a visit to a weaver’s house, where a lady is making yarn and then in another room the hand-looms are turning this yarn to fabric. We are trying to imbibe everything- from the architecture of that old building, material used in that building, techniques and instruments used in making yarn and fabric and most important how the advent of machines changed it all and how the lives of these weavers got affected from industrialization, the pain of which we have to understand by the poem given to us and to make it palpable for our friends who will be listening to our presentations in a short while. After having discussed the poem given to us in relation to our observations, we meander across the meadows to pick up some juicy apples and walnuts and that childlike joy when you play to discover the fallen walnuts below the trees. Then all the way to the barn where all the teams have to meet to present. As my group is still early and groups are arriving one by one you stand on a bridge and embrace the greenery and lush, which is missing, at least in Delhi.
Finally, the moment that I do not think I will get to experience again, I will be glad if I do get a chance again. Imagine yourself studying in a barn like place in a wintery weather, where you sit on wooden planks beside long tables, being exposed to the winds and the room is lit just by natural light coming from the main gate but you have your own shield against this cold, which is huddling together and holding a cup of hot chocolate in your hand, immersing yourself in the presentations of other groups, the excitement of see the pictures they clicked to explain what they have found in relation to the texts given to them, to evoke a picture of pre-industrialisation and then the males leaving their families and home behind in order to find work in the factories set up in cities in the early industrialization period. My thoughts are boarding another train as I am being overwhelmed by the feeling of oneness and unity, thinking how students from six countries are packed together bearing the brunt of cold weather but are enjoying that warmth of togetherness as they continue to discuss their viewpoints. I am making myself comfortable in this train, savouring a sip of the elixir churned out of globalisation, thinking to myself how efficient this elixir can actually be if we all were able to come together as equals on a table, like my present table in the picture, and gain from the exchanges and partake of the elixir that ensued from the exchanges, i.e globalisation.