Cheers to Oktoberfest at Mahalaxmi Race Course!
Mumbaikars got a first-of-its-kind experience of the German side of life, from October 4-7, 2017, at the Members’ Enclosure of the Royal Western India Turf Club (RWITC), Mahalaxmi Race Course. The Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC), in cooperation with the German Consulate General, organized ‘German Days in Mumbai’, an event to bring alive different aspects of German culture like business, education, tourism, sports and lifestyle; commemorate the Day of German Unity and also celebrate Oktoberfest, the traditional German beer festival. The event proved to be an unforgettable experience and a wide-ranging showcase of Germany.
German Days in Mumbai was inaugurated by Chief Guests Hon. Municipal Commissioner of Mumbai, Ajoy Mehta and Subhash Desai, Cabinet Minister of Industries and Mining, Government of Maharashtra, along with German Consul General in Mumbai, Dr. Jürgen Morhard and Bernhard Steinrücke, Director General, Indo-German Chamber of Commerce (IGCC). After the ribbon-cutting ceremony and welcome addresses from Dr. Morhard and Mr. Steinrücke, the event was declared open with an enthusiastic exclamation, “Prost” (meaning Cheers in German). The guests then proceeded to visit the exhibits and stalls.
A delegation of nearly 80 members, which was in Mumbai to attend INMEX SMM India – South Asia’s largest maritime exhibition and conference, also made its way to German Days in Mumbai, to unwind and have a good time.
There were a host of activities and workshops to engage children and adults alike. To have visitors get a feel of the German language, Goethe-Institut took short, basic classes. While Ms. Yellow Mehra conducted a German Cooking Master Class at the Haefele Kitchen, Ms. Selma Kriegner, an Austrian choreographer of typical Oktoberfest Musik, got the visitors tapping their feet to Polka (small quick steps and a hop), Waltz (circular dance), Laendler (hoping and stamping) and the simple ‘Two Step Dance.’ Considering Germany’s focus on sports and spectacular achievements in football, there was also a penalty shoot-out game for those wanted to kick-start their evening on a sporty note.
To showcase Germany’s excellence in education and host of learning programmes, educational institutions like Frankfurt School of Finance & Management and Indo-German Training Centre had set-up their presence. Students were happy to get first-hand information on courses, eligibility, admissions, etc. Faber-Castell set-up an enticing array of crayons, sketch pens and other art material, while BASF made learning fun with a science lab for kids. Other exhibitors like Alumni Portal, DSB International School and SouthWest German Tourism also showcased their German products and services.
Auto displays by BMW and Volkswagen were not just a treat to the eyes, but also exemplified the famed, flawless German engineering and precision. Visitors were intrigued and fascinated by the sneak peek into German technology that the Jungheinrich forklift and Kuka Robot displays offered.
Flash mobs by HDFC Ergo ensured that there was never a dull moment and people were only too happy to join in and dance along, while indulging their sweet tooth with Haribo’s constant supply of some yummy gummy bear candy. Numerous photo-ops with props like German street names, backgrounds of German cities, picture cut-outs and the Haefele photo booth ensured that the click-happy folks got lots of profile pictures and captured many fun moments to go with their check-ins, hashtags and stories online.
On October 5, 2017, an Investor Conference was held, for the official launch of ‘Indian Investments in Germany: Prospects for Shared Prosperity’, a publication by Ernst & Young GmbH, based on a study they conducted in partnership with Bertelsmann Stiftung and Confederation of Indian Industry (CII). It began with an introduction and presentation of the study by Hermann Mühleck, India Business Network Leader- Germany Switzerland Austria, Ernst & Young GmbH, followed by a presentation on ‘Invest in Bavaria’ by John Kottayil, India Representative, State of Bavaria. Awards were handed over to Mohan Bhandari, Founder of Bilcare Ltd., Binod Hampapur, Senior VP from Infosys, Karan Anand, Head – Relationships & Supplier Management from Coxs & Kings and Kunal Malani, Head Mumbai from Motherson Sumi Systems, for their successful business operations in Germany. Bernhard Steinrücke, Director General, IGCC, then made concluding remarks after which the speakers interacted with the press.
In the evening, the German Consulate General hosted an event to commemorate the Day of German Unity. Ashok Malik, Press Secretary to the President of India, was the special Guest of Honour for the evening. Consul General Dr. Jürgen Morhard, along with his wife, personally welcomed the guests, after which the national anthems of both, India and Germany were played.
This year, the Oktoberfest was held inside a tent and a hut, to bring the experience as close as possible to the traditional Oktoberfest in Munich. No one could deny the happy buzz in the air, all thanks to the seven types of German beer and craft beer that was perfectly complemented by the delectable food items to choose from. Along with continental, fast food and desserts, traditional German food was the most sought-after and the stall remained as busy as ever, right through the evening. The crowd was thrilled by the live performance of Die Kirchdorfer, a band that also plays at the original Oktoberfest in Munich. With a mix of English and German music, the band made sure everyone in the audience was having a good time, and the proof was right there in the growing numbers on the dance floor as the evening progressed. To add a dash of competitive spirit to the evening, visitors enjoyed games like beer pong, giant Jenga and mini-golf, which became a lot more fun, few drinks down!
There were also ongoing contests with goodie bags and hampers for the best dressed male and female, best male and female dancer, best couple on the dance floor and first person to hit the dance floor, on each of the days. Everyone wanted to take back a part of the good times, and sure enough, by the end of the fourth day all the beer mugs up for grabs were sold out! With lots of positive feedback, over 2000 tickets sold and a footfall of more than 8000, across the four days, the eighth edition of Mumbai’s Oktoberfest has set the bar quite high for the years to come.
As the curtains draw on ‘German Days in Mumbai’, the IGCC thanks its partners and looks forward to many more such events that bring Indian and German cultures closer, and eventually strengthen trade and investment cooperation by providing platforms like these, to forge business relationships and networks against the backdrop of celebration and cheer.