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Showing posts from December, 2009

Short Story: Far Away from Home

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It had been a cold dark day, one of many in the recent past. I looked out of the window and watched the last remnants of daylight fade slowly away, dropping the already sub-zero temperature outside even lower. It has been over a week since I had last stepped out.
It didn't matter how many layers of clothing I wore, the cold outside still swept inside through the seams, bored through my skin and sucked out all the warmth from within. First the fingers go numb even through the thick insulative gloves, as the body tries frantically to keep the core body temperature up and gives up on the non-essential extremities. Then your toes feel as if they're in contact with ice and walking becomes harder and harder. Your breath vapors start condensing on your lenses and you try to wipe them clear with your frozen glove clad fingers. By now, you're aware of the audible chattering of your teeth as the insides of your mouth start becoming dry. You can feel your tongue grow cold and stiffen …

Postcards from Europe - 8: Ridiculous Sweden

I've come to the end of my almost four months in Sweden. But this post is not about reminiscing. It is about some of the very ridiculous (in the best possible sense) things about Sweden. Some of them are found elsewhere in Europe as well, but Swedes do like to take it a little further than most.

Once a month, when you're lazily sleeping in the afternoon coz it's too dark and cold to go anywhere outside, you'll be jolted by a really loud and irritating horn that goes on and off in the distance. As it doesn't seem to be stopping anytime soon, and since muttering suitable expressions of extreme emotion aren't working, you turn to the source of infinite wisdom and search to find out what the hell could that sound be. As it turns out, it is the monthly testing of the air raid siren! Now the impending air raid is presumably by Russia, but the Russians just aren't obliging. It's been two centuries since the last Swedish-Russian battle, but the Swedes are still…

At the altar of Culinary Delight

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Postcards from Europe - 7: Go Husqvarna!

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Many Swedes had recommended I go and watch an Ice Hockey game while I was in Sweden. The local Jonkoping team, called Husqvarna are pretty good and have won the Swedish league in 2008. So yesterday I and a friend went to catch a game at the local ice rink.
What was great to see was that the stadium was packed by about 8000 Swedes, by my rough estimate. Kids, men, women, the elderly and even several people with physical disability all turned out in full voice, heartily cheering and 'ooh-aahing' for their team.


It reminded me of the pathetic condition of sports in India, where apart from IPL, no domestic sport ever gets any spectators (except from some parts in the east where football has a fan following). In Sweden, as in every other country in the west, the sports infrastructure, the importance given to it in everyone's life is such a stark contrast to our ignored, neglected, poorly paid athletes who have to struggle against unhelpful bureaucracy and an indifferent public.



I…

Postcards from Europe - 6: Awesome Stockholm

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Spent a great 24 hours in Stockholm. Here's a photo-essay:
Stockholm is by far the largest city in Sweden with it's 2 million inhabitants making up an astounding 22% of this sparsely populated country.

First up was the brightly lit shopping district by night and with the festive season soon to arrive, most decorations revolved around the Christmas theme. Believe it or not, the pictures below were taken between 3 and 4 pm. Winter days are extremely short, with the sun only occasionally creeping up over the horizon. And even when it does, it hangs very low in the sky before it sinks back down again.


Woke up next morning to find a white layer of frost everywhere. Also, the sun was up and shining which is pretty rare these days, and though it was still cold, it was a good day for sightseeing.

Me and a frost covered field behind

Frost on a park bench


Stockholm is made up small islands interconnected by bridges. There are a lot of boats, ferries and the occasional ship parked along the wa…

Pyaasa

You come to a foreign land and you begin searching for your own roots. Not that I had ever lost touch with them, but I do tend to look for and cling to anything that reminds me of my Indianness even more these days. I guess I'm a little homesick. But it's not just that. There's just so much great art in our history (lesser in the present) to admire. So here are some classic movies and inspiring songs that remind me of the many works of art back home.
One of my favorite Hindi films is the timeless Gurudutt masterpiece 'Pyaasa'. I haven't watched a lot of old hindi films but every time I watch this (and I've watched it several times) I wonder what happened to Indian cinema since then. Why did it all go to hell? The 1950s are considered the golden age of Indian cinema, when the newly independent Indian nation was discovering itself with masters like Satyajit Ray and Gurudutt achieving international critical acclaim. A far cry from the mindless populist drivel s…

NaBloPoMo - December

This blog hasn't seen much action lately. I need to challenge myself. Though I've had plenty of free time in the recent past, and have a few half written posts pending, I haven't really written in a while.
So, I'm joining NaBloPoMo, which stands for National Blog Posting Month. You've to sign up on a site and try to post something everyday for a month. Sounds like a tough ask, and at many points of time I'm sure I'll have to lower the standards a bit and post something trivial. But that's the challenge, to be able to post enough readable quality stuff while sticking with the quantity.
Lots of stuff going to happen in December. It'll get all Christmasy here and hopefully snow a bit too. That should be a lot of fun. Unfortunately I won't be here for Christmas which would've been a fantastic experience. I think I'm gonna get a bit nostalgic as I leave Sweden. The European adventure has been tremendous and I'm sure I'm going to look ba…