Culture Street

While walking on the slushy road this morning (as temperature in a week’s time has nudged to +1 from -25 prevailing snow to melt), I encountered another revelation of Swedish culture which made me curiously stop for a while. The group of 30-35 people including kids of all ages holding gifts, wine bottles and bouquet gathered outside a house. All the eyes focused on a balcony on the other side of lane. A couple just appeared in the balcony and in a courteous welcome gesture widened both hands, delivered few words (well…seemed ‘welcome’ to my minuscule knowledge of Swedish). Gratifying the same, the whole gang started singing a song….which again looked like a birthday wish to me….People passing by also started enjoying and singing while walking on their ways. All pepped up, I also joined the song in my own way. Standing on a decent distance from them I started singing 'Happy Birthday to you.....' drawing smiles from the passersbys. :)

Is he a Milkman?

I moved back to affable flashback this morning when I took out milk (‘mjölk’ as they call it in Sweden) from my refrigerator for making tea.

Last year.…one morning, I was busy packing lunch for me and my husband, when the door bell rang. I walked towards the door and tried to peek from the net window. The vision was opaque so I opened the door. There I saw a fair complexion teenager guy with average height and black specs on his eyes. At first glance, he seemed a society neighbor to me. Swiftly his hand stretched forward offering me milk plastic bag. ‘Didi, do you need bread, curd or paneer’? He asked in his persuading voice with a sweet smile on face. I was shocked to realize that this young guy is my new milkman. ‘why are you doing this job? Instead, you should concentrate on studies at this phase of life’ I questioned him in my state of shock. He was excited to be asked and in his whimsical zest he told me that he has completed his schooling this year and pursuing his first year of graduation (B.Com) through correspondence. He proclaimed his interests in computers as well and told that he did a short term diploma from a private institute. This milk delivery job was assistance for his basic necessities of existence. I was touched!!

After few weeks… Another busy morning and I was already running late for the office. Door bell rang and I expeditiously opened the door and took the milk bag from him. I was about to close the door and I heard…. ‘Didi I need to talk to you’.‘Yes quickly I am getting late’ I said. He started articulating himself and I inferred that he is not just another milk man. He told me about his dreams and ambitions in life. So focused and all motivated!! He showed his interest in higher studies and fulltime office job. It was a complete counseling session with him about his studies and job prospects. By that time I was totally engrossed into the conversation keeping my late office attendance by side. He was looking for my guidance in studies and help in getting a job. ‘It will be difficult for you to manage full time job and studies in parallel. So look for a part time job’ I suggested.’ Don’t worry about time didi, I will manage my nights’ He replied. I reassured him by saying that I will definitely try to look some option for him. He was eased and his smile showed a felling of gratification. I drove all the way to my office retrospecting my friends and colleagues contact list who can help him in getting a job….

After two days of discussion, he didn’t turn up and my milk was not delivered for couple of days till the time the shopkeeper couldn’t find another milk man. Strangely, I was happy irrespective of the inconvenience of milk not delivered at my home. I strongly feel that he must be on his way of fulfilling his dreams….

When a person wants something with enough passion, everything seems to go perfect!

Snowy Frosty Experience - Kiruna

Ice Ice Baby…yeah!! I had an amazing vacation two months back in December to Kiruna, located up north in Sweden. This snowy land is situated in Lapland and is sparsely populated. Kiruna boasts iron ore mine that is the world’s biggest mine and town's primary economic resource.

26th Dec 2009…. This morning was not a usual morning as I got up at once by the sound of my alarm without snoozing it further. My loving husband, Nikhil and I got ready and we took a bus to reach airport. I was alarmed to see almost empty city airport as we reached two hours before our domestic flight departing time. Besides, only couples of flights were scheduled on that freezing cold day. I spent my time by watching the sights from huge windows and later surfing the information guide screen, getting the glimpse of the city. Nikhil spent his time by playing his favorite time pass game, Sudoku in one of Swedish magazines.

Our plane landed on a beautiful snowy landscape which I have always admired by beholding and day dreaming my desktop wallpapers. It was a beautiful start though I was freezing with cold and a bit nervous as the temp touched -30 degrees by that time. We hired a taxi and reached our hotel. Our hotel ‘Scandic’ was absolutely wonderful and warm inside. Our stay in the hotel was comfortable and my favorite part was definitely breakfast - I truly relish it.

Next Morning, we went to Ice Hotel located in Jukkasjärvi, 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle. It was extremely beautiful. I was amazed to see the incredible snow sculptures and architectures by renowned creative artists. It was really cool to see the artwork of suits and ice bar. Both of us started posing and capturing number of photos with our individual cameras though it was becoming difficult to click with gloves in hand. I had a small digital one with me and Nikhil was enjoying new SLR camera which we bought just a day before our trip. Our guide gave a small tour and provided brief and interesting introduction about the hotel. I remember few… some people choose this place to offer a proposal to their girlfriends; some marry in the ice church…. interesting!!

Another excursion which we experienced was snow mobil. It was such a fun ride which will always be treasured as my adventurous memories of lifetime. All dressed up in our warm clothes and helmet we started our 3 hrs tour of snow mobile. We drove all over frozen river and crossed snow forests. Experiencing snowmobile in -35 degrees was a once in a lifetime experience. And guess what ….on the midway, one of my gloves fell off!! huhuhuh!!! I tried to scream at my highest pitch of volume sitting at the backseat. I shouted ‘hey stop! stop! my glove fell off’ but my volume couldn’t cross my helmet borders. It was so cold; I was wearing 3 gloves one on top of the other. After few minutes my hand with 2 gloves was all numb and I was unable to move it. After a while, we stopped to take a break and Nikhil told me a way to cover it between his back and my front. I somehow managed to cover it and we continued our journey. It was better afterwards. Alas! I was alleviated from cold.

All in all, I loved my trip and suggest it to all. For anyone going to Sweden, Kiruna is worth a visit!!

A Bouquet...

There are moments in life when situations and circumstances bring you back nostalgically your beautiful memories of life. There are moments of joy, compassion, glory which makes them wonderful achievements of our life. These moments remains forever with us. We don’t really value them when we have them. I can not think of a situation better than this to value the assets of my life when I am remotely so far from them in Sweden.

Today is the day when my parents tied the knot of divine eternal relationship – ‘marriage’. It has been 37 glorious years of their journey together. Few days back I called and asked my mom about their anniversary celebration plans and as usual my mom said… ‘beta is umar mein hum kahan jayenge…’ my mom works for semi govt. organization from past 36 years and my dad has also retired from the same institute and works as a guest faculty now. The moment I got to know that my dad has a lecture program on anniversary day, I planned to wish and surprise them by sending a huge bouquet of flowers along with an anniversary card to their office. I told one of my close friends to book it, as he stays near to their office. He booked it and it was delivered. I was very happy and excited before calling to wish them. When I called my mumma, the first sound I heard even before a ‘hello’ was the sound of television in the background and I assimilated the fact that she has not gone to office and was at home today. My papa also cancelled the lecture and stayed at home with mumma on the occasion of anniversary. I got so upset to know that my plan of surprising them was all ruined. After that I told her that I am upset as I had sent you a bouquet and it couldn’t reach you… As soon as she heard this, she was so thrilled as if she saw a bouquet in front of her eyes the very same moment.

This is what a “mother” is. She can read the mind of her child and show them the immense feeling of love and compassion by saying what they want to hear. Her reaction made me feel on top of the world. I was overwhelmed and intoxicated with joy.