Monday 24 June 2013

Happy Midsummer!

So, dear reader: Happy Midsummer from the east of Norway! Yes, we are celebrating! Midsummer eve, sankthansaften, is celebrated on a day around the summer solstice. It is on the longest day (and shortest night!) of the year, and is a much loved celebration!

European midsummer- related holidays, traditions and celebrations are pre-Christian in origin, and celebrated in many European cuntries. From ancient time it was a festival of the summer solstice. Some people believed that golden-flowered plants had healing powers, so they picked them on this night. 

Usually we celebrate with the burning of a large bonfire.  The bonfires were lit to protect against evil spirits which were believed to roam freely when the sun was turning southward again. In the old days people also though that the witches were on their way to meetings on this night. 

So, the bonfire is lit, and the party goes on all night (at least if the weather is good...) with barbeque, music and dance. Unfortunately we do not have the best midsummernight- weather this year, but we are hanging out with our family in Oslo, my sister and her family, and have a lovely time. 

An idyllic place - ready for Midsummer celebration

Barbeque by the lake
Today we drove out of Oslo to visit some dear dear friends. The last time we saw them was in Mumbai in March when they visited us there.  So, we had a lot of catching up to do! The weather was a bit better in the afternoon, so we walked around, enjoying the nature, the scenery and last but not least- the wonderful company. So, please have a look on our day - does't it look nice?

Peaceful view :-) 
I hope you had a nice day too dear reader! Ta ta from Oslo:-)

Wednesday 19 June 2013

Ut på tur, aldri sur!

A tiny culture clash appeared when we moved from Greece to Norway- many years ago... For my dear Greek.You see, from our wooden house on the hillside in Bergen, we had excellent view to The Mountain Hikers. Eeevery Sunday, The Greek would, while enjoying his coffee and sigarett, with surprise view the endless stream of people heading up towards the mountains. People with sporty outfits, people with kids, with dogs and with backpacks. - Where are those people going, he would ask. - They going to walk in the mountains, I would answer. -Yes, but to where? What is up there? A nice taverna or coffee shops? Because they would walk to something, right? 

Well, in Norway - walking just for the sake of walking -is a biiig thing. Ut på tur which means going for a hike. Aldri sur - means that you should hike in a good mood, and if you are not in a good mood, the hike will bring you good mood. So, no sad faces! Off we go! The mountain awaits us! Ut på tur, aldri sur!

Growing up, we always went on a hike on Sundays. Through rain, wind and snow: the TUR was obligatory. So, when in Rome, do as the Romans right? The weather gods are on our side these days, and no matter what they say (Like There- is -no- such- thing- as- bad- weather, only- bad- clothing) - I enjoy the TUR so much more when the sun is shining and the colours are bright and shiny. ( And besides, I mainly bring Indian sandals and cotton kurtas with me so..:))
So there I was, standing on the top of the mountain - looking out on the blue fjord, filling my lungs with fresh, sharp clean air: what a majestetic feeling! It fills me up, all the way down to my bare toes in my golden Indian sandals! And I want to just scream out. (My apologies to the Japanese tourist group who happened to pass by) In that moment - oh how I feel my inner Daughter of the Wilderness - emerge! The nature and I! 

Ok, this may seem a bit strange?  In the book: "How to use and understand a Norwegian", Odd Børretzen, describes in a hilarious way the Norwegian's passionate relationship with the nature, and how all Norwegians deep inside have this urge to be Sons & Daughters of the Wilderness. The most funny book! 

Well, in spite of the somewhat unconventional footwear, the renewed daughter of the wilderness got down from the mountain eventually. And after a majestetic moment on the mountain top, I was more than ready for more let's go-for-a-coffee-moments with friends and family!

Have a wonderful day dear reader and enjoy your moments! 

Heading back down to civilisation!

Sunday 16 June 2013

Bergen - tourist special

My hometown Bergen
- So, what is it like? - Have you seen elephants? -Really, you have your own driver? -What? 8 months without rain at all? -How have you been, really?  Oh, dear reader, it is catch-up time and I feel I have spent most of my week chatting, laughing and even sharing some tears with good old friends. They are bombarding me with questions, and I enjoy sharing my Mumbai expatliv with them, but also to have their news, good and bad. And the best is to be able to give them a hug. I am so grateful for each and one of my friends. You know me - it is all about the people.

The weather has been good, so we have enjoyed some of the outdoor cafes, and have been walking around enjoying parks, nature and sea breeze. You see, Bergen is a nice city to stroll around in, and since I am all of a sudden a tourist in my own city, I have plenty of time to do that.
Ready for yet another catch-up coffee:-)
So, today my post is a tourist-in-Bergen-special: Bergen is situated on the west-coast, and is the second largest city in Norway. Impressed by that? Second largest, eh? Wow! Living in Mumbai with around 20 million inhabitants makes it a bit funny coming back to Bergen, because you see, my city has around 260 000 inhabitants. Yes.Only. But it is the second largest city in Norway which by the way has 5 million inhabitants.Only.

Bergen is surrounded by 7 mountains and then there is the sea... The city used to be the capital of Norway, and back when most people travelled by ship it was one of the largest cities in the nordic countries and a trade centre for Europe. The Hanseatic league was well established at the wharf.
The harbour in city centre
And we are soo happy with the blue sky..:)
Bergen is also known for the large amount of the traditional smalll wooden houses painted in different colours. You can stroll around in the narrow alleyways going between the houses.
One of the alleyways 

Wooden houses and cobble stoned alleyways: a known sight in Bergen
And the most funny thing! Some of our good friends here are from India, from New Delhi. They have settled down well in Bergen, and run their own business. One of the most hilarious catching up was the one with them. Just by the first -So, how is life in Mumbai? they started to laugh, and then we couldn't stop. The Indian expats in Norway and the Norwegian expats in India - great time exchanging experiences! I was so thrilled that I almost had to visit the Indian restaurant - of course placed in a traditional Bergen house...

Lille Taste of India - in Bergen!
And if the longing for Indian food, clothes and bags gets overwhelming - there are solutions in Bergen too: India Emporium:- The closest you get to India in Bergen:-) 

So, dear reader, I hope you enjoyed this small taste of Bergen? It has been a great start of our expat holiday, and also other parts of Norway and of course our beloved Greece is coming up... Stay tuned!
Bye bye from Bergen!

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Back in Norway - for a little while..

- Where are all the people? - Ooops, oh yes, that is the driver's side of the car! - Wow, it is so green! -The air is so fresh! -It is a bit cold! - Oh %$^$# - that is so expensive! - Did you see thaaaat?

Yes, dear reader, we are back in the homeland - for the first time since we left in June 2012. And our hometown bids us a warm welcome with sunshine and a mild sea breeze. And as you may have understood, we are exited to be back - after an intense year - to see Bergen again! Our lovely city with the sea on one side and with 7 green mountains on the others. How quiet and peaceful it seems...

No one is honking the horn. The cars are driving one by one in an organized proper line. Every car stops for you even when you give an almost unvisible signal that you have an intention of crossing the street. We look up from the car window and the hillsides are bright green and flowery. We see only a few people strolling along the road, in sports wear, walking their dog. The pavements are quite empty. Not like in Mumbai...

We head out for our local supermarket - cheering for the great sight of the stuffed shelves: what to take first? 20 types of cheeses, salami, ham, sausages, steaks, 30 types of brown bread, sour cream, salt licorice, vegetables and fruits we could eat right there. Our heavenly feeling lasts until we come to the cashier - what? I quickly recalculate - almost 7000 rupees !? Wow. Not like in Mumbai...

Well, to be honest, for me, the nicest part of coming "home" is catching up with family and friends. And with the weather gods in a very good mood these days, we can sit outside, enjoy the sun (which doesn't set until laaate night up here north) and talk and talk and talk. After all - it is the people that counts, right? Just like in Mumbai.

So, it is catch-up time in the land of the midnight sun! I hope you are well dear reader, wherever you are!
All the best from Bergen! Stay tuned!

Monday 3 June 2013

Veg, non-veg or Norwegian salmon?

Life as an expat in India brings along some - let me call it - kind of unfamiliar questions. I have already told you about the tan or de-tan and the ready-made-or-tailor-made. And not to mention my confusing search for eating outside (or was it inside) in Mumbai.

When I (as a fresh-off-the-plane-expat) made a phone call for our first homedelivery pizza - I just didn't get it. I found my self staring at the phone, desperately pressing my ear closer - to hear what the person in the other end was asking. What? Excuse me? I didn't get what you were asking... Ahhh: VEG OR NON-VEG??!! Meaning: Would you like a vegetarian pizza or a non-vegetarian pizza? Veg is biiig in India and you can easily be kind of dragged into it -because the vegetarian choices are many and everywhere! Just you see- you will be doing the veg wave too:-) Which is a good thing, because the Indian vegetarian dishes are delicious and healthy. The restaurants usually offer a large vegetarian menu, and some restaurants serve only (strictly) vegetarian food. In the menus, each dish is often marked with a small green sticker for vegetarian and a small red sticker for non-vegetarian. In other words: red sticker if the dish contains meat! Yesterday, when we had dinner at this great restaurant which we love, I also discovered that the one side of the sushi buffet was for vegetarian sushi. Yes, sweet corn sushi, olive sushi and mushroom sushi - so in other words:  veg/veggie sushi = sushi without fish.  
Non-veg sushi with fish or veg sushi without fish? Pick and choose! 
I like fish, so I went for non-veg sushi, but I had to try some of the veg sushi too. So either you like veg or non-veg food: the choices are there!

I faced yet another choice the other day when my local fish/meat supplier with exitement informed me: -Today we have salmon from Norway! All the way from my home country to be sold at a small shop in Mumbai, it was like it was calling my name! So, should I still go for the basa-fish or the chicken as I had planned - or...?
And then this image popped up: grilled salmon fillet with cucumber salad in a vinegar dressing served with mashed potatoes.... I just had to go for the salmon, dear reader, just had to...

And it tasted just as good as I had seen in my mind. Norway-in-a-nutshell on a plate.
A rare but welcomed guest in our Mumbai expat home:
grilled salmon with cucumber salad:-) 
Have a wonderful week dear reader, and stay tuned! Good night from Mumbai!