Monday, August 25, 2014


Ambassador Bal Anand
Sukh-Sunehe is a collection of personal letters of Ambassador Bal Anand, my senior colleague and friend. I was away on vacation in Stockholm (Sweden). Ambassador Bal Anand came to Jalandhar for a couple of days, along with his wife in the second week of August. In spite of my absence, they very kindly accepted to stay at my humble flat. Rupesh, my son, was around to see that they were comfortable. On my return from Stockholm, I found two books, Sukh Sunehe, a collection of letters and Collection of poetry of Nida Fazali,  thoughtfully left  by Ambassador Bal Anand for me. I fully appreciate the gesture. Ambassador Bal Anand has been kind and considerate to me. We are touch with each other almost on daily basis through exchange of messages on E-mail on matters of mutual interest. The credit of this goes to Ambassador Sahib as he is really good at maintaining contacts with friends. It is a matter of co-incident that we both are the alumni of DAV College, Jalandhar.

I have read Sukh-Sunehe with interest. It is yet another co-incident that Foreword of the book is dated August 15, 2013 and it was gifted to me on August 15, 2014, Independence Day of India. I am impressed by the sense of history of Ambassador Bal Anand.  He carefully kept and preserved the letters he exchanged not only with the family but also with his close friends and associates. The book has also established his good credentials as a literary person, besides a fine career diplomat.

In one of the letters, Prof. Pritam Singh has suggested that Ambassador Bal Anand should write his memoirs and name it as “Ghat Ghat De Pani”. I fully endorse the suggestion and wish Ambassador Bal Anand al the best.


Friday, August 22, 2014

Batteries Charged

Vaishali, JP, Komal & Tania
I am back to Jalandhar after vacations in Delhi/Faridabad and Stockholm for about 7 weeks. It was a good time with our daughter Vaishali and JP and our grand daughters,  Komal, a sober and scholarly and Tania, artistic and extrovert. Both Vaishali and JP have been very kind and caring. It was total relaxation and rest both at the outward and inward journeys to Sweden, our main destination of vacations. I have extensively written about our vacation in Stockholm with our son Naresh and his family in My Stockholm Diary in this blog.

I have started coming to my work at Jalandhar School of Careers and Opportunities with renewed vigor and charged batteries after a good vacation in Stockholm.   It is still hot and humid with temperature at about 35 degree Celsius. Apart from weather, one immediate contrast with Swden which one notices is cleanliness. It is very unfortunate that our places are dirty. I only hope that PM Narendra Modi’s independence day plan to have Clean India (Sabach Bharat) takes shape and effect.

Sabhiachar Punjabi Mela, 2013
On the day of our departure from Stockholm on August 16, a Punjabi Festival was scheduled to be held in Stockholm on the  way to Arlanda airport.  There is story in the Tribune (August 22) about the Festival in Stockholm. I am happy to learn that Sabhiachar Punjabi Mela in Stockholm has been started by a young man of Jalandhar ,  Jay Kahlon, who is living in Sweden and is an accomplished singer.


Saturday, August 16, 2014

My Stockholm Diary - 27

Anju & Naresh with children
All good things also come to an end, it is said. Our vacations in Stockholm are over and we are scheduled to depart for India in the afternoon today, August 16. We have had a wonderful time with Naresh, Anju, Pallavi and Arvind ever since we arrived in Stockholm on July 4. Naresh and Anju have done well in life. Children are growing and coming of an age nicely. It is a matter of great satisfaction. May God bless them and we come again. 

PUFF dinner at  Waterfront Congress Centre
The finale of our visit was as good and enjoyable as the whole visit. The PUFF, Swedish Association of Whole Sellers, dinner in the evening of August 15 was fully enjoyable and relaxing. It was the 25th anniversary of the PUFF and they celebrated it with style. The venue was the picturesque Waterfront Congress Centre in the down town Stockholm facing the Stadshuset, seat of Government of Stockholm commune. It was a good experience to enjoy the evening in Swedish style with Swedish captains of business.  Thanks to Naresh for making it for us. 

With Catarina Reuter
We could meet and make a few more Swedish friends in the process. One of them was Catarina Reuter, siting by my side on our table, a vivacious and gracious lady. She  struck friendship with us in no time.  Catarina and her husband are doing business with India since long. They import textiles, brassware and also traditional and old furniture etc. and visit India once every year for the purpose. Catarina was quite frank and told me that though they were happy to do business with India yet it would be better if the Indian  exporters start conforming to international business norms and standards. Her main complaint was non-adherence to delivery schedules. I hope Indian exporters would take note of it. I checked with her whether I could write about this in my blog ? She said yes, do so. Catarina wished to be my friend on the Facebook. I said it would be my pleasure. We exchanged visiting cards. Today in the early morning, August 16, I opened my Facebook account and to my pleasant surprise there was a friendship request from Catarina. Now we are friends on the Facebook too. God bless her. 

With this I close My Stockholm Diary. Bye Bye Stockholm. Bye Bye Sweden, a beautiful country of friendly people.

Friday, August 15, 2014

My Stockholm Diary - 26

Our vacations are coming to an end. We remained at home on August 14 and slowly started packing our bags for outward journey on August 16. In the afternoon here, listened President Pranab Mukherjee´s address to the nation with interest. It was one of the finest speeches our Presidents had made on the occasion. 

At Pammi & Ajay Vadher´s home
As usual, our evening was full of enjoyment and relaxation over a dinner with Pammi and Ajay Vadher at their huge villa in Täby in the outskirts of Stockholm. Both Pammi and Ajay are senior Executives with Swedish company Ericsson and have done well. The food with a Gujrati touch was excellent. Both Ajay and his homely wife Pammi were hospitable and reverential. God bless them.

At India House in Stockholm
The day, August 15, started early with our attendance at the Independence Day celebrations at the India House (residence of the Indian Ambassador). We exchanged  Independence day greetings with Ambassador Banashri Bose Harrison and other fellow Indians. It was a well attended function by the members of the Indian community and friends of India. The occasion revived our cherished memories of the India House during our own stay in Stockholm with the Indian Embassy. Ambassador Banashri Bose Harrison, my old colleague, was considerate and kind enough to recognize our presence at occasion. It was a satisfying movement for me and my wife Vidya.

In the evening today, we are scheduled to accompany Anju and Naresh to a formal dinner of Swedish Association of Whole Sellers of which Naresh´s companies are members. It will be a change from the enjoyable evenings, we have been spending with our Indian friends and enjoying their excellent hospitality. We look forward to meet the captains of Swedish business. 


My Stockholm Diary - 25

India House in Stockholm
Today, August 15, is the Independence Day of India. It is a matter of co-incident that I am in Stockholm where I celebrated this solemn day many times from 1991-94 when I was working with the Indian Embassy. Once, It was in 1993, the honour of hoisting the flag in Stockholm fell on me as the Charge d´Affaires of the Embassy of India. I would tend to go to the India House at Villagatan for the flag hoisting ceremony being hosted by Ambassador Banashri Bose Harrison to exchange greetings with the Ambassador, Embassy staff and also with my fellow country men on the auspicious occasion of Independence Day of India. 

India has come a long way in its journey to progress and development. But still we are to go a long way to fully redeem our pledge taken, in the words of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan uttered on the night of August 14, 1947, and I quote “ So in a mood of humility, in a spirit of dedication let us take this pledge as soon as the clock strikes twelve.”  Jawaharlal Nehru´s famous speech ´Tryst with Destiny` followed. Nehru said “ The service of India means the service of millions who suffer. It means the ending of poverty and ignorance and disease and inequality of opportunity. The ambition of the greatest man of our generation has been to wipe every tear from every eye. That may be beyond us, but as long as there are tears and suffering, so long our work will not be over.” 

Obviously, we are still to redeem our pledge taken at the dawn of independence. President Pranab Mukherjee rightly said in his address to the nation on the eve the Independence Day “ Poverty is not a mere statistic, it has a face. The poor cannot and will not wait for for another generation. The benefits of economic development  must percolate down to the poorest of the poor.” It is time to heed to the warning of Allama Iqbal:

Vatan ki fikr kar naadaan museebat aane wali hai,
Teri barbadiyo ke mashwure hain aasmano me,
Na samjhoge to mit jaaoge aye hindostan walon,
Tumhari dastaan bhi naa hogi dastaano me.

Think of the homeland, O ignorant one! Hard 
times are coming
Conspiracies for your destruction are afoot in the heavens

You will be annihilated if you do not understand, O people of India!
Even your tales will disappear from the world’s chronicles


Thursday, August 14, 2014

My Stockholm Diary - 24

At Formex
It, August 13, remained a busy day. I accompanied Naresh to FORMEX, a trade fair for interiors and gifts etc. at Stockholmsmässan at Alvasjö. Formex is a business to business fair. I was fully impressed by the infrastructure and arrangements. As I wrote earlier also, we in India are still to go a long way in this regard, if India is to come on the world map in business and commercial interaction. Naresh was engaged in his pre-fixed business meetings with his business counterparts. I could see around over refreshments offered by the exhibitors. We had a quick lunch of pasta and wine at the huge stall of candles. The aroma of scented candles was pleasant to the senses. Some Indian companies were also present in the fair through their local agents and distributors. I found a couple of exhibitors were having old stuff like rickety tables, wooden boxes (sandook), steel trunks and old utensils of brass etc. from India. It was a good experience to see the business sense at its best.
Ambassador Banashri Bose Harrison

In the afternoon, I visited the Indian Embassy and had a courtesy meeting with Ambassador Banashri Bose Harrison.   It was nice to renew my association with Embassy. We would tend to visit the India House in Stockholm in the morning of August 15 for the flag hoisting ceremony on the Independence day of India.
Dinner at Bablu & Kiran Home

As usual these days, the evening was fully enjoyable with Bablu and Kiran Kumar, close friends of Anju and Naresh, over a dinner at their spacious villa. A session of cards (teenpati) in between the snacks and the main course made us further relaxed and light. Both Kiran and his gracious wife Bablu are  wonderful hosts.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

My Stockholm Diary - 23

It seems the summer in Sweden is over. There is already  chill in the air. People are coming back from their summer vacation. One can notice more traffic on the roads and more presence in the residential areas. 

At Promotion Mäassan 0n August 12
On August 12, Naresh took me to a trade fair for promotional goods and services - Promotion Mässan - at the newly built Kista Mässan. It was an education for me. It was good to understand first hand various ideas and concepts of promotion. I felt that India could be a good place for promotional goods and services. Swedish trade fairs are very well arranged. Indian outfits like ITPO need to learn from them. Today, August 13, I would go with Naresh and visit yet another trade fair for interiors and gifts - FORMEX - at Stockholmsmässan. I think it will be beneficial and informative. Naresh visits these fairs for his business interests and takes me along to show me around and spend my time nicely.

In the evening, Anil Chopra and his gracious spouse, friends of Naresh and Anju, entertained us over a sumptuous Kashmiri treat with dishes like Rogan Josh and Alloo Dam. It was good and enjoyable. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

My Stockholm Diary - 22

At Jaya and Vijay home

On August 9, we visited Uppsala again for a dinner engagement with Jaya and Vijay Gupta,  close family friends of Naresh. They have a newly built villa in the out skirts of the city in the lap of nature. It was totally pleasant to be in the lush green lawns duly manicured with care. Both Jaya and Vijay were hospitable and reverential, as usual.

Pallavii tieing Rakhi to Arvind (my grand children)
Yesterday, August 10, was a busy day. The Rakhi ceremony was held at home. Naresh invited Poonam and Inderpal Singh (Poonam is the Rakhi sister of Naresh) and another common friend Sukhi and Jaspal (Nippy) Sabharwal (Sukhi is the Rakhi sister of Inderpal) to a brunch of Cholle Puree and exchange Rakhi Greetings. Good Indian sweets were relished at the Rakhi ceremony. Apart from excellent hot meal, Anju made delicious Besan Burfi at home. Rakhi is a good festival of emotions and merry making and wishing to the dear ones all the best in the years to come. My thoughts flew back to India and Austria to be with my own sisters. It was a wonderful feeling.

At Sukhi & Nippy home
The Rakhi celebrations continued over a grill party in the afternoon followed by a dinner thoughtfully hosted by Sukhi and Nippy at their home. They had invited Farida and Mushtak Ahmed (Farida is the Rakhi sister of Nippy) for the Rakhi ceremony and us to join them in the festivity. Mushtak Ahmed is an acclaimed story writer and a poet who writes under the name of ´Sain Succha´. We relished sweets (Khoya Burfi) from Lahore and  good Jalebis. Nippy is a good Chef and enjoys cooking. The assorted grills of Murg Haryalli, nicely marinated fish, assorted vegetables and good drinks to gulp these down made the evening  enjoyable. at the open deck of the house. The Latifas (jokes) of Farida and Mushtak freshened and lighted the atmosphere. The Teenpati interlude in between the grill and Masalla Gost dinner was  relaxing. Sukhy´s home made Ras-Malai served as dessert was delicious. Both Sukhi and Nippy are, as usual, excellent and gracious hosts of such good parties.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

My Stockholm Diary - 21

With friends at home.
It, August 8, was a quite day at home and we lazed around.  Anju and Naresh are fully determined to make our every day enjoyable and relaxing. God bless them. They invited some friends home for dinner. Anju cooked and served a delicious vegetarian meal of Sag, Punjabi curry, Tindamasala, Masala idli and some more dishes. The dessert of mango and vanilla Kulfis made at home were really good. As usual these days, a long session of Teenpati made us sit for long. We enjoyed the evening. The weekend is again full. Today, August 9, we will again go to Uppsala for  dinner with  Jaya and Vijay Gupta, close friends of Anju and Naresh. We look forward to meet them.

August 8 is an important date in the contemporary history of India. On this day the Quit India Resolution was passed in 1942. It was the second most important stage in our struggle for independence after 1857. I watched the relevant programs on Doordarshan with interest and renewed my general knowledge. “Let every Indian consider himself freeman.” Mahatma Gandhi declared in his fiery “Do or Die” speech. 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Indian Community in Sweden

I have been writing on various aspects of life in Stockholm in My Stockholm Diary ever since I came to Stockholm on vacation on July 4. Most of the entries in my diary are the lunches and dinners hosted by our friends in the Indian community. My observations about our hosts give a bit of flavor of the Indian community and their life style. I wrote repeatedly that the the quality of life and standard of living of the Indian community, in general, is much better than their counterparts in other European countries. The second generation of the Indian community in Sweden has become young and their assimilation into the main stream of the Swedish society is underway and rightly so.
Indian Ambassador to Sweden Banashri Bose Harrison

I thought of writing about the Indian community and resorted to web searching, including the website of the Indian Embassy, for information to supplement my meager  and shallow knowledge. But not much is available in this regard. I will try to put together bits and pieces partially with my own  old association with Sweden and partially my recent interaction in Stockholm.

Un-official estimates indicate that Indian community is about 15,000 strong Indian in Sweden out of which about 4000 are holding Indian passports. Indians started coming in 1960s as professionals and students. I know a few of them like   Bicky Chakaraborty, Dr. Seshadari Seetharaman and Dr. Narendra Yamdagni, who are around and kicking. Bicky (Barun Kumar) Chakaraborty is said to be one of the richest persons in Scandinavia. He owns one of the largest chains of budget hotels and pubs in Sweden. I met Bicky a couple of times and found him a down to earth and pragmatic business personality. I distinctly remember one of the meetings with him with Chief Minister Jyoti Basu sometime in 1992-93 at a reception at Wenner Gren Centre. Both Sitharaman and Yamdagni were highly placed professionals  with KTH ( Royal Institute of Technology) and were quite active and social in the community during my stay in Stockholm from 1991-94. It was rewarding to know and interact with them. The big influx came in early 1970s as Ugandan refugees under the UN arrangements. Most of them are settled in Mariestad in down south. I visited them a couple of times and played Dandia at the community celebrations like Diwali and Navratras. Most of them were of Gujrati origin and are engaged in small businesses. The next lot came from mid 70s to 90s who were semi skilled out right economic migrants some of them under the garb of one pretext or the other like political or religious persecution back home in India. Most of them settled themselves in odd jobs initially and later graduated to small businesses or better jobs. The bigger influx, in the form of floating population, came in wake of IT interaction and presence of Indian companies like TCS, WIPRO Sweden. Swedish companies like Ericsson etc. tended to engage Indian professionals in tele-communication. The number of Indian students got a boost. Many of these professional and students made Sweden their home and decided to stay back. 

Gurudwara in Tumba
Hindu Mandir in Stockholm
Generally, Indian community has done well. They are maintaining their identity and culture. There are Mandirs (Temples), Gurudwaras (Sikh Temples) in addition to various cultural and social outfits through out Sweden. Among them,  Hindu Mandir Society and Sikh Gurudwara in Stockholm and also Indian Association and Swedish-Indian Association are prominent. It is gratifying to note that many young Indians are, of late, registering good progress in their business efforts apart from excelling themselves in services and their professional domains. One of the articles in the media has given the names of prominent Indians which inter alia includes Stand up Comedian David Batra, National Golfer Daniel Chopra, Performance Artist Ayesha Quraishi. Many young professionals in IT, Tele-communication, Scientific Research, Banking and other fields of human endeavor are doing well. My own association and interaction with some of them have been good and satisfying. I may name a few of them namely Dr. Ravi Banga, a highly medical specialist, Parminder (Pammi) and Ajay Vadher, highly placed professionals in Swedish company Ericsson, Seema Jonsson, an Academics, Parul Sharma, an activist and consultant on on Human Rights and other social issues, Vijay Gupta, a senior  Marketing Executive, Vaibhav Vyas, an IT Expert and many more. Swedish India Business Council which is looked after by Robin Sukhia is engaged in promoting business interaction. Many young Indians have shown good progress and success in business. Sami (Sanjay) Sood, in travel and hotel business, Inderpal Singh, in trading and real estate, Karan Malhotra and Ajay Sehgal,    in Industrial manufacturing, Ajay Pal, in high end taxi business, to name a few, have done well. More and more young Indians are placing themselves in readiness to explore, identify and explore the emerging business opportunities. The up coming generation of Indians in Sweden will certainly be better placed with appropriate training and education to which they have ample access. 

I was about to close this piece and Naresh gave me some more information on the emerging talent in the community. It would be only appropriate to include them in the increasing list of up-coming professionals. Silky Bruta, a senior Executive with Microsoft and her husband Gautam Rawal, a banker with SwedBank, are doing well. Yet more, two brothers, Ashim and Robin, sons of my our old friends Kamlesh and Virender Khullar are adorning senior positions in a bank and Dell, a computer company. There may be many more about whom I don´t have information. I can always come back on the subject with a view to recognize and encourage the younger generation of our community in Sweden

My Stockholm Diary - 20

Yesterday, August 6, I remained at home and watched TV. It was the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Anniversary. On August 6, 1945 the US dropped atom bombs on Hiroshima and on August 9 on Nagasaki in Japan in the Second World War. It was one of the dreaded man made tragedy in which hundreds of thousands of innocent people died. I could feel the intensity of the feelings of Japanese people on this  catastrophe  during my stay in Tokyo from 2001-03 at the Indian Embassy.   It was a matter of pride for me personally that the voice of my son Rupesh, who was with us in Tokyo,  was recorded and put to use in the commentary in Hindi language at the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Peace Memorial  Museum in 2003 and remained for many years. Rupesh was picked to do the honours when he was working with the Japanese Radio (NHK Radio) in its Hindi service.

At home with Inderpal & Poonam

In the evening, Naresh´s friend Inderpal Singh with his homely wife Poonam dropped in at a short notice to play Sweep (Cards) and have a chat. It was a quick party. Naresh treated us nicely with a good starter of Lamb Masala to go with drinks and Chicken Masala Curry for the main course. The Sweep followed by Teenpati was relaxing and enjoyable. We would miss these pleasant activities back home in Jalandhar.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

My Stockholm Diary -19

At Hötörget
At Stockholm Centralan
August 4 was an exceptionally hot day in Stockholm with temperature around 35 degree Celsius. I went to down town with Anju by Pendel Tog (local train) from Rotebro and changed to tunnelbana from Stockholm Centralan. From T- Central (Central Station of Tunnelbana) to Östermalmtorg station and reached my son Naresh´s shop, Bomboo Organiconly in Sture Gallerian, a high end Mall in the heart of Stockholm. It was a good experience to renew our association and stay in Stockholm from 1991-94. The infrastructure was good already which has been maintained very well. We in the developing countries like India need to learn much from countries like Sweden in this regard. In the afternoon, I ventured to walk from Sture Gallerian through Kungsgatan, Sveavägen Hötörget and Drottninggatan to reach the Indian Embassy. Memories of our stay crossed my mind. I used to walk around these places during the lunch break. Drottninggatan was as alive and vibrant as it used to be. One glaring difference was that there were beggars around on every nook and corner. It was not the position before. I think it is the ill effect of the enlarged EU. Swedish people enjoyed healthy life style. They were slim and tall. Now there were more out of shape  and obese ladies particularly children walking around. It seems that it is impact of junk food and excessive use of modern gadgets  and services like Telephones, TV, Games etc. Less and less people are interested in healthy entertainment and sports. 
With Ambassador Manoj Bharti, Anamika  Bharti& Bimla Chander

At the Indian Embassy, I met the Charge d´Affaires Jagdish Meena, First Secretary Bimla Chander, an old family friend, Attache Vijay Chauhan who was working with us in Prague and other officials of the Embassy. It was nice and nostalgic to see my old work place. We were to meet my colleague and successor in Minsk (Belarus) Ambassador Manoj Bharti and his wife Anamika at the Embassy after their city tour for sight seeing. Manoj and Anamika were visiting Stockholm privately by car and boat. I found them adventures and energetic to undertake this long journey. It was pleasant to meet and talk to them and renew our memories of Minsk. With a view to have a little longish time with them, Naresh invited them for some refreshments in one of the good restaurants  on the nearby Drottninggatan. It was good and refreshing. 

Monday, August 4, 2014

My Stockholm Diary - 18

Country side trip

It, August 4, is a bright sunny day in Stockholm. The mercury, around 35 degree Celsius, is higher than usual. People are happy as the summer this time is exceptionally good. We would tend to have some rest and sleep as for the last three days we return from dinners past midnight. Though it is lot of fun yet it is tiring. 

At Neelu & Anil Narula Home
Yesterday, August 3, evening was a wonderful time with our old friends Neelu and Anil Narula, a hospitable couple. We enjoyed the evening with other common friends. The food was excellent. We knew that it will be so as Neelu is an accomplished cook herself. Anil was generous, as always, and drinks flowed uninterrupted. The men folk played the game called Kupp in the lawns of their beautiful villa followed by a long seesion of Teenpati. It was a lovely evening which we will cherish for long. 

My colleague and successor in Minsk (Belarus), Ambassador Manoj Bharti is in Stockholm on a private visit to see around. I am scheduled to meet him at the Indian Embassy in the afternoon. I have wished to to commute by train and tunnelbana ( Metro) to renew our experience. Anju , who has been all support and care, will accompany us to down town Stockholm by train from Rotebro. God bless her.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

My Stockholm Diary - 17

At Indu & Kulip Chopra´s home.
On August 1, Indu and Kuldip Chopra treated us nicely over a dinner at their residence in Tumba. We could meet a couple of old friends viz. Pradeep Rastogi, Karan Malhotra and others. It was a good evening over a session of Teenpati. Everybody tends to avail of good summer season and arrange good parties. We are the direct beneficiaries of these exceptionally good summer days in Stockholm. My off the cuff interaction with the Indian community over several lunches and dinners indicated that many of the Indian community are not well informed about the emerging political, economic and social scenario back home in India. On one hand I have found that they are genuinely concerned but not well in informed. Many of them are supportive of the new Government of PM Narender Modi and expect that he will do and prove himself good for the country. But many of them and rightly so have their apprehensions because of the wide spread corruption and lack of political will to face the situation head on. My general advise to them was of patience. The new Government should be given time to set things right and we should wish them success. The government machinery including the Indian Embassies should engage themselves with the Indian communities to keep them informed and briefed of the developments back home.

With Preety & Vaibhav
On August 2, we had yet another wonderful evening with Preety and Vaibhav Vyas at their new beautiful villa in Vallentuna. It was the house warming dinner with more friends.  Vaibhav is a senior Executive with the Swedish company Ericsson and has done well in life. Both Preety and Vaibhav are good friends of Anju and Naresh. In fact, Vaibhav and Naresh studied together in Stockholm University in early 1990s when I was working with the Indian Embassy. It remained a busy weekend with yet another dinner engagement today, August 3, with our old friends Neelu and Anil Narula.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

My Stockholm Diary - 16

With Vasudha & Sami Sood
On Thursday, July 31, we had a cosy family dinner with Vasudha and Sami Sood in their spacious flat in a posh locality in the heart of Stockholm facing the Humlegård Park. The Park is hosting an old library of Stockholm, Kungliga Biblioteket (Royal Library). Our hosts Vasudha and Sami are very close friends of Anju and Naresh. Sami is a prominent businessman with diversified activities like travel agencies, tea gardens, hotels and resorts not only in Stockholm and Helsinki but also in India. I found both Vasudha and Sami humble but down to earth professionals. We also played Sweep, Teenpati and Poker (cards games) with the mother of Sami, a gracious and calm and cool lady. It was an enjoyable evening with delicious vegetarian dishes including Himachali curry called Maani.

Naresh´s friend Ajay Pal was very keen to show us the country side in one of his cosy limousines. Ajay is running a taxi service with a large fleet of cosy and costly limousines in Stockholm. We accepted the offer along with our fellow visitors from Delhi and common friends, Kiran and Ram Berry and undertook the tour on Friday, August 1. It was really good. From Stockholm, we drove to Sigtuna
Gripsholm Castle at Mariefred
through Märsta handicrafts and mementos shop in the country side. The scenic beauty of Sigtuna waterfront (Mälarin lake) was breath taking. From Sigtuna, we passed through the vast tracks of ripe and golden wheat fields and reached yet another tourist attraction, a small town of about 4000 inhabitants, Mariefred. The restaurants by the side  of Mariefred waterfront and famous Gripsholm Castle were full of tourists enjoying themselves with chilled bear and wines. Ajay treated us nicely over a good lunch at a good restaurant, Svenska Kulturpärlor, over looking the historical Gripsholm castle on the waterfront. I found Ajay very reverential and respectful. We wish him all happiness and success in the years to come. Ajay drove us back to Stockholm through the picturesque country side well in time in the evening to catch up with our dinner engagement with Indu and Kuldip Chopra at Tumba.