Saturday, July 28, 2018

Blå Lagunen - Ekerö Beach - Sweden

Blå Lagunen  - Ekerö Beach - Sweden

Yesterday, July 27, was a hot and sunny day in Stockholm. Vijay Gupta and the family, close friends of Anju and Naresh, my children in Stockholm, suggested to go for a picnic at the Blå Lagunen (Blue Lagoon) at Ekerö near the royal palace of Sweden at Drottningholm, an hour’s drive from Stockholm. The teenaged children, Alisha and Bunny, two vivacious daughters of Jaya and Vijay ang my grandchildren, Pallavi and Arvind were excited to enjoy themselves by sunbathing and swimming on a sandy beach of Ekerö on the backwaters of the Baltic sea.

The journey to Ekerö beach was a pleasant experience on a sunny day. The lush green oak trees near the Drottningholm Palace on the way were inviting with hospitable scenic beauty. On reaching the site, we have had a somewhat new experience of a private beach in Sweden. The young Swedish lasses checked us in by charging fifty bucks for each vehicle without any token or receipt. One was free to park and camp anywhere of choice in the bushes and under the trees alongside the beautiful beach. People were getting mad to beat the heat. It was overcrowded by the local standards. The younger lot was tanning themselves in the sun and swimming in the clean and warm water. The parking arrangements were chaotic by Swedish standards. Nevertheless, people were enjoying themselves without complaint.

We enjoyed our home cooked vegetable pulao and salads and masala tea squatting on the mats near the water. Children separated themselves to be on their own to feel good. Naresh, Vijay, Jaya swam to become partners in fun and relaxation. We, the old guards, me and Sharma Sahib, father of Jaya, rested and relaxed silently enjoying the  human and natural beauty around. After the swimming fling, we played cards, a few games of Sweep over a feast of watermelon and other fruits. We left the beach in the early evening fully relaxed drawing curtains on yet another fun filled day in the course of ‘Semester’ in Stockholm. We, back home in India, need to learn much from Sweden for keeping our waters clean for the good of our people.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Rest and Recreation in Stockholm

Rest and Recreation in Stockholm

I am in Stockholm in Sweden with my son Naresh and his family since June 6 for rest and recreation and recharging of batteries. It is called ‘Semester’ in Swedish, I understand to avail of ones vacations in Swedish parlance. As usual, the schedule remained hectic with labish wining and dining with my old friends and more so with the consciously cultivated and nurtured circle of friends of Anju and Naresh. I must add that social life of this circle is quite busy and they care and respect for each other thoroughly. It is a matter of satisfaction. I have already written in these columns about some of my activities during this visit to record my impressions and reflections as my pastime and hobby.

Today, I will write about yet another good experience in the course of my rest and recreation i.e. ‘Semester’ in Stockholm. Ajay Bains and his gracious wife Anmol, our family friends, treated us yesterday evening, July 21, in their own way with warm hospitality. They hosted us for good drinks on a luxurious ride on board of a ten metre long white Lincoln Limousine along with another friend of theirs, a highly placed executive of an airline stationed in Stockholm. Ajay runs successfully transport business to cater to the high end transport needs in Stockholm. After a good drive to the Arlanda airport, we went to the waterfront of Mälarin Lake in Sigtuna, a beautiful suburb of Stockholm and strolled around for a while. It was a pleasant and soothing experience on a beautiful summer evening. From there, we drove to a good Indian-Pakistani cuisine, grille and tandoor restaurant, Chili Masala, in Solna in the outskirts of Stockholm. It happened to be a good food outlet of one of our old acquaintances, Tony, a close relation of our friends of Pakistani origin, Salma and Slim in Tåby when I was posted here in the Indian Embassy in the early years of 1990s. The Menu card was nicely designed with catchy salutations - Valkommen, Salam, Namaste, Sat Sri Akal. Though the restaurant, in keeping with their practice and policy, did not serve alcoholic drinks and we had to contend ourselves without drinks, the food was good. Some of us, after the starters, even went out to the parked limousine, to have their fill for the evening. Perhaps, it was the one reason that our hosts thoughtfully decided to have drinks on the move on a luxurious ride. We concluded our dinner with creamy Kulfis, a much liked dessert in hot days. On return, we had a detour of the downtown Stockholm to drop one of the guests near the India House, official residence of the Indian Ambassador since our Independence in 1947 at Villagatan. By the time we returned to our humble abode at Uppland Våsby, It was already past midnight.

Thanks to Anmol and Ajay for the nice evening in the course of my recharging of batteries. I vividly recall that during our last visit in 2014, Ajay took us on a long drive through the countryside about which I wrote in my blog under the head ‘My Stockholm Diary - 16‘ on August 2, 2014 at:



Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Down the Memory Lane - Stockholm

Down the Memory Lane - Stockholm

Yesterday, July 17, It was one of the hottest and sunny days of this summer in Stockholm. The Administration had issued warnings to remain inside, drink more water, don’t grill outdoor etc. as general precautions during hot dry spells in Sweden. Honouring my liking for Chinese cuisine, Anju and Naresh and also children, Pallavi and Arvind, decided to go to the downtown Stockholm in the evening for moving around and taking a good buffet at a Chinese restaurant, Chopsticks.

We decide to park at the underground parking of
Hötorget Tory (Haymarket) off Sveavägen. My memories of the area came alive. We passed by the famous Church Adolf Fredriks where the grave of Swedish PM Olof Palme is located. My place work in early 1990s, Embassy of India, is located near by at one of corners of a prominent thoroughfare, Drontheninggattan and Adolf Fredriksgatan. During lunch breaks on some days, we used to unwind in the
lawn of the church. We stopped at the impressive building, Koncerthuset, a place for musical concerts and social gatherings, and took some photos. Walking through the inner lane from Hötorget Tory to the Chopsticks, I was reminded of the offices of Air-India and India Tourism offices in Stockholm in those days. It was my second visit to the Chopsticks. One of my Filipina diplomatic colleagues hosted me for a lunch there in 2003 when I came from Tokyo to visit my son. It was a good fusion of Chinese, Japanese and Mongolian spread which was not bad. On our way back, we strolled around a bit on the Drottninggatan talking  about Indiska, a Swedish chain of stores selling goods from India and the terrorist incident at this spot a few years before when a hotheaded terrorist drove a heavy truck cushing many innocents. I vividly recalled my several walks on Drottninggatan to and fro the Embassy and the Swedish Foreign Office in the pleasant and instructive company of my boss, Ambassador P.S. Sahai, for official callings. Ambassador Sahai was a compulsive walker and most of the time preferred to walk, particularly on return journeys. We detour a bit in the car to see, Kulturhuset, the hub of cultural activities at the famous Sergal square and passed by near the India House at Villagatan, the official residence of the Indian Ambassador to Sweden. It was a pleasant evening which rekindled my cherished memories of city beautiful, Stockholm. Thanks Anju, Naresh and my lovely grandchildren.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Visit to Gurudwara Bibi Nanki ji in Stockholm

Visit to Gurudwara Bibi Nanki ji in Stockholm

I am on a visit to Stockholm (Sweden) to be with my son Naresh and his family. Yesterday, on a hot sunny day, my daughter-in-law, who is ordained and inclined to be spiritual and god fearing, planned a visit to a nearby Gurudwara Bibi Nanki ji in the greens in the vicinity of Uppland Våsby where we reside in Stockholm. She checked with me and Naresh
At Gurudwara  Bibi Nanki Ji
whether we were interested to join her. There was nothing much to do and decided to go with her to the Gurdwara. In fact, some two weeks before when her parents, Bimla and Ram Saran, were also here in Stockholm with us, she wanted to take us to yet another bigger place, Gurudwara Sangat Sahib at Tullinge in the outskirts of Stockholm but we could not make it because of inhospitable weather on that day.

Our visit to Bibi Nanki Ji Gurdwara was rewarding and satisfying. It is housed in an old summer house as a makeshift arrangement to meet the spiritual needs of Sikhs and Punjabis in around the area. The Gurdwara opens on Sundays or on some special festive occasions only. It is run and managed by voluntary contributions both financial and physical by the Punjabi enthusiasts to meet their spiritual and social needs in the spirit of a common usage, one Sikh family carries Sri Guru Granth Sahib with them and two Sikh families erect Sri Nishan Sahib and establish a Gurdwara. On our arrival, the Path of Sri Sukhmani Sahib was being recited. We along with others were offered freshly fried hot samosa and delicious besan burfi with good Indian tea by the volunteer sevadars. Slowly more young faithfuls and their families dropped in to swell the gathering of more than 50. After the path of Sri Sukhmani Sahib, Kirtan, recital and singing of Gurbani rendered by the volunteer singers, entertained and benefited the audience and filled the air with spiritual and tranquilizing spirit and rightly so. The volunteers were already at work to prepare the Langar, the community lunch, and volunteer ladies joined the kitchen to make fresh rotis, instant home made bread, to be served in the langar. Later, it was informed by the Bhai Sahib that today's programme including the langar was sponsored by one family to celebrate and pray for the wellbeing of the family. The programme concluded with the Ardash (Prayer), Sabad (Word from the holy Sri Guru Granth Sahib) and Parsad (blessed offering of Kada - Prasad). The entire ceremony was solemn and satisfying to the mind and soul. The langar, well freshly prepared simple but wholesome lunch, was served in the true spirit of Sangat and Pangat. It was a rewarding exercise to kindle our souls. It will not be out of place to add that some of the lofty ideals and philosophy of the great Sikh Gurus -  Kirt Kar Band Sak, Sangat Te Pangat, Miri Ate Piri - tend to deliver the message of good living by a common man in these days of strife and tension. Thanks to Anju who made our day.

Chisti Ne Jis Zameen Pe Paigham- e- Haq Sunaia,
Nanak Ne Jis Chaman Mein Vahdat Ka Geet Gaiya;
Mera Watan Wohi Hai; Mera Watan Wohi Hai.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Vaxholm - Harbour Town of Sweden Revisited

Vaxholm - Harbour Town of Sweden Revisited  

I wrote about our brief visit to a small Swedish harbour Vaxholm, about 60 kms. from Stockholm in this blog on July 21, 2014 during my last visit to Sweden along with my wife Vidya. It may be seen at:

It was a pleasure to visit Vaxholm again on July 8, 2018 in the company of my son Naresh’s family and parents of my daughter-in-law Anju, Bimla and Ram Saran. The early morning drive from Uppland Vasby, in the outskirts of
Stockholm, to Vaxholm through lush green suburbs of Tåby and Arninge was pleasant and enjoyable. It was a sunny day. Vaxholm is a 15th century trading town named after the famous defense outpost of Sweden, Vaxholm Castle. Vaxholm is a summer destination with summer homes of the well to do Stockholm citizenry. Of late, many art galleries have been hosted in Vaxholm located in the centre of Stockholm archipelago. Children of Rajni and Vivek in our troupe, Ekam and Onkar, were excited to see small boats and young people making fun in the water. We joined the over enthusiastic crowd to relished scoops of good ice cream, the usual treat on the banks of the harbour on a sunny, before leaving for our afternoon picnic at a camping site in the vicinity of Vaxholm.

Anju had thoughtfully prepared some vegetable patties and good masala tea which we relished on a the waterfront of a small beach. Our visitors, Ram Saran and the family, were all
the more excited as it was a new experience for them. The cool breeze was balmy. It was a good outing in the company of our extended family. The more I see Sweden, the more I tend to think that we are still to go long way in India to clean our waterways and protect and preserve environment.