Monday, 29 May 2006

Weekend in the Summer Cottage

I spent a weekend with a lot of family members in our summer cottage in Northern Jutland. I was hoping to get some good nature pictures, but since it was supposed to be a work weekend I was disappointed. No time for such things.

I chopped some wood in stead. After a while I was told to chop with my legs spread out more, as the above pose is a bit too dangerous. However it looks cooler, so that is the picture I bring!

My father painting the summer cottage. To avoid getting his clothes all covered in paint he pulled on an old trenchcoat and took off his shoes, making him look a bit like a flasher.

My cousin's son Sebastian closing the door to his playhouse. He is a very good natured, but quiet boy. He is half asian and very cute.

Tuesday, 23 May 2006

Silkeborg seen from above

Yesterday I went with my mother to Silkeborg to visit my great aunt Martha. She lives in a tall building offering great views of the city of Silkeborg in the municipality of which I spent most of my childhood.

The railway and pedestrian viaduct bridge over Remstrup Å (Part of Denmark's only river, Gudenåen), and behind that the city centre of Silkeborg. As you can see Silkeborg is beautifully situated surrounded by small hills, forests and water.

Silkeborg Stadium, the home ground of what is possibly the best football team on earth: Silkeborg IF.

One of the most Danish institutions: Allotment gardens (kolonihaver). In the old times workers who lived in dark, dingy and crammed apartments in the city bought a small garden in a place like this where they could come to relax in the summer time. All your neighbours would come here too, and there would be plenty of talking and gossiping going on over the hedges. Of course today housing standards in the city have improved immensely, going to the allotment gardens remains a popular summer tradition. Notice all the flagpoles - on official holidays Dannebrog (the Danish flag) will be flying high from every single of the poles.

My mother with her aunt Martha (My late grandmother's sister). Martha is a sweet old lady, but her memory is not very good anymore, so we want to take pictures of her and her remaining family, and hang it on her wall to aid her memory. This is one of the pictures I took at this occasion.

On this day it was raining quite a bit, which is not normally my favourite weather. But as we got home I took this nice picture of a rhododendron flower waiting to bloom covered by little round drops of rain water.

Monday, 22 May 2006

A bit about what's going on

Seems like the weblog finally caught up with me in time. I have no more recent photo updates to do right now, so a few words about what's happening in my life right now.

Most importantly it looks like I'll be moving back to India in October to write my master's thesis on contemporary energy related Indian foreign policy, a topic that caught my interest on my last trip to India. Also I will attempt to learn hindi this time around, and become a decent tennis player.

Since I came back to Europe I have lived with my parents in Germany, playing too many games of various sorts, and gotten too little work done on my thesis. In the picture above you see their house and in front of it their beautiful cherry tree in bloom. In a few weeks I move back to my apartment in Århus and stay there for the summer untill it is time to depart for India once more. I will keep this weblog alive untill then, and then when the time comes update with all my new experiences in South Asia. I have plans to visit Ladakh, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, the Northeast, Karnataka, West Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat and Pakistan so there'll be enough to do and write about.

For now I will update this weblog with whatever happens now, and then I will dig into my picture archives and see if I if I can find something interesting to show, both from India and elsewhere. So keep stopping by, please ;o)

Thursday, 18 May 2006

Day trip to the Kiel Canal at Rendsburg

I went on a trip to the Kiel Canal, which allegedly is the world's busiest artificial waterway, beating both the Panama and the Suez Canal in traffic.

In this picture I am standing in Rendsburg where the massive railway bridge you can see in the background crosses the canal, curiously making this one of the world's a major traffic crossings. Note the ship coming in from the right and also the suspension ferry in the background. The two next pictures show these in more detail.

Here the ship "Maersk Rundvik" is passing under the bridge. This huge ship is 154 metres long and 25 metres wide. At this place they play the national anthem of whatever ship passes by. Unfortunately we didn't get the Danish national anthem since Maersk has registered this ship on Malta. By sailing through the Kiel Canal from the German Sea to the Baltic Sea, ships save a long and fairly dangerous trip around Jutland.

The suspension ferry, taking cars, bicyclists and pedestrians across. Originally it was found unnecesarry to build a bridge (I guess it would also have been in the way of the ship traffic). This is supposedly one of only 5 functioning suspension ferries in Europe.

Near Rendsburg a typical South Slesvig landscape. The state has plenty of wetlands and this flower filled meadow is something you see all over.

Sunday, 14 May 2006

The Coming of Spring

Finally spring has arrived here in Sydslesvig. Over the last weeks I've take an a few pictures to illustrate this.

A butterfly sucks nectar from one of the many flowers in bloom on our Mirabelle tree.

Same Mirabelle tree as above, seen from outside our kitchen window. Behind the trees our neighbours are flying the Danish flag. Further in the back is the Danish school and Danish kindergarten, so this truly is a bit of a Danish ghetto in Northern Germany. Please ignore the hideous grain silo.

This picture was taken about a week prior to the above picture, at a time when the trees were yet to come into leaf, but the forest floor was already filled with white anemone flowers.

Saturday, 13 May 2006

Playing tourist in my own Capital: Copenhagen

I had a chance to go to Copenhagen for free for the weekend, and since I don't know my own capital city very well I decided to take the opportunity to play tourist in Copenhagen. This gave me a chance to see a lot of the classic tourist attractions along with all the japanese, american and italian tourists that were there. Hardly met another dane not working in the tourist industry all day.

Two of Denmark's most classical national symbols. Two species of our national bird, the swan, are courting while the famous statue of the Little Mermaid seems to be watching them with interest.

Next stop was "Kastellet", an old fortress in the middle of the city centre. It is still today surrounded by a moat, and is in fact still used by the military. If you enlarge the picture you can see a soldier marching across the bridge. However, the public is allowed inside these days, so I guess this is not where we (or the CIA) are keeping our secret political prisoners... In the background you can see Gustavskyrkan (The Gustav's Church).

The changing of the guard at the Queen's official residence of Amalienborg. Every day at noon this ceremonial change of guard is performed to the delight of tourists and kindergarden children in big groups. I don't believe these guys have seen any combat since 1940 when they did briefly resist the invading german forces. Now they just have to deal with german (and japanese) hordes of tourists getting in the way while attempting to take pictures.

The famous Nyhavn with it's beautiful coloured houses. It may not look like much on a grey, cloudy day such as this, but in summer it attracts thousands of people enjoying a beer or a meal in the sun at one of the many dining and drinking establishments here.

Thursday, 11 May 2006

Aros Museum of Art in Århus

I took a weekend trip to my home city (except right now) of Århus, at the end of which I went with my family to the spectacular Aros Museum of Art.

The view of Århus seen from one of the top floors of Aros. The very modern looking building is the controversial "Prismet" (The Prism) built under much protest by citizens feeling it didn't fit in with the architectural style of the city.

My brother, Ole, inside Aros, in the main atrium. On the right you see the spiral stairs leading up to the top floors.

My family taking a closer look at one of the museum's permanent star attractions. The incredibly life like "Boy".

A close up of Boy's left foot. Notice the amazing detail.

This is a picture of a painting showing a scene from the famous Danish 18th century play "Erasmus Montanus" by Ludvig Holberg. A young boy from a simple peasant family is sent off to University, and comes home with a sense of intellectual superiority certain to lead to trouble. In this scene Rasmus Bjerg (who in Copenhagen has taken the latin name "Erasmus Montanus"), has just managed to convince his mother - crying in the left side of the scene - that she is a rock, using the flawed logical argument: "Mother dear cannot fly. A rock cannot fly. Ergo mother dear is a rock". The angry men of the family demand that Erasmus immediatly reverse the mother's status as a rock.

It wasn't all art and culture. I also found time to go out with some of my old friends for a classical thursday trivia night at one of the local pubs. Afterwards we had a couple of beers and a game of dice. The guy doing the thumbs up I don't know, but the other two are Calle and Troels, fellow Silkeborg-supporters, who I both met in Århus.

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

A day trip to Haderslev

From my new temporary home in South Slesvig, Germany, I took a trip to the old, Danish city of Haderslev situated in South Jutland. The purpose of the trip was to watch my favourite football team play a game against the local team, but I arrived early enough to have a look at the oldest part of the city.

The cathedral of Haderslev seen at the end of a small alley dominated by two beautiful old studwork houses. Studwork, or timber frame construction, is a traditional Danish way of building houses. Unfortunately more modern modes of construction dominate today, but many places in Denmark the old buildings still exist.

The cathedral seen in its entirity. This massive church was built in the 1400s, but some parts of it originate from an even older church from the 1250s.

The small but magnificent town square of Haderslev. Again more studwork houses can be seen.

At the football game, the small but dedicated group of Silkeborg fans welcome their team onto the field with confetti, flags and vocal support.

A picture from the game. Silkeborg plays in red, and from the left you can see the following Silkeborg players: Goalkeeper David Preece (Formerly Aberdeen, Scotland), Simon Nagel, Jens Berthel Askou, Iddi Alkhag and Dennis Flinta (those two in the background), Henrik Schnedler, Thomas Raun and Martin Ørnskov. If you enlarge the picture, you will see that the SønderjyskE striker Simon A. Pedersen, was looking straight into my camera as I took the picture, even though he was busy still playing the match.

Tuesday, 9 May 2006

Dubye bye - Mojn South Slesvig

I landed in Hamburg, Germany, on April 6th and was picked up by my parents from where we went to their home in the border region South Slesvig. The slightly cheesy headline refers to the common greeting of "Mojn" which is used by both Germans and Danes on both sides of the border, but is unique to this region.

I had timed my homecoming, so that I would be home for my brother's 14th birthday. Here he is blowing out the candles of his traditional Danish birthday cake (It is also an old tradition to tease the children by saying that they have the same number of girlfriends/boyfriends as the amount of candles they are unable to blow out in one try - my brother had 1 left). In the background you can see my father and my paternal grandmother.

Here the cake is seen up close. The text written in chocolate says "Ole 14 years". Notice the Danish flags (named Dannebrog) on the cake. In Denmark the national flag is invariably tied to celebrations, much more than to politics. Traditionally it has been used for birthdays, christmas, anniversaries and similar joyful events rather than for political rallies or random displays of national pride. Unfortunately a new right wing party (Dansk Folkeparti) has tried eagerly to change that tradition since the mid-90s, when they started using the Danish national flag as a symbol of their ultra-nationalistic anti-immigration, anti-Islam and anti-EU agenda. Fortunately most Danes refuse to let these people monopolise the use of one of our most important national symbols for this narrow minded campaign.

To my great joy my big brother's family came to the birthday party, which also meant I got to see my little niece and nephew for the first time since I departed for India, more than 8 months ago. Unfortunately little Johanne, 4 years of age, was ill, and thus not very energetic. But she is still very adorable as this picture shows.

Here Ole is playing Nintendo with our 6 year old nephew Asbjørn. Asbjørn prefers to watch his uncle play, rather than play himself as he can't quite control the various characters on screen yet.

Since I haven't earlier shown a picture of my older brother, Morten, I risk it here. He was constantly checking for golf scores on the computer, so this was the only pose I was able to catch him in...

On the table in front of him is the book I'm currently reading: "Clash of Fundamentalisms" by the Pakistani-British writer Tariq Ali. I don't agree with all the book's points, but his historical analysis of the causes and development (including the heavy western responsibility) of militant Islam is superb.

Friday, 5 May 2006

A View to Kill for: Jebel Hafit

My trip to Al Ain allowed me one last detour: A ride to the top of amazing mountaing Jebel Hafit, rising 1100 metres over the deert below, allowing some spectacular views. I bring a few pictures to prove my point.

Some strange rock formations on our neighbouring ridge tower over the vast flat lands below.

Some ridges rip through the otherwise flat landscape, but from Jebel Hafit they look like nothing more than wrinkles in a suit.

To see this one properly it is necesarry to enlarge the picture. In the foreground you can see plenty of dried out creeks and the sparse vegetation nearby. Behind that the sandy desert is spreading out. In the top right quarter of the picture you can see the mighty sand dunes looking like tiny mole hills.

Wednesday, 3 May 2006

Visiting Oman

Al Ain is a border town, so on my trip there it was possible for me to cross into the neighbouring country of Oman for a few hours. Al Ain's twin city in Oman is called Buraimi. It is not filled with tourists attractions, so I settled for visiting just this one omani fort just across the border. Al Kandaq Fort is it's name.

Once again I had a beautiful old fort entirely to myself. I took this picture with my camera's self timer to be able to document that I've been to Oman - the tower in the background is flying the omani flag. Unusually for an arabic flag it consists of red, green and white (not black).

Same fort, seen from the outside. The fort is 400 years old and thus predates anything I saw in the UAE by at least 200 years. If you look back at the pictures of Jahili Fort, you can also see that this one is much more intriately decorated.

As was the case with Al Ain, Buraimi also has an oasis, and also in this case has the fort been situated at this strategic, life sustaining position.

Tuesday, 2 May 2006

Al Ain - Jahili Fort

One of the most interesting sight in Al Ain is the 100 year (1898) old Jahili Fort. It's architecture is so beautiful, that I bring an entire series of pictures from it here. Amazingly I had the entire place to myself. Apparently not many tourists make it all the way out to Al Ain.

Me in front of the inner fort. Surrounding this entire area and the fort is an outer wall.

The small gate into the inner fort. Notice the beautiful arabic inscriptions above the door.

The main gate leading inside the outer wall.

The round, multi-storey corner tower situated by the outside wall.

Al Ain - Oasis Town

I decided to see more of the United Arab Emirates than just Dubai so I went to the border town of Al Ain, situated in the emirate of Abu Dhabi. Al Ain is a nice, modern city notable for it's large oasis and some old buildings, which of course were made here because of the oasis. Part ofhe architectural heritage I will show in my next post.

This is one large roundabout in the city. As can be seen it is clean, well kept and filled with flowers palm trees and water fountains. Most of the city looks like this.

One of the many large, beautiful mosques in Al Ain.

Inside the oasis. Only in the UAE would you expect to find a spotless walkway through the oasis!

Here I am climbing into one of the countless date palms using the traditional equipment. Good experience although I didn't make it all the way to the top.