Thursday, 31 December 2015

Sparkle, not fade

I've been looking forward to this :).

Another year, another recap. Another story of some things that went well, and others that went superbly :). I suppose at the end of the year if you can look back and smile, that in itself is a fantastic thing. But I have proof :D.

After a year of restricting my international travel rather zealously, I let go of that phobia a little. The trips to Barcelona, London and Hyderabad were brief and mostly rather hurriedly planned (or not really planned at all, beyond trusting in others to point me in the right direction). And such sights they provided! Such colour, architecture, life, and a chance to catch up with many many old friends.

But there was also the trip back to Kolkata in the summer. Mangoes and rain. And conversations with the parents. Connecting, reconnecting, sharing life. Letting people into one's life is a choice. Sometimes it's easy to forget that.

There was also the rather fantastic trip to Iceland. The land of ice and fire. Maybe one day I will write more about that than short superlative outbursts. Generally speaking when it comes to trips it's easy to remember the extreme bits. As such I remember quite a lot of Iceland quite vividly! The extremes kept on coming thick and fast :). And all that from having spent a whole week in effectively a tiny fraction of the southern valleys. Who knows what a broader exploration might reveal!

Finally there was the most recent trip to the south of England over the last few weeks. A more extensive trip. Getting to know people and places. A lot of new faces around a few familiar ones :). It was a mix of overcast skies, rolling hills and frequent blustery rain, but every now and then the clouds would part and then suddenly, sunshine! Beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Drives along twisting fantastic B roads. And barely less twisty but somewhat wider A roads. And a judicious avoidance of M roads altogether :). To say nothing of the cats!

(Digression: It was fun to drive right handed again. But the car manufactures have decided to keep the European positions for the wiper and light switches, which is rather annoying. As is driving diesel. For the foreseeable future, therefore, I shall stick to petrol, thankyouverymuch. And don't even get me started on digital speedometers! End of digression.)

I suppose I was a little lazier this year, preferring long lazy afternoons/evenings in the sunshine over long cycle rides or swims in lakes or fjords. But it was such a nice way to spend the hours of sunshine :). A bit more time to talk things over. Or just to enjoy fantastic shapes in the clouds :). I suppose we did a bit less of Norway itself, with just the one summer road trip, but one hopes there will be time for more exploration.

Life at work changed for the better. Although such things are best seen in the context of life in general, but no, no complains. A little more time and breathing space at a time when it is really helpful, what more could I ask for.

It has been a week of reflection in some ways, through circumstance I ended up working these last three days of the year. A time when the office is ridiculously, if understandably, sparsely occupied. It kinda lends itself to introspection. Anyway, enough of looking back.

It's time to look forward to what new things come my way in the new year. Who knows what further surprises, twists and turns might be in store :).

Happy New Year!

Currently: grateful and hopeful
Listening to: Kygo - Here for you (ft. Ella Henderson)

Monday, 16 November 2015

New places, old faces

Since I've moved to Norway, Novembers have been a quiet month. The weather is generally pretty depressing (if one were to be blunt) and there seems to be a lot to finish up with work before the year runs out. While it's no different on both counts this time around, partly through spontaneous-ish planning and partly through circumstance, this November has turned out rather differently :). In this case, different is better. Vastly!

First there was the weekend trip to London. A.k.a. my first proper visit to England :). And I have to say, it was at once jam packed, yet leisurely. The best sort of combination of predetermined things to do and see, and people to meet, with almost totally on-the-fly planning on how to achieve that.

We ended up watching a rowing race on the Thames near Hammersmith, walking around Notting Hill at night, getting nearly blown away by rain and wind along the river in Fulham, watching the fantastic Guy Fawkes fireworks from Greenwich, shuttling back and forth across the city on the tube, ambling through Hyde Park, meeting up with a couple of old friends I hadn't seen in years and years :).

That wasn't anywhere close to an exhaustive list. And we even missed a few things we'd thought we might want to do. Mainly catch the Memorial Day parade. Still, there was enough to give me a sense of the place. It is easy to feel familiar in London in some ways, what with there being bits that you might have seen in different cities the world over. In many cases, the original was probably in London! :)

As with any city there are vast contrasts, Victoria and Canary Wharf for instance :). But in all of that, there seemed something common running through. One rushed weekend isn't the best way to judge a place, but this is for sure, I'd love to go back! For one thing, there are more people to meet and catch up with!

Then there was the other, rather more whirlwind trip. All the way to Hyderabad, for 3 days and 2 nights. But what can you do, when friends decide to get married at short notice? :) (It of course helped that there were miraculously cheap and convenient flights for pretty much the exact dates I needed!) Added bonus, an opportunity to meet up with friends I hadn't seen for anywhere between almost three to over ten years!

Hyderabad isn't a place I'd ever visited before, but besides the wedding, the only other thing we did was find examples of awesome biryani :). Even a view of the Charminar was had only incidentally! But then again, what can beat hours spent catching up with old friends? :)

Meeting people after many years can be interesting. Especially people you knew well before time and distance stretched the gaps in the knowing. Sometimes though, it can seem almost like old times. It isn't, of course, too much has changed, too much life. But enough to be able to find some of the old familiar pathways of conversation.

Promises of keeping in touch are less about planning in advance and more about making use of opportunities that come by I guess.

And in the four days that I was away, the weather here seems to have changed completely! As the flight came in to land in Gardermoen this morning, everything was covered in white! The first snow of the season. :) Of course, this will all melt away as the temperature yo-yo's around zero for a bit. But who knows, maybe there will be some proper snow this winter!

Currently: letting the past few days settle in
Listening to: Zara Larsson - Lush life

Friday, 30 October 2015

Trapped between autumn and winter

If I were to keep with the last post heading then this one would end up called sleepy and cold drizzly greyness. But that wouldn't be entirely fair. Since my last post, there have been some really lovely days :). Beautifully autumn coloured and bright. 

It has been getting darker though. The change out of daylight saving time only serving to accentuate the early onset of evening. Inevitably I've started hoping for snow, but of course this is way too early for that :). It's not even that cold yet, although the time is ripe for winter tyres...

Looking back through posts from the last couple of years just confirms the feeling I have about this bit of the year, that once the colour's faded from the trees things get a bit despondent. Fortunately though, I've managed to get some time out to enjoy said colours before they all ended up on the pavement.

One good thing about this sort of weather is that it's perfect for running :). Once you've managed to calibrate the layers of clothing correctly to the temperature that is. Somehow between one thing and another I did very little cycling this summer. Well, 800 km or so isn't exactly nothing, but not quite the same as the last couple of summers. More often than not I found myself opting for lazier walks in the sunshine than cycle rides. I suppose a change of pace is not a bad thing from time to time. But it's meant that I feel the lack of fitness somewhat :).

On the upside, there's a fair bit of travel to look forward to. Short trips, weekends really. And that ends up meaning more time spent travelling than enjoying the travelling... Oh dear, this is beginning to sound like a bit of a distressing post isn't it?! :D I blame it all squarely on the weather!

On to other recent activities, finally got around to watching some of the less spectacular cinematic offerings of late, namely the new Hitman reboot and the latest Mission Impossible. I guess with such films it's good to have appropriate expectations :). For me they turned out to be the perfect combination of silly story lines and mindless action :D. I am hoping for a bit more from the new Bond though! Although in many ways I'm more excited about the bespoke Aston and Jag cars the film features than the rest of it :).


Ever have the feeling your head's somewhere else? I've been having that feeling lately, although in this particular case it hasn't left a forwarding address. Well, it's left behind a minimum necessary contingent to maintain basic operations. Hibernation seems like a good idea. Luckily the weekend is almost here :P.

Currently: sleepy
Listening to: Tove Lo - Talking body

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Sunshine, blue skies

I've managed to get a bit stuck again... It's that awesome Iceland trip, more details of which I haven't yet managed to find the time to collect and distil onto the pages of the blog. But in the mean time, life's been going on. In some ways different, in others the same as, say, twelve months ago. Or maybe fifteen.

It's been raining a lot. And mostly I've used that as an excuse to not really get out much on the bike. But when I did, it was pretty nice. Although, as someone put it this week, summer is officially over. The leaves have started changing colour and the temperatures have taken a dive for single digits. What's more, this time around it feels like they aren't coming back up till the snow's cleared.

There's still some longish days of sunshine and blue skies left though. I guess it would be nice to make some use or them. Haven't been doing too badly on that front.


I've been listening to some online mixes these last few weeks. Rather than my own playlists that is. At work. Which may not sound like much, but ends up being most of my hours that aren't taken up by other audio inputs of greater import these days :). I guess it's just a question of something new and different. So far I've settled on Liquicity. It's going interestingly.

I haven't really been watching too many films lately. Been meaning to, but just haven't managed to get around to The Man From U.N.C.L.E. And now I think it may have left Asker Kino. Oh well. What I did watch last night was About Time. And loved it! It's not often that films do such a good job of balancing funny, pragmatic sort of life/stories with tugs at the heartstrings, so to speak. It was refreshing, and quite thoroughly entertaining :).

One of the things I have managed to do in the mean time, was attend a friend's wedding on the west coast (of Norway). Little place, the description of which starts two levels away. You know I'd say I grew up in Asansol, but have to explain that it's sort of close to Kolkata. But then if pressed I'd say when I say Asansol, I actually spent my childhood in a place called Dishergarh a few kilometres away from Asansol. So a bit like that.

First taste of a Norwegian wedding, although I must say, since half the relevant couple is from Angola, it was probably a bit of a twist on the theme rather than a completely representative example :). Was great fun though!! Not least of which were the many speeches, an emotional yet jolly mix. The driving around twisting, narrow fjord roads in a massive VW van (when we'd asked for a Polo or 'similar') was a distant second. The brief, yet profoundly satisfying stroll away from the crowd as disk fell probably tied for second place, thanks especially to the rather large and happy/inquisitive dog we met on the way :).

One other thing was getting my UK visa! I've managed to visit two European countries this year that I've never visited before. Now maybe it's time for a third :). Question is, when?

Feeling: sleepy after a long day's hike
Listening to: Liquicity - Liquid drum and base mix

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Land of ice and fire

This has been one of those ridiculously awesome trips! :-) Each day has been spectacular and often for different reasons. But not a moment has been dull. We've been hiking around the southern bit of Iceland close to glaciers, volcanoes, mountains, rivers and glacial plains for four days now and it's been achingly beautiful for the most part. The rest has been dominated by biblically awful weather. :-) Yup, it's been a trip like no other.

And there's still two more days. Hopefully one for hiking and half of another to fit in a short walk before we head back to Reykjavik and then onward back to Asker. The weather looks promising!

Snowfields in blizzards, strings of spectacular waterfalls, range upon range of craggy mountains, the many shades of volcanic ash fueled green between molten metal coloured rocks. And vast fields of black sand and gravel. Rivers meandering along giant flat valleys surrounded by sheer mountain walls. This is a landscape like no other! And I live in Norway!  :-)

I'm glad that we decided to make it an exclusively hiking trip. Maybe we come back another time to explore more of this country in a car, but for a start I couldn't have asked for anything better!

Of course, my legs feel otherwise, but they will recover. The memory of these landscapes are more than worth the effort. :-)

Feeling: tired happy :-)
Listening to: Icelandic radio :-D

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Life as seen through time

It has been rather remiss of me I suppose, never finishing the story :-). I've been back for two weeks now, and in some ways the distance makes for a better bit of introspection. Although back, as we shall see, isn't quite accurate just at this moment. But more on that later.

Just about when I'd written the last post, the trip took a turn for the expected degree of hectic. Travelling ensued, as well as driving around within Kolkata. I continued to claw back to the formerly expected levels of comfort behind the wheel while still noticing that this was the new unusual.

Visiting family after long periods of time has its ups and downs. But being ok with unexpected changes goes a long way. After all, I too have changed. The world itself and everything on it, changes slowly each instant. When you see it all the time, there's nothig to see. But when the Iinstants roll on into years it becomes rather more obvious. Seems simple when put like that, but it's still a hell of a thing to get my head around.

Change isn't bad though, for instance, there has been a new and extremely energetic canine addition to the family at Asansol :-). She's only four and a half months old, and will be very interesting to see whenever it is I make it back there next.

And then there were the mangoes :-). Generally speaking, I don't very much like the mangoes you get in Asker. When you get them at all. So imagine my joy when from the very first day in Kolkata, there were sweet delicious mangoes, almost every day! I may have eaten more mangoes in two weeks than I had eaten in whole seasons before :-). I guess it's true, you never realize quite how much you moss something till you no longer have it.

And then I noticed the mango sapling growing in the drive of my grandpa's place! The thought of carrying it away to my garden in Gullhella did cross my mind, but not for long. Some things are just not meant for some places. Just goes to show. 

It was nice though, catching a bit of sunshine in the end, after days of almost flood-causing downpours. And finding out that while changes will continue, they often help figure out the bits that are really important. Two weeks was never going to be enough, but then what is enough? And I now have too much to look forward to at home.

Since then there's been a couple of weeks of mostly busy andbeautifully sunny days. I've spent most of them lazing about on some friendly patch of grass or other,  or walking about in the woods. And once on a golf course :-). But all that laziness is about to get made up for. We landed in Keflavik this morning, and managed to make our way to Hverangeđi via Reykjavik. Tomorrow we begin five days of hiking around the glaciers and volcanoes of southern Iceland! Yup, within spitting distance of the infamous Eyafjallajokull! Some interrsting days lie ahead no doubt :-). 

Currently: trying to relax my rather terrified legs :-)
Listening to: a rushing stream amidst steaming geysers

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Monsoon tales

It's been a few days now that I've been here in Kolkata. And for the most part it's been a lot of fun. Even when it isn't outright great, a sense of nostalgia seems to kick in and make things better. For the first time that I can remember, I feel like I am looking in from the outside rather than settling in smoothly into the mix.

Which is not to say that the old habits haven't kicked in :-). It's just that they haven't done so quite as seamlessly as before. Take driving, for instance. It wasn't till the second afternoon I was here that I actually got behind the wheel! Not bad, you'd think, for a 19 month break from any sort of right hand driving, let alone Indian driving, but it is. The reason is that it wasn't just my mom who was reluctant, I was too! Fortunately though, since then regular service has more or less resumed. Except, I can still feel myself having to make the effort. And I notice when the old habits take over and I let them...

Having said that, the weather's been pretty awesome :-). The temperature has been perfect and the thunderstorms proper, with all the tremendous thunder and lightning I remember from monsoons past. The only trouble is with the constant overcast skies. Can't have everything I suppose.

It's been almost hectic, the first few days. But now things can hopefully calm down a little, even if for a day or two. More family visits are looming in the near future and there's barely ten days to go before my flight back. I knew two weeks was never going to feel like enough. When has it ever?

In the mean time though, I'm looking forward to more meetings catching up and conversation around the house. My Bangla is almost back to free flowing :-D. 

Currently: at home!
Listening to: the wind that is strong yet not the least freezing

Friday, 24 July 2015

Grass, clouds and sky

Things change slowly so you don't really notice. No big steps, just a gradual flow. But when a bend in the river takes you within sight of another bend from your past, you see then, where you were and where you are. How far you have come :). Is it so important to know exactly how you got from there to here? Maybe. Either way, it's nice to notice the change :).

Fluffy white clouds and blanketing grey ones. But in between, bright blue and sunshine. Once I've reconciled to the weather, the summer is going quite well! Golden sunshine, green grass, blue skies, deeper blue water. Although it's turning quite inky dark blue in the evenings these days. Even when there aren't any clouds. I wonder how much of the day will be lost to night by the time I am back. And how tall my recently mowed grass will have grown :).

I am at a bit of a loss with the packing to be honest! On the one hand I am going home. Well, to my parents'. What used to be referred to as 'home home' in times past, but not exactly certain that quite applies any more. The thoughts are a bit under construction on that one. Rather like the underpass they have been building next to work for well over a year now. I mean you can see things are changing, but it never seems anywhere closer to getting fully done :).

Anyway, I finally decided to take some books, very few clothes and that's about it. Oh right, passport and toothbrush too :D. I've decided to try this trip plug-in-music free. The idea is to try and get out of all the habits that had ended up making travelling such a chore, merely an attempt to get from point a to b in the least time and discomfort possible. Maybe it is time to start noticing the journeying again.

Currently: excited and hopeful :)
Listening to: Mumford & Sons - Believe