Thinking back on my last week I’m trying to think of a common theme…and the word that comes to mind is diversity! Diversity of people, of things to do, of places to see, of food to eat and of weather (no, it isn’t just cold…though that may be the theme for my next blog)…
At the beginning of the week I spent an evening at the Opera in Stockholm city. My friends and I had arranged to watch The Magic Flute. My evening began with getting ridiculously lost in Stockholm, to make matters worse there was torrential rain and I didn’t have a map to hand (advice keep a map with you at all times and an umbrella too). After seriously testing my fitness, sprinting here, there and everywhere I finally found Kungsliga Operan. The building looked quite intimidating from the outside but once inside I knew I was at the Opera, I was greeted by an opulent staircase as well as a number of well dressed members of staff…who looked at me with a sense of “you’re pushing things with time here”…Swedish people are stereotypically known for being very impeccable with time…I was cutting things some what but I still had 1 minute to spare! I call it “good timing”. I dashed upstairs and within seconds I was seated in a comfortable chair staring up at the rather large and decadent chandelier and other features decorating the ceiling. The orchestra signalled the start of the opera and for the next few hours I was lost in this world, a world I was happy to be lost in. I even managed to understand some of the opera which was in Swedish! A few useful points: as a student you can buy a reduced price ticket, my ticket cost 100kronor, a bargain in my opinion, there are many things for which you can purchase a student discount (including transport cards) and if you’re not smiling yet then hear this, you are free to roam around open spaces of land referred to as “allemansrätt” (of course this right comes with a degree of responsibility – to leave only footprints and take away only memories, mushrooms and blueberries).
In stark contrast and reflecting the theme of this blog, yesterday I attended the Hindu dance festival “Navratri”. “Nav” means nine and “ratri” means nights, as such this festival is typically nine nights of dancing, wearing beautiful Indian attire as well as offering prayers especially to the female Hindu goddesses. I, being from a Hindu background was brought up to annually attend these celebrations, something that I loved! My friends and I would dress up in elegant saris and chania cholis and have many evenings dancing late into the night! The dancing includes “garba” – a clap dance, which you can modify with your imagination, as well as “dandia” – a stick dance, which you can also add little extra moves to. Having the chance to celebrate Navratri here in Stockholm was very special and reminded me of home and my childhood!
And then today! Well after hosting a lunch to my friends (from diverse backgrounds including America, England and Italy) I visited the City Hall in Stockholm with another friend, Grace (from America). The City Hall is famous for hosting the annual Nobel Banquet, every 10th December, the death anniversary of Alfred Nobel! The guided tour is well worth it. The 45 minutes pass by very quickly! I learnt so much without really feeling like I had to concentrate which usually translates into time well spent. Some of the things I learnt: the Blue Room which hosts the Nobel Banquet is called the Blue room despite it being red bricked, this is because the room was originally going to be plastered blue but the architect on seeing the room from the inside felt that the room in sunlight looked very beautiful and wanted to keep it as it was. The Gold Hall is made of more than 18 million mosaic tiles including a façade showing the Western world on one side (depicted by the Statue of Liberty, Eiffel Tower and the American flag) and the Orient on the other side (depicted by an elephant and the Istanbul Mosque) with Stockholm placed in the middle, protected by Queen Mälaren, a fictitious character. One of the more practical facts I learnt was that the City Hall can hold wedding ceremonies and does so for 40 couples every Saturday afternoon, the ceremonies can be short (lasting seconds) or long (lasting minutes), and don’t cost a single penny!
So this brings me to the end of my week here in Stockholm! I don’t have a lot planned this week just yet though that could all change within seconds, so look out for my next blog when I’m sure I’ll have something else to intrigue you with about Stockholm. Until then have a great week! Hej då (good bye).