Monday, August 01, 2005

Day 2 | Copenhagen | 200 years of HCA & Hygge

We spent a very comfortable night in little M's large bed. It was fascinating being surrounded by interesting odds and ends that belong to a 7 year old's world. Especially a world more complex than the one we grew up in, where her mother has to explain why one of her friends at the American school she goes to has a mother and a mother, and that dads are dispensable!

Turns out Copenhagen is celebrating Hans Christian Andersen's 200th birthday this year. If I were to look back, i get the feeling that HCA's stories were more entertaining for my mother than me. Some of his fairy tales were rather dark. Before I left for Copenhagen, i reread a few after several years, and found that some of them still seemed as cheerless as I recalled from childhood. Tales of a little match girl that died, the ephemeral yet eerie illustrations of the Snow Queen were not the happiest of stories. But the one that's etched most vividly in my mind till date is the Red Shoes. For this distant relative of Imelda, shoes is a subject close to my heart. Let's just say - every time i don my favourite pair of bright red aigners I am afraid they won't come off!

Copenhagen is really like most other western European capitals, cobbled streets, quaint cafes, large squares, a long pedestrian shopping street, large buildings and the ubiquitous town hall. Some parts of it are rather striking though - the Nyhavn area is really quite charming, and makes for bright and colourful pictures! We walked around the Amalienborg area hoping to catch a glimpse of the royals - the newly married Crown Prince Frederik (sigh!) and the once ozzie Princess Mary. Ugly duckling, anyone?

One of my favourite memories of Copenhagen will always be what i consider one of the most aesthetic stores ever. The flagship Royal Copenhagen porcelain store in Amagertorv was as charming as a store can be, the quaint blue fluted pattern, almost japanese cherry blossom like, were a far cry from some of the ugly mass produced in China porcelain that masquerades in Holland as the poor man's Delft ware. Even the graceful store assistants were clad in knit blouses with the hall mark pattern. This was a design dream. An expensive dream, but worth it.

All in all a pleasant day, many photographs, a visit to HCA's residence which is now privately owned, (turned out he was born in Odense, not Copenhagen), The Tivoli and a visit to McDonalds (in deference to a 7 year old's wishes).

The day could probably be summed up in a favourite Danish term - Hygge. To mean a relaxed, comfortable way of being, described inadequately as "cosiness" by some, similar to the dutch word Gezellig, and the Swedish word "fika". One amusing description i found to describe this is the english "like a bug in a rug" . By the sound of it - the bengali word "adda" is probably a close relative of these terms, in spirit if nothing else!

Onwards to Malmo tomorrow...then towards the country of B's birth and so much more.
But tomorrow is another day.

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