Monday, August 01, 2005

Day 5 |Trondheim|Pastiche from the Past

After being sleep deprived for a night in Oslo, in Trondheim I more than made up for it. Morpheus and I were cozying up - the only caveat being that Mary was expected at 9 am at our hotel to show us around. However, schools being on holiday etc. the bus schedules were now quite awry, and she called to tell us she'd be in by noon.

B was content to laze for a bit, i think he felt lost without the Hag's company. She was resting in the car, and for a change i had the pleasure of B's company, without her butting in to say " Traffic disruptions in 500 metres".

We sauntered out towards the old quarter, Bakklande, originally homes of the working class, now restored, is a charming mixture of houses and shops. Then walked up towards the Kristiansen Festning, the fort that seems to stand guard over the city. On our way back, while walking downhill towards the old town bridge, we saw a really odd sight. It was almost as though the wind was carrying cyclists uphill, and it appeared that their bicycles had attained a strange metaphysical quality, akin to broomsticks from a quidditch game! Turned out it was in fact an odd contraption - a bicycle lift! Well, it must beat having to cycle uphill!

This was a first, and we saw several people going uphill just for fun! One particularly photo friendly gent insisted on riding his bike at least 5 times, for us to get great pictures! The odd thing was - it was a wednesday morning. Shouldn't people be at work? What work!

We headed back to the hotel, and within minutes M. arrived. At first glance, she appeared frail, and rather weather beaten. She was soon to prove us completely wrong as she raced uphill at the NTNU, well ahead of B & me! We wandered from building to building in search of the "wood chemistry" department, which it seemed, was now merged with the Chemical Sciences Department. In our search for the right building she suddenly stopped and pointed to a spot - and said,"This is where I once dropped your father, while your mother and I continued to the market for some shopping". Some things seemed to be as eternal as the rain!

We finally found the department in question, and met a Lab assistant who remembered B's father from 30 years ago, as one of the few foreign students who spoke Norske.
Oddly enough, his name was Odd! He showed us around the labs, spoke of the days gone by, and Professor Helle, (contrary to his name, was apparently very nice acc. to my father in law), one time head of the Department, who had since retired. It did feel very a bit strange, to be back 30 years ago, to labs where B's father spent 5 years, researching and completing his PhD.

Soon after we headed for Moholt, the studentby (student town). Mary led us to the apartment where B lived with his parents, 30 odd years ago! She then pointed to her apartment, the sand box where here son Oyvind and B would play as children, and looked as though she was lost in time. She took out a photo album, of the very same place, and not much had changed. Other than time had gone by, and the 2 year olds were now 32. We insisted B sit in the sand box for a picture, much to the delight of two pretty little girls who insisted on getting a picture as well!

M then showed us a spot where she first met B's mother, and told us an amusing story of how they changed seats every time the sun moved (ok, so i know that the sun doesn't move, but if you know what i mean!). M in search of sun and my m.i.l in search of shade! We tried meeting the present day occupants of the apartment where B lived, but unfortunately the Pakistani family that now appeared to live there, wasn't very keen to have visitors!

We then headed to the hospital where B was born, and took some quick pictures. The only missing link to this otherwise perfect day was Dr. Das, a doctor as well as a friend of B's parents who had been present at B's birth! Despite best efforts, neither M, nor B nor my father in law had been able to get in touch with him. It was rumoured he still lived in Trondheim with his wife and daughters.

By now we were hungry, and Mary had planned we go to Munkholmen, the little island that lies in the Trondheim fjord, just to the north of the town. The ferry for Munkholmen left from the Fish market area, known as the Ravnkloa. It rang a bell- a name that was familiar and not.

The excursion to Munkholmen started out as a not so great idea. It was well past 3 pm, the sun was very high in the sky, and we were starving. Also the boat for the island was terribly crowded with families, with prams, hot dogs and other kinds of dogs. A marginally refined version of a boat i once took to Manori in Mumbai, under some duress, a few years ago!

I was soon to be proved wrong. For one, from the fjord one got a much better view of Trondheim! Also the island was really quite charming! Not a word that would have a rung a bell with the several ghosts that roam the island (Munkholmen was an execution ground in the Viking reign). Later it became the site of a Benedictine monastery, where the monks brewed some good beer, refined over the years. In fact the restaurant served us some beer, brewed from a recipe that dated back to 1351! The higlight of this visit though, was not the beer, but in fact freshly caught salmon, grilled, with boiled potatoes, salad, flat bread and plenty of butter! This had to be the freshest fish I had eaten in a long time!

More reminisces about the past later and a conversation with a friend from 30 years ago.Not me, but B! He had a little chat with Oyvind, M's son, his childhood playmate.Unfortunately, Oyvind spoke Norsk & B only English, so the conversation was limited, but Mary's smile was infinite! Though from time to time she'd lament,'But you spoke perfect Norsk, how could you forget'!

M, B & I headed back to Trondheim. Was there a better end to a perfect day other than a spot of shopping for some Trolls and fair isle sweaters? Turned out there was - we chanced to come across an Indian gentleman, who knew a Dr.Das, replace the 'a' with 'the' ! We then said goodbye to Mary, who had to take the bus back to and made our way over to the Das residence, in Tyholt.

Plenty of warmth, some special darjeeling tea and fyrstekake (almond & hazelnut cake, very delicious and terribly sinful), we sat on their porch amidst a well tended wildflower garden. Browsed through more photo albums, went back and forth in time, saw some photos very similar to the ones B's parents have, perhaps different parts of the same album.

Not surprising. Today a 30- year- old jigsaw had come together, and it fit perfectly! As for Ravnkloa - sounds just like Ravenclaw from Harry P. Is this where JKR had come to find her spot of magic?

We certainly found ours, in the past and in the present.

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