Monthly Archives: December 2016

A Promise of Tomorrows

AS AN AVID AND LIFELONG CONSUMER AND USER OF COLLECTIVE (OR GROUP) NOUNS and peering over the brink of a looming – and I sincerely hope – a welcoming New Year, I thought I would eschew dwelling on a flight of yesterdays or a twinkling of todays and opt for a promise of tomorrows – they may be as promising as you may so desire and pray for!

But first things first: paramount on my to-do list year-end is to drain a swamp of junk mail that clogs my primary account, short of my changing it altogether. Thankfully, a bromide of greeting cards will be behind me as well as the hectic holiday shopping season, which for many – including myself – meant avoiding the perilous quicksand of credit cards without at least enjoying some level of gratification from using them.

Back in India, at this or at any other time of the year, one is faced in its metropolises with a strangle of city dwellers, a Calcutta of panhandlers, a charge of taxis, or a lurch of buses.

Leaving daily urban life aside, you can always opt for the charm of the open countryside, at home or abroad. Out in the field, you may awaken to a prattle of parrots or a ubiquity of sparrows doing what comes naturally in their early morning awakening.

As for me, I prefer to watch birds in flight, such as an exaltation of larks, or a murmuration of starling – an unmatched phenomenon in Nature worldwide!


Then again, who cannot admire a radiance of cardinals (left),  or a swoop of swallows (below)

And back in India, a visitor to that haven of wild life may witness invariably the wonder of the South Asian avian world – an ostentation of peacocks in all their colorful splendor!
Coming from a family of sportsmen, I became familiar early on with a variety of birds in the wild. I couldn’t bear going out shooting for game for the dinner pot with my father and elder brother, but I did help the local village beaters out in the field with flushing out the feathered creatures, be they a covey of partridge, a sourde of mallards (male wild duck), a spring of teal, a nye of pheasants, or a team of ducks.

On the strictly four-footed animal side, I can still recall my father rattling off a ream of collectives while out on shikar (hunting): a streak of tigers, a pride of lions, or a leap of leopards – each tripping off his tongue and each accompanied by some bone-chilling account of an encounter with at least one of those particularly dangerous denizens of the jungle during his annual hunting expeditions in the Terai forest in India’s Northeast.

References
An Exaltation of Larks by James Lipton; My own Field Diaries of 1974-75 include the poem below that I wrote in Ranchi, Bihar, India in 1975 during an annual holiday with my family.

                   MURMURATION OF STARLING
                       I  Six o’clock sun–up
                          and the dawn seeing 
                          beeswarms of startled

                          starling, fling and flip
                          like an upswinging
                          dark and unbridled
                          wave of winged words past
                          the swift, swirling mist.

                       II A chitter–chatter
                          of rude excitement
                          rides the vibrant air
                          the very moment

                          of wheeling, whirling;
                          each pirouette being
                          executed with
                          skill and perfect truth

                          against alternate
                          patches of off–white
                          nimbus and sky–blue.
                          Then – in answer to
                          a prearranged code –
                          the mighty, fluid

                          murmuration drops
                          earthwards like a stone
                          on the standing crops
                          of ripening corn:                           

                    III With one last brush–stroke
                          – worked upon the bleak

                          Western horizon –
                          the skyscape Whistlers
                          take to field colors
                          of arboreal brown

                          and green, leaving that
                          once motile canvas
                          of heaven lifeless,
                          bare and desolate.

                                    Ranchi, Bihar, India (1975)

Dear Readers,
WISHING YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!
AND MAY IT FULFILL YOUR HOPES AND ASPIRATIONS FOR 2017.

You number over 62,000 since January 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, on the eve of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work the next twelve months.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

2016 Highlights in Hindsight

THREE DAYS TO GO BEFORE YEAR-END! WHAT DO I DO?
Rather than scramble for an answer, how about revisiting three
of my posts these past 12 months for a hint? So, here goes ……..

January 31, 2016

Life on the Road – Part Two

As promised earlier this January, Dear Reader, and more purposefully due to an encouraging response to what turned out eventually to be Part One of my “Life on the Road” published in the New Year, here goes my next stab at recalling memories of the past that still resonate within me. After all, they in truth bring to life not just the road – in all its literal and figurative meanings – that I’ve traveled over the past seven decades, but the will and fortitude to follow through with bringing to fruition some of the hopes and aspirations that still reside deep within me in my ‘golden years.’

I’ve never subscribed to the belief that advancing years prevent one from looking ever upward and onward. And, therefore, for as long as I can, I aim to enjoy the freedom that modern technology gives me to do just that: Consider that two decades ago, as a budding techie in his 60’s, I made my first desktop computer in Teaneck, NJ, for $750. If you remember, in those early days of the digital revolution, the cheapest IBM desktop cost fourfold more at $3,000 a pop and far too expensive for the mom-and-pop store-front non-profit community arts organization I was working for and continued to do so for nigh on 20 years. By that time, the National Guild – as it was known – had established itself in New York and in most of the states in the USA as a force to be reckoned with in the world of music, dance, visual arts and theater education in aspiring communities.

So here I go on to the new-fangled blogosphere with travel vignettes of the distant – and not so distant – past of my life on the road!

Looking back, my very first sortie on to the European mainland from the comparative insular safety of the British Isles stands out. Believe it or not, after arriving in England by ocean liner from India in 1949, I was so overwhelmed by day-to-day educational and scholastic activities in the County of Kent and concurrently in London that I had no time to think of other foreign shores to explore.

Nonetheless, the time came when my French friend, Gérard, who was my congenial roommate at CentYMCA, London (1953-55) – he was there to learn English and eventually became my pen-pal when we went our separate ways – encouraged me to spend the summer of 1953 in various parts of Western Europe ending up in his hometown of Lyons. Before that we spent the Easter holidays trying our hand out in local hitchhiking – with mixed results in Southwest England!

What follows is that summer’s excerpt from my opening diary entry recorded just before I took off on the first leg of my maiden European hitchin’ and hikin’ trip: I kept at it religiously penning all the strange and wondrous experiences over three summers that turned out to be so far removed from the comparatively staid, stiff-upper-lip Brit populace that I had got accustomed to interacting with during my university days in England.

Dover-Ostend Quay 21 July 1953 @ 10:15 pm

I take back most of what I said about “hitching’” in England.  I travelled so fast, that I could have caught the 4:50 pm ferry, if I’d wished to.

After leaving Dartford Station, I walked to the A2, taking approx.: ½ hour.   I could have bussed it, but I wanted to get used to carrying the “baby”.   I soon got a lift in an army vehicle, which took me all the way to Gillingham. Then followed 2 shorter lifts.  I lunched on your cakes @ 2 pm, and then caught a van into Canterbury (3 pm).  I went over the Cathedral, had refreshments (the inevitable ice cream and a milk-shake) and then hitched a new racy half-way to a haven not far from the White Cliffs of Dover pictured below (4:30 pm). 

White_Cliffs_of_DoverThere I met 2 country types who offered me considerable hospitality at a near-by pub.  Before going in, we sat on the grass outside chatting (I’d decided to take the 1 am ferry).  I had a free pint of milk, followed by 2 eggs on toast and tea.  I then played darts, later strumming on the piano (a very battered and unmusical instrument indeed!), everyone – the party now being 8 in number, including the host, a large, cherubic and rotund countryman – joining in.  After this I was plied with offers of varied species of drinks, but I refused them all. 

I left @ 8:30 pm and immediately hitched a brand new car carrying Swedish colours.  The driver, a young Swede, Hr. Atte Nyberg working for a short time in London as a correspondent for a Swedish newspaper, was on his way to Paris, leaving by car ferry in the morning.  He drove me to the Sea-Front, then searched for the Dover-Calais Quay, leaving me watching a basketball match in the open air.  He was back a little later to watch the end of the game, then drove off to find a hotel.  I read the Figaro, sitting on a bench, facing he sea.  I’d just got up @ 9:30 pm to look for my Quay, when he was back again, taking me there in double-quick time.  On the way, he gave some advice:  in London, if you get to know a girl, she always wants to know the marriage date; in Scandinavia it is very, very different – and he left it at that!

Well, I arrived here so early that there wasn’t a soul in customs, so I’ve retired temporarily to the address @ the head of this letter.  The boat train from Victoria arrives @ 12 midnight and so no one is allowed on deck till then.  If my present run of luck continues, I should get to France via my circuitous route of Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, Germany, and Italy by early September!

However, Nyberg told me that it is not as easy in Belgium.  Anyway, the hard facts are that I spent one pound and three shillings today on refreshments to keep the wolf from the door.
___________________________________________________________________________

April 18, 2016

Memories of Menuhin – A Centennial Offering

Yehudi Menuhin (b. April 22, 1916 d. March 12, 1999)
It seems like yesterday, but it was many decades ago – in the spring of 1949 – when I first met violinist Yehudi Menuhin and his pianist sister Hephzibah at the downtown New Empire Theatre in Calcutta. The duo had been booked by the Calcutta School of Music for a much anticipated recital program as part of CSM’s annual concert series.

In remembering Menuhin on his 100th birth anniversary, I’m reminded of his low-key demeanor and old-world charm on and off the stage. I recall a conversation in the artists’ dressing room when I asked him to autograph the evening’s recital program for me. Before so doing, he inquired about my own musical background and aspirations. I said it was my intention to go to London later that year for further studies.

Thereupon, he scribbled a note on the program itself above his signature reading:

Louis, I (re)commend Azim to you as a student.
And that was that! I was completely bowled over that it was his well-known pianist brother-in-law, Louis Kentner, that he had in mind. Even though I did eventually go to the Royal Academy of Music, I ended for logistical and planning reasons with becoming a student of Professor Frederick Jackson instead of Kentner.

The next memorable occasion was in the fall of 1958 when I was attending as India’s sole representative the Georges Enescu Music Festival in Bucharest, Rumania (Enescu’s image is alongside.)

As part of the celebratory concerts, the most prominent one was the performance of Bach’s Double Violin Concerto by David Oistrakh and Yehudi Menuhin (shown here on YouTube.) Both world-class violinists rose to the occasion and gave a spirited rendering of that great work, which was met with thunderous applause by the rapt audience. At the post-concert reception, I was able to renew acquaintances with both Menuhin and Oistrakh (image alongside) – the latter had traveled by the same plane I had taken to get to the Festival. As to the former, I brought Menuhin up-to-date with my own development sans Kentner as a pianist over the past nine years since we’d met back in Calcutta.

The last time our paths crossed was in Miami, Florida, when he was at the International Airport on his way in from Europe and I was on my way out to London. Menuhin looked much frailer, but still had a spring in his step. I told him about my move to the States in 1975 with my pianist wife Lolita and family of three girls and my career change from piano playing around the world to running orchestras in the USA.

And then, with time running out to board my plane, it was left for me to say au revoir to him and for him to wish me bon voyage.
___________________________________________________________________________

July 27, 2016

Poet of the Piano and his Muse

Born July 27, 139 years ago, Spanish composer Enrique Granados, who is widely known as the ‘Poet of the Piano’, is someone I cannot think about without remembering the late Barcelona-born pianist Alicia de Larrocha.

In my mind those two world famous musicians are intertwined: Enrique because of the Chopinesque passion and virtuosity which inform his piano works;  Alicia because of her sensitive, almost Mozartean interpretation of his major compositions.


Alicia
 was the diminutive Spanish pianist esteemed for her elegant Mozart performances and regarded as an incomparable interpreter of Granados and other Spanish composers. Her small stature — she was only 4-foot-9 — was deceptive: early in her career she played all the big Romantic concertos, including those of Liszt and Rachmaninoff, and she could produce a surprisingly large, beautifully sculptured sound.

She was closely associated with the Mostly Mozart Festival at Lincoln Center, where she first performed in 1971. Her appearances remained among the festival’s hottest tickets until her final performance there in 2003. Indeed, it was there in the mid-1970’s before heading for Miami that I myself heard her and was overjoyed when she signed up a couple of years later to be a soloist there during my tenure as the General Manager of the then Florida Philharmonic.


Alicia’s most enduring contribution, however, was her championship of Spanish composers, especially Granados. She made enduring recordings of his “Goyescas,” and helped ease those works into the standard piano canon. Here is her rendering on YouTube of one of his piano vignettes, Baile Espanol #7.

I myself was drawn to that work in my early teens via its beautiful Quejas o la Maja y el Ruiesenor (The Lover and the Nightingale) and it was a favorite of mine in many a piano recital I gave in India and abroad. In addition, my audiences were wowed every time I responded to their ovation with an encore  from his Danzas Espanoles (Spanish Dances) – either “Playera” or “Minueto”.

Enrique met an untimely death on March 24, 1916, in the English Channel. He was drowned following the torpedoing of the ferry Sussex between Folkestone and Dieppe by a German submarine during World War 1. He managed to get into a life raft but dived into the sea to save his wife. Both drowned and their bodies were never recovered.

Alicia Quotes:
“I would say, though, that Granados was one of the great Spanish composers, and that, in my opinion, he was the only one that captured the real Romantic flavor.”
“Spanish music is very, very, very hard. . . . .Young people come to me and think they can play it right away. But Spanish music must have the right rhythm, just as Bach and Mozart must have the right rhythm.”
_____________________________________________________________________________

September 24, 2016

Father and Son Duo – David and Igor Oistrakh!

I’ll reverse the order and begin with the son, Igor. As Concert Manager of the Calcutta Symphony Orchestra in the 1970’s, I invited him to be the soloist in a concert as part of its 51st Winter Concert Series beginning September 22, 1973 (program cover shown above.)

Igor was then 42 years old and already a world-class virtuoso violinist following in the footsteps of his renowned father, David.

[Igor and David often played together, deeply impressing their audiences with their near-perfect ensemble playing in works by Bach, Vivaldi and others. Indeed, it has been said that their duo sounds like the playing of a single violin.]

After the sold-out concert, Igor autographed a number  of programs including mine.
He then repaired to the Mayadas residence in Ballygunge, Calcutta, for a gala reception attended  by the Governor of West Bengal and other dignitaries.  When he arrived in the porch of the driveway, my wife Lolita and I were there to welcome him. He stepped out with his violin case in hand, and to help him exit gracefully, I took the case and slung it over my right shoulder, which almost suffered a dislocation! Apparently, to ensure the safety of his valuable instrument during his world travels, he had placed it in a custom-made solid Soviet steel casing weighing a ton! Nevertheless, his companion – also Igor, his accompanying pianist  – jumped in betwixt us and deftly removed the offending object. It took awhile before I was able to intermingle with the guests and handle a Scotch and soda without spilling its contents.

Igor Oistrakh and Azim Lewis (Mayadas)

Igor Oistrakh and Azim at a post-concert gala reception held at Azim and Lolita’s residence in Calcutta, 1973

During the lively party, and through an interpreter, I was able to inform Igor that – purely by accident – I had met his father, David, 15 years earlier on my way to Bucharest for the 1958 Georges Enescu Music Festival.

My flight from India to Rumania had without adequate warning to the passengers been diverted to Sofia, Bulgaria. It was just before landing there that the intercom came alive and we were informed that an important personage, who had missed his connection earlier due to bad weather, was being picked up. Who was it? Igor asked. David Oistrakh! I replied. His son split his sides in laughter.

David, it turned out, was attending the same Festival as I was, but he was due to perform the Bach Double Violin Concerto with Yehudi Menuhin the very next night, while I was merely an honored guest of the Festival. On landing at the airport, David was welcomed by Festival officials, and I was asked to hop into the Russian Zim limo as well. All’s well that ends well!  The performance I recalled later on was a unique blend of two striking personalities interacting with each other that resulted in an immensely satisfying musical experience.

For the record, David was born on September 30, 1908, so his birth anniversary is next week. In honor of that I end with a 1967 video of his playing a particular favorite of his – here on YouTube is the riveting cadenza from Dmitri Shostakovich’s Violin Concerto, Op. 99. The composer in 1955 had dedicated the work to David, who gave the première performance in Leningrad on October the 29th. The cadenza gives considerable attention to an ostinato figure on which the passacaglia for the third movement (Andante) is built upon.

________________________________________________________________________

Dear Readers,
WISHING YOU ALL A VERY HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!

You number over 62,000 since January 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if, on the eve of the New Year 2017, you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work the next twelve months.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!


 

 

 

Dateline: Karlstad, Sweden


[On Lake Vänern  – the biggest in Sweden!]
– Part III of my ‘auto-stopping’ missives to my French friend.

21 August 1953

Mon Cher Ami,
As usual, since I last wrote to you, a lot has happened. If you remember, I was due to land at Malmö, and actually I posted my letter there to you on my arrival. That afternoon (Monday the 10th) I spent looking round the town. It was only late afternoon before I finally decided to ‘hit’ the road. At 5 pm a car (Chevrolet) with occupants – driver and two ladies  – pulled up and via the east coast drove me 105 miles to Kristianstad dropped me at the door of the Vandrarhem (YH); they told me to call at their hotel the next morning at 10 am and they would take me all the way to Kalmar (120 miles).

Well, that’s exactly what happened. We stopped for a dip in the Baltic followed by a sun-bathe (these Swedes are a terror for getting a tan.) Then the most terrific Swedish lunch (I’ll try and be as brief as possible): I began with two glasses of milk, three separate platefuls of  Smörgås – first with different sorts of meat, then with different sorts of sea delicacies, and thirdly with different kinds of cheese. After having acquitted myself well, I was shocked to find that the main meal was yet to arrive – fried strömming (Baltic herring) with vegetables and potatoes. During the repast we swilled down first Pilsener and then red vinbare ‘snaps’. Finally, black coffee – and I certainly needed it to wash down everything. That night they put me down at the Kalmar STF and after they had given me their address in Stockholm – the gentleman is a Sport’s Shop owner – I said goodbye.

I spent sometime the next day at the Castle – one of the most significant political events in Scandinavia took place there in 1397, when the Kalmar Union was formed – a union of Denmark, Norway and Sweden (including Finland), organized by Queen Margaret I of Denmark. Today, it is one of Sweden’s best preserved renaissance castles open to the public.

Then, onward – and upward – to that gem in the Swedish north via Stockholm: Karlstad.

But first, it was Wednesday morning that I covered without event the 120 miles to Jönköping. Thursday 12 noon a young Swede drove me all the way to Örebro, invited me to lunch en route (roast pork), dropped me off at the local STF where I booked in, and then drove me to his parents’ country home 30 km away on Lake Hjälmaren, where I was treated as if I had been a friend of the family for years – plenty of food and drink!

Next morning I had my first bit of bad luck, and good thing too – it has been much too easy so far. Suffice it to say, it took me 2 days to get to Stockholm.

I immediately paid my respects to that shop-owner, who promptly invited me over to spend the weekend with his family at their country home just outside Stockholm, situated among hundreds of islands. (Most well-to-do Swedes have this double establishment, 9 months in the city and the 3 summer in the country.)

Those two days were really unforgettable, especially trips in the family motorboat. Monday I was driven back to the city, where after some trouble I got a place in the famous ship av Chapman owned by the YH there.

On Tuesday traveled to the old University town of Uppsala, followed in the evening by a long lift to Bollnäs, a total of 175 miles. I was too late, however, for the STF (closes at 10 pm), so I spent the night on the station – nothing like Bath (in England): even though it’s so out of the way, it has a centrally-heated waiting room. Next day (Wednesday) was the worst so far in Sweden. Only in the late evening did I obtain a lift of 110 miles to Säter. That particular day will go down in my diary as “Cursing Day.”

Yesterday, I purposely stopped at Örobro to renew acquaintances with my Swedish benefactor. After lunch with him and his younger brother, I did only 2 hours hitching (80 miles) to Karlstad. Tomorrow, I hope to make Oslo in neighboring Norway – the only thing is that nearly all the hitch-hikers here seem to be doing the same thing! Well, let’s hope my lucky star is still shining brightly…..

Afterword on a Postcard from Baden-Baden
On my way back to Germany I spent another 5 days in Copenhagen, all very delightful. The Hörlycks (Niels and Lise) along with a friend of theirs and myself repaired to nearby Helsingör (Elsinore), and after taking in Hamlet’s historic castle fortified ourselves midst the extensive grounds of Kronborg with good cheer. The photo was taken by a kind Danish gentleman, who happened to be strolling past us.

References: Wikipedia, my Photo Albums and Diary.

Dear Readers,
You number over 60,000 since January 2015, when I first began to put “some of my thoughts, written down” and posted them in the blogosphere. Since that time, many of you have urged me to seek support of my site and my writings by way of donations.

 My blog is about my life. It’s about what I’ve learned through the span of my life. It’s about things I love, and things I know and things I have experienced. I am humbled that so many of you want to join with me in my reflections. If you like what you find here, if it inspires or informs or amuses you, then I am content.

It would mean a lot to me if you would please consider making a donation of US $2.00, $5.00, $10.00, or whatever amount you deem fit to sustain my work.
And thank you for being a regular reader of the Azim Mayadas Blog!

 

 

 

 

Autostopping: Aalborg & Copenhagen

[In the midst of the Holiday Season, I recall the joys and travails of going in Europe on a summer vacation as a 20-year old hitchhiker: My autostopping days I recorded
in various missives from foreign lands to close friends and family members.
Here are Parts I & II written to my good French friend
Gérard Cordier in Lyons and  devoted to my winding journey through various cities and towns from Hamburg, Germany,
en route to Aalborg in the North and Copenhagen in the East.]

Hamburg, Rendsburg, barrels, Husum, Frierderichstadt, Niebüll, Süderlügum,
Ribe, Esbjærg, Varde, Herning, Silkeborg, Bjerrengbro, Viborg,  AALBORG

denmark-map
31 July 1953
(Part I : Dateline – AALBORG)

Mon Cher Ami ,

gerard-1

I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve been travelling too fast(!)  Since I last wrote to you from Jo-Jo’s home near Hamburg (in Scheneburg) I’ve continued to be lucky.  After an all-day city bus tour of Hamburg on Tuesday, taking in mainly the huge port – Germany’s gateway to the world and the center of the city’s economy, the Kunsthalle and the new Renaissance-style Rathaus, I left Wednesday morning, when I had to walk 5 km to reach the main road.

schene6

I then took half-an-hour to hitch to Rendsburg, where I met two other hitch-hikers – one Italian, the other Danish.  I had originally planned to enter Denmark via Tønder so, to stick to this, I left the others who were going via Flensburg.
                       Scheneburg City Hall
I had qualms about the small road to Husum, but almost immediately got a car to Friederichstadt, where 10 minutes later – wonder of wonders! – a car driven by a young German girl stopped for me.  She spoke English, and I couldn’t help thinking, that except for the color difference, she reminded me of my sister.   Amazingly enough, she turned out to be a twin like myself and was older than her brother by 20 minutes – a coincidence, what?  She took me as far as Niebüll, whence I had to walk 14 km to the Youth Hostel Association at Süderlügum, just near the border.

Next morning (30th) I hadn’t been on the road two minutes, when a Danish-driven car stopped for me – without my thumbing a lift!  Soon after, it came down pouring and lasted for 8 hours, during which time my benefactors drove me via Ribe (where they gave me a mammoth Danish meal – steak, potatoes, salat, rodkaal and various tasty mixtures of which I don’t know the name).  I felt as when I’ve been to a Chinese restaurant(?)  Then on to Esbjærg, Varde, Herning, Silkeborg and Bjerrengbro, where the two men (brothers) put me up in their house for the night.

The elder bother works in the East Asian Co. and has covered the world pretty thoroughly, including India, and the younger is just completing an Electrical Engineering Course. [Back in London U., I’m just in the middle of my E.E. Course!] Their father died 2½ months ago – he was the manager of an engineering firm.  After a very light but delicious supper in the early evening, I listened to their huge modern radiogram, then Kirt’s (the younger’s) sweetheart turned up and we all had coffee and toast (10 pm).  The funny thing to see, then, was that both women smoked while not a single male present did so – and one of the women, the mother, a cheroot at that!!

viborg_cathedralThis morning, Paul (the elder brother) drove me to Viborg, where it came down pouring again. However, I saw the famous cathedral – seen alongside,  gave three young boys my autograph (I’m quite a novelty here), hitched 20 km and then had to wait from 12 noon till 3 pm, before I was driven all the way to Aalborg, by a Dane who had just returned from a 2-year stay in India.

aalborg_stenhus01We stopped midtown in front of the impressive 5-story Jens Bang Stonehouse, which was built in the 17th century by a prosperous Renaissance merchant.    The fourth largest city in Denmark, Aalborg is situated on a deep inlet of the Limfjord in northern Jutland, making it a central inland port with access to the North Sea and to the Kattegatt Sea between Denmark and Sweden.

By the way it only stopped raining half-an-hour ago.  The Youth Hostel is a beautifully fitted building – in fact, most of Aalborg is very modern.  That’s all for now – best of health!

Yours, Azim

——————————— ——————
10 August 1953
(Part II: Dateline – Copenhagen )

 Aarhus, Skanderborg, Vejle, Jelling, Fredericia, Middelfart,  Odense, Nyborg, Sjaelland, Korsor, Slagelsa – Copenhagen!
Mon cher ami,

I trust you received my letter from Aalborg (North Jutland, Denmark).  Since then, I’ve been down through the Danish Lake District, stopping at the YH’s in Aarhus and Skanderborg.  Weather rather fickle.  Then south to Vejle; also Jelling, where the famous rune-stones are to be found:
jelling-runestones

The stones represent the transitional period between the indigenous
Norse paganism and the process of Christianization in Denmark.

Thereafter, southeast to Fredericia, across to Middelfart (Island of Fyn) and after rather a long wait, to Odense. I stayed the night here, and next morning visited Hans Christian Andersen’s house and very comprehensive museum, together with other places of interest. 

andersen_museum1

Tuesday was my worst day to date.  The main roads in Denmark are hopeless for lifts (they were my No. 1 headache.)   I just managed to get to Nyborg by sundown having walked nearly the whole day.   I caught the ferry across to the Island of Sjælland and stopped at Korsør only to discover I’d left my YH card at Odense.  However, after considerable explanation, the “Father” of the Korsor YH immediately wrote off to Odense telling them to post the card to Copenhagen YH.

Next morning was as bad as the previous for lifts, mainly because there were too many hitch-hikers on the main road.  Also,the cars coming off the ferries were either full or just weren’t interested.  After waiting from 8:30 to 11:30 am, I got a bright idea and took the train to the next big town further inland (Slagelsa).  After 10 minutes on the road, I hitched a lift all the way to Copenhagen, that City of Red Roofs, arriving during the late afternoon (Wednesday).  I had supper with Niels and his brother’s family, and later on we repaired to the famous Tivoli gardens (fireworks night, fortunately).

amalienborgThe next 4 days were spent in a hectic rush trying to take in all the sights including the Amalienborg Palace, shown above, Denmark’s royal residence since 1749, regarded as one of Europe’s finest rococo buildings, and of course The Little Mermaid – seen below.

mermaid

During the weekend, went bathing in the sea and, believe it or not, have become considerably “tanned”(!) [Sweden is now in sight]
I’ve really had a wonderful time in “Wonderful Copenhagen” and am eagerly looking forward to seeing Stockholm.
This is your Indian friend signing off,
Azim

References: Wikipedia and my Diary.

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