Horlyck and Hygge have one thing in common – each noun is Danish, each holds a special place in my memory of a time when I was giving free rein to my pent-up penchant for travel: one is the surname of a family in Copenhagen that befriended me , the other a unique Danish word that expresses appreciation of simple pleasures, enjoyed in the company of close friends. In a very real sense, so many years later, I cannot help thinking of the leisurely time I spent with the close-knit family bearing the name Horlyck, without at the same time dreaming about its intrinsic secret of happiness – Hygge.
To back track, in 1953 I was staying in London at the Central YMCA, when I was a University of London student pursuing an Electrical Engineering degree at the Imperial College. And it wasn’t long before I met up with a co-resident, Niels Horlyck, who spoke lovingly of his home town Kobenhavn, which he sorely missed after having been away a mere three months. At the time, I couldn’t believe that the Danish language was so very different to English, and we spent a considerable time over meals in the cafeteria trading, for instance, the proper pronunciation of his strange Nordic family name with my own – I believe – more phonetic Sanskritic one, along with common phrases in conversation. Eventually we got things right and thereupon developed a friendship that led to my hitchhiking that summer via Belgium, Holland and Germany to Denmark – via Odense, the home of Hans Christian Andersen (my favorite kid-lit author) to my ultimate destination, Copenhagen, where I would be the guest of Niels and his family for a week of fun and frolic: Kronborg Grounds.
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