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Of Vikings and Wild Berries

The Picnic

NORWAY | Saturday, 10 May 2014 | Views [119] | Scholarship Entry

Norway, what have you done to me? I think as I gaze over the downward sloping path. From where I stand, I can see everything in vertical panorama. The gravel trail, the mountain walls with their bright green vines, the gentle slush of water and the wild berries. The sky—blue, cloudless—extends upwards but not sideways. In the distance, the still fjord and the boats act as a picture frame.

I smirk. Norway has made me a climate elitist. For the rest of my life, I will yearn for places with cold, fresh summers and a pensive atmosphere. Compared to the cacophony that is Mumbai, this place seems almost fictional.

The trek to the picnic spot is slow, and I jump at every bee that comes too close. My friend, a resident of this place, plucks field-strawberries about the size of my fingernail. Despite the sun, the cold bites into me. Norwegian summers are cooler than Indian winters.

I never really gave much thought to this country. Who would? It was a block of ice with Vikings and a fancy name—The Land of the Midnight Sun. Norway? No way. But when my best friend moved here, I began to take an interest in it. Now, on my first visit, I am in love.

The expensive public transport, the cushioning silence of the city, the sloping roads and unpredictable weather. Crisp air and unfettered greenery. Raspberries from the garden, hard-sounding language, long cycle rides and the fjord. The knowledge that all of this life will freeze over. Knowing that grassy expanses will become deserts of snow. How are they wearing shorts when I’m in sweaters? How can a place so alive be so peaceful?

How did I ever doubt you, Norway?

The picnic spot is atop a hill, and it takes forty-five minutes and over twenty-five wild berries to get there. Norwegians love the outdoors, and there are wooden tables and benches and an artificially built view-point for people like us.

As I sip a Coke and nibble on a piece of bread, I gaze into the expanse of blue. The sky, the water, the boats… Civilisation here somehow seems to grow alongside the vegetation that surrounds it. Unlike most cities, Oslo seems like a part of the environment it was born from. It’s like a paved continuation of the woods.

This Scandinavian block of ice with Vikings and a fancy name has romanced me in a way no place ever could. I have no idea how I got here, in this moment, in this emotion. But that is understandable. This country is not made for meticulous planning. Norway is where you get lost, and enjoy it.

Tags: 2014 Travel Writing Scholarship - Euro Roadtrip

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