Last week would have been my grandmother’s ninetieth birthday. The youngest of four siblings, she was born and raised in a small northern town.  Her mother was a widow and a hard-working woman, providing for her family. As a child, my grandmother spent a lot of time with her grandparents who were running a bakery cum coffee shop which was a pit-stop for trading traffic. That really explains her great fondness for coffee and cafes.  

She left us in January but she had been gone already for a long time. Despite her solid constitution, she finally stepped into immortality; hadn’t it been for her dementia, she would have been  a remarkably youthful ninety-year old. 

She never called for attention, but she was the kind of woman whose presence does not go unnoticed. Petite and slender, but not frail. Rather classically feminine and strong despite her small size. With dark hair and the most beautiful eyes; big and of a colour deserving a poetic name like violet or azure. Eyes that would so easily well up when we had to say goodbye. The azure would overflow and trickle down her crease-less soft cheeks.

If I had to use one word to describe her, I would say refined. She artfully filtered beauty through practical moderation to produce an approach to everyday life that made the mundane less ordinary.

Making a three course meal was not only reserved for special occasions and the table would always be beautifully set. She was coquette, but in a down-to-earth way. She inhabited every piece of her clothing, filling it with her personality. I remember her light blues and pinks, her bright greens and earthy yellows. She could miss-match patterns and still look stylish.

Grandmother had a special kind of humor. She was verbal and witty; not particularly talkative and any way, my grandfather would use up some of her speaking quota as well when we were around. 

My grandmother adored us, but her feelings were greater than her words. My grandfather verbalised the big emotions. He would say I love you, I miss you. My grandmother’s love could be read between the lines. In the letters that she wrote us. In the Christmas packages she sent, in the picnic bag packed with cucumber sandwiches, tea and cocoa. I understand; the big words can break you if uttered aloud.

Grandfather and grandmother had great love and respect for each other, but he would always take a bit more space. Once, while visiting us, my grandmother really decisively put grandfather in his place, responding to something he had just said.

Appreciatively, I told her that she obviously had some temperament, whereby she responded: “Well, if I did not have a temperament, I would probably be milking cows somewhere in the middle of nowhere”.

You always tried to be correct, but you were never boring dear grandmother. And yes, life took you on a journey from the north to the south of the country and also to many more exotic places and destinations. You were open to what life had to offer and adventurous in your own way. You were loyal and non judgmental.

I so cherish the image of you in your long nightgowns, your softly permed brown hair framing your face, your beautiful eyes alight, your lips always in a light shade of artificial pin, coming to wish us good night. No matter how old you are, a grandmother is always a grandmother.

You are loved and you are missed. You have put a dent in the universe of all those who loved you. I hope you feel and know that, wherever you are. And also, I do wish you had told us more of your story. But maybe the most important things are those that have already been said.

When you wake up at 04.30, get up at 04.40, you’ve got time to practice yoga, get yourself ready, eat a teeny breakfast and go fetch the keys to your new abode before catching the train to work.

Some quality commuting time before a real breakfast and a new week of professional and personal adventures has been kicked off.

I am a new commuter with already set habits. Habits and routines are made to create structure but also to be broken, right?

It’s true that at the end of my working day I want to go home. Therefore, going to a yoga class after work and catching a late train back has been something of a project and a mental process.

I think that I am on the verge of creating a new sporadic routine though: leaving a bit later from the office and having a cup of tea at a coffee shop next to the studio. After the yoga class, a brisk walk to the station to catch the 19.45 train.

There is something particularly cosy about taking my evening meal in the calm wagon looking into the falling darkness. I am making a meaningful exception that confirms and challenges the rule. Until it’s time to shake things up again.

A weekend. Two hours of train-ride and a new place to discover.

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Train-trips and small getaways to new or known places is on my agenda this winter/fall.
The first destination was Örebro – a vibrant one-hundred thousand people town. It really felt much bigger than I had expected. Interesting architecture, a big centre with plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants.
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We had  a really nice dinner on Friday night and walked around in the rain with a borrowed umbrella.
I started Saturday with a jog, followed by hotel breakfast, shopping and a guided tour of the Örebro castle.

In the early afternoon we walked along the river to Wadköping, an outdoor museum area representing five hundred years of urban history.
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The visit was short but sweet with beautiful weather, company and sceneries. Not to mention the nice dinners, drinks and lunch at Kungsgatan 1, Chandani, Paolo’s, The Bishop’s Arms and Vasa konditoriet.
I am already looking forward to the next trip…

This is what it looks like at 7 am on a weekday in August, on the shore of the island of Kungsholmen, Stockholm, Sweden.

Lots of people jogging, walking, solo, in twos or in groups. Men and women. Sports clothes on, or slick office wear and sneakers. Lots of headphones. I belong to the minority that shuns them.

The whole atmosphere reminds me of the park at Dollar’s collony in Bangalore, which was brimming with people in the early morning. Families with children, couples, housewives and the odd dog  all taking advantage of the moderate heat to exercise and socialise. The fresh coconut water stall was strategically located at the entrance/exit.

Places visited stay with us one way or another. They pop up and remind us of their existence inadvertently. Like sirens in the mist…

Before holidays become a remote recollection, I thought I should document my northbound trip in late July that took me from Uppsala to Umeå via Sundsvall.

Whenever I travel north of Uppsala I get a special feeling. The landscape changes quite fast and there is something special about the wilderness of the nature and the character of the people that strikes a chord with me. I am convinced that the heart of this oblong country beats from a high up place.

It probably has to do with the fact that my family comes from the so called north. Technically speaking below the country’s  middle, but in the mind of every Swede and on any administrative map, definitively the north. The southern north, but still the north.

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Everything was quite a contrast to my holiday in Greece. A different climate, a different geography, a different way of traveling.

I planned the trip so as make space for a pit-stop at Sundsvall on the way up. After a walk and a really good lunch at the seat of my second alma-mater, we boarded a bus to coastal Umeå. The scenery along the High Coast of Sweden is magnificent. I can vouch for it, even if was constantly dozing off, rocked by the motion of the coach and sedated by the warmth of the sun…

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Several walks by the Umeå-river, a dinner at an Indian restaurant, a free guided tour, a late morning at the open-air museum of Gammlia…

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Voila. A short reconnaissance to put it simply, which left me a sweet aftertaste of wanderlust.

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This fall I want to make time for traveling by train to new or known destinations. Ι have just booked my first trip and I am already looking forward to it.

This is me, 06.30 am on the commuter train.

I packed my little backpack bought in Vietnam some years ago to the brim and I literally ran to the station.


Running has been bugging me for some time now and I decided to give it a try. Twice a week. I went for my first run this weekend and I thought it would be terrible after two years of abstinence. I jogged for half an hour without problem which feels like all my efforts to lead an active life aren’t totally in vain. There is an imprint on my body.

That said, the toughest muscle to tackle is the brain. The big slacker and the great doer.

According to an article I read recently, running between 60-144 min a week on 2-3 occasions is optimal. Any running activity beyond that, does not show any additional health benefits. In fact, it pointed out that excessive runners and couch potatoes run similar health risks.

Whether you believe this or not, it certainly  provides me with a feasible framework made of modesty and contentment. My motive is resolution and not result.




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