Birds seen in Europe (Part 5)

Where there is the sea, there will be gulls. After all, the sea is what a gull calls home. Looking back, we did spend much of our vacation close to water, so it was natural to have spotted gulls in almost every city that we visited.

Common Gull

Unlike what the name suggests, the Common Gull was not really everywhere. Characterised by a red eye-ring, we first spotted it at Roskilde, Denmark, atop one of the houses. While on the boat from Flam to Gudvangen on Naeroyfjord (one of Norway’s scenic fjords) however, there were many of them following us, looking out for scraps of food. Continue reading

Trojaborg, find your inner peace

Adults and children moving purposefully between boulders. This was the scene outside the Viking Museum at Roskilde, Denmark. On close observation, the boulders mark out a Trojaborg labyrinth, similar to those from the Bronze Age.

Trojaborg at Roskilde
Trojaborg labyrinth at Roskilde, Denmark (Apr 2018)

The labyrinth and the movement through its paths are often used today as a form of meditation which gives focus and inner peace. Continue reading

Birds seen in Europe (Part 4)

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

Eurasian Magpie

While in Bergen, Norway, we decided to make a quick visit to the closest Stave Church in the area, located in Fantoft. As we walked up the hill from the tram station, we saw a colourful bird fly and seat itself on a signpost. It was surely a Magpie, but much larger than what I’d seen in India. It’s blue and green feathers against the dominant black and white looked beautiful. It sat sufficiently long, that I got a good picture.

Eurasian Magpie - Stave Church Fantoft near Bergen Norway
Eurasian Magpie at Fantoft, Norway

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Birds seen in Europe (Part 3)

Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

The most seen bird in Bangalore during our childhood was easily the sparrow.  They’d be all over the backyard, bathing in the open tank, picking at the sun-dried grain and nesting right in our house in-between the roof tiles. It seems that sparrows have vanished from our homes in Bangalore, so whenever I see them in other places, I always stop to watch (though I still have the pleasure of seeing them in Mumbai where I now live).

House Sparrow

The sparrows we saw in Denmark and Norway were much fluffier than the ones we have in India, overweight by our sparrow standards, and better equipped to tackle the low temperatures they encounter.

Sparrow female Tivoli
House Sparrow female, Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen, Denmark

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Ten years of the new Bangalore airport

Time flies! It is ten years since Bengaluru International Airport (operated by BIAL), as the new Bangalore airport was called, started operations on May 24, 2008.


A few weeks before the airport opened, we were thrilled to be able to visit the site along with members of Praja, a group working for the betterment of the city. Getting there was quite a journey, and we knew were were close once the bus drove on to the flyovers that were still being completed. The bus stopped somewhere on the top and we were allowed to get off, walk around and take pictures. There were people from the BIAL team who were there to explain things and answer questions.


Remembering Mrs Neela Katary

It was with much sadness that I learnt of the passing of Mrs Katary in Bangalore on 28th April. Our family was on vacation and on 27th April I received a message from a school friend, in which she mentioned that Mrs Katary and her husband were in  road accident and that she was critically injured. It was so unfortunate that she did not pull through.

Mrs Katary was a teacher at Baldwin Girls’ High School for many years.  In Std VI (1981-82) she was my class teacher and taught Home Science. This was the year that I was elected by my classmates to be the Class President (one of the class prefects), so my interaction with her was frequent. Kind at heart, yet strict, she was an excellent teacher and very approachable. Home Science was a fun subject with most topics covered with life experiences. As with most of our teachers, she was always impeccably dressed, with a dab of makeup and jewellery coordinated to match her sarees. If memory is right, before we finished Std X, Mrs Katary left Baldwins and moved to the Gulf.

Neela Chandrashekar, as my mom (Rukmani) called Mrs Katary, was known to her several years earlier. They joined Baldwins at the same time, in 1966, and there was a picture taken for the school records. With the passing of Mrs Katary, mom says she is the only one in the picture still alive.

new staff of BGHS 1966
New staff of BGHS, 1966

L-R: Doreen Davis (office staff), Neela Chandrashekar (teacher), Helen Swamidass (teacher), Rukmani Nair (teacher), Barbara Webster (games teacher)

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Copenhagen Metro Construction Site

The Copenhagen Metro is a quick and efficient way of getting around the city and neighbouring municipalities. Having started operations in 2002, this driverless system complements the local trains, buses and water buses that together form one of the world’s best public transport networks that operates 24/7. And it is being improved with the construction of two new metro lines to add to the existing two lines.

metro underpass
Underpass to one of the metro stations

Copenhagen’s public transport is also expensive. In fact, it was declared to be the most expensive with the average price of a single journey ticket costing the equivalent of about $4.30 (Source:, Aug 2017).

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Birds spotted in Europe (Part 2)

Read Part 1 here.

The King’s Garden is the oldest park in Copenhagen, established in the 17th century, abutting the Rosenborg Castle of King Christian IV. On our first morning in Copenhagen, we spent some time walking through this 12-hectare park, taking in the sights and smells of the Danish spring.

walk through Kings Garden
King’s Garden, Copenhagen

Hooded Crow

Here and there, strutting around on the green grass of the King’s Garden with authority were these birds that behaved like our Indian House Crows, but they looked different – dominant light grey plumage with glossy black restricted to head, throat, wings and tail. They were bigger but with the same boldness, not hesitating to walk close to humans. We didn’t see many crows during the rest of our trip. Continue reading

Little Mermaid and Merman

On a boat ride down the canals of Copenhagen, we briefly stopped in the waters at Langelinie pier and the guide pointed out to the statue of the Little Mermaid, created by sculptor Edvard Eriksen in 1913. It took a while to find her (looking from the boat) as there were crowds of people that sunny evening, some right on top of the rocks on which she sits. The size of the statue is small (about 4 feet) so she doesn’t stand out, so all we got was an unsatisfying view of her rear. The guide went on to point out that this Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale is not a ‘happily ever after story’ as the mermaid does not win over the prince, and it in fact ends tragically with her becoming an immortal soul.

How can one visit Copenhagen and not see the Little Mermaid? Properly that is. So before we left Copenhagen, on a chilly rainy day, we made it a point to take a walk to the pier from our ferry point.

We first encountered a tall polar bear with two cubs. The plaque at the bottom says it was made by Holger Wederkinch, in 1929. Continue reading

Birds spotted in Europe (Part 1)

Where there is food and water, there will be animal life. This is particularly true for birds for whom there are no boundaries… the sky is their limit!

On our recent 15-day trip to Europe, specifically The Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden and Norway, we spotted many birds, a few that we see in our backyards and neighbourhoods in India, but many that I hadn’t seen before. Whenever possible, I tried to capture them on my camera.

Our first stop was the tulip gardens of Keukenhof, The Netherlands. With the millions of flowers, I guess our attention was on them and not on the birds that were possibly around. At one point many were looking way up high to check out a distinctive knocking sound. It was a woodpecker hammering away, scarcely visible among the trees. Before I could focus, it had flown away. We didn’t see a woodpecker again on our trip. Continue reading