Stockholm: Dining in the dark at Svartklubben

3 04 2014

On Friday, we spend 3 hours in complete darkness, enjoying delicious food and live music. I have to admit, this is the weirdest experience in recent memory. We arrived at Svartklubben around 6:30 pm and soon we were seated at our table. Of course, we had to slowly walk to our designated seats, feeling our way around… enough space not to touch anyone in an inappropriate manner, but holding hands to not get lost. One feels intimately closer to people in the dark!

The food was delicious and eating it was an eerie experience. First I had to become familiar with what I had on the table. Where was the wine glass, how many forks and knifes where available, where was my bottle of water, what if I cut or stab myself, break something?… which one of us did, and so on. After I finished with the table and the tools of the craft, I started slowly reaching out around me. I had trustworthy friends to both my left and right and Robert in front of me, who is trustworthy by his association with Mari-Anna. However, I have no idea who sat at my back. If I reached out a little bit I could touch their chairs and coats… Their laughter through the evening was oddly comforting.

We started with a chèvre salad with beet root, we continued with corn-fed chicken with oven tomato and crumbled polenta, and for dessert we had a tarte Tatin. Our wine of choice was Shiraz, but as it was dark, of course I have no idea which year and who produced it. There was also a choice of white wine and other drinks but I always go for red.

I wish I could say that my other senses were heightened but honestly I don’t think that was the true purpose of the evening. I could not see. However, it did not feel frustrating. Knowing that you will join the light again at the end does help with the experience I suppose. I did get frustrated twice and for the silliest reasons. First of all, I could not create my “perfect bite”. Much like Barbra Streisand in The Mirror Has Two Faces, I like to create the perfect bite combining small pieces of everything I have on my plate. When you eat in the dark, you kind of start with what you find first, and then try to feel your way around the plate. I cut the chunks too big or too small, and a few times I even discovered my fork was empty. Of course, you can lick your fingers at the end and nobody will know 😀

The second eerie thing that I experienced was the feeling that somehow I could see something. The shape of my hand, some sort if light reflected in my wineglass… of course, all a figment of my imagination. It really was pitch black darkness, complete complete darkness. We didn’t have a notion of time and when at the end we were asked how much time we believed had passed, I said out loud and with conviction: maximum 2 hours. It was 9:30 pm and we were there for 3 hours. Along with my sight, I also lost my sense of time and for a moment this was really scary. How can some people live like this? But these wonderful people do, and they do it gracefully, with dignity and purpose. They live full, happy lives, they are self reliable and, by sharing this experience with complete strangers, they create an awareness we all need!

Finally, it was there, in my face. I could see it clearly because of the pitch black darkness: I take so many things for granted, I never actually stop for a minute to be truly grateful for what I have, for being healthy and in command of all my senses. It’s not wrong to want to constantly evolve and accomplish more, but acknowledging what you have opens a world of possibilities. This year, although I don’t believe in resolutions, I will practice being grateful and complain less!

During the dinner we were also entertained… and in the best way possible. Ulf and his band sang really good music. Most of it in Swedish I think, but they also filled the time with stories, jokes and explanations in English. The guests sang along and I have to say it was great… I could actually let go and pretend I can sing for a while… of course having an untrained opera singer in our midst was an added bonus 🙂

If you go to Stockholm, do not miss Svartklubben! Thank you Ulf and the gang for hosting us and making this evening the highlight of my year so far!

Me happy 🙂

 

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Before the dinner 🙂 It was pretty light outside…

 

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The chèvre salad 🙂

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Corn-fed chicken with oven tomato and crumbled polenta

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Tarte Tatin

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And then we said Goodbye… Full and happy 😀





Stockholm <3

2 04 2014

It was high time for a Brazil reunion, so Little Monkey, The Botanist and Lady Churrasco met in Stockholm for 3 days filled with laughter, good news, good food, amazing sights… and so on. Lovely love love… trying not to use “amazing”, “wonderful”, “best time ever” and other superlatives I am guilty of using on a regular basis.

To be honest, while I was super excited to meet Mari-Anna again, {yes, Brazil with the girls was that good}, I was not sure about Stockholm. A few friends told me it’s a beautiful city, but there was always a certain reluctance… you know the rumors…. “darkness”, “it’s super cold“, “can be gloomy”, “humorless people“, etc. I didn’t want my expectations to be too high, although we had wonderful things planned. Wrong, wrong, wrong… and how happy I am to say it!

We arrived on Friday at 1 pm and the city welcomed us with sun and open arms. The “gostosas” had landed! Ha 😛

Mari-Anna could only meet us after work so we roamed around in Gamla Stan, getting a feel of the old city. The locals were sitting in the sun, their faces embracing the warmth and us embracing their “feel good” smiles. I had this incredible sense of peace and of being in the right place at the perfect time. I loved the fact that we were surrounded by people, the small shops waiting to be discovered, the shape and color of the buildings, the restaurants, the flowers in the windows, people on bikes… In one word, the city breathes creativity at every single corner and I basked in it just like total strangers were basking in the sun. I was once again, a happy traveler!

I could talk about it forever, but here are the main highlights:

o   Food: Dining in the dark at Svartklubben

o   Water: The Stockholm Winter Tour boat ride

o   Fun: Cupcake STHLM, the HIMLEN sky bar and meeting Simona

o   The city: Walking in Gamla Stan, Lena M’s design shop, the moose burger

o   Home: Breakfast at Mari-Anna’s apartment and the rabbits 🙂

By the end of this week I will publish a story for each one of them, I promise 🙂 I have them ready to go and as I am heading for NY on Monday, I don’t want to postpone them indefinitely… I am sure there will be lots to say about NY too and I can’t wait!

Me happy 🙂

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Stockholm sun

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red, white and blue… how perfect 🙂

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Fairytale houses everywhere 🙂

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Let’s start early… today and every day!

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I love the details: the man in his office, the people having lunch, the flowers…

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Lena M’s Shop… its like Wonderland!

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Sugarland or yummy land or… NO NO YES 😀

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This is how I also imagine a perfect Saturday 🙂

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Yup… this is a HOSTEL 🙂

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I want to be a sailor and roam both oceans and seas

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Oldie

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Will be remembered as “the moose burger place”

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CUPCAKE STHLM

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Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake

 





.

7 12 2010

Changes…

I normally embrace change and I am happy about it. Change chases away the boredom and tends to tame my restlessness… but when things change form one day to another, it just makes me mad.

Right now I can’t make a plan… book some tickets… decide when to do my South Asian trip… because next week things might look completely different.

And don’t tell me that it’s up to me. Because sometimes it’s just not!

On the other hand… I am happy 😀

And I am not going to feel guilty because I am happy to leave India at this point in time! I haven’t seen my family since 2nd of April 2010. I haven’t seen “THE TEAM” since April and June 2009. I am so excited that I will meet my closest friends that I feel like yelling it from the top of Cyber Greens.

Yes, I am happily counting down the days. I sort of finished my shopping. Yes, I almost packed my bags; I even went sightseeing in Delhi … And yes, I have a calendar on my desk and I scratch off each day that passes.

That doesn’t mean I am not going to miss some of the things here… Mostly my TEAM here and being in the office.  My small small room. Sarojini Nagar shopping.  Barista and the best café latte in India. Ice cream from Giani.  Chico, Mariana, Paula, Javed, Sasha and Andrew.  IVETTITA. Indian food. Galleria Market. Fresh fruit juice from the street “shops”. Cooking :D. My TEAM again 😀 The women wagon in the metro. The friendly gatherings.  Showing off my PAN card. Playing the tourist. Saying I am from Ghana or Afghanistan when annoying men ask me where I am from. Telling lies about being married with 4 kids. Yes… I did that a few times 😛 All in all… the small things that make my day. In the end, happiness is in details 🙂

Why I never spoke about all these things before in my posts? I don’t know. It might be because I usually don’t feel like writing when I am happy. Who needs therapy when he/she is happy.

I am happy to have a 3 months break from Gurgaon. No more rickshaws. No more buses. No more random pigs on the street. No more traffic. No more bargaining for every single rupee. Yes… at the end of the month I am poor too. Thank God, not poor in the true sense of the word, but the need to watch my every rupee shows its ugly head.  You can call me a bad financial planner if it makes you happy!

I won’t miss the staring. I won’t miss being on the list… actually I haven’t been in such a long time that it doesn’t even matter. I think I might never be again 😛 I used to laugh saying that going partying in Delhi reminds me why I don’t go partying in Delhi! I am too old for this.

I won’t miss the hypocrisy.

I won’t miss the dust.

I won’t miss losing my hair… Yes, that was one of the big things that messed with my head here.  I don’t know if anyone can picture the distress of seeing your hair falling like crazy every single day, every single brush touch, every single shower … Till it feels that you are losing your feminity with every single moment that passes by.

All in all, it was good and bad. Just like any other true adventure. I was in love with India some of the days… and I hated being here with all my heart in others. One thing though never changes… My professional and learning experience was as close to perfection as it could be. And the best part of it?  It keeps going 😀

So I guess for now is “see you in March 2011 Dear India”. I promise to try to be more patient next time… But have in mind that my patience is a “work in progress” thing!!!

Just like me!





DOR!

20 04 2010

I guess that after 2 weeks it kind of was the moment to feel it… the longing… I am in my bed now and in front of my open eyes I have this image… the place I come from, the family I miss, the friends I wish I could have taken with me… The heat is somewhere there, in the back of my mind… It’s not so bad now, after the gym and the cold shower… yes, the same one I was complaining about in Ghana… here it’s more than a need! But still the sleep fairy avoids me…

I guess talking today and yesterday with my sister made everything come in a rush… but it’s different from the way it used to feel in Ghana… it lacks the desperation and the feeling that time just stopped and no matter what I am doing, it will never go away  fast enough… It lacks the tears I was praying for in Ghana… It’s so hard for me to cry… I haven’t cried for real since September 2008… Yes, I remember… because when I cry the world falls apart… my world… so I refuse to cry!

This longing is so different now… it’s not painful or sad… it’s just a feeling that refuses to go away… I don’t fight it… I don’t embrace it either…  I don’t want it… but I don’t hate it either…Somehow “maturity” popped into my mind… again I don’t feel it’s the case here… I am not a grown up… not yet… I honestly refuse to be…

The love I feel for my family bursts out in the oddest moments… when my family isn’t besides me… when I cannot scream it, voice it, touch it… I spent 3 months home and in the last 2 I didn’t knew how to show it better and enjoy it… And now I am longing to do it… For two months I felt trapped in my home… instead of enjoying the love cloud and the trust… Every time I am leaving I am saying to myself that next time I will not do the same mistake… But I know that the next time will be exactly the same… Dreaming of leaving… of a new adventure… followed by the longing after the love I left behind…

I would hug somebody right now just for the share pleasure of sharing someone else’s body heat. To quench the thirst I have right now for my love ones… I feel like I am a drug addict that desperately needs a dose… will it help? Maybe…

Me… a little bit homesick… but it will pass 🙂

PS: In my opinion “DOR” is the most beautiful Romanian word because it expresses love and longing for something you cannot have!





So far?… Soooo…. GREAT, AMAZING, BEAUTIFUL :D

6 04 2010

When I left my beautiful family, home, room and friends last Friday I was kind of worried. In the airport in Iasi actually it crossed my mind to call my dad and tell him that I have changed my mind and ask him to come for me… I gave myself a mental slap and remembered where I was going and why 🙂 Feeling scared isn’t a feeling I am used to and this time is a one year commitment, thank God for that 🙂

I spent 7 hours in Heathrow airport which gave me enough time to worry, eat, go shopping, watch other people, worry again, want to rob the Accessorize store and so on… I don’t like spending time alone in airports but I tried to focus on sounds and people, instead of worries and being scared 🙂

The flight to India was quite ok and then I finally got here 🙂 I got a little late and I didn’t see anybody waiting for me so I decided for a prepaid taxi 😀 It got me to the place I am living now, Oakwood estate 🙂 (Thank you Anca and Sahil for sharing the pre paid taxi info with me).

I recognized the apartment the moment I put my foot in it. Nobody was awake and the door was opened… and on the wall, the first thing I say was a handmade thing with Nigeria written on it… so I guess it had to be a trainee flat 🙂

I waited for Sahil but of course he was late (shame on you :P) and then I decided to go to sleep a little 🙂 He arrived around 2 pm and seeing him after such a long time felt really great. Having a friend welcoming you when you arrive in an unfamiliar place helps a lot with all the worries 🙂

I spent 2 amazing days with him and his friends. I ate some pretty amazing things, we laughed like crazy, remembered things from Ghana, discussing about cows rehabilitation centers :P, and a certain “Indian stare”…  From what I saw, Delhi is beautiful. I love green places, it makes me feel like home 🙂

On Sunday night I had to say good bye to Sahil. My first 2 days in India were his last 2. He went back to Ghana because he totally loves the food there and the fact that shopping is so much fun 😛 I am joking of course 😛

On Monday I had my first ride with a rickshaw and I decided that I want to go and come back to/from work like that every day. I was considering walking but there is too much dust and the heat is tormenting me little by little 🙂 I usually drink very little water, but since I arrived I am constantly thirsty and my lips are dry 🙂 But it’s not as bad as I expected to be, it just takes a little time to get used with it 🙂

In the end I just want to say I hope you all had a great Easter 🙂 I know I missed my family a lot and the red eggs and my friends 🙂 You are all so deep in my heart and nothing will ever change that :*

I am happy 🙂 and I love the feeling 🙂

Home is where your heart is... My heart is in 2 places now 🙂

PS: I will start taking photos this weekend so keep in touch 🙂





Falling in love :)

6 10 2009

It happened… Just as Aqua was telling me at the beginning of my internship… I felt in love with Ghana! It may be the country… and it’s definitely the experience 🙂

Saturday night I was in a bar, in Kumasi, with William, Sahil and Brian and, for the first time in Ghana, I told myself that I don’t really want to leave this place!  After working for 3 days for 2 events for the Ghanaian Ministry of Finance, I joined Sahil, William and Brian for dinner and clubbing. I believe Kumasi has a lot to offer in this area. The city is amazing, 100 times more beautiful than Accra. Everything is so green. They have public squares and parks. I loved it. I was like… I want to move here! But I am getting away from my subject…

Why falling in love? I remember the first time I felt in love, or more likely infatuated… At the beginning I was hating the guy, in the end he was the only thing I could think about 😛 Ghana is like that. My experience here is like that… I remember my first 2 weeks here… I was feeling like it was the worse choice ever, now I KNOW that it is the best one 😀

I felt so many things being here: excitement when I first arrived, boredom in the first weeks at work, happiness when visiting so many amazing places, hatred when I was robbed, and homesickness almost every week, gratefulness for getting to know some really great people, fear and disgust for my sleazy neighbor that peaks at me behind his curtains, and the list may go on.

I learned so many things here, mostly about myself. In Ghana I learned to appreciate small things like running water. On Wednesday night last week I woke up at 2 am because the sound of running water. My care taker forgot to shut it down. I was so happy. Being 3 days without running water can get on your nerves pretty bad 😛 And when I think about the fact that in my first week here I was upset because the complete lack of hot water in my place… 😛

On Thursday last week I had my first hot bath in a bathtub in more than 3 months 😛 You cannot imagine how much pleasure that simple fact produced 🙂 I spent more than 2 hours in the bathtub 🙂

I can live without these things now… I don’t have a problem with having a cold shower, I learned how to cook and I really enjoy it. I know my father smiles every time a call home to ask for a new dish  🙂 Finding dill in Shoprite feels like a holyday and from time to time I enjoy an expensive coffee in Accra Mall 🙂

I have moments when I smile by myself and I haven’t laugh as much in my entire life as I laugh every time I am with William and Sahil. We all miss Sabine a lot and we are wondering how her reintegration in Germany is. Is she using words as “small small”, “challe”? Does she makes annoying sounds like tzzz, does she try to negotiate in the supermarket? Has she tried to bribe the police in traffic? Most probably not but we all laugh a lot imagining this kind of situations 🙂

If I wouldn’t have chosen Ghana I would have never meet these wonderful people that touched my heart in so many ways! I would have never seen places like Volta Region, Cape Coast, Kumasi, The Monkeys Sanctuary, Nzulezu… I would have missed so much… And honestly the thought makes me sad! Our happiness is in the decisions we make, is in crazy ideas, and is in the courage to go further… Overcoming your fears, going to places where you have never imagined going 🙂

I stopped searching for perfection in my life. I don’t need it anymore. It’s not important. What is important is every tiny moment spent with a smile on my face, surrounded by my friends… The friends in Ghana, the friends and family back home 🙂

After 3 months in Ghana I know what I want to do with the rest of my life 🙂

Me… extremely happy and excited about what will come NEXT 🙂








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