After our trip to the fjords, we travelled to Volda on the west coast of Norway. Mountains, seas and pretty villas form a dramatic backdrop to this little town. Volda University College (VUC) here is popular for higher education.
I was going there the second time. Here’s an extract from my travelogue in 2009: They say parting is a sweet sorrow, and now I get the meaning of it completely. Everyday at Volda was a wonderful experience worth remembering a lifetime. I will miss people here for their kindness, friendship and hospitality. I hope to return to this beautiful place and country sometime in the future!
Yay! And, my dream did come true. (Yeah, do believe in the beauty of your dreams.) It was more of a social visit this time in Volda. My first visit rewarded me with genial friends, who also made it to my wedding in India. The same friends invited us couple over to their place for a stay. Hmm…it’s hard to describe in words the fondness I have for this place and people. Anyway, let me try. Volda is like a fairyland – it’s so far away, yet so close to my heart that it can light up my spirits anytime! Its kindhearted and friendly people and scenic beauty conjure up images of a divine land.
Our friend T picked us from the bus station and drove us to his home in Volda. Well, it was a great feeling to be going there the second time and that too with P! T’s chirpy wife A greeted us with so much warmth. She had taken a couple of days off from her work. It was a lovely big home and the surroundings were awe-inspiring. We were escorted to a neatly made room, which was going to be ours the next three days. Here’s a recollection of our memorable stay there.
Day 1 – A filling continental breakfast was waiting for us after we refreshed ourselves. We had a long chat with A & T and then we headed to VUC where we got to meet another friend J Y who had also made it to our wedding with his three children. Later that evening, we offered to cook some rice and sambar for dinner.
A, T & their son Ø enjoyed it, although it was a bit spicy for them. Any guesses as to where we had our dessert? At their summer house (hytte in Norwegian), which was at a distance from their regular home! They had built it themselves and we were in awe of their hard work. Yummy eggless cheesecake made by A specially for us adorned the table along with some redcurrants fresh from their garden, soya milk and orange juice. We simply binged on all of it. Later, P & I got an opportunity to meet their first daughter S. Mia, their cat, did say a meow to us. It was tough catching hold of her though.
Day 2 – After a sumptuous breakfast, we had been to a late friend E’s place where we met his wife and son. E had shown me around in Volda, Ørsta and Ålesund the last time. He’d taken me to his home too where both he and his wife let me pick up apples from their orchard. (I’d felt like a child.) Namaste was his way of greeting me. E was extremely passionate about India. He’d lived in India for many years and it was like his second home country. He knew about the country much more than native Indians themselves do! So many artefacts from India beautified their home. As fate willed it, my dear senior friend died of an ailment a year before our visit. I’d mourned for him and I’d realized how friendship transcends age and nationality. We then went to A’s mother’s home (a beautiful one again!) where we picnicked before heading to a historical Ålesund, about which I shall write later.
Day 3 – J & S who were the owner-couple of my abode during my last visit came visiting us at our hosts’ home. They were a family of four then, now five. It was such a joy to see the children (all of whom were under five years of age) rambling and prancing. Ah, children make great entertainers especially when they’re in high spirits! We also went walking down the town with them and we happened to visit their home (a new one) later. Btw, in the morning, P and I were invited to VUC to interact with a group of students who were going to India a couple of months later on a study trip. The students had few questions regarding travel within India as also regarding Indian culture. We went around the campus visiting the library, media labs and the international office, and pleasant memories flashed to me from the last visit. C from the international office welcomed us in her usual sprightly ways. We met a couple of faculty members over coffee and a couple of others in their offices. We also managed to say a hello to SL, Dean of the department.
Back home that night, we cooked pongal and raitha for all of us. (We’d purchased the requisite ingredients from an Asian shop the previous day.) There was some yummy dessert waiting for us: fresh strawberries and redcurrant juice. J Y too joined us. After a lively get-together over dinner, it was time for us to leave. They dropped us to the bus station. J Y’s son too arrived at the bus station to greet us. Wow, what great hospitality was shown towards us both by all our friends there and we were touched to the core. The bonding and bonhomie among us were exceptional. My trip to the fairyland came to an end with a lot of sweet memories to cherish. We’re now waiting to meet our Norwegian friends again and host them in our country.
PS: This post is dedicated to my friends in Volda and I decided to publish it today as it happens to be International Friendship Day! 🙂