Danish Diaries – Boarding Sun and Fun!
Being in Denmark is a revelation at many levels. Never had I imagined that I would enjoy and respect the aspect of family, friends and simply being together in general. I am lucky that I came during the spring semester when the weather is actually getting better. The extended sunshine or rather the daylight hours seems incredible in more ways than one. It feels like 5 pm when it is actually 9 pm and if you are up at 4.30 am, then the sky is lit up with the dawn. This much light was too much for me in the beginning, and that made me wonder if that is the reason behind the concept of daylight saving.
We have to imagine the flip side of this – where you don’t get as much daylight. It was physically challenging and borderline depressing when I came to Denmark in January. The sun would rise but you would incredibly lucky if you saw the sunshine. Daylight would be from around 10-11 am till 3-4 pm. The jet lag did not help as I used to wake up at 2.30 or 3 in the morning because my alarm in my body was tuned to the Indian Standard Time. Those cold, wintery days forced me to learn and adapt to the weather. I pushed myself to walk and cycle a lot – it was rather a good excuse to explore the city. Not really knowing a lot of people, I skyped and tortured many people back home. The big question remains – why am I telling you all this?
Who does not know Ludo
That experience was the explanation to a lot of activities that the Danes do in their everyday life. If you ask a random person who has travelled to Europe to describe the Danish people, very often the answer is reserved, private or even cold (The general temperature due to the geography does keep them frosty but so will you when you live here). If you ask a business person, they would probably say that they jump right to the job at hand and also enjoy a paid 45-60 days leave once a year (it’s mandatory by the way!). Mingling with them on a daily basis means questioning these notions and understanding why they do what they do. It seems almost silly to term them cold because they are warm, friendly and accepting.
The monopoly variant – The mayor of Aarhus
The point of geography or topography affecting one’s way of living is a daily reality. In simple words, Denmark is in the North Temperate Zone and has an average temperature of 7.7˚C. February tends to be the coldest month, with average temperatures of 0.0˚C, whereas August tends to be the hottest month with average temperatures of 15.7˚C. That is practically like endless winter for us! The weather forces them to be indoors a lot. If you need to survive, you need warmth. For someone like me, probably all the heat in Aarhus, if possible. Staying in the house when it is dark and cold outside meant that they had to figure out how to entertain themselves in various ways.
The old and the new
Yes, there is alcohol involved in keeping warm and fuzzy, but the fascinating thing that I stumbled upon was board and card games. Almost anywhere you go to socialise or meet; there is a very high chance that you will find board games in this country. At home, in dorms, in rented spaces, in bars, even on a road trip. They come in all sizes and shapes – those that can be tucked in your pocket and those that need the whole dining table to be set up. They can be played with as less as two players to a big game to 12 to 15 players. Strategy, politics, knowledge, quickness or just pure fun – there is a pick for everyone. Being a beginner in many games was a trying thing, especially with a lot of Danish flying around but soon I came to love the idea of having a blast without any smart devices. It may seem old school to us, but it is worth playing together.
Chinese checkers from China in Denmark
Some of the board games
I am still trying to grapple rules of the different games which my friends are highly adept. The game ‘The Resistance: Avalon’ tested my wits against some seasoned veterans. The game based on the legend of the round table of King Arthur has each player as a character. You may be on the side of King Arthur or Evil Mordred. It is a splendid game of trying to find out the other characters while completing missions on the board. The loyalties and accusations can come flying! Another game that I enjoyed playing was Catan. Moveout Farmville and Clash of Clans! You build roads, houses and cities with natural resources you gain with each throw of the dice. Just a small catch, there is a thief who can steal those resources from you. While protecting your resources and building them, you are also trying to ensure others don’t get as much!
The exciting game of Catan!
Not to worry, familiar names like Scrabble, UNO, Chinese Checkers, Monopoly and its variants, Ludo are also part of this universe. It may be a game that I have played a thousand times or something that I am learning today, the lesson that I wish to take away with me is that nothing beats getting together and having fun face to face. I have played carrom with my mother occasionally (given that she is better than me) and did play chennemane (a traditional Indian game using a wooden board with pits and red seeds called chennekai) with my grandmother, not realising the bonding that I had then. From now, it is going to be a conscious decision. So, from Denmark, find that board game in that attic cupboard and create unforgettable memories! Vi ses naeste gang!
About The Author:
Athmika Ramachandra is currently continuing her post-graduation studies at Aarhus University, Denmark under student exchange programme of Manipal University Media and Communication Department. Athmika is Gold Medallist in BA from Mangalore University, enjoys photography, listening to music, reading novels and trying out new food. A bitten travel bug Athmika cherishes writing and poetry and she is the granddaughter of Late Padyana Gopalakishna (Pa.Go), Veteran Journalist & Kannada Columnist of yesteryears from Mangalore.