NITIN CHAUDHARY experiences snowfall in Stockholm, where the old and new co-exist in harmony
I would have simply walked inside the closed walls of my hotel room in Stockholm, but I stood staring at the infinity. Far away, a few particles dusted the spotless grey European skies.
The shadow of the buildings provided the perfect backdrop for the queer white particles that speckled the darkness behind. Gradually, the thought seeped in that these particles might be more than just droplets of rain.
And then, I witnessed my first-ever snowfall — white, feather light particles danced in the mild wind in a Brownian motion.
Slowly, the flakes descended on my clothes as a watery kiss. I reached out to gather a few on my palms, but all that was left was a small pool of water where the flakes had fallen.
They say you can never chase snowfall; it bestows itself on you. In India, I have travelled to the mountains in the hope of watch ing a shower of snow, but in vain. The closest I came to it was seeing permafrost near the Kanchendzonga base camp in Sikkim, and on the way to Ladakh.
But, snowfall always eluded me. And in Stockholm now, I saw it when I least expected to — it was the start of the summer season and it had not snowed the whole winter.
This was a cherished gift and I was witnessing it with the delight of a child.
This has been quite an unusual European season. The winters were comparatively warmer and snow-less.
“Global warming!” we exclaimed. Just when summer knocked, came the sparkling white snow. “Global warming!” we exclaimed again.
Carpet of snow
Now, outside my hotel, I watched the white blanket embracing everything — the cars, the kiosks and the roads.
I stepped outside, careful not to slip in the sludge that was slowly forming. I decided to take a walk to the centre of the city and to the Old City, Gamla Stan.
The centre, like every other part of the city, was coated in white. Grabbing a cup of coffee, I walked towards the Old City. The snowfall had stopped, but its beauty lingered.
Under the grey sky, I passed the splendid King’s Palace, a piece of quintessential Swedish architecture, even though its huge size offsets the fairly consistent low-rise architecture spread over the rest of the city.
An acquaintance once told me that to build a house in Sweden, you follow a set of parameters — colour, angle of the roof, distance from the other houses, and so forth, all with the good intention of retaining the distinct image of a town.
A brisk walk later through the Old City and its numerous souvenir shops, I headed to the other part of the city. Stockholm is justifiably proud of its majestic possession — the Vasa museum.
Vasa was a ship that got drowned in 1628, alongwith with its 64 cannons, only 300 meters from Stockholm city.
One of the biggest ships of that time, made to showcase the might of the Vikings, fell with just a gust of the wind.
The faulty design of the ship was less the chief engineer’s fault and more the King’s, who ordered them to build an additional storey to accommodate more cannons.
The drowned ship sat on the ocean floor, forgotten for years before it was discovered again, albeit unintentionally.
It was raised and then put on display. Stockholm, surrounded by water, stands at the edge of the old and the new. It is one of those places where nature and society have, over the years, learnt to live in harmony.