Saturday, November 29, 2008

A trip to Stockholm, India’s 9/11 and another death in the family.

The Christmas market in Gamla Stan where I bought some Cloudberry jam for my Father (later confiscated at the airport:-()
Hello again

This week was supposed to be fun.

It started off with lunch with Roberto at La Txitxarreria on Monday where we gossiped about our days at Nokia and caught up with each other’s lives.

On Wednesday 27th November Eladio and I set off for Stockholm to attend the annual communications conference which was to be all day Thursday and Friday morning. Eladio meanwhile would be preparing his Uned (Open Universty) tutorials or exploring the town and we would have some free time together before returning on Saturday afternoon.

We had both been to Stockholm before so there was no rush to see the tourist sights. As we arrived it was snowing which was great and it was not too cold, just above zero.
Snow on arrival at Arlanda airport.
We were staying at a conference hotel called the Quality Globe Hotel outside town. It is part of the Globen City complex, the “Globe” being Stockholm’s biggest building for sports and other events. While we were there it was hosting the International Horse Show. The building is quite unique and is actually the biggest round building in the world.
The famous Globe
As soon as we had unpacked we took a taxi and hit the town to explore the lovely streets of Gamla Stam that we already knew.
Here we walked up and down the old streets and into the squares and eventually found a little place for dinner.

We actually had a lot of bad luck with restaurants throughout our stay as most of them were always fully booked or the service was extremely slow. In fact on our last night, after 5 attempts at finding a free table at a restaurant we eventually got one at F12 where I had been with journalists on a trip with Nokia a few years ago for some music phone. Mónica and Anne will certainly remember. Here we asked for the “tasting menu” but only when we were on miniature course 4 did we find out that the whole procedure was going to last 3.5 hours! We kept complaining about the slowness until, too tired to fight any more, and halfway through the dinner, we asked for the bill. The management reacted amazingly and had us feeling a bit bad as they refused to charge us. It was quite an experience.

The joy of our stay in Stockholm was soon cut short when we learned about the Mumbai massacre which unfolded in front of our eyes as we turned on CNN on Wednesday night. The massacre is still going on. In what is turning out to be India’s 9/11, it seems two dozen gunmen, possibly linked to Pakistan, have attacked and brought to a standstill, India’s financial capital, a city of 18 million inhabitants and also home to the famous Bollywood. They have attacked some 9 locations including two 5 star hotels, a famous tourist café and a Jewish centre. As I am writing 155 are reported dead and over 327 injured. The Taj Mahal Hotel, one of India’s most famous and a landmark in Bombay is at the heart of the attacks. These attacks are shocking the world as is their intention. Terrorism continues and becomes more sophisticated and difficult to beat.
The Taj Mahal at the heart of the attack
We are going to India in December for our 25th anniversary and now we are a little scared. Scared is what I imagine the whole world is right now. How and when is it going to end?

The conference on Thursday began really well. In fact it was one of the best corporate conferences I have every attended. Maybe it’s because the Swede’s are good at organising.

However at lunch time, as I tell in my next post, I got a call from Sasha to say my poor Aunty Masha had been taken into hospital with acute anaemia and was not expected to live. I agreed with him we would visit her on Sunday after our return. The news was not good.

I carried on as best I could and continued with the conference. In the evening there was a dinner which I was hoping to skip but when I saw I was sitting on the table of the Global Head of Communications I decided otherwise. She turned out to be lovely and the evening was great, as was the show.

The next day, however, I got the phone call from Sasha to say dear Aunty Masha had already died. I felt so sad and so far away. I tried to contact my Father, I contacted my second cousin Masha in Paris and of course, my first cousin, Zuka. And, as usual in these circumstances, I rang Amanda, my best friend in England who I knew would want to know as Aunty Masha was part of her childhood also. But that story is in my next post.

I could no longer concentrate on the conference and just made a quick appearance at the end to say goodbye and give my excuses.

Then there was the rest of the day to get through. So we spent the afternoon in down town Stockholm trying to enjoy ourselves, buying Scandinavian Christmas objects, but Aunty Masha was forever in my mind.

So this morning we went straight to the airport from the hotel and waited there for this flight, the flight I am writing this post on, the flight that would take us home to Madrid.

It just seems that life is bringing a spate of bad luck recently. I do so hope it will end soon. Tomorrow we will leave home early in the morning to go to Altea for the funeral at 3 pm and so say our good byes to my Aunt.

Goodbye Stockholm, I wish it had been better. I just wish there had been no Mumbai massacre and that there had been no fatal call from Sasha.

I wish, I wish.

PS here is the full set of photos of our trip to Stockholm posted on Facebook

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