Monday, January 30, 2012

Shantaram (Book Review)

I finally got around to read this book: Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts, a book which has been in my possession over a year.  It is part of my TBR (To Be Read) mountain, and a natural part of my Reading Challenge
I started reading it on the plane to Mumbai a little more than a year ago, and it was very strange indeed to leave the plane and experience exactly what the author describes on that first page. The humid air, the people, the languages, the special something in the air.  And, only hours later, I found myself on the back of a 2-wheeler, speeding trough crazy traffic, exactly like the main character had been doing.
Luckily, there are not more similarities, except for me recognizing the country, the way people talk,  their gestures, the cooking, the chai drinking etc. I can smell India while reading.
The story is largely auto-biographical. How much of it that is fiction, well, that's hard to tell, and it doesn't really matter to me.
If you haven't read this 2003 novel yet, here are just a few words to help you decide: 930 pages. Yes, it's a huge novel, and everything is not excellent, but it is an amazing story, in which you get to know a world and a way of thinking that may be foreign to many of us. The main character has escaped from prison in Australia, arrives in Mumbai (then Bombay) with a false passport and is known as Lin. He meets Prabaker, an indian cab driver which becomes a close friend.  He goes to Prabaker's home village for 6 months, learns the language Marathi, and later moves into the same slum as his friend.  He lives in the slum for  months, helping out and making many friends.  
Then he gets to be part of the mafia, act as an extra in several Bollywood movies, goes to war, is imprisoned again, and the story goes on and on. Here and there, there are wonderful sentences like this one: 
"Don't worry...It's a great adventure, your life, and it has only just begun..."

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


wrote this post about maybe going to Paris this vinter.  Well, now it's settled - almost.  My husband has a grant paying for him doing research at the Louvre museum, we have found schools who happily accept our children for 6 weeks, and now, we'll just have to find a place to stay.
The schools are at the foot of the Montmartre hill, with the beautiful Sacre-Coeur church. (On the photo: My daughter and I in front of the Sacre-Coeur a couple of years ago.)

I'm now working on finding an apartment for us not too far from the schools, and I really hope it will work out, as living close by Montmartre would be just perfect. The area has cozy streets, winding their way up and down the hill, interesting shops, galleries and lots and lots of cafés and restaurants. 

We'll have to learn all about "compact living", as we won't be able to have more than 2 bedrooms between the 6 of us. :-)

If everything works out nicely, I'll study, write and take pictures, and now I'm more and more eager for this to happen.

Paris was my first real home, after leaving my parents, and after living there for more than 5 years, and visiting many, many times, there is a rather big piece of my heart hidden within this beautiful city's streets, gardens and sights. I feel at home there, and I feel free.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Picture of the day: Norway Winter Wonderland

Picture taken with my mobile phone on a cross-country skiing trip a couple of weeks ago. 
Snow-covered silence and crisp, cold air. 
I suddenly realize that this is exotic. That this view, this experience, so common to us Northern people,  is extremely special and rare to most people in the world.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

En Glad Gutt, by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson (Book Review)

"En glad gutt" ("A Happy Boy") was the second book I finished on my "mountain climbing trip" (Reading Challenge) this year.  It was  actually part of a local reading challenge, one where everybody in my town got this book for free, and the idea was that as many as possible read the book in 2011, our town's 150th anniversary.  Well, I got it in 2011, but read it only now.
This novel is one of the key works of Norwegian literature, and the author: Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, is one of our most cherished writers. (He wrote the lyrics to our National Anthem "Ja vi elsker".)  The book was first published in 1860, and it's both a historic drama and a universal story about love, hate, disappointment and happiness. Øyvind, the main character is a young boy who despite being very bright and good in school, has to fight to get acceptance, because of his humble background. When he falls in love with the girl on the largest and most important farm, well, there is trouble in sight...

En glad gutt var den andre boka jeg ble ferdig med på "fjellklatringen" min (lese-utfordringen, se her) i år. Boka var en del av Gjøviks Bys 150årsjubileum, og den ble delt ut gratis til alle, i håp om at flest mulig i byen leste denne boka i 2011.  Vel, jeg leste den ikke før nå.
Romanen er en av de sentrale bondefortellingene i norsk litteratur, skrevet av Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson, vår store nasjonalromantiske dikter.  Den ble først utgitt i 1860, og det er både et historisk drama og en allmenngyldig historie om kjærlighet, hat, skuffelse og glede. Øyvind, hovedpersonen, er en ung gutt som til tross for at han er svært flink på skolen, må sloss for anerkjennelse lokalt, fordi han bare er en husmannsgutt. Når han blir glad i jenta på den største gården i bygda blir det problemer...

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve

This was the first book I finished this year, and it's part of my take on the  Mount TBR Reading Challenge.
I love this author, and I've already read a couple of other books by the American Anita Shreve.  This one, A Change in Altitude, published in 2009, I'm not sure of what I think about it.  A good read, yes, definitively, but is it a really good novel?  There are lots of loose ends, there are many characters which I neve got to know very well, and the main character, what is really happening to her?  
Anyway, the story sticks with me after finishing the book, and there are several intriguing points.
The story is this: A young, newlywed American couple, Margaret and Patrick, sets off for an adventurous stay in Kenya.  A few months into their stay, they are invited to join on a climb of Mount Kenya, Africa's second tallest mountain.  They are not at all trained or fit for this, but they do it anyway. Something awful will happen on the mountain, and the main plot is about what's going on in Margaret's mind afterwards. The language is very good, and you really get to know Nairobi and the culture.  I visited there 16 years ago, and lots of things came back to me while reading this book.
Anyway, a book about a  climbing trip was  a good way to start this literary mountain climbing,

Monday, January 16, 2012

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Picture of the day: The Smile

This is definitively the picture that goes straight to my heart: My youngest, happily smiling with gingerbread crumbs all over his face. Childhood, happiness, love. ♥

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Christmas Snapshots: Dinner Party

On the 2nd Day of Christmas... we had a dinner party, with family and friends.  First: Gløgg (spicy, hot drink) and starters: Rolls of lefse with salmon, ham or cheese.  Then: Roast lamb with garlic and rosmary. Side dishes: ratatouille and rice.  To finish, we had the traditional platter of christmas cookies and goodies, accompagned with coffee and tea. In between the eating, there was playing, talking and music. Hanging out together,  just like Christmas is supposed to be! :-)

Talking and drawing

Playing and talking

 Demonstrating toys



 and having fun


Friday, January 13, 2012

Christmas Snapshots: Christmas Morning

Early Christmas Day.  Gifts under the tree, coffee cups on the table, sleepy faces with smiles. It's still dark out there, but the sun is rising as we're opening gifts and watching the cat going crazy over  wrapping paper and ribbons.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Living in Paris this winter/spring

Well, yes.  It seems like I'm taking off for a while, to Paris...
Nothing is certain yet, but I might be living in my beloved city for 1-2 months. Right now I'm looking for an appartment and trying to make arrangments for the children.  We'll see how it goes! :-)

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Kolya - the movie

Soviet occupied Czechoslovakia. Louka, a cello player who is kicked out of the symphony orchestra because of anti-communism ideas, and now he earns his life by playing the cello at funerals and painting tombstones, while constantly chasing after the ladies. 
Living alone in a bohemian kind of loft, with an amazing view of rooftops and church spears, he would never think about marriage and family. 
Kolya, little Russian boy, shows up one day, and he is going to completely change Louka's life and  personality...
A beautiful and funny, yet serious, little movie, which I just discovered.  It's written by Pavel Taussig and Zdenek Sverák, directed by Jan Sverák, and the lead roles are played by Zdenek Sverák and Andrei Chalimon. I can highly recommend it!
Kolya was made in 1996. See here for more information. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

I've started climbing.

So, I've started climbing.  Se here for more information on my book mountain climbing trip. I've finished A Change in Altitude, and I'm now reading Shantaram.  I've also chosen to make some changes in my climbing itinerary: These two:  Metronome by Lorànt Deutsch and Une Vie de Pintade à Paris by Layla Demay and Laure Watrin are now part of my trip. I've wanted to read these for a while, since they might be useful for my work as a guide/educator in Paris. They really belong on this mountain.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Reading Challenge

While visting the excellent blog xo.sorcha.ox, I found a great reading challenge.  It's hosted by Bev at My Reader's Block, called the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2012, and it's basically about getting to read books in your "To be read"- pile.  (mountain...) All the books you choose to read during the challenge have to be in your possession as of January 1st 2012, and no library books can be counted in.
This challenge is probably what I need to actually read many of those great books I have lying around my house, some on bookshelves, others piled on my nightstand or floor. Some of them I have started reading, but for whatever reason wasn't able to continue past the beginning.  Most of these books are completely unread.
There are several levels on this challenge, from the lowest of 12 books (Pike's Pike) to the highest of 100 books (Mount Everest.)
I'll go for Mount Vancouver, and I've listed the 25 books I plan on reading this year. Most of them are writtten in English, 6 in Norwegian and 3 in French. They are mostly novels, but also several non--fiction, among them some biographies and a collection of lettres.
Fun fact: The first novel on my list is about a couple climbing a mountain. What a great way to start this Mount TBR Reading Challenge.
Well, I need to start climbing!

My Reading List:

  1. Anita Shreve: A Change in Altitude
  2. Gregory David Roberts: Shantaram
  3. Peter Hain and Desmond Tutu: Mandela
  4. Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson: En Glad Gutt
  5. Rainer Maria Rilke: Letters to a young poet
  6. F. Scott Fitzgerald: Tender is the night
  7. Nicholas Sparks: Safe Heaven
  8. Anita Shreve: Fortune's Rocks
  9. Lorànt Deutsch: Metronome
  10. Fyodor Dostoyevsky: Brødrene Karamazov
  11. Dan Brown: The Lost Symbol
  12. Mark Lévy: Les Enfants de la liberté
  13. Knut Hamsun: Victoria
  14. Ketil Bjørnstad: Liv Ullmann - Livslinjer
  15. Sophie Kinsella: Mini Shopaholic
  16. Karine Reysset: Les yeux au ciel
  17. Stephenie Meyer: The Host
  18. S. Mitra Kalita: My Two Indias
  19. Marc Lévy: Mes Amis Mes Amours
  20. Solveig Tufte Johansen: Bare Natten har verdensrom
  21. Nicholas Sparks: A Walk to Remember
  22. Anita Diamant: Good Harbor
  23. Jean-Paul Kauffmann: La Lutte avec l'Ange
  24. Bergliot Hobæk Haff: Den Evige Jøde
  25. Layla Demay and Laure Watrin: Une vie de Pintade à Paris

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas Snapshots: Gingerbread!

About a week before Christmas, we made the traditional gingerbread cookies.  (The dough was made a couple of days earlier.) Delicious Christmasy smell in our house that day!

 Omtrent en uke før jul, laget vi de tradisjonelle pepperkakene. (Deigen ble laget et par dager før.) Julelukt i hele huset den dagen!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

And Winter was back!

New Year's Day 2012. Just a few hours of daylight at this time of the year, and I decided to go for a short walk, in the hope that some air and light would make me feel good. Prolonged sickness and then the Holidays with lots of catering to guests, cooking for many, cleaning up, laundry, all this has taken it's toll, and I woke up this morning feeling like... - well, after all maybe not any worse than all those who partied all night?  
Anyway, I went for a little walk. After days of icy roads and practically no snow, there has been another snowfall, (to my son's great joy!) and my walk was actually hard work, as I was constantly sinking down and having to pull my feet up for each step.  
Coming back inside the house, I was exthausted, and since, it has been all about lying on the coach, reading, drinking tea, listening to music, falling asleep while watching winter sports on TV, waking up again,  talking to my kids and now anticipating dinner (which I'm not cooking!) 
Happy New Year! :-)