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Photo taken at Plitvice National Park, Croatia by Vibhor Dhote Oh! What are these days I have found myself in! The bagpacks I carry n...

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Week 1 At Aarhus – A few mistakes and chasing “Goons” away

I have always been a loner; I have embraced living alone, visiting places on my own, eating to my heart’s content alone. However, when I reached my flat at Aarhus I didn’t feel as liberated as I usually do- mostly because I don’t enjoy cooking. There was no food in the house; I missed the coffee Harsh made for all of us in his apartment at Copenhagen, I missed Vinay’s home-made Theplas. That night I don’t remember doing anything else than just sleeping with my jeans on – something I couldn’t imagine doing back in India.

Aarhus is a lovely place. It doesn’t have a lot of people and there are only a few places where you’d find crowd in the late evenings. The three major buildings that help you with your directions if you don’t have GPS are – AroS museum, DOKK1 building and another building called Garrison F. I am not a fan of using GPS and hence, I enjoyed getting lost and finding my way back to my house using some buildings and streets as landmarks.

I remember my journey from Copenhagen to Aarhus was not that easy. I had confirmed from the app RailPlanner that a train was there at 8:55am. I checked the time and platform again on the display screens at Copenhagen Central Station. To be double sure, I asked the train information centre who confirmed that the platform was 7 and the time was 8:55am. And before boarding the train I also asked a security person there who confirmed that this was the train leaving to Aarhus. When I was aboard I had to stand for half an hour to let others sit since they had reservation and also since it was not a Mumbai local train where you could scold others to get your way out. People waited here patiently to let others settle in their seats.

The train went to the exact stations mentioned on the app. But when I got ready to get down with all my bags I see that the station was different. I recall there was a Danish announcement and 90% people got down at Vejle; I couldn’t find out if it was something I needed to know. After waiting for three more stations to pass I realized next station was Brande, 95kms away from Aarhus. I got down from the train to an empty station; Brande is a small railway town with a population of 7000 and only two buildings from where I could see.

I missed the next train to Aarhus from Brande which was just 12mins away only because I was on the wrong platform this time. There were only two platforms and I didn’t check the display screen this time. I just assumed that the platform I got down on wouldn’t be the one for a train going in the opposite direction – wrong. The next train arrived on the same platform and I missed it.

It’s been a year staying in Gurgaon and all I know is to not talk to strangers, not disclosing too much information. So, when I was finally about to reach Aarhus from Herning (I took a train from Brande to Herning) I remember being scared when an old man in tattered clothes and a colourful necklace made of beads, kept staring at my luggage. He finally said, “It’s too heavy, isn’t it? Where are you traveling to?”

I said I am going to study in Aarhus BSS, so I am here to stay for a year, and my friends would be here to help me with the luggage – I lied. He then spoke to another man in the train in Danish and they both started laughing. He kept reading my name tags on my bags without looking away for a second; I was uncomfortable. When we reached the station, the other Danish guy just went in front of me while the old man was behind me. Without asking, the guy in front of me just pulls my luggage and then I leave no second in between to say,”No. That’s okay. I brought it all the way here anyway.”
He then says pointing at the old man, “Yeah, I told him the same, you need to take it to your house yourself anyway.”

I am pretty sure he was trying to help but the old man did give me the jitters- the fearful paranoid woman that I am. When I had to go from the station to my apartment in Aarhus, I made sure he didn’t see me alone. Before I left I caught a glimpse of him walking leisurely in the station, observing people, observing things.