New in Denmark

Danes have a special happiness gene? really!

Genetics could be the key to as why Danes are the happiest people in the world, according to new research from the University of Warwick.

Economists have found the closer a nation is to the genetic makeup of Denmark, the happier that country is!

I have always said that I find Danes to have less mood swings, and generally a more stable mood. (Which some people have commented make Danes seem a bit stale, boring and a bit mundane)

Now it seems my suspicions are correct, researchers say that certain gene mutations influences the reuptake of serotonin, which is believed to be linked to human mood. They say Danes have a special gene mutation that causes them to have less mood fluctuations and therefore are very happy.

The thing is that Danes are not happy…..They are content with their lives. (satisfied with their lives!)

Happiness as we know it is spectacular and vibrant, it makes our heart beat faster, our eyes shine and it gives us lots of energy. It is a fleeting experience, a feeling that takes over the body and it gives is pleasure and joy.

Contentment, on the other hand, is perceived as a bit tepid and colourless and everlasting. It is more prosaic and even if we feel comfortable being content, we certainly don’t reach seventh heaven.

Contentment even has a bad reputation: to be content is seen to be lazy and complacent, it apparently stops people from getting on and improving.

For example when Danes are asked if they like something, they often say, ‘ikke sa darligt.’ – it’s not so bad!

This lack of emotion and coolness works together with Danish contentment – nothing to get excited about – either good or bad.

In the US, I was actively discouraged to be content. I spent my time pushing to want more and better things and was never to be content with what I had.

On the other hand, I remember experiencing great joy and excitement when things went my way. But terrible depressions when they did not.

To me if this Danish gene exists, it is not a happiness gene but more of a mood stabilizer gene. What do you think?….

 

My dad’s poems on Denmark

Soon after I moved to Denmark in 2012, and especially after his recent visit to Denmark, my father Sunil has been so impressed with the natural beauty and pace of life here, that he has been writing poems as a tribute to the world’s happiest country. His poems and other literary work keeps getting published around the world.
So I decided to share some of his poems on this platform too:

 

In the LEGOLAND: An anthem

A tiny brick can make huge difference!

In the Legoland, we wander around

An enchanted landscape of stunning

Castles, moats, canals and cities,

Miniature replicas of iconic places

That come alive in the eyes of a

Thrilled lonely kid chaperoned by a single mother

With a backpack and smart phone, checking mail,

Still on the move, following her hyper ward,

Tired but getting energized slowly by the squeals of the delighted child

Lost in that space of vibrant toys;

There are ghosts, pirates and penguins,

There are lions, giraffes, rides and other things

Made entirely of the Lego-bricks,

Some say there are 59 million plastic bricks

But who cares for figures and statistics here?

Immersed as they are in the joys of watching the different buildings;

The Legoland is the vast stage where creativity rules

Supreme, watched daily by thousands of happy families,

It is a park where you come to see various ethnicities

As one universal family or smiling community, finding pleasure in human ingenuity;

It is a blessed area in Billund, Denmark—the happiest nation

On the earth—where a gruffly granddad and the third generation

Catch up and bond over the moving ships and aero planes, the latter

Breaking into a smile unusual (hush, hush! He is suffering from a terminal disease

that should never be discussed in public) and re-discovers the inner child

In this sprawling wonderland, an ode to inventiveness and out-of-box thinking.

Legoland is a family sanctuary where you come to celebrate

The values of togetherness and re-unions and laughter

So loud and vintage and never heard before in these hard times

Of globalization, recessions, down-sizing and pink-slips!

In the 45-acre land, founded first by Ole Kirk Christiansen,

A master carpenter with immense imagination,

And expanded by his son, a whole new world on

A scale of 1:20 resides for all the visiting children of  6-to-80!

 

 

Billund: An ode to a city

This scented wind

Rising off the fields

Freshly covered with

Tender green planted

There by the young and

Darkly handsome monsoon,

This scented wind reminds me

Of you and Billund;

The summer breeze fragrant

And lightly kissing cheeks

Like a playful mom welcoming

Her after-school kids on an open porch,

The meadows, the trees, the lazy lakes,

The hedges and the birds of this scenic

Danish town with its smiling residents saying Hi

To utter strangers on cool summer afternoons!

Billund is a piece of paradise created by loving hearts

And minds and a global capital of children in a most

Happy nation!

 

 

Snow in Aarhus

The soft

Snowflakes

Falling down

Like cotton balls

From a white sky,

Dispersing quietly,

Like kids returning

From a tiring day in school,

The drifting flakes,

Wandering in the air,

Vagabond-like,

Scattering everywhere,

On the grey courtyards,

Buildings,

Hedges,

And decorating them

With a soothing touch of

Virgin white!

Transmitting a sense of peace

To an international student

Buried in fat books,

Away from home, yet

In home in the

Wonderful Aarhus,

Amid friendly Danes,

With welcoming smiles and warmth

You find in your own.

Aarhus is tiny Denmark and

Denmark is most blessed by Him,

Where Hamlet once roamed as its

Most celebrated resident;

And HC Andersen gave the world a loving/pining mermaid,

And S. Kierkegaard speculated on existentialism.

 

 

Pictures

A piece of yellow

Sun-light

Glinting

Outside the

Apartment-window

Of my son in

Aarhus, Denmark,

And

The earlier glittering snow,

Take me there

Where I cannot

Immediately go;

I feel lifted up,

Transported there,

Instantly,

And play in the snow

With him,

And walk in the soft

Morning light,

Holding his hand,

As I sometimes did,

When he was a kid,

I am with him,

In a foreign land,

Feeling everything,

United by light and snow,

A happy duo, again—

As the movies often show,

Enjoying precious togetherness,

Despite the physical distances,

Between

A remembering father,

And a far-away

Struggling son;

The pictures,

My dearest,

Like words,

Have a unique power—

They take you away,

Make you glide easily,

Across time-space continnum,

And make you see,

Vividly,

Strongly,

Empathically,

What is not out there,

Outside your own,

Limited window!

 

 

In Aarhus via sweet Skype

Through the Skype sweet,

Family talks to a son in

Aarhus, Denmark;

A daily fix,

The distances crumble

In an instant,

We see each other,

Smile and wave,

And exchange tidbits:

Weather,

Prices,

Cuisines,

Rains, fog,

Dormitories,

Bonding rare, among students

From Africa, Asia, China and Europe

The camera rolls and pans,

And captures the everyday

Domestic scenes

Unfolding in a small room,

With vast circulating global dreams;

The images are great and gritty

And realistic,

We see

Feel the love transmitted,

Through the sweet Skype,

The medium that brings the

Separated kin together

And re-unites momentarily—for re-separation;

The images comfort

The exiled,

The way picture postcards do,

As we glance greedily

At snapshots,

Of skyline,

Courtyards,

Cafeteria,

Taken at Copenhagen,

Aarhus,

Or,

Paris,

But they lack intimacy,

Immediacy,

Fulfillment,

Of real-time encounters,

As we,

Still cannot

Visit persons,

Places,

Events,

Physically;

The painful

Yearnings,

Remembrances,

Still

Unresolved and unaddressed.

Prepare for the ultimate LEGO experience in 2016

In 2016, LEGO fans of all ages can experience LEGO like never before at the huge LEGO House in Billund.

How the LEGO House would look after completion in 2016. Pic courtesy: LEGO

Billund, hometown of the LEGO Group, took another step towards becoming the global ‘Capital of Children’, after LEGOLAND and International School of Billund, with another first: the upcoming LEGO House. Three generations of the owner family of the LEGO Group laid the six foundation stones of the LEGO House on 19th August.

 

The six stones – precisely dimensioned to represent six classic LEGO bricks – symbolise the values which are at the heart of all LEGO experiences: Imagination, creativity, fun, learning, caring and quality. Pic courtesy: LEGO

The LEGO House will be a hands-on minds-on experience center where LEGO fans of all ages can come and experiment with LEGO bricks, share stories with LEGO bricks, express their imagination and creativity through LEGO bricks, and not least be challenged as LEGO builders by meeting other builders from all over the world.

Bjarke Ingels, the architect behind the LEGO House said: “For me, the LEGO brick embodies the notion of systematic creativity – that the rigour and rationality of the LEGO brick allows children of all ages infinite possibilities to create their own worlds and to inhabit them through play. We have been inspired by the modularity of the LEGO brick to create the LEGO House. It will appear like a cloud of interlocking LEGO bricks that form spaces for exploration and exhibition for its visitors within. On the outside the pile of bricks form the roof of a new covered square as well as a mountain of interconnected terraces and playgrounds.”

While the interior experiences of the LEGO House are still under development, the building is in itself a tribute to the LEGO brick, as the architectural shapes are based on the LEGO brick.

“For my family and me, the LEGO Group has always been much more than just a company and our products more than just products. I am very passionate about play and how children learn through playing with LEGO bricks. This is essentially the LEGO idea and what the LEGO House is all about. I look forward to seeing the long time dream of having one place where anyone can experience the LEGO idea come true,” says Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen, grandson of the founder and current LEGO Group owner.

Another first for Denmark

The building is expected to open for visitors in 2016. When construction of the LEGO House is completed, a gigantic LEGO brick will sit on top of the 23 meter tall building which will cover an area of 12,000 square meter – including a 2,000 square meter covered area. The LEGO House will feature vast experience areas, a café, a unique LEGO store, the public square as well as several open roof terraces. It is expected that approximately 250,000 people will visit the LEGO House annually.

The LEGO House is definitely going to mark the town of Billund, said Søren Lund, General Manager of the LEGO House: “We hope that the LEGO House will be an attraction in itself and become a gathering point for both local citizens and the many people visiting Billund. Not only because of the fantastic architectural building but also because it will be free to climb the building through stairs and experience the imaginative terraces.”

LEGO fans all around the world would sure have another reason to visit Billund to have the ultimate LEGO experience.

Tee Hee Friday – Danes at work!

I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling completely shattered today, Friday.  Not sure whether it’s the after effects of the kids being back-at-school.  Or more likely the change in temperatures – it was positively wintry this morning as I biked down to the beach for my swim this morning, eek!  Don’t tell my DDH (Dear Danish Husband) but I actually switched on the heating last night…

So here’s a little joke to get the weekend going!

An Italian, a Swede and a Dane were standing in a bar.  Showing off.

The Italian said, “When I put my hands around my wife’s waist, my fingers are able to touch.  And that isn’t because I have large hands.  But because Italian women have such tiny waists!”

The Swede, not to be outdone, said, “When my wife sits on a bar stool, her feet touch the ground.  And that isn’t because we have small barstools in Stockholm.  But because Swedish women have such long legs!”

The Dane was a bit stumped.  He thought for a moment and said, “When I leave for work in the morning, I pat my wife on the behind.  And when I come home, her bottom is still wobbling.  And that’s not because Danish women have big behinds.   But because we Danes have such short working hours!”

Boom, boom!  And hooray for the Danish work-life balance?! :P

Have a fabulous (short working) Friday and a wonderful weekend!

Diane :)

Chick, chick, chick, chick, chicken…lay a little poop (on Bornholm) for me!

We did some island-hopping for our summer holidays this year.  A week in Crete, Greece.  And several days on the Danish island of Bornholm, in the Baltic.  And we managed to do all the things you have to do when on Bornholm.

Eat a (freshly caught) fish (and chips) lunch at one of the harbours.

Lots of swimming followed by lots of local Bornholmsk icecream.

Buy several bags of local toffee and hard-boiled sweets.

Though, if you’ve seen my previous post about liquorice — Lakrids. The Danish Root (of all evil). — you’ll appreciate that wandering onto a street and been confronted with the mother-ship of Danish liquorice, Johan Bulow, fairly stopped me in my tracks!  Blech! :P

But, as usual, I digress!

Just across from the (blech!) liquorice shop, we came across this grid.

And this rather cryptic sign.

“Hønseskidning, onsdage kl. 19, lørdage kl. 13, pris per nummer kr. 10″.  Which literally translates as “Chicken Sh*tt*ng, Wednesdays at 7pm, Saturdays at 1pm. Tickets cost kr. 10″.

Yep, you buy a ticket.  They release three chickens into the ‘arena’.  First poop gives third prize, second poop gives second prize and the final, third poop, gives you first prize…

Sadly, we weren’t in Svaneke on a Wednesday or a Saturday.  Boo!  But it certainly looks like good, clean (okay, maybe not quite so clean…) fun for all the family.  My bff has 6 dwarf chickens…perhaps she should start renting them out for school fêtes and local festivals?

Diane :)