Friday, 5 October 2012

All within a weekend

The weekend I want to tell you about had many lovely ingredients:  we made this trip to Bremen mainly because  our annual Asamiya-get-together was scheduled to be held in Worpswede, the picturesque artists' village just outside Bremen. The idea sounded exciting, but I had no idea that it would turn out to be such an extraordinary outing in the end.

First the gathering -- small but intimate, supplemented with laroos, rasagollas, kalakan, Bihu nas, gamosas, mekhela-sadors, sarai, home-made wine and an incredibly cute baby -- was really lovely. It was great to meet Kumaarda again -- he is almost family for me, and knows me so well that I don't need to pretend in front of him -- that can be very liberating. Srimanta and Fernanda had joined our group for the first time and they are just very nice people. It took us no time to make friends. It is people like Srimanta and Mahantada who make me feel proud of being Assamese -- they have what it takes to live anywhere they might wish to in the world, yet they are so rooted, so Assamese, so much in sync with this world here as well as our world back home. Made me feel less lonely somehow, even though I am so far away from home.

We had book-readings, presentations and discussions besides the photo-sessions, eating, singing and dancing. Of course we also went sightseeing in Worpswede. And if bringing along the cute little Isabel Nandini for all of us to play with was not enough, Srimanta has worked wonders in the few days we have had since our get-together -- he has set up a facegroup page for us [ ] which has already brought us in contact with a few more Assamese living in Europe.  This infusion of new members can only do our group good and we invite any Asamiya living in mainland Europe and reading this to join us. And if anyone knows of a nice place where we could meet next year, please do let us know.

The Kaese Glocke in Worpswede 
Next the location: I had been to Worpswede before, but had not seen many of  its incredible pretty tucked away corners. I discovered a few new ones this time, and they really took my breath away. For instance, the quaintly round 'Kaese Glocke' (literally, 'Cheese Bell') made my fantasy run wild and I imagined dwarfs, goblins and gnomes running up and down the tiny steps of the house and  meeting in the weirdly laid out garden and having a party there some midsummer evening, when all the tourists had left and the surrounding woods had gone dark and quiet. 

I came away telling myself that anyone who knew how to hold a paint-brush in her hands (which I don't) will turn into an artist if she lives for a while in Worpswede -- it is that beautiful. And as is usual in such moments, my thoughts flew back automatically to Neelpawan Baruah's home in Basistha -- how would Neelda have reacted to this kind of beauty, this peace, this serenity -- how would the artist in him have responded to what he saw around him -- and I began to dream and making plans of how to someday get him to come to Germany to spend at least a couple of weeks in Worpswede, with no other care in the world but the freedom to paint if he wished.  

But that was not all... after getting back to Bremen on Sunday,  we went to see the Uebersee Museum (literally, 'Overseas Museum') and can you guess what was one of the first things I found there? An imposing and full-size Durga gosani made of incredibly finely crafted kuhila in radiant white -- the whole ensemble was so overwhelming that if it wasn't for all the museum wards watching my steps, I would have knelt and paid my respects to the fiery goddess rightaway. For a moment there was communion between us and I was happy that I would be home in time for Durga pooja this time -- there is something that I find incredibly powerful and yet so feminine in the idea of the Goddess going on her annual trip  to visit her parents during the pooja days. 

If you haven't been to the Uebersee museum and ever have a chance to go in Bremen, do go to the museum -- there is something in it for everyone -- culture, religion, oriental houses, masks, finery, musical instruments, puppets,...natural history, climate change, history of Bremen as a port city,... That was the nice thing about that museum -- it was not loads of just one thing like in most other museums (loads of paintings, loads of scultptures, etc. etc). There there was just right amounts of things, not too much to make you sick, not too little either, just enough so that you got an idea. I loved every minute I spent there. 

With that I thought I had had more than my share of nice things for one weekend, but there was more to come -- for on our way back on Monday, we stopped, rather randomly, at the ancient city of Goslar. And that was the final icing on the cake for me -- for if I had already let my imagination go wild at the Kaese Glocke, I stood transfixed at the sight of so many straw and cloth witch-dolls on brooms in almost every shop in Goslar. We had one of them hanging in our car for years now, but did not know where it had come from till that moment -- maybe it was the witch-lady in our car who had mysteriously led us to Goslar, so that she could visit her relatives there! I could have stood at that spot all day working on my fantasies but we had to move on as we had only a couple of hours to do the city.  I could not take my eyes off the quaint alleys and passages with incredibly pretty painted houses, the passages so narrow that the upper storeys of the houses almost met somewhere on top as they got bigger and bigger. 

And then, towards the end of our walk,  we came past a rather narrow and dark arched entrance. The old wooden door was open. The huge wooden cross on the left of the open but dark hallway beyond attracted me and I went in, into what seemed like a wooden stable house of a large mansion. On the right, were two rows of tiny rooms, all wooden but painted black, neatly stacked one of top of the other -- and there were shops in each of the lower rooms --  jewellery in one, hats and bags in the other, knitted jumpers and scarves in the third, dolls in the fourth, embroidered bed-linen in another, and so on... every item incredibly pretty, every item hand made, in fact mostly self-made by the ladies who were manning the shops.

And as I stood there, dazed, I saw other people going in, buying things, talking to the ladies, complimenting them -- all this was really happening in front of my eyes... it was hard for me to believe what I was seeing. But it was true -- I could see that their craft was alive and thriving there as was the craft of the artists in Worpswede. They had shops and exhibitions, they had customers and patrons, they could sell, they would survive -- unlike Neelda. 

A charmed weekend, from the first moment to the last, and increasing in its magical intensity over time, had just been gifted to me. It was totally out of the world and I felt very lucky to have been given the chance to live it...this world is just so incredibly beautiful, isn't it?


  1. Nice to know that the Assamese diaspora is going so strong and vibrant and happy in Germany.Best wishes to all of you out there who carry with you a slice of Assam so far away.

    1. You have brought that weekend alive once again. Yes, the time we had in Worpswede was truly wonderful - both the place and all of us meeting again. You also bring to life the museum in Bremen and the town of Goslar. Makes me want to go there asap.