In the Hardanger region of Western Norway – made up of the Hardangerfjord branching off into other fjords, gushing waterfalls, beautiful bridges leading to a chain of hills, and therefore a profusion of tunnels drilled into these tall green beacons of beauty – is the small village of Norheimsund. During Nazi occupation of Norway, during WWII, the village was the location of a training camp for the Germans and there would have been fortifications along the bay once upon a time. But now it has a clutch of houses built the local way with wooden panels and slate roofs, painted in cheery colours, small windows looking out from their facades.
Old cottages belonging to fishermen still stand in isolation at places close to the fjord, there are a few stores in the village and a beautiful harbour that makes you want to sit on the pier for a long, long time. Chuck in a few cafes, a church and a school too and there you have the core of the quiet village which was our residence for four days.
Now I have a confession to make. We started on a hike in the countryside around and above the village and *whispers* then we abandoned it after a fair bit of plodding along up steep hills. Why, you might wonder? Is she that big a wuss? Well, I am a big one but more when it comes to water. I am willing to take on hiking challenges of any nature unless you ask me to climb up paths made up of tiny rocks which I abhor with all my heart because of late we have ended up on such hikes.
The skies had opened up the day before and let loose their wrath upon the earth. The path was immensely boggy. My shoes kept sinking in and I felt all slimy and cold. It did not help that my darling husband kept warning me about the leeches that were creeping up my leg and getting fatter by the minute. Now try as I may I cannot develop a fondness for reptiles and creepy crawlies that are our fellow creatures too.
So I kept shrieking like an annoying girl – I do not scream anymore but when I was living with my flatmates in Delhi I used to specialise in it. Every time one of my flatmates’ boyfriend turned up at the door, I used to open the door, scrunch up my face and instantly scream without even thinking. We had no keyhole. Yet was it a valid excuse? Or was it a subconscious urge given that he would finish all the food in the fridge? I wonder.
Adi and I huffed and puffed as we climbed up while an old man in his training shoes ran up the hill we were climbing. Did he just run past us with youthful vigour? Overcome by incredulity, we quickened our pace and examined pretty mushrooms as we made our way through the woods. After a while we found ourselves walking along a water pipeline and found some sheep sitting on top of the hill, chewing and meditating. Eating and contemplating is such a noble combination, don’t you think? I often wonder what sheep think for hours as they graze or sit and reach out to eat more grass (have you noticed how they do it – ’tis an art).
If you remember I had mentioned in my last post about the Norwegian sheep. I sat near them and wondered if the sheep would scuttle like the English breeds. But no they sat there, appearing to be of a rather stoic nature. They looked at me, I looked at them. It was a silent communion that was broken only by the sniggers of the husband.
It was after this point, when we had a spectacular view of the village of Norheimsund below us and islets sticking out from the mysterious blue waters of the fjord, that we decided to turn around. It was a most dissatisfying feeling. You would know it if you have ever abandoned a hike after climbing a fair bit into the bargain. Do you have any such stories of abandoning one? It would make me feel better.