Home is where

EDIT: This post was started and finished at two very different times and was supposed to be finished long, long ago. Please understand that time is a kind of loose concept for now. Enjoy.

This post was begun at an altitude 30.000 feet (No worries, European allies. I only stop using the metric system when regarding airfare), one would like to challenge his newly acquired altitude skills, after climbing in both Leh and Stok Kangri.

Since the last post, an eternity has passed. I’ll excuse myself with saying that I’ve been without access to both computer and internet, something quite extraordinary in our 21st century lifestyles. Exams were a (bore) stress, graduation came and went and arriving in Leh, Ladakh seems like an eternity ago. It’s hard to realise that one is now going home – wherever that is – for the first time since winter.

Graduation was a heartfelt goodbye to 110 (or something, I don’t know) of friends, family and foes familiarity – ? Set up as an all night extravaganza from 19:00 in the evening, to 10:00 in the morning – At what time, I left for Ladakh. If anyone of my 2nd years are reading (unlikely), I’d like you to know you meant tons to us and the lack of your presence next year, will leave MUWCI changed forever. I was entitled enough to say goodbye to many of you, but there were also a few I missed in the haze of happiness, tears and alcohol culinary pleasures. Leaving for Ladakh was tougher than expected and was accompanied by tears in the parking lot – Great start.


Change of (physical) venue. I just landed in Frankfurt airport and I’m waiting for my connecting flight to arrive. 7 ruthless hours from Delhi to Frankfurt were made slightly more enjoyable by an emergency exit seat and friendly staff. Small pleasures.

The difference between India and Germany is stark, obvious and immediate. Humidity and temperature aside, Germany is an ode to effectiveness with no waste of human capital – an effect of culture and (by Asian standards) high salaries. Information desks are electronic, security is a full body X Ray and your boarding pass at the gate is checked electronically and not by an overworked & understaffed Indian guy. This, the German lady mockingly notified me of when I approached her with my passport and boarding pass. What a waste of her time!

“Please scan your passport and boarding pass in the machine, sir.”

Her grimace turned even starker when I humorously noted „No waste of human capital, welcome to Germany.“

At least her co-worker found it funny.


The road to Leh is both long and slightly complicated – at least we made it so. Firstly, the bus ride to Mumbai is long and dreadful. The following train journey on India’s infamous railway system, 6 people with the luggage equivalent of 11, was *cough difficult. From Delhi, now a full group of 11, on to an airplane to Leh, Ladakh – One of the most dangerous landing strips in the world. The descent is sharply done over a mountain, then almost crashing into the tarmac, the wheels are on the ground. During the fly in you have the most magnificent views of the mountains and if you’ve been blessed with a window seat I was in the aisle, you’re in for a beautiful view.

Leh is a cultural melting pot set in the middle of a valley in the Ladakhi range of mountains. Wherever you go, you will have staggering views of the mountains 360 degrees around, like a snake circled around Leh. The tallest of them all, Stok Kangri, was the mountain we were setting out to climb and its’ alarming presence was hard to miss, as it towered over any other sorry excuse for a peak – Standing in at 6200 meters, Stok was king.

Our first few days were to be spent in absolute limbo, there was nothing. Slowly acclimatising we tried to busy ourselves unsuccessfully by eating, sleeping and doing push ups in the most random places (we didn’t want to waste our shape doing nothing.. Ha!). The days crept past and Stok kept looming over us.

When we left we set out for a 10 day round trip around the bottom of the mountain. This slow path was the safest way for acclimatisation. We went through 3 passes, countless valleys and arrived (finally) in basecamp. 36 hours later, at 22:00, we began our final ascent of the mountain. This marathon climb, 12 hours long and 1200 meters tall, loomed before us and climbing the first many hours in complete darkness made me question our chances. I’ve never felt this broken before, but somehow kept climbing. When the sun broke through we found us on the side of the most beautiful mountain I’ve ever seen.

And then we turned around.

This is usually the moment of horror when I tell the story. The faces people pull on me when they realise that I spent 20 days in the mountains only to turn around two hundred meters from the peak ranges from mocking to devastated. But yeah, that was how it went. We had bad weather, three climbers showing signs of mountain sickness and a long, long  way day. 3 in 4 expeditions never make it to the top and pushing on under bad conditions can go wrong – really wrong.  Also I have an issue with goal oriented rather than process oriented people, but that’s the subject of the next post I’m writing.

We wen’t down, had a sleep and returned to Leh; Broken, yet somehow stronger.


I’m no longer in Frankfurt Airport, neither am I newly returned home. This post has been on my computer screen the past summer, yet I haven’t had the gut to finish it. I just can’t. I return 7 days from now, am I ready? Ha. Who knows.

The worst part about travelling is not simply going home, which has lately been popularised by a blog post, it’s understanding that life goes on without you. You leave home, grow, and then expect everything to be the same when you return. It’s debatable if you’ve grown more or less than your peers (probably more, although I don’t want to glorify this idea of „Wanderlust“), but they’ve certainly grown as well.

You’re most likely not a vital part of their lives anymore – Shame.

This summer has been amazing – festivals, friends, family – and even though I’m excited to go back, I’d love just one more week more back home.

Or maybe two.

Waiting for the rain

From North to South, from valley to hill.

I look up, minds still racing on the math problem I was doing, my nostrils wide open and awoken, scanning for the gust of wind that just brought along the unmistakeable smell of

there it was again. Coming from the valley, or maybe internet hill, how can this be after it rained yesterday. It wouldn’t be the first time, but

there. again.

I stand up and walk out of my house, suddenly hit by the rising air pressure and the sight of rolling thundering clouds coming from the horizon. It’s here.

again, this can’t be true.

The smell of wildfire is a very distinctive smell – almost sweet – and all members of Fire Service knows it instinctively. We’ve learned to recognise it from midnight wakeup calls or 8 hour fire struggles in the reserve. We know it.

There I was, looking at the rolling clouds coming from east – or west – maybe north – I have no idea – and at the same time smelling an oncoming wildfire.

I’m dehydrated, bad for fire fighting. It is not rare to quench down 6 liters of water during a fire, if you remember to bring some. If you don’t, you’re fucked. With this thought in mind, I go and drink 2 liters – I’m in shape, ready for whatever

I stand again and look at the clouds – they must surely beat the fire, when will the rain come? In ten minutes, twenty, an hour? Who knows.

This must be the best race I’ve ever witnessed, that of a thunderstorm and a wildfire. I pray to whatever that the lightning bolts will beat the fire alarm. Maybe there wasn’t even a fire to begin with

unlikely, to say the least. But the smell was there, I know that smell

I smell the rainfall coming, it’s close, it will surely beat the fire and as I go back to my desk I fill coffee in my cup and put on that Bon Iver album again, it had just finished. Sitting here, smelling fire and rain and waiting for it to come. I leave in 15 days and many of these faces around me will be gone for years – a lifetime

sad

here’s to second year

UPDATE: The rain won  – big time.

Hey-Ho Hill Dwellers, To Where Do We Belong?

With only two weeks left of classes, the campus is becoming gradually more and more melancholic and nostalgic. Soon half of our best friends will leave us, leave for better places, but they’ll leave us all behind. It’s up to us to rebuild this place, change it, re-shape it for the better, but it’s going to be weird to become the older authority.
Here’s a short prose and a picture of my hill.

I miss

I miss cold weather and all my favourite blokes
I miss being on my bicycle, wearing several coats

I miss the Danish nightlife and feeling alive
I miss going home from the regular, in the shimmering Friday lights

I miss my friends and family, I miss where I belong
Although home is several places, my urge to go is strong

I’ll miss

I’ll miss the afternoon fires under the blistering sun
I’ll miss the post action rasna, the friends and the fun

I’ll miss the late night hikes, the stars, the thrill
I’ll miss the smiles, friends and family who lives on this hill

I’ll miss the friends who’s leaving, leaving my teary eyed
I’ll miss the lovely faces, to whom I’ll say goodbye

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Blogs

I remember about one year ago I was reading blogs about UWC’ers around the world. I had gone a fair way through the selection process, though it was still a while (mid March) that I got my acceptance letter – or email if you’d like. I started seeing an overall pattern in the blogs I was reading.

  • People always apologised for being late on posting updates – Just as I introduced my prior post.
  • People tend to post around certain staple events – Holi, Ghanesh, Travel Week, etc.
    Just what I’m doing now.
  • The blogs always wrote the same and seemed the same – Simply boring storytelling, bland language and no distinction from one blog to the next.

That’s something I’m (trying, at least) doing differently.

My blog is not frequently visited. That’s no secret. Hi mom. It was never meant to be either. They say your biggest critic is yourself and these rambles I post about once a month are best kept in private. Or at least some kind of privacy.

I just wanted my blog to be different and suit a niche rather than the masses – A great excuse for not having a lot of readers, I know. AAFH is much more of an online diary I keep with the intention of reading it later on and because my physical copies tend to disappear. Also, I hate my handwriting.

It’s travel week and because of my fire service duties, I’m not doing a lot of travelling. I went to Bengaluru to volunteer at a conference on technology called SURGE – fun, fun, fun.

Although my Facebook feed is intensively bombarded with extravagant pictures from Ladakh, Rajasthan, Taj Mahal, Goa and Kerala, I quite enjoy being on campus. We’re not a lot – I would say about 20-30 students filling up a space normally frequented by 70 nationalities and 250 personalities – it’s a longed for break. There’s something lovely about the loneliness (Danish genes, maybe?) and the ability to wander to wherever, whenever. It’s been the first days since before MUWCI where I’ve had nothing to do – marvellous. Enjoy the silence and absorb the essence of an empty campus.

They’ll be back tomorrow.

So if there’s anyone in the application process reading atm – Don’t bother reading this blog if you wan’t to know more about the application process, the campus, the curriculum, the people or UWC in general. This is just sporadic streams of thought from someone who happens to be at a UWC.

When that’s said, good luck in the process.

 

Godspeed,

Winter breaks and welcome homes

I’m sorry. To those 5 of you who continues to read my blog, of whom four are related to me (heh). I’m rubbish at keeping deadlines and remembering to write and update my blog seems to fall in the same category. Well, winter break came and went and to say I had a good time would be a savage understatement. Seeing my old life backhome, being a fly on the wall and noticing that everything is different, yet somehow still the same was quite weird. It felt like being a fly on the wall and taught me that if you leave, you must be ready to face the consequences.

When home I did a few talks on old schools of mine. Both my prior high school, where I was received like a contemporary amongst friends and a successor amongst teachers. Somehow, those of us who got into UWC’s some kind of pride for the school and being received like a guest speaker, with free coffee, lunch, the whole deal, seemed strange when my friends right outside of the door was going to class. Overall winter break was one big reflection and confrontation with what I want to do at MUWCI. I’ve decided to take my academics more serious and this has led to a very different everyday. I’m still a part of the few Triveni’s (read: CAS at MUWCI) that I truly enjoyed, but the day has changed character. Less time for procrastination and a lot of work to catch up on.

I might not have mentioned this, but I’m part of an on campus activity called Fire Service. It is our responsibility to turn out fires in the bio diversity reserve. With first term spent on training and burning firewalls, fire season has hit us hard. We’ve had three fires in a week and the rush of adrenaline when running out of class to gear up and beat (yes, beat) out a fire is something that’s hard to describe.

I hope there won’t pass the same amount of time until next time.

Stay safe

TEDx talks and oncoming winterbreaks

This Sunday I performed a fifteen minute long TEDx talk. The entire process was intriguing and led to a lot of reflection. The subject of the talk was the art of saying goodbye and how I’ve learned to take breaks in my relationships without that meaning the definitive end of them. I enjoyed the entire process; from selections in November, writing and rehearsing my speech until late at night and of course the manifestation of my hard work in the actual event.

It felt relevant to my current situation, thinking back that is. In seven days I will sit in aeroplanes, go through 3 airports and finally arrive home with my family for the holidays. To be blunt, these past months have flown away and I’m already starting to sense this feeling of urgency around me; 1st term is ending, but for some 3rd term is ending and they are soon reaching the definitive beginning of the end. Responsibilities in extracurriculars are being passed on slowly, college acceptance letters are arriving in pigeon holes and a melancholic winter blues is slowly taking its toll on us. I always thought winter depression was exclusive to darkness and cold weather, however it’s just as present here in 31 degrees C.

I’ve linked parts of the speech down below and a picture of me looking clever.

Yours truly,

Vilhelm

If only I had thought about the leave

The physical separation from my past environment

It would have been much easier

This was how I learned it the first time

And believe me – The hard part isn’t the first week there

It’s the second one, the third and the fourth one

When the magic wears of and you get time to think

You lie there alone at night

You’re supposed to sleep, but you remember that one person you didn’t say a good goodbye to

This is horrible

So before you leave, understand that you are leaving

Prepare for it – So you won’t have sleepless nights.”

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