Diary of a visit – 3

(Third part of a series;  first and second)

Day 4 – Brussels (Continued from previous entry)

In the evening, after we got back from the trip to the Brussels city centre,  Dad and I went for a walk in the neighborhood.  Google Maps indicated that a little distance from the apartment there was an irregular blue shape – a water body; I hadn’t seen that side yet, and we decided to explore. The walk took us across a main road with moderate traffic into a residential zone with tall modern apartments spaciously laid out in green surroundings, and a few streets with old buildings that seemed to grow out of and into each other. A little later we reached the “water body” –  a large pond bordered with a patch of green.

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The path along the pond’s perimeter led us past a variety of people: elderly ladies walking with their dogs; solitary joggers with the white strands of iPod earphones hanging out; families stretched out on the green, eating and chatting; couples feeding the birds – swans, ducks, pigeons – that had gathered. Seeing all this, Dad began to grumble again about the state of affairs in Bangalore – how he misses such public spaces that seem like oases in a desert of concrete, how the newer parts of Bangalore have evolved with little thought of aesthetics and environment.  He was right; the walk reminded me of some the vacations I spent in Bangalore as a boy.  Back then, the residential localities of old part of town had a charm that was hard to match.

On the walk back, we walked through another small park where a group of youngsters were playing a strange game that brought to mind the ninepins game I’d read about in the Rip Van Winkle story.
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Day 5:  Brussels (Atomium and Mini-Europe)

Our third day in Belgium.  We visited the Atomium, then walked over to Mini Europe.

Up close, the Atomium does not strike you as a half-century old structure. Its futuristic design and shiny exterior make it seem like part of a recently-constructed set piece for a Hollywood sci-fi thriller. (Wikipedia tells me that this is largely due to the renovations in 2004 that replaced “the faded aluminium sheets on the spheres with stainless steel.”)

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Inside too you get the feeling of being in a spaceship, moving from one sphere to another on escalators, looking out through narrow windows that reveal blurry images of the city below.  There was an excellent exhibition that highlighted events surrounding the 1958 World’s Fair (for which the Atomium was built) on the occasion of its fiftieth anniversary.  It featured all kinds of memorabilia of the event, from B&W video footage, old photographs, flyers and ads of the marketing campaign that showcased the first major fair after WW II, to the design and engineering practices (which interested dad the most) and diplomacy that went into luring the 57 nations that finally participated in the event which spanned half a year.

Outside, back on Earth, we walked across to the nearby Mini Europe.  The best thing I could say about the place – a park featuring miniature versions of major monuments highlighting the nations of the European Union – is that it is a very good playground to practice photography.

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Dad and mom enjoyed it thoroughly, and although visibly exhausted at the end they felt it had been a great day.

Day 6: Brussels (Fondation Folon)

Since we had spent the last three days in crowded urban areas, I decided it was time for something different.  On P’s recommendation we drove to Fondation Folon, the estate dedicated to the Belgian artist Jean-Michel Folon.  I knew nothing about the artist or the place, which kept our expecatations to the minimum. We were pleasantly surprised.

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The whole area is a large park dotted with sculptures by the artist. The leisurely walk in the sun was a welcome contrast to the city’s bustle we had encountered so far. A farmhouse in the middle of the park had a well-designed exhibition of the artist’s works, mostly paintings and sculptures.

To be continued… (15 more days to go!)

2 thoughts on “Diary of a visit – 3

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