Back from Iceland


Yesterday we returned, reluctantly, from a vacation in Iceland.  The mind, though, is still there: in the streets of Reykjavik, full of color and gaiety; on the shores of lake Myvatn, swarming with midges; in the vast emptiness of the southern coast, with astonishing cliffs where arctic puffins nest and fly about in strange circles; in the bizarre landscape of moss-covered lava fields; in the salty warmth of the blue lagoon; amidst the Icelanders, relaxed yet enthusiastic.

There is a desire to write at length about this journey.  It has been an atypical trip; the process of writing will, I hope, bring out the differences and clarify them.  The most obvious difference, something that came to view in little things during the last ten-days, was this: Iceland is a simple nation.

300,000 inhabitants; one city – Reykjavik – and a bunch of towns; one people; one religion; one language (that has changed little in a thousand years); no neighboring states; a straightforward – though turbulent – history; a handful of occupations.  (The most complex thing you find are Icelandic names: of the dozen or so Icelanders I had a conversation with, I cannot clearly recollect even one full name.)

This simplicity will be a recurring theme.  But before I get to Iceland, I have some debts – accrued in the busy summer so far – that I have to get off my back: the music festival in Belfort, and the saturday market at Lausanne.  There are no travel plans for the next six weeks – not counting the occasional meet-the-wife trip to Brussels –  so all this writing should get done. I have no excuses this time.

8 thoughts on “Back from Iceland

  1. kahini:

    it should not be difficult to keep those thoughts about iceland in hibernation for a year!


    i thought at least icelandic last names were pretty simple to remember, like svensson (for sven’s son) and svensdottir (for sven’s daughter). or am i dreaming? you still need to remember father’s first name though ;-).

    – s.b.

  2. iceland! wow! hurry hurry….am dying to know more. the colour green resembles the ghats here in monsoon :-)…i thot i will never see that colour anywhere on earth.

  3. Kahini: Not really. I plan for the year after next.

    Somebody: Here is a test: take one look at the name below and then, looking away, try to recollect and say it aloud.

    Vilhjáll Brynjolfsson
    Aðallfur Hjálmtýsson
    Eiríðun Bryndísardóttir
    Einar Hjörleifsson Kvaran

    OK, that was a bit extreme. The more common ones are simpler (and follow the rule you mentioned), but I had great difficulty in mapping the way Icelanders pronouned their names to how it is written. After asking a few to repeat themselves, I gave up.

    Rathish: As I mentioned last week, the article is interesting but the tone is unfortunate. Pity.

    Alpha: “Been a while” – you are too polite. No excuses can explain my long silence, and no apology can make up for it. A long mail is what I need to work on, immediately!

    Bips: And has the monsoon arrived? I read about someone waiting desperately for it….

    Rash: Yes,…soon!

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