Friday, June 18, 2010

Approaching Longest Day of the Year: 21st June

June 21 is the 172nd day of the year (173rd in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 193 days remaining until the end of the year.
On non-leap years (until 2039), this day marks the summer solstice in the northern hemisphere and the winter solstice in the southern hemisphere, and this is the day of the year with the longest hours of daylight in the northern hemisphere and the shortest in the southern hemisphere. (Wikipedia)

As a child I remember reading about this date in Geography text book, may be in class V or VI. But I then never realized the true meaning of a longest day as in India days and nights are more or less of same length (near to the equator), in western India days do get longer in summer but that means sunlight stays maximum till 7.30 p.m. in the evening. For we kids it was more fun as in those days we were lucky to play hide and seek, skipping rope, Badminton or whatever on the open street, we need not make any confirmed play dates and could hop door to door from around 4 p.m. to collect our friends before discussing, planning and starting to play for that evening until the street lights were on. And more daylight means more time to play.

My entry to Europe was in Autumn. Europe mesmerized me with its yellow, red and brown leaves, pumpkins (real, and artificial) filled shops and sharp chilly wind (well for me then), these scenes and feelings were very new to me,  I had  seen ever green trees only and of course I had seen pumpkins but they grow in summer in India and I never saw so many shops selling things with pumpkins as their background theme, it was only later I found out that it is related with a festival called Halloween, started in Ireland but then went to USA along with  Irish settlers and then came back to Europe again as a companion of globalization.  In those first days of mine in Europe when I was gobbling every thing around me just like looking into a big colorful book, I was also very careful about turning each of its pages as it was a kind of new living for me, but as every expat heart keep searching some similarity of the host land with their own land, I also kept doing that and then found one. That was the sky on a clear, crispy and sunny Autumn day, with clouds floating like  small cotton wools (this kind of cloud is also very typical in India in Autumn and as a Bengali (Hindu) this sky reminds us of our main festival of the year), that sky which was rare; as autumn in Europe is mostly rainy, gave me the assurance that if I try I can settle down here for a while.

Then came the winter and which I will skip today as the European winter, dusky days and dark nights, the snow, the cold, Christmas feasts, special gluhwein (a typical hot wein specially prepared during Christmas time in Germany) and Weihnachten markts  (German for Christmas Markets) do call for at least  one independent blog of its own, if not many.

Spring came next, which again was very new to me as in India also, we celebrate a lot with colors in spring but the welcoming for spring is not so genuine from heart. As we never spend any leafless dark winter there. Here blooming of first  Osterglocken (German for Daffodils), tulips, Gänseblümchen (German for daisies) and edelweiss after long, cold and mostly dark winter gave me enormous happiness. These flowers also begin a parade of blooming of cherry blossoms, hycinths, pansies, marigolds, many flowers who are unknown to me and finally roses of various colors and varieties. And after 'J' has started talking this is the time when she wishes to go to a strawberry field.

And while walking through the roads, looking at the flowers in others gardens (I never got time to maintain my own one) and changing from winter jacket to summer jackets, without giving any proper notice, the summer arrived (so unlike as was in India, where summer is like the king, arrives with a great pomp, show and  Mangoes!). Here Summer brings cherries. Summer is a time of absorbing sun, relaxation, holidays, picnics, Barbeques, short trips or in other words it is the time to make fun in Europe. Just like it is in winter in India. And if you are living in  European countries very close to the north pole, then you will feel that few bright sunny days available in summer are treated very specially by people here.  On my long distance phone calls when my mother complained of  extreme heat I told her with a relief "It is quite nice and warm here Ma!" On approaching 21st June the days get bright almost till 11 p.m. at night and sun rises again around 4 a.m. The birds and children are though quite well mannered here and are not awake that long.

But I always wonder during these  mid summer nights and think may be therefore Shakespeare  called one of his play as "Midsummer's night dream". 

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