Monday, June 1, 2020
Home Opinions Travel tales: Copenhagen- of mermaid, Chinese and cannabis

Travel tales: Copenhagen- of mermaid, Chinese and cannabis

Also Read

Rajani Choudhary
Software Developer, avid reader.

I stood in the center of a somewhat spooky place I had randomly walked into while walking around the city and started taking photos of everything around me. It was spooky, like a ghost town shown in a B grade horror movie. It was called “Christiania” as I had seen from the arched gate when I entered the premises. At the time I had not known the background of the location. There were shops selling beads, trinkets, jewelry, scarves and such stuff. There were also small pubs and places where you could eat. Otherwise, the premises were full of dirty, unkept, derelict buildings with their walls decorated with quirky graffiti. There was just rubbish in piles here and there.

Some people standing in groups started to make some noise. I thought they were talking about me and sounding angry, but I was not sure. So, I continued taking photos and enjoying the spookiness.

A thin unkempt dodgy looking man wearing a hoodie accosted me. “Can I have your phone please?” He asked politely with authority. I was frightened and handed it without question.


“It is against the law to take photos of people and this place without permission. There is a sign,” he said looking at the photos on my mobile. He showed me the sign which I had conveniently but genuinely missed.

“I’m sorry”, I said. I was embarrassed.

“It is okay. You did not know”. He deleted all photos where there was a person from his group, handed my phone back and walked back to his group. He did not delete all pictures of the place though. I was glad about that. I could check up later what exactly was the deal with that weird looking locality.


Later I learnt that the place called “Christiania” was Copenhagen’s hippie neighborhood. It was established in 1971 and has its own mission statement, defining the lofty objectives of the place about creating a self-governing society responsible for well-being of the entire community.

Today it is Europe’s oldest still existing squatters’ community; a free town where cannabis trade takes place openly, which is elsewhere illegal. That explains the no photo diktat. It is also called the Green Light District because you get the “green” stuff there. Formerly a military base with a 19-acre expanse, the place has its share of shady stories. Gang wars, cannabis trade wars, shootings, grenade attack have happened there.

I did not know about this place before. Otherwise, I would never have walked into the premises alone.


What I did know about Copenhagen and did plan to see was predictably, the famous little mermaid. The iconic bronze statue has come to symbolize the city.

I started navigating on foot towards the statue. Meandering along on the way, I saw the royal palace, Danish Parliament, some castles, some churches, some interesting sculptures. Not having the time to explore much; I saved the castles and buildings and other attractions for another time. That day, the mermaid was calling me.

Along the way, I also heard an American teenager explaining her fascination with the statue.

“When I was little, we had a class project on Denmark and all I wrote about was The Little Mermaid. I was just so fascinated with her.” She sounded excited about finally seeing it for real. I felt a little juvenile myself for being excited about the mermaid.

I found my way around the city to the mermaid. She was little. Set on a rock by the waterside at a promenade in Copenhagen, she looked dreamy. The bronze statue depicted a mermaid becoming human. She has been through much since she was installed in the year 1913. There have been numerous attempts at defacement and vandalism, and she was restored each time.

That day she was surrounded by Chinese, who would not leave the mermaid alone for a split second. When one Chinese finished taking photos in all the twenty-one poses, another one jumped besides the mermaid. It was annoying to all who just wanted a picture for memory without anyone else but the mermaid and maybe oneself in the frame. After a few unsuccessful attempts to capture the mermaid alone, one woman standing beside me was reasonably annoyed.

‘Ah. The Chinese!!’ She said displaying a zillion times milder version of the emotion the world shares today. Those were good days when the world was still in love with China. I even bought a souvenir, a tacky little mermaid kitchen magnet, that was “Made in China”. It is still stuck on my refrigerator, not sanitized.

- advertisement -

  Support Us  

OpIndia is not rich like the mainstream media. Even a small contribution by you will help us keep running. Consider making a voluntary payment.

Trending now

Rajani Choudhary
Software Developer, avid reader.

Latest News

George Floyd, another forgotten soul

Everybody worried about and discussing the riots in multiple cities, looting of designer stores, rioting the streets. In all these noises, George Floyd is shouting “I can't breathe, please save me”

Is Trump right to take China on?

Trump has gone ballistic. His bellicose utterances are typically reflective of America First retinue. Would he stay the course? Or he has raised a feverish pitch, so that he can negotiate a sweet trade deal with China, just in time for Nov, 2020 elections.

The one way secularism and why tolerance is it’s necessary evil

So, Indians' tolerance level is directly proportionate to the govt they elect. If they want to be tolerant, they will elect a non BJP govt., if they want to decrease, they will elect Modi govt!

The politics and commerce of anti-Hindu content in mass media

In the past few years in India, we have come across an unusual situation where a number of mass media outlets seem to be “two timers” as in one branch of the organization will support the nationalist narrative and the other will support the leftist narrative.

कोरोना की यात्रा और कोरोना के बाद की यात्रा

सकारात्मक खबर के बावजूद अभी भी कई चुनौतियां बना हुआ है जैसे-अप्रवासी मजदूर के समुचित खाने की व्यवस्था, बन्द पड़े शिक्षण संस्थान में पढ़ाई शुरू करने की चुनौती, कोरॉना के बाद अर्थवयवस्था के पुनरुद्धार की चुनौती, साथ वैक्सीन बनने की चुनौती, भविष्य में प्रसार रोकते हुए जनजीवन सामान्य बनाने की चुनौतीl

The one difference between the Congress of today and that of before 2014

For the sake of the future generations, for the sake of our children, please read more books about how Congress had been ruling the country and be aware of the dangers.

Recently Popular

MNS bares its anti-Hindu fangs

Raj Thackeray’s haphazard attempt to relaunch his party as Hindu outfit has failed, leading to desperation and cheap politics.

साउथ कोरिया में संघ जरूरी क्यों

मैं विग़त 8 महीनो से साउथ कोरिया में रह रहा हूँ। यहाँ भारतीय लोगों की संख्या क़रीब 13 हज़ार हैं। पर एच॰एस॰एस न होने के आभाव में मैंने महसूस किया है, कि भारतीय लोग संगठित नहीं हैं। और संगठित नहीं होने के कारण लोग अपनी संस्कृति से दूर जा रहे हैं।

In conversation with Nehru: On Savarkar’s mercy petitions

This conversation is only an attempt to present the comparative study of jail terms served by both Savarkar and Jawaharlal Nehru.

भगवान श्रीराम का वनवास जो 500 वर्षों के बाद समाप्त हुआ: श्रीराम मंदिर निर्माण की अनंत कथा

अंततः श्रीराम विजयी हुए, भारतवर्ष विजयी हुआ, हिन्दू विजयी हुए और इस संघर्ष में दिए गए सहस्त्रों बलिदान सार्थक हुए।

Regional Benches of Supreme Court in your Homes?

While reluctantly acknowledging that the resort to Videoconferencing by Supreme Court and High Courts may be the need of the hour, at this moment of time, it ought not to stay beyond a minute of its need.