Benjamuna's Blog

Stories…. with a touch of India….

The Road not Taken January 9, 2017

Filed under: Uncategorized — benjamuna @ 5:43 pm

I took this photo on a bleak December day. I had no plan, I just turned around and saw what I saw, a silhouette towards the overcast sky, embraced by naked trees. And -click-

A friend commented it on Facebook; she wrote she came to think of the poem by Robert Frost; The Road not Taken – although she saw it as The Road Taken. It is nice to know that one of my photos actually inspired somebody to think of such a fine poem.

(Poem below photo).


Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,


 And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
 And that has made all the difference.



A graveyard December 8, 2015

Filed under: Uncategorized — benjamuna @ 2:56 pm
Tags: , , ,

A favourite spot in my town Stavanger is the Lagård graveyard. Almost in the city centre, it runs along a heavily trafficked road. But once inside the gates, you’ll be surprised how quiet it is. The graveyard dates from 1832 and it is full of history. The most prominent person who is buried here, is the author Alexander Kielland.

Lagård tre

The area is sloping, and some places almost terraced, it has beautiful treelined gravelroads. You’ll find many old graves, tall and erect, some elevated and some surrounded by a wrought iron fences. You’ll also find plenty of benches and places to rest. The old graves have many interesting names and titles from bygone times, above all – when a woman was just a wife…

The autumn becomes the graveyard well; fallen leaves, autumnal colours, the below photos are taken on a rainy day when light was scarce.

Lagård rose

Sometimes, a faded rose looks better than a fresh…


The newly left roses stand out against the fallen leaves.


There is plenty of room to sit down and rest, think, mourn, reminisce about lost ones… or maybe just enjoy the peaceful and beautiful surroundings.


The grave shone almost like silver and the leaves were glued onto the surface, and created a three dimensional look.






October 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — benjamuna @ 5:38 pm

I’m late with certain things in life…. I  never wanted a driver’s liscense. Nor did I fancy a cell phone, a home computer, an iPod, iPad or a smartphone. Of course I have them all. And sometimes – getting new things –  means you have to part with things. I have been the owner of a Filofax for many years, it’s leather bound. It has been the inventory of my cycle bag for years and years, thus it looks nice and worn – the good thing about real leather!

A while ago I realised I was the only person in meetings with an old fashioned diary. When new meetings were planned, everybody went svosh on their smartphones and could instantly confirm if they were available or not. Whereas I sat with my nose in my leather bound diary, mumbling someting about it not being updated. Or being terribly funny: Filofax and Outlook are not compatible and thus do not synchronize…

Then I started to attend meetings with my diary AND my smartphone – for some peculiar reason. And my note book – , and the coffe mug. And what more do you bring to meetings? Perhaps a yellow folder with appropriate papers. I felt loaded…. The Filofax was never in use, and suddenly one day it was left at my work place when I went of rmeetings. And what’s more, one day it was left at home.

I use it for keeping  record of all the books I read, I keep track of birthdays (yes, could be transferred to the phone I know), and I keep track of all the Christmas cards I send and the Christmas presents I buy. No way am I going to fit this into my phone.

Now I have a leather bound smartphone case…. Well, not one but three covers (shame shame) and one of them terribly expensive realtive to the small size. Two for ordinary  use and one for travel. Just because I couldn’t decide, and since these things wear & tear very slowly I have to stick to my Sony for yet quite a few years…


More beads… May 9, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — benjamuna @ 7:29 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

The challenge with making jewellery of beads, is that you need a lot…. Because there is always something “missing”. Too few of the same kind, for example. Not the right colours – when you  just got an idea of a colour combination or a special design. The wrong size…. Not enough metal beads, often used in between other beads to create a vintage look. And so on and so on… And right from the outset, you need basic tools. String, or wire and locks.

Keeping beads….

It’s easy to make a bracelet of string. You simply thread beads to a string – about 18 centimeter –  and tie a knot…. The knot must be tied in the right way though; left over right, right over left… and a little glue. I have learnt it from YouTube!
Maybe it looks more proffessional with a wire and a lock. On the other hand – I’m never able to close a bracelet on myself. I take a shower every day, after bicycling to work and I almost always wear a bracelet. So I need a collegaue to get ready…. Another thing is that a bracelet made of string is very flexible, one size fits (almost) all….

A bracelet made of memorywire.

Another very easy way to make bracelets, is to use memory wire. It goes round and round…. and you can cut it as short/long as you want. You must always start by securing the end with a special technique. Securing the other end, when you finish the bracelet, takes more patience. But it’s a quick method, and a fun one as well. And it always looks very good, and moreover – one size fit all!

So far, the best bead shop I’ve been in to, I found on the famous Magazine Street in New Orleans. Simply called The Bead Shop. We took the bus, almost to the far end of the very long street, and the bead shop was an old white house with many rooms. Alladins cave…. When you suddenly find yourself in a place like that, you must go hunting for treasures….

Two bracelets made of string.

When I visited Mumbai a year back, my friend Joan took me to a Bhuleswar market to look for beads. I had been doing research, and I was sure to find Indian glass beads exactly here…. I even had the exact street. To look for special goods in a Mumbai market is very tiresome; you have to fight the heat and the crowds every little second. Joan was sweating, and  I must say, being very patient. I was hanging on, thinking that my plane went to Europe that evening, so we didn’t have all the time in the world. And it all went of in a bad way as we struggled to find a taxi driver who would take us the crazy maze of Bhuleswar….

We went from shop to shop, Joan asking for glass beads…. going here and there – but I wasn’t all to happy with what we eventually found. Indeed we found cloisonne beads, which are expensive at home, but… no. I will have another go in November. The trouble with buying beads in India, is that it is very often based on wholesale. I still have “a million” metal beads bought in Jaipur a couple of years ago, I needed – say a tenth of what I had to buy… But I paid a fraction of what I’m paying at home.


The bracelet above is partly made from beads picked up at Mardi Gras in New Orleans last year. I made it for my colleague and friend Mansi from Bombay.

Another way of buying beads is going to flea markets and buy jewellery – which I then take apart. Last summer I found a long, beautiful necklace with heavy glass beads and metal beads, and the price was give away…. A treasure, – and I have already made one bracelet out of some of the beads. Another way of getting beads, is to look for jewellery 70 percent off ordinary price in shops like Indiska. I take them apart and reuse them. It’s much cheaper than buying beads piece by piece…

Some very nice handmade beads….

When I decide to make a bracelet, I always have an idea. But very often I end up with something different. It’s the same whne I’m making cards by lettering. The ideas change under way.
In early June I will travel to Chichester south of London and learn more… with a bag full of beads!

Elephant charm…

Always looking for boxes to keep beads…; these are little food trays from Delta Airlines!


Benjamuna cards… May 3, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — benjamuna @ 8:29 pm
Tags: , ,

I have been making cards for many years. Even so, I have a stack of cards bought from whereever I go in the world. I’m looking for three types of cards: with butterflies for my Swiss friend Nathalie, with old/antique maps – also for Nathalie (and myself…) and those with bicycles. The latter can be hard to find. Butterflies are more or less everywhere, the card industry hadn’t survived without butterflies…

A card for every ocasion….

My own cards are made from photos of flowers, for the most part. When I go to garden centres, I always look for flowers that I assume will look good on photos. I have tried to make good photos of poppies, a favourite, – but no luck really. Another favourite is water lilies, but they are sometimes hard to find in my area.  I know of a pond in the arboretum outside Sandnes, but it’s all about being there at the right time… Last summer, I found the water lilies at their best, but it was raining. Still, I was happy with the photos….

Water lilies in the rain….

I have never really calculated the price of one card, although I do sell from time to time.  In the age of digital photography, the photos itself are not very expensive. But I’m not always able to find the right blank cards in Norway.
Last summer I visited Germany, France and Switzerland – the paper shops (I always google before I go….) are faboulus. Quality and colors – they know how to make them in these countries.  So when Nathalie comes to Norway, I place an order… Good quality blank cards can be expensive, and then there is the work involved of course…

When a colleague passes away, my company has certain routines. My job is to make a “protocol of condolance”. It’s a card with a photo,  and along with a photo of the departed (if possible), a burning candle light – this is all placed on the reception desk so that people can write  their name and maybe some words inside the card. The card is then given to the Family, after the funeral. I often use the same card, a Spanish marguerite with a rain drop, a tear…

I have a collague who is a passionate collector of berries…. especially mountain cranberry. More than she is able to handle, seems like…. So we have made a deal; we swap: I get berries (which I turn into jam) – and she gets cards in exchange!

Last summer I discovered an area – not far away from my house – full of Foxgloves. Fantastic they were. So I have quite a few cards with Foxgloves right now (see below).
And there is also a small Indian collection (also below). I met the little girl in Khondaran last year, it was impossible to take my eyes away from her, so beautiful and so grave…. It’s a favourite portrait!

For the protocol of condolance.

Last summer I spotted almost a field of Foxgloves not far from my house. Every shade… white, pink, lilla….

I tok this photo in Khondaran, I shall never forget the girl’s face….


Benjamuna beads… February 5, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — benjamuna @ 6:27 pm
Tags: , ,

I have always had “something” creative going in my life… There has been numerous projects; knitting, sewing clothes, dried flowers, patchwork, calligraphy…..
When I was a teenager I made tunics out of old jeans. I knitted colourful sweaters through high school. When I got my own sewing machine (early twenties) I made blouses – of all things. And they never fitted properly. I came home for Christmas with half made projects and my mother had to come to their rescue. I’m not sure a half made blouse was the most popular item in my luggage…

Making decorations out of dried flowers was another passion for some years. I took courses. I planted appropriate flowers in my garden. I dried flowers. I made decorations, – not always as symmetrical as I wanted them to be. I still have a lot of ceramic bowls in the basement, remnants of numerous decorations. Where did I keep them all? I mean, it’s not as if you send dried flower decorations via mail, as presents…. My house hasn’t seen a dried flower for years……

Then came patchwork. Again – I took courses. I bought fabrics and all sorts of equipment. But I was swearing in front of my sewing machine. Patchwork… well you have to be extremely accurate. I once went to a course with some colleagues, in the 90’s. The teacher thought I was talking too much, and working too little. Concentration has never been my strong side! And after making one really intricate kettleholder I almost fell apart when I realised I had to make one more… Kettleholders always come in pairs….. Exit patchwork, although I must admit some of my Christmas runners came out quite successful!

Then came calligraphy, quite a long lasting hobby. I took courses, I even went to England to attend fantastic summer schools, I got new friends. In between I went to a course and learnt how to make paper. But… it gave me a bad neck. Exit regular calligraphy sessions, but I still use all sorts of pens for cards and letters.

So what now? It’s beads… I guess “bead-mania” has been around for some years and that I’m a bit slow… But it seems like I always need a new challenge and beads came in my way. Last November, when Ram and myself was visiting Jaipur and Udaipur, beads were very much on the agenda. We were going here and there by autorickshaw, or on foot, searching for beads. Ram explaining numerous people what we were looking for. And we found…, in a basement in Jaipur. It was wholesale, so even though I bought 1,5 kilos I didn’t get a WIDE selection. But I was happy and content about whay I got.  Ram’s comment: I’m fed up by beads. Let’s go for coffee.

Bracelet made of memory wire and cloisonne beads.

So I have started. I have taken a course. I have bought the proper equipment. Here we go again………
I have made some bracelets, and to be honest I think my bracelets are better than my patchwork and dried flowers.

Here’s a few examples of Benjamuna Beads…:

The first bracelet I made. Brown and turqoise of course....

So far, the one I'm most happy with. Made by various beads given to me by Nathalie and beads bought in India.

Another bracelet made by memory wire and beads that originally was two other necklaces.

Favourite colours.........


Keep on running… September 22, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — benjamuna @ 5:39 pm
Tags: , ,

Who would have thought I – of all people – would go on holiday with a pair of jogging shoes in my luggage. Well, not for walking the streets of any big city, but in case I come across a treadmill in the hotel…

Pretty much me.....

I never was much of an athlete. As a young teenager, I ran 60 meter in 12,5 seconds. Which is a hilariously bad result. We were forced to do some track and field at school, in order to gain an atheletic badge: Bronze, silver and gold. I obtained the bronze, never tried for more. My gym teacher obviously saw no potensial whatsoever, I was never encouraged to try for silver!

In the 70’s jazz ballet became trendy, the 80’s launched aerobic. I don’t know what happened in the 90’s, other than that I gained weight! But in 2000 I discovered spinning, and started to use my bicycle to and from work. After ten years I’m still very much into spinning and cycling, but a new decade is dawning and – time to think anew?

I go through my company’s gym every morning when I arrive by bike. One morning in May my eyes fell on the treadmill. Hmmmm, what about that? I started walking. For weeks I kept walking every morning. Running seemed out of the question. I’m not fit or made for running, I decided. But one morning I was walking so fast that I felt forced to run, but alas. After a minute or two I felt exhausted. My heart seemed to be running out of my chest!  My tries lasted for a week and then suddenly I kept on running after that initial horrible minute. From that very morning I was hooked. So hooked that a couple of months later a physiotherapist looked at me in disbelief when he listend to my love story (and the description of my painful left knee); me and the treadmill.

Thing is – I started to run every morning before work. I soon was able to run 25 minutes. 3,5 kilometres. My only experience with running was that hopeless 60 meter years back, and the occasional run-for-the-bus experiences. In the weeks that followed I was hardly able to walk. After my morning coffe at my desk, I felt so stiff when I got up from the chair that people started to ask me what was the matter. It will pass, I thought. It HAS to pass….

I really made an effort with my running play lists on my iPod. The best part of the project, really… What kind of music is suitable for running? Jean Michel Jarre’s Aero is a good start, and good for the ear. Next; a remix of The Wall by Pink Floyd. Then a remix of Jai Ho. Glow by Madcon half way through, essential in order to keep up the spirit. Salim Al Fakir’s Keep on walking was a good help when I was walking, but still makes sense. And last but not least; Sandstorm by Darude… When you think you’re not able to endure the last five minutes, Sandstorm takes you all the way and on top of it you feel like flying! Lovely then to calm down while listening to Astronaut by Salim Al Fakir, or Foot of the Mountain by a-ha and Morten Harket’s soothing voice.

Well my left knee did heel, now my right knee is not in a very cooperative mood. But it will….


My very special colour combination… July 9, 2010

Is it possible to fall in love with a colour combination? Well yes…. But I am in fact a bit shameful to say that it was the Norwegian princess Märtha Louise who brought my attention to the combination of brown and turquoise. She was wearing a dress some years back, can’t remember the details any longer – only the colours! I thought it was an unusual combination, but I got hooked. And – the hunt was on! But I realised I needed a bit of luck. Shops do not swell with brown and turquoise!

I always find what I look for, in India…. In 2009  I visited designer  Geetha Hardasani’s shop in Bandra, Mumbai. When Ida and I visited Mumbai in 2008, we visited her shop, at that time in Colaba. I kept in touch with Jharna, the designer’s daughter, and thus made sure to pay their new shop in Bandra a visit in 2009. I saw the kurta only seconds after I entered the shop. Wow – something brown and turquoise. Before the others had managed to manouvre themselves inside, I was dressed in…. brown and turquoise… And – sold!

I almost spotted this one from outside the Hardasani shop....

I wanted to buy a designer made outfit; a kurta, churidar and dupatta – and went searching through Geeta’s rows of fabric. I chose the best one, the most expensive one (!) with a fantastic dupatta made of a variety of fabric. But the embroidery on the kurta had the colours of…. brown and turquoise…

My designer made wedding outfit!

Close up of the kurta.


In 2009 Asbjørn and I went to Delhi and one day, strolling through the arcades of Connaught Place I saw it from a distance, a tunic of – yes – brown and turquoise. It was only one left, my size, which proves it was meant for me!

Bought at Connaught Place in Delhi, photograph taken somewhere around the Fort in old Delhi. A young girl wanted her photo together with a farangi...

It’s not so hard to find jewelry in the colours of brown and turquoise. Maybe because of the stone itself, the turquoise…. Moreover, I can’t be the only one in the world thinking that this is a great combination!
My favourite bracelet is bought at Arts and Crafts (Norwegian brand), and people often comment on it. But a while back I was thinking; it must be possible to make jewelry by oneself?!!? So I took a course at a bead shop and learnt some tricks… I’m not going to make a home industry out of it, but it’s nice to be able to make something when inspiration hits you…. Beads do not come very cheap in Norway, what I’m now looking forward to is my travel to India later this year. Shopping for beads in Mumbai….. Must be some treat!

Three strands of beads made by myself, beads and colours carefully picked....

These - my favourite bracelets - have everything that I like; the beads, the colours, the antique look...


Last summer our grandhild Claus, now aged 10, known for his high level of justice, realised that everybody had gotten a summer’s gift  except from granddad… He had seen something suitable though, in a shop in Stavanger…. So Asbjørn and I were left to wait in a cafe, whereas he dragged his mother to Ting and bought a case for toothpicks – and what’s more; the colours were brown and turquoise. The young man was very proud of himself; not only was it the perfect present for Asbjørn who can’t live without toothpicks, but the colour combination was such that Anne-Trine could enjoy as well! He proudly stated. A 10-year old to be proud of!

A perfect hiding place for tooth picks!


Shoes, too many shoes? May 16, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — benjamuna @ 5:05 pm
Tags: , ,

A colleague from India, a first time visitor to our home, commented while he was leaving – nodding towards our shoes: How many people do actually  live in this flat? This was, as a matter of fact, the second time a guy from India made that particular comment. But I was able to come up with a quick reply this time: These are shoes for cycling (not mentioning that I have another two pairs; for cycling in the summer and for spinning) – and these are for walking cum treadmill, and…. I then reminded him of his remark one hour earlier; about Stavanger and its four seasons pr day. Which makes it necessary to have a pair of shoes – not for any occasion, but for any type of weather….

But his remark wouldn’t go away. For a week I have been thinking, do I have too many shoes? (yes of course I have). But how come? (silly question). 
Does one need, for instance, three pairs of Converse? I have blue ones (for jeans), brown ones (for my brown jeans). And my favourite shoes above all; the brown suede ones with orange “teddy bear” lining (for spring and autumn…). And there is the Converse look-alikes, black “silk” with grey velvet laces….. Bought in Berlin solely because I was so disappointed I could never find brown Converse….

My favourite shoes which I could never, ever part with....

And, does one need two pairs of Adidas from the Superstar series that came a few years back. The black pair called “Berlin” and the blue suede ones, bought in their trendy flagship store in Berlin…. Maybe not, but if I had to choose….?

Then there is the (sort of) tiger striped ballerina shoes, bought in 2008 in Colaba, Mumbai. Ida and I were looking at shoes when this absolute “fruitcake” of a young Indian salesperson targeted  us. Ida lost all sense of common sense and bought two, if not three pairs. Whereas I bought only one pair (the sensible stepmother), and pretty useless as well the sole being so slippery I almost broke my neck later that evening. But I use them, in the summer, when I go out with the garbage. Does that make sense? – a pair of shoes for getting rid of the garbage (alternatively collecting the mail).

Useless shoes. But I shall never forget the young man who sold them....

But Colaba gave me another pair of shoes last November, my Rajasthan sandals. So pretty they could stand on a table just for sheer enjoyment…. but so hard to wear. I only have try harder!

My Rajasthan sandals are more sparkling than this photo is able to justify!

It’s not my only pair of sandals though. I have many more. For walking on asphalt, in rough terrain, suitable for the beach (where I never go), as well as a restaurant…
A few years back we travelled to Berlin. The summer weather in Norway was so bad we forgot that it could be nice and warm elsewhere. My feet was absolutely boiling, and then I caught a glimpse of a pair of brown and turqoise sandals in a window in Oranienburger strasse. And when it comes to that particulat colour combination, I lose common sense. Besides, the sandals gave me exactly what I needed; airy feet when I was about to melt!
Could I have done without them…. Probably, but my defence is strong: They were not that expensive and takes hardly any space in the luggage. Which means they can go almost anywhere without creating trouble (!)

Brown and turqoise, an unbeatable combination!!

A couple of years ago, rain gear came into fashion. If you can’t beat them, join them. That is: when it’s raining a whole lot, one might as well look good. Suddeny one half of Stavanger’s women was wearing Danish designer Ilse Jakobsen’s rain coats, and boots. Luckily I never surrendered, I never gave in neither to the coat or the boots. Or any other designer’s rainy collection. Instead I find my old 30 or something year’s green “wellingtons” perfectly usable and fashionable (I think retro is the word).

Could never part with these....

And these are ony but a few of my shoes. Because there are hiking shoes, winter shoes, Dr Marten’s shoes (only one pair though), dress-up-together-with-black-trousers-try-to-look-like-a-lady- shoes, – and some other of unknown category.  It’s a fact that one can grow out of (and back into….) clothes, but the shoes always fit. And they pile up. And they tell a story. My Converse are bought in Roanoke (VA) USA, Lausanne (Switzerland) and Oslo. But don’t let me start all over again………….


Hello world! November 5, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — benjamuna @ 6:33 pm

Usernames, passwords, pin codes; du you remember a world without? Hardly. This week has been tough…, challenging my imagination. It started with Spotify; finally I got an invitation. I tried several usernames, everything was denied. Your favourite band? forget it. Taken.  Your favourite obscure band? Taken. Even my old dog’s name was taken, a name we all though was the one and only…. I ended up with a terribly silly username, AND wrote it down.

Next was a Norwegian website for book lovers, a Facebook like thing. No way I would use the Spotify username, so I started once more on top of my imaginary username list. Taken. Taken. Taken.  But when I started on my Indian alternatives, the first one was accepted. After all, the web page was new and Norwegian.
And then, my new blog. Then things went from bad to worse. I was to compete with the whole word, I understood.  I could forget all about my Indian alternatives. Taken. I skipped my long gone dog this time. And started on variations on my surname. Benji. Taken. Benjamin. Benjamina. Taken. My initials. Taken. Variation over initials. Taken. What in the whole wide world is the matter with my fantasy? I ended up with Benjamuna. And we have established an understanding!

Passwords is another terrible headache. In the beginning of the beginning, a simple name would do. I chose a name of a small city in a far away country. It served its duty for years. Then came passwords with capital letters, number of signs, numbers and such – and it started to get difficult.  A challenge both for the inventiveness (something logical I will never forget) (but I do…) – and how to keep track of everything? Along with the ……pin codes?!!??

I have written it all down of course; usernames and passwords for airlines, banks, credit cards, travel agencies, iTunes, web shops… WOW the whole world seems to be on the net! Mee to!