#MySweden: ‘I am in eternal gratitude to this city’

Every week one of The Local's readers takes over our Instagram account. Today Geetanjali Saini from India shows us her Umeå.

#MySweden: 'I am in eternal gratitude to this city'

When and why did you move to your city?

I moved to Umeå in 2010 to pursue a post-doctorate at Umeå University.

I am currently working as a scientific consultant and, on the side, as a contemporary visual artist drawing inspiration heavily from nature. This entails travelling, primarily learning new techniques and the rich and diverse Indian folk art forms and I am always on the lookout during my travels for new material to incorporate into my works.





A warm Hej! This is Geetanjali @sainigeetanjali_gs, your host for this week @thelocalsweden. My earnest hope is to get you acquainted with my second home in the North, Umeå (via art and photographs), that is brrrrr err cold for most part of the year, India being my motherland (I hail from Delhi). I am intensely aware of how unfamiliar a lot of you may be/have been with this city, before it was designated the European culture of capital in 2014. Meanwhile a bit about me – I moved to Umeå to pursue post-doctoral research in Microbiology at Umeå University. Currently, am freelancing as a scientific consultant in the field of breast cancer research and alongside working as a contemporary visual artist, drawing inspiration heavily from nature. Swedishscapes have been a potent motivation in this regard. I travel a lot, primarily learning new techniques and the rich and diverse Indian folk art forms…always on the lookout for new material to incorporate in my works. It is obvious to me now, my inclination that is, towards abstract art. Art is a personal and spiritual journey and am a perpetual learner, a work in progress, a beginner for life, Evolution is my mantra and I hope to abide by it. Besides, I dabble a bit in creative writing although it has taken a backseat now. So naturally, this hosting business has me totally stoked ? . Many a times I like to sequester myself away, what I refer to as a personal cocooning period, short bursts of rejuvenation if you may; this sweet quarter, a mere 20-30 minutes bike ride from downtown Umeå, where oxymoronically everything is still and in motion is just that haven for me. Here is a heady mix of piping hot Masala Chai, Oscar Wilde, an open hearth, Ume river flowing past and right company. This brilliant capture is thanks to my buddy @chinmaydwibedi. Would love to know about your rejuvenation spot/activity. How often do you feel the need to retire so? Also is welcome, guesses on the book that has me engrossed here ? #thelocalsweden #mysweden #sweden #sverige #visitsweden #umeå #visitumeå #autumn #västerbotten #indianartist #swedishartist #svenskkonstnär #instagaramtakeover

Ett inlägg delat av The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden) 4 Jan 2019 kl. 9:20 PST

What do you love the most about your city?

From my Instagram posts it is obvious that the beauty and charming natural sights that Umeå offers has affected my spirit deeply. It was particularly catalytic in igniting my passion for painting. I am thus in eternal gratitude to this city.

Apart from that, even though it is one of the largest cities in Norrland I find it has a certain pastoral charm. The city is laidback, the people kind, very helpful and conscientious. I was elated to find several restaurants here that serve not just one but many vegetarian options and the dishes taste good too! In fact there are restaurants that have dedicated vegetarian and vegan menus or that solely use local produce and organic products.





⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣ The city is teeming with cultural activities all year through. I have had the good fortune to attend several concerts (both baroque and modern) and operas (La bohème, The Elephant Man, Elektra) at the Norrlandsoperan. If you are a student you can avail the excellent student pris! ⁣ ⁣ Sharing some pictures from the magnifique open air 'Elektra'. Kulturnatta and the Ume Folk festival are other events to look forward to. Bildmuseet is a favourite haunt and has an eclectic mix of exhibitions year-round.⁣ @sainigeetanjali_gs⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #thelocalsweden #mysweden #sweden #sverige #visitsweden #umeå #visitumeå #kulturnatta #umefolk #elektra #bildmuseet #norrlandsoperan

Ett inlägg delat av The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden) 9 Jan 2019 kl. 3:54 PST

What annoys you the most about your city?

The darkness can be very draining, energetically and mentally. On a slightly frivolous note, it would be nice if one could find decently priced Swiss cheese (raclette) here.





⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣Sharing a panoramic sketch of Umeå by the river which at this point is layered on thickly with snow. In the winter months the sun rolls meekly over the horizon. ⁣⁣@sainigeetanjali_gs⁣ ⁣⁣ ?Swipe to see pictures of the Ume river signalling a shift to spring.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ In December its pitch dark already at two in the afternoon. The motivation to work or perform anything really, dwindles rapidly post lunch. A psychological trick we would often employ at work was to draw the window blinds much earlier and raise them only around 5pm. Like this we could pretend that the sun had only just set ? ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ #thelocalsweden #mysweden #sweden #sverige #visitsweden #umeå #visitumeå #winter #västerbotten #umeriver #indianartist #swedishartist #svenskkonstnär #svenskkonst #konst #art #artwork

Ett inlägg delat av The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden) 8 Jan 2019 kl. 1:55 PST

How should I spend a day in your city?

I would highly recommend nature walks in the summer. There are lots of good spots in and around Umeå that can be covered in a day. Pack your own picnic, else there are small cafes that can be found on location. For musem lovers, there is the Västerbotten's museum to learn about the cultural history, especially the Sami culture. Bildmuseet can be an interesting stop too. The elk farm at Bjurholm makes for a nice day trip. Another suggestion is the Guitars museum. It's fantastic!





Years ago, when I landed mid-April in Umeå, straight from Zürich (a city I had lived and breathed in for a good five years), the sight of gigantic mounds of half melting snow admixed with gravel and dirt by the sidewalks, while the rest of Europe was spring a blooming, almost sent me scurrying to Newcastle to accept another job offer. I was to take up residence in Ålidhem, where most University students and researchers are housed, and its drab layout further strengthened my first impulse,,,to escape! As fate had it, and how as we well know first impressions can be extremely misleading . . . Stay tuned for further outpourings ? . Living in the north means feeling everything more acutely, seasons especially so. One constantly awaits the short-lived spring and summer months that arrive simultaneously here. End of autumn signals a mental preparation for the dreaded dark period before the snow arrives …in short it is akin to Vivaldi’s Four seasons constantly playing in one’s head (incidentally what I would love listening to, while slaving away in the lab). Therefore I thought what could be more apt than sharing about Umeå through the seasons it cycles through. Would love to begin with Autumn, a metaphor that for me stands for out with the old, in with the new. On that note a Happy 2019 folks ? *** 'The Red building’ (medium: aquarelle + soft pastels), a part of the University campus zone, is marked for being torn down soon. A real pity! In autumn this is hands down the prettiest building in sight. Am glad to have penned it down in its autumnal rush. Immortalised, as it now features on the cover of a collection of short stories too.*** @sainigeetanjali_gs . #thelocalsweden #mysweden #sweden #sverige #visitsweden #umeå #visitumeå #autumn #indianartist #swedishartist #svenskkonstnär #svenskkonst #aquarelleart #softpastelart #art #artwork #umeåuniversity #softpastel #konst

Ett inlägg delat av The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden) 5 Jan 2019 kl. 2:21 PST

What's a fun fact not everyone knows about your city?

Umeå is also known as the 'city of birches'. In 1888 fire razed down a large section in the east, rendering several homeless. Following this, a lot of silver birches were planted as part of the restoration process and that is how this tag came about to be.





⁣⁣⁣⁣ The skies in Umeå regularly throw up remarkable visions. The sunsets are tirelessly beautiful dusk after dusk. Many a night the moon hangs temptingly low on the horizon. And then there are the ethereal aurora shows that never fail to fascinate and sometimes are so intense, one can spot them from the comfort of one’s balcony! I have spotted a snake slithering out of the sky once and another time as if a giant piano was hooked up and being played most majestically.⁣ ⁣ @sainigeetanjali_gs⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ ⁣ #thelocalsweden #mysweden #sweden #sverige #visitsweden #umeå #visitumeå #aurora #auroraborealis #supermoon #umeåsky #sunset #indianartist #swedishartist #svenskkonstnär

Ett inlägg delat av The Local Sweden (@thelocalsweden) 8 Jan 2019 kl. 10:58 PST

Follow Geetanjali Saini on Instagram here. Do you want to be The Local's next #MySweden Instagram takeover host? Click HERE to apply.

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