I had this dream of Copenhagen being a pretty picturesque town surrounded by lakes where the Little Mermaid sat on a rock. When we reached Copenhagen (Kobenhavn), I could barely wait to dump my bag in the hotel room and head out to look for her with a map in hand. Walking along the H C Andersen Boulevard opposite Tivoli Gardens, near the City Hall, I saw a huge statue and some people busy taking photographs. I was about to ignore but then I took a step closer and I am glad I did. It was a statue of Hans Christian Andersen the grandpa of all fairy tales that most of us have grown up with. While most people where busy sitting in his lap or near the feet, I stood next to him, arm in arm, in gratitude for all the stories that he told to lull me to sleep every night. He lived and wrote a century before I was born but his writings are as immortal as they can every be.
We walked further down following the map, often loosing our way, only to emerge into yet another lane until we reached the end of the Langelinie pier after a good 30 minute walk. There she was, sitting on a rock, face slightly turned away looking shy, lost and forlorn, her mood matching the cloudy overcast sky that day. Wading through the crowd of people who were busy clicking photographs, we managed to balance ourselves next to the rock to live our fairy tale moment !! Flooded with memories of a childhood gone by, I had a little drop of tear in my eye. Little Mermaid was my first fairy tale book in a hard bound green cover with glossy pictures gifted by an aunt. I hugged it to sleep many a night, hiding it under my pillow lest my mother take it away. Let me reveal my little secret, I would often refuse to have fish those days thinking my legs would turn into fins if I gorged on fish everyday. I saw from every angle, her dark black beautiful face and form etched in my memory.
The story of Little Mermaid was first published in 1837 but the statue was sponsored by the owner of Carlsberg Breweries and sculpted by Edvard Eriksen in 1913. This beautiful piece of art has withstood many vandalism attacks, with arms broken, defaced and even pushed off the rock in 2003 since the sculptor had made a mould to recreate it for the future. We walked along the pier where the boats were ready to sail and then passed by Gefion Fountain which is often referred to as a miniature of Fontana di Trevi of Rome.
On our way back to the city centre, we met 3 pretty mermaids who were doing a survey on the city and were happy to know that we are from India, the food they love to celebrate special occasions with. As much as I remember the statue of Little Mermaid, I remember the young school girls with pretty faces and warm smiles ….who are the real mermaids of this beautiful city !!