Friday, January 12, 2007

Let's start - A for Antwerp

Antwerp is a beautiful city in Belgium, around 35 - 45 minutes by train from Brussels, the capital of Belgium. Compared to giants like New York, Paris, Sydney or even Mumbai, Antwerp is very small in size but second largest city of Belgium. Have been to this place 3 times, all for very short visits... sometimes a day trip from Brussels. It is pretty convenient, since there are plenty of trains running to and fro throughout the day between the cities.

Antwerp” - First time when I went there, I neither knew nor bothered about the meaning of this name. I was in a hurry to make it on time and come back to Brussels by evening. Later, when I got to know the meaning, I wanted to go there again. :)

The original name of Antwerp is Antwerpen in Dutch, the local language. Antwerp is its adapted English name. In French it is called Anvers.

Antwerpen = Ant + werpen.
Ant = hand and werpen = thrown

The name is based on some mythological story. It is believed that there lived a giant near the river Scheldt who did not allow people to cross it without paying a toll to him. Those who refused, had to lose their right hands. He used to throw the right hands into the river after chopping them off.

Then one fine day, there came a hero like in Hindi movies (don’t remember his name at this moment) who chopped off this giant’s right hand and threw it far away. It fell at a place where today there is a gigantic statue of a man’s right hand, sitting pretty. It is surely an eye catcher in one of the city's busiest shopping streets – Meir.

People come, sit and get photographed with this stone hand. We did the same when I went there the second time. :) We, three of us had decided to take the last train back to Brussels, so had just enough time to be with giant hand. It was a wintry night, very windy and chilled. From neck to toe I was covered in layers of woolens including leather jacket but my head was enjoying the cool chilled wind. Nose had become numb but spirit was at a new high. After hectic office hours, I felt this feeling quite relaxing.

For obvious reasons, respecting the anonymity of people including me, I won’t show pictures with anyone in it. So, though I have hundreds of photos, the choice for hosting here gets filtered down to a limited few. Also, I had never imagined myself writing a weblog. Tried to blacken out one of my pictures solely for this post.

Quite strangely after that I saw many statues in Antwerp with hand, perhaps only then I had started noticing them.. a man throwing hand, just a hand and so on. Even the cookies and world famous Belgian chocolates were in the shape of hands !! And to think of it, when I had landed in Antwerp first time, I didn’t even know the existence of this hand !!

This hand has become THE symbol of Antwerp.


Prashanth M said...

Have heard the name of this city, but was unaware of the story behind. Thanks for sharing.

Cuckoo said...

You are welcome. You will get to know more of this city in next post. :) Can't write a big post.

Pyare Mohan said...

Nice post.
Btw, the name of the giant was Antigoon
and the man was a roman soldier by the name of Silvius Brabo

After seeing ripped out hands, did you shake hands as well? ;-p

Cuckoo said...

Ahaaa ! Have you been to the place as well ? Or taken help of Google ? ;) If latter is true, I didn't want to do that.

After seeing ripped out hands, did you shake hands as well?.. Oh yes, What do you think ? ;)

Pyare Mohan said...

No, not Google, i thought u would know about it since u aspire about working there.

A friend of mine is a diamond merchants son, and Antwerp is a place known for Diamonds... He has his office there

What do you think ? ;) This question i will take it offline ;-)

Cuckoo said...

Oh no ! I was about to tell about diamonds in my next post, was digging out related pictures. :(

Pyare Mohan said...

ouch! sorry to bust the bubble!!!

Sigma said...

Nice post. Indeed very interesting. I love to read or learn through some other way, stories behind names, inventions, traditions etc.

Cuckoo said...


Glad that you liked it.

Pyare Mohan said...

guess what! if its kind of a coincidence, i watched Blood Diamond yesterday... Antwerp was there too!!

Brilliant movie! Must say, sheds light like never before on conflict diamonds!

Cuckoo said...

Noted. Thanks. Will try to see.

Prashanth M said...

A for Antwerp
P for Prashanth
W for Waiting :(

Abhijeet said...

this is the coolest blog i've come across....good stuff...very inspiring!

Cuckoo said...

A = Antwerp
N = Now
T = To
W = Wait
E = Endlessly
R = For (sorry, couldn't get any)
P = Prashanth
Note- Your profile picture is quite dangerous :P. Looks like as if you are clicking me !! Let me hide somewhere !!

Welcome to my blog. Thanks for so nice encouraging words.

Hmmm you find it coolest blog ? Become a regular here. :))

Prashanth M said...

haha!! very creative! :)