little did we realize when we told our friends and colleagues that we were going to wisconsin on a vacation that we would get a response, "What are you guys going to do there ?". honestly we didn’t know what we were going to do. With tickets to Chicago, an atlas and a book “ off beat path to Wisconsin”, we were on our way.
Wisconsin famous for its Scandinavian, german and swiss settlers, a logo for its touristic visitors is as ambivalent as it can be. In the last 200 years only impressions of them have been left behind in the form of gift shops with some swedish goods, Danish furniture, german flags, and swiss cheese. And Wisconsin has become famous for its cheese made with pasteurized milk and enzymes! and rolling hills (not so much ) in Monroe, the cheese capital. However the huge farms of corn and more green along the roadside with cows, and horses , sheeps looked really charming to an urban dweller.
For me driving along the lake enroute to another town is always a pleasure. So we first picked up the famous kringle ( a danish pastry) from a pretend(!) scandinavian shop at Racine and drove up along the lake Michigan. For me a vacation is meeting the locals, going to the farmers markets to observe the interactions of the locals, the buying and the selling , sitting at places where I can watch passer bys without being spotted while curiously watching them as they go about their way. I like to feel the city where people get on with their lives.
On the eastern side and north eastern side of wisconsin where we were mostly traveling it is dotted with the usual fare- American super stores and farmers markets where they had a sign for sale mostly in their yards mostly because it is summer and the berry season and Wisconsin has an agrarian economy. Except for Milwaukee and Madison which are the cities others are smaller towns and have mild traces of scandinavian countries, with scandinavian flags on smaller boards at Wal-Mart! Though SUV ‘s and pick up trucks formed the major transportation it was equally surprising to see two wheelers on the road, people walking and jogging in the evenings and even cycling which I did not expect of the rural American folk. And there are many antique stores with plenty of Scandinavian finds, a real treasure I must say. And one will not miss anything if they do not have the famous fish boil in green bay. A tourist attraction where they will boil the water and drop the fresh catch of the day in the pot and everybody who makes a reservation at the restaurant gets to see the spectacle!
My expectations to see the native Indian folk and their settling were dashed when the local community center said that such things does not exist except for a museum. I expected a huge one but it was a small cottage with about 1500 sq. feet in all. It was dotted with mannequins dressed in Indian clothes and ornaments encased in glass boxes. model of an Indian house, few paintings, some Indian dolls, Indian jewellery and few postcard with Indian paintings and we saw all of it in less than 10 minutes. Isn't this a pity considering the fact that the first settlers are the tribes and they loved the hearth and tended the earth. I didn’t encounter any native Indians even on the Indian reservation ! Instead I found a crystal café in the Indian reservation with contemporary décor and women playing cards in the afternoon and a casino.
The museum was staffed by a woman of Scandinavian descent. It was quite a pity and also reflects the inhuman attitude at alarge of the colonizers who plundered the land and left nothing. The ex-CIA analysts whom we later met at a democratic membership meeting at door county in Wisconsin said, the best insurgency done by the government so far in its history is against the Indians.
Attending the democratic membership meeting was a highlight of our visit to Wisconsin where we met the locals and heard their questions and concerns as residents of the town they were living in and were citizens at large... ( to be contd.,)