Archive for the 'Everyday ramblings' Category

Saturday morning Copenhagen

It sodden outside. Not in a bad way. Just a constant, light patter on the pavement and the sound of cars and cyclists plowing through 1 inch puddles.

There is a baby carriage in my back yard. Inhabited. Confined to the outside and the elements. What, outrageous! cry the baby activists!

This phenomenon bemuses visitors. But somehow it makes them jealous for the Danish sense of security, trust and naturalism.

Another blogger domicile, also describes this Copenhagen baby boom  and the habits of outdoor conditioning. Note that this Danish custom is not transferable overseas however. (In 1997 a Danish woman was arrested in New York for leaving her baby in a stroller outside a bar in the East village…more.)

wear sunscreen

I was recently moaning about the expectations and disappointments of everyday life to a friend. He told me to listen to this song by Buz Luhrmann. It has stopped my complaining for the time being. 

Danish mood of the day

Today, the news in Denmark seems to be remarking on a more global way of seeing things. Traditional domestic spirits such as Gammel Dansk and Akvavit are being replaced by liquors of ‘foreign’ origin. ‘We want to drink in a more sophisticated manner’ said a researcher interviewed in the Copenhagen post this week.

Furthermore the primeminister Anders Fogh Rasmussen returning from holiday, has proposed a loosening of immigration policies to allow a wider range of employees access to Denmark’s labour market. ‘I don’t envision a Denmark where everybody is the same,’ said Rasmussen. ‘It’s exciting to have a society where people with various backgrounds are here as long as they work, provide for themselves and contribute to Danish society.’

So this is the Danish mood of the day.

cycle chic

When I first came to Copenhagen, cycling in stilettos with an umbrella just seemed too ridiculous to even try. But there happens to be a means to an end / or a beginning to a new means.

Forget practical footwear and cycle helmets. In Copenhagen, where cycling is a main form of transport for city dwellers (as noted on the blog ‘cycleliciousness‘, there are over 500, 000 cyclists on the streets everyday, 36% of Copenhagen’s 1.7 million citizens), dressing up for an important occasion goes hand in hand with cycling on two wheels. These two aspects of life are routinely combined, even if somewhat precariously.

It’s what matters in Copenhagen, looking like you planned it all, getting from A to B with little more than ruffled hair. Premeditated casualness with a touch of chic. Anyway, this is just my excuse for using an umbrella the other day when I wanted to ride home in the torrential rain.

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cyber-dating becomes inconvenient

I’ve been doing a bit of cut and paste on powerpoint today…..

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leaving your mark on art

I think this weekend’s best amusing news was about the dedicated art admirer who left her red lipstick mark on a painting by the artist Cy Twombly, worth 2 million Euros.

Unfortunately after her passionate act, she was arrested and charged for ‘criminal damage’.

Even so, her actions were thought provoking: ‘this red stain is testimony to the moment to the power of art’….’I found the painting even more beautiful’ said Rindy. ‘The artist left this white for me’.

I wonder what Cy Twombly thought about all of this?

I would like to think that he rejoiced in the fact that his painting has continued to evolve and develop new and unwarrented additions.

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order to chaos

I found this stack of posters pasted on a wall along Skindergade (a central Copenhagen street) that seemed to echo its written message:

In the beginning things were ‘ordered’, but after the continual addition of new things and without the replacement of old things, it became ‘chaos’.

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Watchout for the cycle police!

DR1 news reported tonight that police in Copenhagen will be stepping up a campaign to make sure cyclists stick to the cycle lanes and don’t run the lights. They will swiftly issue a hefty 500 DKK (200 NZD, 50 pound) fine to anyone that is spotted riding off the beaten track.

Pedestrians have their revenge.

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Surviving in the face of adversity

Surviving in the face of adversity brings people together, strangers from all walks of life.

This was what I thought on the train returning from Roskilde festival this morning. A commuter at 8-9am would have witnessed sequential wagons of dazed and mud speckled youngsters. Together we dispersed (eighty thousand of us) into the sparkling tranquility of central Copenhagen, in-pairs and as single stragglers. An understanding nod to each other as if to agknowledge our groggy appearances and rubber mattresses. A few cheerful conversations amongst those who could manage it. We were comrades for a few days. Music is what we live for.

100mm of rain fell on the first day of the festival:

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I left my camera safely at home out of the rain, which means I am pinching other people’s images to illustrate the mayhem and the merrymaking. ‘Rockphoto‘ is a collaborative website with photo’s from five professional photographers covering the festival. There are some very beautiful shots from 2007 and previous years.

Meanwhile I will make an effort to collect my confused thoughts and get down to a working Monday. The music will have to be revisited later, in a more focused frame of mind.

Click below to see more photo’s …

Continue reading ‘Surviving in the face of adversity’

80s child

Oddly enough, there are certain material objects and symbols of popular culture that remind you of the era you grew up in. A friend has emailed me a file containing 80s magic to be remembered that has sent me giggling into my morning cup of tea.

If you grew up in the 80s you may find yourself agreeing with everyone of these. I’m surprised how much of my childhood galore was shared with others from around the globe.

all I wanted….was a kiss

Every now and again when I search on Youtube for something, I come across something-else lovely and random:

the media defend Denmark

In the Danish media this week: There has been extensive criticism of the Prime Minister’s son for his recently published book ‘American conditions‘. In his 57-page manuscript, Rasmussen challenges the many negative images of the US promoted by the media and among other things, says that the Danish health care system is more likely to fail patients than the American.

Rasmussen has lived for several years in the US and is no doubt qualified to make such comparisons. However I find it interesting that an individual that is so closely related to an important political figure (the Prime Minister who is also perhaps the embodiment of the Danish welfare state), can express a certain ‘betrayal’ to his fellow countrymen. I have sensed after living here for 3 years, that the social welfare state is a source of pride to many Danish citizens and ensures a high standard of living, low levels of corruption and keeps things working like clock-work.

It seems he has quite a few facts wrong however, according to the 2 page summary in the daily paper Nyhed Avisen and in other various papers around Copenhagen. With my limited Danish, I can make out that there has been a very strong rebuf of the comparisons he makes between the US and Denmark, with respect to crime, health and poverty, that tend to put the latter in a less-shining light.

One thing is clear, despite an apparent political leaning towards US policies, which includes the debarkle over the ‘War in Iraq’, most Danes will not aspire to US ways easily.

Haiku after the rain

concrete expires steam

trees bushes respirate air

rain brings revival

Things that get caught in your spokes

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It wasn’t hard to figure out what concert the crowd was emerging from last night, out side Forum, in Copenhagen. Picture Ozzy Osbourne fans. The spokes of my bicycle wheel almost got trapped in the long flowing black cape of one of the more extravagantly dressed.

Trust in the state of Denmark

I was recently the victim of ruthless marketing by one of the local newspapers in Denmark, Berlingske tidende. Although I have never subscribed to this paper and I normally read the more liberal Politiken, a telephone marketer somehow obtained my mobile number and coaxed me into listening to the latest subscription offers.

I’m not normally a sucker for this kind of thing. Words of the salesman usually run over straight over my head and out the backdoor. A curt ‘no thankyou’ and a polite ‘goodbye’ usually ends the conversation and is proceeded by thoughts of ‘How dare they invade my private space at this hour?’

In hindsight I put it down to his flirting tone -The appeal of opposite sexes seems to be a powerful marketing strategy, in my case I don’t think a sales-woman pitch would have had quite the same ring to it. (I bashfully admit at this point that my salesman further coaxed me into a 3-month trial subscription).

Putting this aside, it has occured to me how much personal information is public and trusted in Denmark. My anonymous caller already knew my name, mobile number, address and fully expected me to quote my bank account details over the phone.

But I just couldn’t give him that trust…

To further illustrate how trust in people’s goodwill still exists here; All residents in Denmark have a national security number (CPR-number) which gives a whole host of information (age, income details, marriage status) to authorised, or not so authorised individuals. Its one of the reasons why things are reputably efficient here.

However a non-trusting person would realise that the CPR-card which you carry around with you also provides your address, so don’t lose your keys at the same time as your card, you are either relying on a trusted citizen to return it to you safely, or returning to a ransacked apartment.

Will this trust in goodwill last? Or will it slowly be relinquished to a more doubtful state of mind as people encounter more of the unfamiliar?

flight of the conchords

Following from the previous entry concerning the future and putting it in perspective, I found this clip from flight of conchords, a folk/parody duo …

the smell of freshly cut grass

Today on msn I had a conversation with a friend about the future. Is there anyone that isn’t worried about it in some sort of way?

I suppose these could be the symptoms of our generation in particular, the 20-30 somethings, graduated, searching for love, or wondering what love is, disparate young professionals and on the cusp of beginning a career, or contemplating a new career.

Somehow, this feeling today is also heightened by globalisation, changing markets and increased mobility of people.

Although we are dislocated and alienated when we uproot ourselves from our home settings, our ability to combat our disparity through the internet has improved vastly; friendship databases, internet dating, skype, blogging – This help us to feel connected and re-connected in new and un-familar surroundings.

In a manner of speaking, ‘the world is your oyster’. Yet we still worry about the future more than ever, and is this because we are more in control of it or want to control it?

Perhaps its all not so bad, relatively speaking, according to Brian Holtz who sites some of the catastrophies that humans fear, in excerpts from Human Knowledge: Foundations and Limits; Humans don’t really face extinction even in the case of nuclear war, and it is unlikely that extraterrestrial intellegance will ever find Earth an attractive place to colonise.

Perhaps we should all lie back and think of the smell of freshly cut grass instead….

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The grass at Islands Brygge, Copenhagen

Comic to cheer up the day

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statistics

Danes are amongst the fastest walkers in the world, averaging at 6.08 Km/hr and second only to Singaporeans.

Just another random statistic that was published in one of the daily newspapers in Copenhagen…. I find them quite amusing sometimes, even if there isn’t a grain of truth in them.

Strategic packing

It has occured to me why packing bags for a weekend away can be such a difficult chore. It requires considerable pre-meditation about ones needs. For instance, one must think of dress habits, logical color combinations, weather conditions (sun, rain, snow?), and choosing the best pair of shoes for dual comfort and style. All in advance.

Even if you are a seasonal traveller, the most difficult thing is reducing your normal personal belongings to a few bare essentials items and then again, something is always forgotten.

Let alone one-self, why am I complaining? My thoughts are with friends that now have young families. The task of packing up the needs of a toddler or two, is even more challenging.

Furthermore, in view of the 100mL limit, packing must be carried out strategically, otherwise you will end up having things confiscated (like the jar of Vegemite that a friend had in her hand luggage on the way over from England). And be sure to close the lid of your tube of toothpaste before you travel, which is something I neglected last time.

we are just so happy here in Denmark

Yet again an article has talked about about the ‘happiness of danes’. I have to say I’m pleased that I live amongst the happiest people in the world, it ends up making you feel quite content.

Yes it is true that maternity/paternity leave is good here, the standard of living is high (especially due to a strong economy right now) and people feel secure because of the high unemployment benefits and a generally uncorrupt bureaucratic system. The pressure to ‘work to survive’ doesn’t really exist and when the sun comes out, its generally accepted that you can go out and enjoy it. Thats life, great isn’t it!

I just suspect that the reason behind ‘happiness’ is a bit more complex that that. Happiness is an affected state of mind caused by many things, love, money, self-satisfaction and these days probably dependant on the amount of anti-depressants people take. Last but not least, it is largely determined by expectation. If you set low levels of expectation, for instance in the number of work hours, in academic achievement, in the need to be healthy, thin and to accomplish things efficiently, then things are a lot happier and a lot less stressful. If you drop out of school, become a single mum, can only afford budget foods and smoke a heap, thats also okay. Maybe there is just too much expectation out there in the big ‘unhappy’ world.

More than anything else, I think mantality has more influence on the state of ‘happiness’. I have noticed that most Danes in general have a very strong sense of nationality, community, and virtually fall over backwards if something negative is said about their country. Its almost a betrayal to themselves and fellow countrymen to talk down about their lives to others, it would never cross their mind. Thats sometimes a hard thing for outsiders to swallow and understand, especially if you are used to thinking that the grass is greener all the time….here in Denmark the grass is the greenest if you think like a Dane 🙂

read my mind

friday the 13th

the weekend

sun

breeze

morning paper

cup of tea

rest

i don’t mind

stripe on stripe

Since I’ve been in Denmark I have noticed that horizontal striped t-shirts and sweaters are a common sight.

Stripes seem to come in and out of fashion in other places, but there seems to be a stable number of stripe-wearing-people in the population here. Its a bit like having clones, with a little variation in colour and thickness of pattern. I’m sure I spotted some more examples in the local fotex supermarket catalogue this morning.

Not that I dislike it, its just noticable when a lot of people wear the same thing. Perhaps this is a typical Scandinavian look. Does the clean, cool, minmalist look give reference to Scandinavian design? Below : So is this the way to spot a Scandinavian guy?

A shining example

Easter

Easter has been and gone. Maybe all the chocolate eggs will be on sale now? Returning from a weekend in Vastervik, Sweden, has really made me notice this northern light, its is almost blinding sometimes. And its very rejuvenating.

Feathers : A Swedish Easter tradition that I have been admiring

Easter decorations in Vastervik, Sweden and the Northern Light

Unfortunately though not surprisingly, when I returned to Copenhagen my bicycle was missing from where I had left it, amongst the squaller at the back of Central Station. I started to wonder what cheeky/drunken sort had made off with it. Just an anonymous, black, ‘dame cykel’ with a basket that will most likely end up in one of the lakes or canals nearby, and rust away. Alternatively it will be salvaged and sold at the next police auction to a new owner.

Anyway, I knew the risks and will resign myself to the fact that my bike in somewhere out there, free to use. My only regret is that I changed the tires recently.

Whatev-ah

Have you ever uttered ‘whatev-ah’ ? It is the ultimate conversation killer or state of indifference. Now teachers are worried about the use of this word in answer to everything, where it is used to challenge authority, and how it is causing young people to opt out of communicating and avoid the use of language. It means you don’t really have to think about what you mean, or what you like… you don’t even have to say it…. ‘Whatev-ah’. Anyway you can read more in this article that describes actually where this word has its origins.


Flickr Photos

Copenhagen Weather Pixie


The WeatherPixie

‘here I collect thoughts and images of Copenhagen, things in the news, share experiences and explore identities; the sorts of things that come to mind when you live abroad and adapt to new surroundings’

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