Monday, January 28, 2008
I came down with it over the weekend. NQDII had it just after Christmas and over New Year.
Let’s just say I’m very glad I cleaned out the bathroom drain beforehand.
I went to work today for an ‘important’ meeting. Unfortunately it was standing room only – for an hour – and it’s the first time in my life I’ve come close to fainting, or at least thought about it.
In a nutshell, it’s also called winter vomiting disease and now I’ve regretfully learned the term ‘projectile vomiting’.
Thanks a bunch Roskilde.
Early night tonight.
Sunday, January 27, 2008
Here is the Danish Queen, Margrethe, giving her New Year’s Eve address to the nations – which, I might add, most Danes watch at 6 o’clock pm before they begin their celebrations.
She’s a very talented woman – an artist, a translator and speaks 400 languages fluently – well, not 400 but lots. Her English is flawless.
To me, she comes across as a tad daunting but I think what made me warm to her was the way she read off paper, rather than teleprompter and I love how she removes the paper clip and rustles the paper before she speaks. That, in itself, is something that endears me to the Danes. They don’t’ – Queen seemingly included – stand on ceremony and are very relaxed. I also have a feeling she says goodbye to 2006, rather than 2007 – so listen and see if you hear her say seks (6) or syv (7).
Can your Prime Minister do this?
(Be sure to watch the blonde guy behind the speaker. He's our new Prime Minister and we're justifiably proud of his clever accomplishments. Just make sure Queen Margrethe wears gloves if she ever meets him.)
The bathroom ‘grease trap’.
I’ve only lived in two places in Copenhagen and both have had unusual drainage systems in the bathroom.
The first flat had a bath with a shower over it. I love baths and coming from Melbourne, which was in drought when I left, baths were a luxury and it was a hassle knowing you had to bucket the water outside into the garden if you did have one.
Moving into a flat with a bath was, at first, heaven.
I quickly did a huge wash of clothes, drew a bath and luxuriated with a book as soon as I moved in. The joy soon turned to dismay and disgust half an hour later when I realised I’d failed to notice the washing machine outlet drained straight into the bath where I lay.
In this flat, the washing machine, via a rather unusual piping system, drains into the shower recess but I can cope with dirty washing water flooding my feet on the off chance I misjudge the cycle.
What I did find hard to cope with today was the drain from the shower and basin gurgling up and flooding the bathroom floor as I stood shaving at the basin.
As anyone who knows me will attest, I am no handyman. I groaned and stood looking at the drain for a while, realising I would have to do something. You can’t live without a bathroom.
I dressed and grabbed a screwdriver and prised the floor drain open to be greeted by the most disgusting mess I’ve seen for a long time. This small square pit was literally full of – I don’t know how long’s – worth of gunk. We’ve not even been here two months, so it can’t have been ours.
I grabbed a bucket and latex glove and started scooping it out. It stank like nothing on Earth and I dry-reached several times but finally, mission accomplished and it was unblocked.
I feel, understandably, very proud of my accomplishment.
I’ve heard a few Danes lament their public transport system for being unreliable at times. I can’t understand this. They should try relying on Melbourne or Sydney’s public transport system, when having your train arrive on time (or at all) is sometimes nothing short of a miracle. Indeed, it’s so bad in Melbourne at the moment that a citizen’s action group is telling passengers not to pay for tickets.
My experience here in Copenhagen is totally positive.
You have to remember Denmark is a tiny country and Copenhagen a comparatively small capital city by European standards, and even Australian standards. But despite this, they have a system that is truly remarkable and efficient.
In peak hour, the trains on the suburban lines and the metro run almost minutely. It’s so quick. If you miss one, another is there before you know it.
The trains themselves are kept pretty clean with sections in the carriage when you can take your bike and even dog!
The driverless metro trains are excellent and really do help keep the city moving.
My only gripe is with the etiquette of some Copenhageners when they board a train. It must be Australia’s UK heritage but we’re well used to queuing (without numbers) and as much of a bore as it is to wait for someone to get what ever they want at a counter and move on, we put up with it.
As you can imagine, there’s usually quite a few people waiting to get on when a train stops and, while most who are ready to embark group around either side of the door waiting for other to get off, there’s always a few who feel it is their Divine Right to just push in while people try to get out.
It’s starting to drive me insane. You know how little things can do that…
I had a frustrating day at work a couple of weeks ago and just wanted to get home. (We’ve bought bikes now, so I ride – but anyway, that’s another story). I was with a group of about 15 people waiting to get off at Østerport station.
The doors open and we start to file out but just when half of us are about out, a guy decides he must get in immediately, I guess because it will get him to his destination far quicker.
That was it.
I wasn’t in the mood and I saw red. I decided to wear my right elbow out a bit further than usual and put on the exact speed he was using to get in the train. The result was an audible grunt but I really had had enough, although I felt dreadfully guilty for being so ‘aggressive’, but there you are. I was. My halo is now skewiff.
For those of you who’ve never come into contact with Danish, I shall endeavour to explain what must be one of the world’s most difficult languages to speak. I say ‘speak’, because grammatically it’s not overtly different to other Western languages to learn. In fact, unlike, say French, you don’t need to learn a gazillion verb endings for different voices, it’s simply:
jeg er, du er, vi er, etc…
But, speaking is a different kettle of fish.
I can’t think of one word actually pronounced in its entire form.
Here are some quick examples:
‘meget’, the word for ‘very’. This is pronounced something like – ‘mahwwwl’.
‘og’ – ‘and’ – is ‘oh’ and ‘hurtigt’ – quickly – is ‘hor’dit’ (sort of)
…and on it goes. Seriously!
Consequently, actually stringing a comprehensible sentence together seems only possible by making it utterly incomprehensible.
Still, progress is being made. Now, at least when I’m shopping, I’ll get a reply – albeit in English…
NQDII has come up with a an answer to at least to towns and suburbs, so at least we can use our own ‘dialect’:
Vanløse – Van loser
Roskilde – Rockslide
Nivå – Nivea
Lyngby – Lingbi
Køge – Codge
- So as you can see, we’re almost fluent.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
The excitement and expectation of NQDII and Hamish the Wonder Doodle was everything I expected it to be. But, amongst the joy of Jul were some other unexpected surprises.
On the Saturday, I picked up Hamish from Kastrup airport. The veterinarian’s to be precise.
Hamish arrived at 7.00am and would be through quarantine by 9.00am. At 8.00am I leapt onto the metro and quick-stepped it out to the airport. I’d hardly been able to sleep I was so excited. I was also held some trepidation. Would he remember me? Would he like Copenhagen? Were we doing the right thing making him live in an apartment in a city? The later was not as much of a concern as our inner-city terrace is not exactly a mansion and our back yard in Melbourne amounts to a postage stamp. Still, he free to duck out and do his business whenever it pleases him.
The metro is marvellous. For me, it’s almost door-to-door to the airport and takes only 20 minutes. At that time of the morning there was hardly anyone about but it was a different story at the airport.
First stop was the SAS cargo office about 300m from the main terminal. There, I had to pay ‘some’ bill, which I knew and sign arrival pages. From there, considerably lighter in pocket, I had to get over to the quarantine veterinarian on the outer road of the airport, a couple of kilometres from the terminal.
This is where I ran into trouble.
Before I left, I ran a taxi company and asked if dogs could go in taxis. I didn’t think it such a good idea to take Hamish straight onto public transport.
“Oh yes,” said the voice. “You won’t have any trouble.”
Try living my life for five minutes.
Unfortunately for me, Muslim taxi drivers are not mad on dogs, so pleas from me to drive me to the vets, pick up the dog and drive us both back to Frederiksberg were met with polite (or confused) resounding nos. I finally found a driver who looked to be ‘Danish’ but, of course, he didn’t like dogs.
Of course, none would drive me to the vets because they’re all banking on a fare back into town, not a two-kilometre trip.
In the end I befriended the man behind the information desk at the terminal who told me to take the free car park bus and ask the bus driver (nicely) to let me off on the main road, from where I could walk to the vets, which I did.
The vet was the most gorgeous woman called, Rie, (I think) who was very understanding about my predicament with taxis and said she would organise it. She added Hamish had a ‘beautiful’ (her words) personality and, in fact, the nicest she seen for a while!
Immigration forms signed and more money paid she told me to turn around to the next window where the customs woman would fix up the customs bit.
I turned to the window.
“Could I have your declaration please?” She asked.
“Umm. What customs declaration?”
“The one you’re meant to have to pick up the dog.”
“Right. Excellent. You must mean the one I know completely nothing about?”
“That would be the one.”
“And, tell me, is there a charge to this customs declaration process?”
She looked at me and smiled.
“Right. Well, I am sorry but I knew nothing about this and the company that organised Hamish’s flight didn’t tell me anything. Are you sure they’ve not already done it?”
She must have seen me roll my eyes.
For a few minutes she engaged in animated conversation with Rie across the hall in the vets and then said:
“Well, it’s Christmas. We’ll fill in the forms now and waive the fee.”
Seriously, I wanted to leap through the glass and kiss her.
How nice is that? (Her, I mean, not me wanting to kiss her.)
That done, I had to go and see a chap to pick up Hamish, next door to the vets. His name was Kor but I have no idea if that is how it’s spelt.
Excitement and nerves suddenly overwhelmed me when I pressed the buzzer.
He shook my hand and let me into what amounted to be a huge indoor garage.
“I’ve let him outside so he can have a run around after such a long flight.”
“Oh, thank you, that’s very good of you.”
“Now, did you know you now have to pay a DKR 2,400 pick up fee?”
“Hmm. Obviously not.”
I then relayed that there was very little left on my credit card and I hadn’t yet received my Dansk Kort.
“That’s okay. We can send it out.”
Phew. (I think)
Suddenly he opened the door and the big ball of fluff running around wildly outside stopped to look.
Some twenty metres away, I called out, “Hamish!”
He turned his head to one side, then to the other.
I called again.
Suddenly, a look of recognition.
He leapt a metre in the air, and his legs moved at break-neck speed. He ran full speed over to me, trying to say something and then licked me on the neck, and took off running around the garage trying to find something to pick up to show me – a tradition he’s followed ever since puppy hood.
Round and round he ran at a million miles an hour, then back to me for a cuddle then off again, then back.
He finally calmed down and the taxi Rie had called for me arrived.
Much poorer in pocket but richer in spirit, we headed back to the flat.
One down, one to go the following day.