Wednesday, August 27, 2008

You shouldn't laugh...but

And I feel even worse because this lady was Swedish and you know how it is between Swedes and Danes. Nevertheless, it did give me a giggle. Only because I could see me doing the same at that age...

It's a whacky world

This was brought home clearly to us last night as we scoffed dinner in front of the television. (As you can see, we are highly civilised.)

If cameras were aimed at us it would actually make interesting viewing. We lean our heads in from opposite sofas, squint, screw our faces up, look at each other and every fifteen seconds ask in frustration, ‘Hvad siger han?’ (What did he say?).

Often, the reporter or whomever looks very serious. You know, lots of bobbing of their heads as they tell us to prepare for the Russian invasion in 48 hours time and we sit there certain they’re talking about one of the new pieces of legislation made in Denmark every two working hours or the latest from the nail-biting world of badminton.

Anyway, last night we were engrossed when suddenly there was a knock at the door. This is a highly unusual occurrence and piqued our interest immediately.

Within seconds NQDII had banged the plate on the floor and rushed with Hamish to confirm that another human being had actually put hand to wood – unexpectedly – at our door.

I heard murmured voices as I continued eating. (I was curious, but not enough to stop devouring my second enormous meal of the day). Plus, I couldn’t hear much because we have the television up so loud so we can hear the words more clearly.

NQDII duly returned.

“Who was it?”

“The television police.”

“Oh no! What did you say?”

“What do you think I said? I can’t bloody lie and say we don’t own one when all you can here in the background is someone yelling, ‘…og om lidt, Airline’ at a million decibels.”

And, while there is a happy story to this (he’s only charging us as of yesterday) it does seem a bit whacky to be paying for something when all we can understand from what we watch amounts to a total of 27%.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Denmark, land of the Olympians - sorta

Well, two of them, up until now!

For nigh on a fortnight I have been scanning the results, desperate for a medal. My anxious moments were met with lots of “Don’t worry, we’re a very small country.” Small?? There’s 5,475,791 and with NQDII and I, plus two.

We have to win something! I mean, I come from a country that would rather see children starve than not have a decent medal tally.

What about the shooter? He seemed confident. “No. He missed 5 out of 20 shots”. Hmm. What about Caroline Wazniacki (ancient Danish name??). “Hmmaybe…”



Nope. In the end the first medal went to the dressage girls, one of whom happened to be Princess Nathalie zu Sayn-Wittgenstein-Berleburg, the Queen’s niece. (What was it about that dual citizenship rule?)

Let’s face it, if you had a surname like that and had to pronounce it everyday you could certainly hold your breath and stay saddled on a horse for ten minutes. Thankfully, she did and Denmark got its first medal.

A bronze.

Finally, my adopted homeland was right up there and equal with Togo and Takijistan – two countries I’ve admired for one reason or another for many years…

And then, Lotte Friis surprised the world (no joke) by winning the 800m freestyle

And then!!!

Yay!

Thomas Ebert Moreten Jørgensen, Mads Christian Kruse Andersen (who cares if he has four name’s, I just hope he doesn’t marry Nathalie zu SWB and have children) and Eskild Balschmidt Ebbesen won the lightweigh coxless four!!

The Queen's Danish

Judging by the mailbags of emails I get (what do emails come in, btw?) a lot of people wonder how my Danish is going. As said in an earlier post this week, it wasn’t the best week in the world in any respect of my dismal life and here are a handful of this week’s Danish disasters (keep in mind they all occurred in Danish):

---

Me to workmate: What does the word kludder mean? I can’t find it in the dictionary anywhere and I keep getting emails about it.

Colleague: It’s X’s nickname.

----

Me to lady from power company: I’m not sure what this bill is for – or what months.

Lady: How can I help you?

(Deep sigh and intake of breath) Me to lady at power company: I can’t read this bill properly. Can you tell me something about it?

Lady: Yes. But I can do it in English if you like.

---

Me to shop assistant: Do you sell needles? I have to sew on some buttons so I can fuck them up.

Shop assistant: (Wide eyes)

Me: I have to fuck some buttons.

Shop assistant: I think you mean sew on buttons so you can do them up.

---

Me to lady at stall: Is it okay if I take a picture?

(Lady has bewildered look)

Lady: They’re DKK480

---

Me to waiter: Two white wines please.

Waiter: Sure

later: two red wines arrive

---

Me to workmate: So where is the 20th anniversary party?

Workmate: I just told you 30 seconds ago

Me: I said where this time. Not when.

Haha! I got one back!!

---

Me to colleagues in office: Gosh. It's very hot in here

Workmates: (sniggering)

Me: What?!

Workmates: "Meeaathhhh" - just like the Queen!

Job hunting for English speakers in Denmark

Here's a new site specifically for English speakers looking for work in Denmark. It's appropriately called careerguide2denmark

Kunst hændværker markedet



Our main reason for going out yesterday was to visit the crafts market on Domkirkepladsen. While I am a bit marketed-out – what with Brick Lane in London, one in Brussels and a recent one in Frederiksberg – I’d read this particular one was very good.

I’m a bit ho-hum about such events. You can only look at so many knotted leather bracelets, macramé and run-of-the-mill seascapes. Thankfully, there was none of that here. Indeed, it was undoubtedly the best I’ve ever been too. There was also the most delicious looking ice cream stand. Unfortunately the queue was so long and disorganised we gave up on it but even now, I feel quite cheated.

The general standard was absolutely superb. It’s utterly mind-blowing how talented some people are. I have trouble drawing stick figures.

It was really the Harrods of open-air markets.

I was impressed with everything – the silversmith work, ceramics and even the clothes. There were so many outstandingly beautiful pieces. I really wish I’d had my real camera and not just the one on the phone.

It’s too hard to really pick favourites but the kiln-fired glasswork by Jørgensen & Mørch Design was exquisite. The plate pictured here in the photograph was amazing and there was a pair of delicate candlesticks by Dorph-Jensen that were simply magnificent. The glass of Marie Petpen was extremely interesting as was the jewellery from Galerie Metal. Really, there was lots of others too - I just didn't grab all of their cards.

When you hear about Danish design, this is what they mean. It was the market’s 25th anniversary and I can’t recommend a visit to next year’s enough.

Really cool pots with rock lids




The plate we're starting to save-up for

Pride Parade

It was a very busy day in Copenhagen yesterday. We set off for the arts market on Frue Plads and unexpectedly happened across Gay Pride’s parade. This went some way to explain the pub we passed that was covered in pink tinsel.

The parade apparently started in Norrebrø and worked its way down to Rådhuspladsen, which had been set up with a huge stage, Thai food bars and, of course, several booze bars gearing up for all night partying.

Well, let me tell you there was something for everyone. Handy and glamorous fashion tips for women courtesy of a smorgåsbord of tuled and crinolined drag queens, enough tanned and buffed male torsos to set off a stampede of last-chance 40-something men (like me) to Denmark’s health and fitness centres, a float of smurfs (gay ones, I guess) for the kids and, naturally, for any hate-crime and neo-nazi enthusiasts I suppose an overwhelming feeling of being a kid in a candy shop.

But, for me, smile of the day was the at least two-metre tall drag queen shuffling along in black boots with roughly 30cm platforms and not much else. It must have been a very, very long walk for her from Norrebrø and I dread to think of the state of her feet today!

There were lots of laughs and a very large crowd. Even the weather turned on a perfect sunny and warm late summer performance.


Rådhuset

A rainbow for the rainbow parade

Whatever you do, don't ask for her hairdresser's name

Drag queens

More of Paris Hilton's cousins

There's a bear in there

Some Smurfs 'come out' to play

These boots are (n't) made for walking

...and a wedding at Mary & Fred's church


video

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Jeg skal taler dansk riktigt godt (eller rigtig god?), hvad!

In light of this article, I thought I should announce that the company I work for is starting Danish lessons for all we 'forrij-ners'. This means I won’t have to try and fit Danish in after finishing work, which rarely happens because I can never get away in time.

I am extremely grateful. My boss was very good about it. I was going to ask others if I they'd like to attend a Saturday morning class I'd discovered but he said no one would be interested and, consequently, these in-house classes transpired thanks to him.

They're in the morning from 0800 until 1000 (on hour or mine, one of their’s), and I can’t wait.

I find I can understand so much more than I did but actually speaking gets me befuddled. It will be brilliant just getting it over and done with in the mornings without the stress of wondering whether I’ll get to class or not.

The week that's almost over

The sky tonight

This is what the sky looks like tonight, on Little Friday 14th August at 6.34pm. Still, daylight but it is getting darker earlier.

For one reason or another I will be glad to see the back of this week. I think the stars must be strangely aligned or there’s a full moon brewing or something because it’s been a very shitty week one way or another. Work has been frantic, which I don’t mind usually but I was working on a project I’d not been involved in that much. The presentation went well but more due to the quality of the work than my presence. I am on the booze right now, as I feel it calls for a stiff drink!

I am looking forward to locking myself inside tomorrow night and just hygge-ing (new word?). Plus, the weather has been crappy and believe it or not, no matter what time I left for work or came home (in degrees or very early or late) the rain started midway through my cycling. The dog had diarrhoea for two days, which didn’t help and literally put the shit into a shitty week.

Don't think I'm depressed - I'm not, it's just one of those weeks!

Hopefully next week will prove nicer. ☺

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Goodbye summer


I thought the farewell a little early myself but looking at a few trees around the place, perhaps not. Some are definitely starting to change. Plus, it's getting darker at night. It's still light until late but nowhere near so. In fact, if you read this chart, you'll see that here in Copenhagen we're now losing at least four minutes of sunlight a day!

An insight into life in Copenhagen - from another ex-pat

One of the best and certainly most comprehensive blogs about life in Copenhagen is this one: The Copenhagen Report. The owner of the blog was recently interviewed by CNN about his life here and it's a terrific read. So, if you want an overview of what it means and feels like to live in CPH from someone who share's my view about about place, read here.

Margaritas anyone?



There are lots of Mexican restaurants in Melbourne. I’m not a huge fan of Mexican but NQDII loves it and because I’m such a good partner I agreed to dinner at one we spotted on Gothersgade a few weeks ago. It was rather nice, especially the margaritas and the waiter was kind enough to give us double shots – something I’d not experienced in DK before. They were quite delicious and the more heady I became, the more eager I was to brush the exorbitant price of them away in my head and order more. What’s money? I thought. Until I got the bill. The effect of these four margaritas went some way to softening the blow but, as I have no self-control, NQDII subtly asked if I had bought my Dankort (that is, insisted I paid the bill). ☹

I can't blame the magaritas but probably the beans and a still-warm building that made for a... rather uncomfortable night's sleep for both of us. I still can't make up my mind whether the midnight addition of our 'Melissa' fan was a help or hindrance but even the dog eventually ended up exiting his basket and the room...

Still, it was nice sitting outside in this late part of summer and, while, as I say, there are lots of Mexican restaurants in Melbourne, none of them overlook a royal castle. I must admit this week I was happy to see the end of the work-week and it took the view across the road to make me realise that I do now live somewhere rather different.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Guess what I had for dinner last night...




The not-so-good-news about eating chicken in DK presently.

Apparently salmonella is having a ball in chicken from SuperBest, Kvik Spar, Spar and SuperSpar at the moment with a lovely strain resistant to antibiotics. I think what we ate came from Føtex. Yes, I'm sure it did, I think...

Tim Tams are coming!



My Aunt Egg rang today to say she was coming over. She's having a quick trip in October once the footy season is over and before the real cold hits. She's spending a few days in Singapore visiting my brother and his wife and kids and then a few days here in Denmark. She said did she want us to bring some Tim Tams? Like, is she for real?????? Is okay. I will have lost the 7kg by then.

Street performers


I'm a bit of a street performer cynic but I had a quick walk along Strøget this afternoon and came across this terracotta warrior. Quite well done, I think.

There was a little old man back in winter when I was getting the metro from Frederiksberg. He'd be there at 0730 playing his accordion in dark, freezing, sleeting temperatures and always playing the same song - Oh how we danced on the night we first met - with great gusto and smile on his face. No one else was smiling at that time of the morning in those conditions, I can promise you that! I guess he's in St Tropez enjoying the summer now.

Anyway, this young guy today was very realistic. I really did think it was a statue at first and I wouldn't want to be him trying to get that sludge off tonight.

TV DK




Yes, it’s a Sunday and what better time is there to talk about television viewing in Denmark.

In Copenhagen we get four channels (well, at least right here in this flat we do). One of them is called Kanal København. It’s turned into one of our favourites, as it’s full of community-based programmes that are rather endearing to watch because they have more than a touch of an amateur production to them. You can see such specials as: Saturday night at the local community hall’s big band get-together, visits to local old age centres that (literally) go on for hours [Super Senior TV], home interviews with pensioners about KBH in the old days, interviews with artists, café owners and trips to Islands Brygge (the swimming centre located right in the harbour). A great one this week was a televised run down of some church’s fete.

Originally, we used to give each other raised eye-brows from our respective sofas and giggle away at the dodgy camera work or the occasional interviewer who seemed suddenly to run out of questions for the guest, which would leave the camera focussed on two tentative, faces obviously hoping something from somewhere would intervene with some inspiration.

Now, I really get into it for another reason. It gives you an overview of a really nice part of the Danish psyche. Firstly, that a channel like this even exists and secondly that there are obviously people (other than us) who tune in to see these very normal, unspectacular events in the day to day lives of some Copenhageners. I suppose an equivalent table of contents in Melbourne would be seeing Mrs Anna Old-School from Kew prune her roses, Mr Gino Italia’s family busy processing their tomatoes into sugo and preserving them in old beer bottles or interviewing the old fisherman on St Kilda pier. A little bit of Kanal København can go a long way but in a very dejlig way, it’s a pleasant alternative to sensationalist current affair programmes or some of the banal American sitcoms that air everyday, and sometimes twice day.

My biggest surprise occurred one night when we arrived late home. NQDII headed straight for bed but I flicked on KK to see a naked man passionately kissing a just-as-naked woman who was in some degree of ecstasy if her moans were anything to go by. I thought it was part of a normal movie until seconds later we had close ups of a very beside-itself penis and an equally happy vagina. I couldn’t believe my eyes but I had to stay tuned to find out what happened next in the plot. After speaking to workmates about it, I discovered one early morning the techies allegedly inserted the wrong video into the player so pre schoolers were given a glimpse of part of their lives to come. If it’s true, I’m not sure what they thought about it but apparently there were lots of telephone calls to the station from frantic parents.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Things you miss



I share an office with three others. We all get along really well and have lots of fun. The one who is intent on improving my Danish, by speaking to me in Danish, said yesterday that she really is surprised how I and NQDII have settled into life in Denmark. Her husband has a job where they can always be posted away too, so she knows very well what it’s like to be an ex-pat. Then I happened to say I really missed our house sometimes and she said, “Finally! You miss something.” It made me think I must be all sunshine and light, which really isn’t the case and I’m sure a couple of my blogger mates must think the same.

There are lots of things I miss about Australia, but I know they’re not here and Denmark has it’s own plusses that Australia doesn’t have. I don’t expect my life in Denmark to mirror my life in Australia. It’s impossible. I guess how I approached the move was to literally just jump into it and let fate steer the course.

But, straight after that talk with my workmate, I received an email MMS from a friend in Australia who’d just driven past my family farm and stopped to take a photograph of the driveway. I haven’t seen that view of the place for almost a year and I must say it did make me a bit melancholy. It’s winter there now and I could see the wet ground, the gum trees with all the fallen summer bark around them and I could almost feel the frigid air and smell the eucalyptus and yet, it is all literally on the other side of the world.

The farm

So, here’s a list of things I think about almost every day.

1. My brother, his wife and kids – who live in Singapore anyway
2. My father who I dread something happening to while I’m here
3. My best friend Steve
4. My other best friend Salome, who lives in Texas and has also developed an admitted email-writing phobia
5. My dear friend Carolyn who died before I came here but I bought her photograph because I knew she would have enjoyed the trip
6. Other friends, Bruce, Joe and Francesca, Joy and Peter, Jan and Cameron, Yvonna
7. My crazy aunts and cousins
8. My house – it’s nothing really special but it’s bigger than this flat and has its own tiny front and back gardens.
9. Saigon Rose – Vietnamese restaurants in Prahran and Richmond, and the family who run them
10. The huge selection of vegetables and foods we have in Australia (plant variety, not idiots)
11. Melbourne water that requires no de-calcing to run the dishwasher or washing machine and tastes delicious. The only trouble is, there's hardly any left...
12. Cheap, great restaurants
13. Being only 5mins away from the beach

And here’s a list of things I don’t miss

1. Bogans
2. Excessive heat and all the dramas that go with it
3. Sport taking up two thirds of the nightly news
4. Aggro on the streets
5. Yuppies
6. Listening to Australian politicians
7. Driving – this has surprised me

Et voila! See, I am human.

Nørrebro nights

Entrance to the local gym. Sorry, my phone cam doesn't like twilight, but you...get the picture

Nørrebro is the city area next to us. It has a lot of bad press, often deservedly, and it’s where some disgruntled youths got their knickers in a knot over their community house being torn town last year and set about tearing the rest of the area down. Many people call it Nørrebronx.

Personally, I rather like it. I don’t know that I’d want to live there. It’s a bit like a very big Brunswick Street, Fitzroy and, as good as the restaurants are along that strip, I wouldn’t want to live in Fitzroy either. Certainly, I don’t feel unsafe there, which is interesting, although the place is thriving with the usual street-types you find in ‘grunge’ areas. Ya gotcha drunks, ya gotcha druggies, ya gotcha gangs etc. but compared to other such areas I’ve been to in other countries it’s, thankfully, pretty tame. The VisitCopenhagen website describes it as a place for 20-30 somethings (they didn’t include me in this statistic) full of hip cafes, restaurants etc, shopping and exotic food. It’s also probably the most graffiti-ed place in Denmark.

All that said, it really does have some cool places to eat. Last night we went with some of NQDII’s workmates to – wait for it – Pussy Galore’s, which is right on Sank Hans Torv and surrounded by other cool eating and drinking venues. It was a beautiful night and perfect to sit outside drinking and eating. I think you know you’re starting to adjust to life in Denmark when you think nothing of spending DKK500 on a few drinks!

Funny, cause I just watched Goldfinger last weekend



We sat at a table almost in the middle of the square, right beside the park bench, inhabited by two not-so-happy-with-the-world vagrants. But they kept to themselves and seemed quite happy to watch everyone around them and duck of occasionally for fresh øl supplies. At one point, one of their bottles fell over and beer quickly poured out. I’ve never seen someone who can barely walk, move so fast to upright a bottle!

Of course, our final stop was one of my favourite places Paradis who have, I believe, the best ice-cream in town and, having managed to keep to a diet for the entire week (I’ve put on 7kg since November last year) I felt I’d earned a splurge. I’ve just got to learn to fight the nagging withdrawals that really want me to go back and get another one today!

Summer in Copenhagen


Sun and Denmark are two words you usually don’t think of putting in the same sentence but this week you can’t not. While 25C or 27C doesn’t sound that high for Australians, I can promise you that for some reason in Denmark it feels like 35C.

My first week back at work after two weeks off saw the few of us who were at work sweltering in a lovely old office without airconditioning. Indeed, it seems there is NO airconditioning in Denmark. While that’s good new for Global Warming, it’s not so good news for workers – expat ones particularly. It didn’t help at all that I spent the entire week working on a project about central heating! By the time I cycled home every day I was literally a sweaty, smelly mess and headed straight to the shower.

I dreamt of the beach all week and fantasised about swimming in the clear, cool waters of Amager Strandparken today only to wake to an overcast sky and bad beach day weather.

I feel cheated!