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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

new home

I was never going to live in Oslo forever, not for me was the crazy club nights and multicultural conversations, not for me was  the train, tram and bus lines incessantly interlocking and inter-crossing, not for me were the big lights of the “big city” with a population of 1 million. On Tuesday I moved to my real home, a small town called Krisitiansand in the south of Norway with a population of about eighty thousand. Naturally I had been curious about my new home and asked as many people as I could about the place, the most recommended place was the zoo. “if you're going to Kristiansand you have to see the zoo!” this was the point in the story when I would raise my eyebrow[metaphorically of course because only superhumans can actually do that] and let them know that when an African is filled with wanderlust and finds himself in Europe seeing wild animals is not high on his list of priorities.

Still, 5 hour train ride later we were here. A warm welcome, one of the warmest welcomes I have ever received was thrown my way and we moved into our new house. I'm here with two other Kenyans, a boy and a girl. We will be living in a three~bedroom house for the next 5 months, we entered and there was a room that was always going to be a girl's room, it had closets and closets of space, a chandelier looking light bulb and a feminine quality radiating from its boards, the other room was huge, the obvious master bedroom of the house and the third was the monastery, the monk~room, tiny with barely enough space to get someone down on knees[I am sure there are some perverts out there who will think of something else when they read about getting down on knees even though I peppered the previous sentence with religious references.]

that's the view from my bedroom window[i got the monk room]. I may have forgot to mention that the cats in Norway routinely fly, that or that some houses are built like basements, into the ground and the window is at ground level looking into the snow. From the light quality its nearly ten thirty in the day. The windows are misty since I keep the room at a very toasty temperature. The average population of the street at any one time is just that, one, one person, one car, one cat. And my neighbours have a boat, a boat full of snow sure but in the summer...

this is the street I live in, the population statistics I gave were not a lie, in this picture I was the one person as I stood there and looked over my domain. To be honest I never thought that living in  a place like this was in my life plan, not for a while at least. But here I am, in the television idea of suburbia. A quiet street with few cars, few lampposts, few people, few dustbins and plenty of snow. The snow settles on the houses which are also white, am not sure about the roofs though, they may be a different colour but snow settles on them from the top to the bottom, falling in the gutters covering up the terraces and the spaces between them until all that's left is the white.

That's the mountain at the end of the street, yes my street has a mountain at the end. You walk opposite the main road and you come to this steep snow filled hill. Climbing a hill with snow is difficult. What you really need on your feet are shoes not snow that covers up the stones and boulders making everything look level. As I got closer I could hear the sounds of water flowing. The whisper or roar of the the elements as they battle themselves. But I couldn't see the water source. Before the edge of the hill there was a brown river of snow. My heart lied to me and I thought perharps this was a frozen river,[even though the rivers here are never brown] so I walked on and found it was the remains of leaves that had fallen off the trees. The trees that keep leaves are either the  pine trees that are used in Christmas time and these other ones with leaves  that turn brown[photocromatism is not something you need when its always so dark.] anyway these leaves had gotten crushed beneath the soles of people and the tread of wheels and now they were a fine sprinkle of golden dust.

The water was a small stream that had come from the top of the hill, snow melt of the kind that is dripped into mineral water bottles/ this mountain, dark, foreboding with a bearing that looks almost god~like as it regards those travelling beneath it will be conquered am not sure how but as they always say here, in the summer...

you walk on along this path and then you come to a pond. Half of the pond is frozen and the other half has water, blackwater. The no-man’s land between ice and water stretches on and on, looking like ice cream that's been left out too long. Then comes this black-water. The water looks like it has no soul. Its an abyss, dark and bottomless, yet another side effect of no sun, there's no illumination, no piercing of depth. Just blackness. There are ducks in there and those huge white birds, I don't know what they are but they have these wings that form almost love-hearts when they touch each other's tips. They are stately and supreme and make floating look like the easiest thing in the world. With water that black its easy to miss the frenzied activity of the birds as they pedal and pedal furiously beneath the surface, churning round and round the water. The pedalling here may  after all save their lives in more than one way, by keeping them afloat and by generating enough heat that the ice never completely overcomes them.

We are surrounded by forests. On all sides trees and trees. It makes everything quiet. Maybe its because of  the snow, maybe its because of the lack of people, but I think its the forests. Look how tall, look how proud, look how unbowed. These trees don't shiver, they don't shake, not one sliver. They stand and let the snow fall off them. Armies of trees standing disciplined in rows and rows waiting for their Caeser to come ad tell them that its now time to take over the world but until that day they stand silent and waiting, making everything quiet.

This may be my favourite part of the town, the pier. Kristiansand is a beach town making it warmer than Oslo also meaning that the people have boats and places from which the boats take off. The wind here is fierce, it whips the snow into a frenzy, tiny bullets flying all over the place like an annoying corporate memo. The water that you look into is called the Skagerrak, its cold out there. Wind is cold, its annoying, its irritating and its oh so strong. When you walk along this pier you're usually wearing these heavy jackets that the wind pushes back. Walking slow motion has never been so easy. And it howls, making a mournful, soulful sound as it hurls snows at you. Maybe this is why the water looks like it has no soul, a sound that strong cannot be just elemental, it has to be spiritual too, a sound that mournful has to be meaningful.

Across this narrow sea is Denmark.