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Thursday, March 29, 2012

the light bank


Daylights saving time was a foreign concept, like ovens that weren’t for baking. (in Europe they call the house heaters ovens.) This is something that becomes a part of your life, it is the first stop when you get home, and it’s your love, your warmth, your family at least in the winter months. Once we had a brownout(KPLC stalks me even here.) This was in winter and our ovens wouldn’t work, I went to sleep and when  I woke up it was cold, it was uncomfortably cold, it was painfully cold, pinpricks on every spare surfaced of skin, pain marks being left and felt. It was the first time that cold kept me in bed and the first time I felt cold without recourse to action. It was colder outside but at least outside you have clothes to wear, you have wool and you have jackets, scarves and gloves and the knowledge that it should be like that.

This is a picture of Kristiansand on 26th of March. The time is self-evident. Yes this is now the time the sun begins to go down. It’s not till 8 pm that the light begins to retreat from the earth and with that spring is starting.

Daylight saving is actually a quite artificial stealing of time from the atmosphere. It’s done ostensibly to save electricity but it really doesn’t. All it does is make people happier. On the 25th of March the whole country sets their clock one hour ahead. This means that 7 o’clock last week looks just like 8 o’clock this week. And we have been having some good weeks.


The sun comes out in all her glory dressed in a dress, dressed to impress and pressed with a glow that’s heavenly. I was in shorts and sandals on Saturday looking the full tourist down to a backpack. We walked through town, a town that had belched all its inhabitants onto the main street, Markensgate. The beauty of the main street is that it’s a pedestrian only street. No cars except police. This is the street you walk in when you are drunk and drinking. Even in the dead of winter there is no snow on this street. How? They heat it. They have ovens under it which warm it up. How is this affordable or even practical? This comes of a country that discovered oil decades before it discovered its 5th millionth citizen.

There is money to go around in Norway. Money and money. This is the richest country in the world, best standards of living and the most expensive. You see oil and weapons are exported out. Inside they have a government that actually works, one that makes sure that the economy goes round and round. The welfare system works here, it actually does. If you want an economic paradise get born a Norwegian citizen and sit back. Unemployed people will get 6,000 kroner a month. This is 1,000 dollars. Now the country is so expensive that this guys is not exactly balling but with some financial acumen this person could afford to go watch Jay z and Kanye west perform(600 kroner for the May show.)

But it’s also a kind country; they spread their wealth around through a program in the foreign ministry called NORAD which is taxed with supporting development programmes. Kind of like USAID if America had enough oil for all her hundreds of millions and no aspirations to empire. Maybe people learn about empire and conquest from the past. The Vikings came from Norway, they sought out foreign heads instead of shipping out foreign aid. On ships of wood and wills of steel they went forth into the world spreading rape, misery and plunder. But as they all do that empire crumbled and fell. People who play with empire rarely start that game again. Rome, Greece, wherever Babylon is they slinked away. England and her short man syndrome watched as the colonies shrank away, too far from her heart for blood to get there. They died and all that’s left is the Falkland’s.

But daylight savings. I can begin to understand the Vikings. I can begin to understand that the Norwegians of now are still struck by wander lust, a need and the means to see the world, to live a year here and spend 6 months there. The winter. The winter kills more than just the plants. It kills life itself. It leaves everything a shadow. I can’t pretend that I didn’t see it or that I wasn’t affected. Life was grey back then. Nothing happened. I ate, I slept, I drank, I shat and then I shut myself in. coming home at times I thought were too early but my body wouldn’t allow me to move out. It was cold and dark. My fingers hurt all the time. My face was used to the onslaught, well used to complaining about it. There was nay a friendly face to say hey! And I wasn’t in love.

I fall in love with countries if I do it right. Wherever I am I fall in love. It becomes home and my heart is lent to the most beautiful place in the world. It took me a long time to fall in love in Norway. But now I remember the moment I fell in love. It was 2 weeks ago. I had gone to Oslo and was invited by one of the Ugandans to watch a charity show. Earlier that night I had enjoyed heavenly cuts of meat and a bottle of wine, stimulating conversation, pretty faces and my favourite book library so far all in the same house. I stepped out of the event to have a smoke, just one (am still at the point where I lie to myself that all I’ll ever need is one a day.)

I stood there and watched the human traffic and heard the sounds of the city. I don’t know why it happened then but something just snapped. I liked her then I loved her. It was that simple. That point when you can see yourself making a life in a country is the only real joy of travelling. Then I came back to Kristiansand and walked around in the dark. I met a girl who made my heart beat like I was a school boy again. She works in a shoe store and asked me to go see her again.

I did and as we talked she had to pretend to work, so she kept touching the shoes, so slightly. Turning them this way and that, as she said, “I have to do some work.” But that action stuck with me, her just slightly, ever so slightly turning the shoes this way and that, a millimetre, a centimetre and then smiling. Then she told me she has a boyfriend. As one of my friends recently told me, story of my life.

Now the sun shines brighter for longer. We stole an hour. We artificially made it later and we went late to work on Monday. The fact of daylight savings a once in a lifetime excuse to sleep in (about to become one of those bloggers who never give the address to the boss.) they didn’t mind that we forgot, hours are lost to more experienced people who just forget. It slips their minds completely that now the sun goes down later.

So I get why they travel and why the Vikings went all the way to the ends of the earth, wouldn’t you if life fled your country all the time. It would be a moment to seek out warmer climes and better signs. When the sun came back though it would be time to come back because they didn’t lie when they said there is no place like home.