Oslo Expansion Pack

"Barcode" in Bjørvika, a series of new buildings, both office space and apartments in Oslo.
"Nordenga" bridge, crossing the railway from Bjørvika to Grønland.
"Tjuvholmen" at the very tip of Aker Brygge.

"Kværnerbyen" apartments (that's the creek with stepping stones! I'll have to take a picture myself it seems).

Oslo is halfway in many aspects. We have half a good public transport system, we have half of a good shopping centre, we have a half a green city with parks in it, half of it is dead ends and half is shabby. At one intersection down the street - the road is lined with four different kinds of fences. It never seem to have occurred to anybody to build this city consistently, new bits are just being slapped on without much thought to what was there before, or what surrounds it.

Just like those new blocks that are across our street. They're all modern and square, painted in a communal barn-colour - with as much charisma as a car crash. There are lots of ugly blocks here, including ours, so to say, and they're surrounded by all those delicious wooden houses that are traditional of this area. Some blocks are really nice, and have been done up really well, but most are no. It's all over "old-town", and it's weird that they haven't been able to find some kind of middle-way between unflattering modernism and impractical nostalgia. It just looks weird and half-assed.

Major parts are under construction, and the bits that are not are often quite messy or unfinished as it is. Helge and I took a walk down to Kværnerbyen the other night (literally, night. We were home at 4 in the morning) just to look at the apartments down there. Kværnerbyen is literally a ditch, seriously, it's down in some dent, surrounded by hills, and filled with lots of concrete and roads and trains. It hasn't got a lot of appeal in other words.

The apartments are just blocks of brick, set in concrete - hardly very charming. But then it's not finished yet - and the renderings online look as usual very promising. How they are going to turn the place into what they are imaging I don't really understand. But that's the way with these sexy architectural illustrations, they always contain about twice the amount of trees and happy children to what will eventually exist. There was, however, one nice thing about the area, a constructed creek of water with square stepping stones that went along the east side of the buildings. This sizzled magically, especially at night, when it was so quiet elsewhere. So I really fell in love with that, but the rest still needs a spark of allure - it's hardly very homely there at the moment.

Oslo is really changing though, the buildings along Bjørvika are all really futuristic, so are those on Tjuvholmen. The massive bridge ending in Schweigaardsgate, "Nordenga" is anything but Norwegian, and the new Nationalmuseum at Vestbanehallen will be very modern too. It's called the "Forum Artis", I would tell you what I think of it, but it's really hard to tell from those crappy renders they have released, it does as far as I can tell - look square and angular, so I guess that's why we're going for it. As usual.

But I will stop whining now, sorry. I really hope Oslo will be more whole one day, as it is oddly unfinished right now. We are lucky to have some visionaries who are at least trying to create something better out of what we already have, especially in Bjørvika.

Luxurious poverty

There is just so much that has to be safely acquired and stored within the four walls of our apartment right now.

There is "Alan Wake" and "Red Dead Redemption", we do have our precious toaster now - but what about all the films we need? We need "Avatar" for some safe get-away, there's both series and the special episode of "Green Wing", and I haven't actually BOUGHT Keane's "Night Train" either. So this'll be crazy! And I need a phone, because I am currently exploiting the kindness of my younger brother by borrowing his old one. And I should get some new summer shoes... And a shelf for the DVD's and a dresser in the hall, and snowboard goggles and boots for next season. That alone could shake you thin!

But then when I have all these things. Who needs money? :D I will be very busy, and very very happy for a very very long time. Exactly the way I am now.


One of the truly Norwegian traditions that are still upheld today, is the spirit of "dugnad".

And I am a little surprised I haven't mentioned all this before, as it is a significant part of our national identity. It's all really selfless and philanthropic, maybe with a small pinch of communism stirred in with it honestly - and a very good indication of how Norwegians like to see themselves.

Dugnad is unpaid labour done for the cause of the community or an individual. Sports clubs usually have them, so all the soccer mums have to rake the field or sell waffles to buy more balls, or whatever the sport club can benefit from. It is also common that apartment blocks have dugnads, and they usually mean raking dead leaves, hosing, planting new shrubs, washing, clearing - whatever, in the good spirit of working together. AND, I left this for last, it is obviously closely linked to our national day on May 17th.

Because it is in this good humoured, giving spirit that we pick up cigarette butts and dog poop unveiled by the melted snow - to make sure our homeland and homes look their best for our celebration. And this is I guess just like the tradition of spring cleaning. (Cleaning the house after the winter to prepare it for summer) and so it is really logical. I suppose that it is different here, because I have heard from other countries that people hire other people to do these things, or host a fancy fundraiser or simply just donate money so they don't have to bother with it in person. And I suppose that's a lot easier and also probably way more convenient -  maybe even quicker! But if a simple Norwegian can't invite his neighbours for a dugnad around the neighbourhood - what have happened to our country and our people?

I know we all hate them, deep down, we despise them. We hate them for all the reasons there are - like, "this is awful, and I'm not even getting paid to do it!" Or, "this was a really good idea, why didn't I think of it first?! I am more of a Norwegian than that pompous bitch!" Or perhaps even, "oh so he thinks he can just dibs the lawnmower and that means he doesn't have to climb the apple trees to cut them? EH? I'll show him." Right. And some host a barbecue and bake cakes without telling anyone so they can't help them bake and cook - so they can take all the credit for themselves.

So there are just a select few who just instantly ignite when they hear the word dugnad (of enthusiasm, it is frightening). So for that reason dugnads are a Sunday thing - even though we are a Christian country (on paper) and God has clearly stated several times we ain't to work on Sundays. We bypassed this some time ago, probably by adding "paid" to "work", which was very convenient for the crazy curly people who love to do something for the community. So they wouldn't feel so bad about torturing the common man to get up, go outside and rake until he's bled dry on church day.

Dugnad is a nice tradition, and I hope we never stop having it. I know we hate it and we never make the best of it. But at least we can pretend like we are doing it from the heart, and not because we don't want to be sneered at by the mailboxes.

OOooh Suuundaaay

Yeah, I'm sorry, it's just so awfully funny.

My closet has performed ritual suicide again. A perfect seppuku that could pride any samurai. I would take a picture for you, but there are levels of decency. It's all been put back to normal though, it's just that the shelves cave in on themselves sometimes because they're held up by these tiny pegs that they are just barely touching on each side because they're a little narrower than the cupboard. But anyway!

Hey! Trysil-Knut is on tv! Too bad I have to make pie. Haha! It looks bad, even from here.

Yes, today we are having dinnerguests! What do you know? That's only like the ... err... fourth time or something! So that ought to count for something. Such beautiful weather today, really stunning, sunny and delightful and all the leaves are starting to pop. Looks like it might be summer here after all. In other neeews, next week is the last for our annual project at school - we're lagging behind so it's going to be dirty, but there you go - it's not so easy to make games as what you might think! But then, we are hopefully finishing it one way or another, which means in turn, you can play it too! If you want.

Now where was I? OH! Yes, I have been so busy interneting that I have completely forgotten about breakfast. Can't survive on tea alone you know! Aaaand last but not least - before I go and ravage the fridge, here are the books I've bought this week:
(Of which, I have started three, but not finished one of 'em!)
"The Satanic Verses" by Salman Rushdie
"The Unbearable Lightness of Scones" by Alexander McCall Smith
"The Careful use of Compliments" by Alexander McCall Smith and
"Mistress Oriku, Stories of a Tokyo Teahouse" by Matsutaro Kawaguchi.
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