Sunday, April 06, 2008

jarring transitions

i started my morning in barcelona. it was sunny and a lovely 18 degrees. there were several thousand madmen and -women running a marathon through its streets. a number of hours later, i landed in oslo, where it is -3 and snowing like mad. only when you fly do experience such jarring transitions. i'm not sure it's good for us, as human beings. how can we catch up with ourselves when the differences are so great?

lucky for me, i'm at the most lovely old hotel up on holmenkollen, sitting in the pretty, quiet lobby, all alone by a fireplace, so i have the peace and solitude in which to make the mental transition to match the geographical transition i made. one doesn't always get that chance, so i'm making a conscious effort to savor it.

the difference in culture between denmark and spain is quite striking as well and was another jarring transition. we noticed it already on the plane, leaving copenhagen. it was a spanair flight and full of spaniards. a bunch of them evidentally knew one another and they were talking loudly across the aisles to one another. they spent long stretches of the flight, standing up talking to their friends, sometimes several rows behind them. speaking quickly and loudly. it was strange for the danes onboard, who never speak in public unless they have to or are together with close friends who they've known since birth. it was really interesting that the cultural differences were so evident already there.

when you travel, at least when you travel for pleasure, you open yourself to the differences. i go into observation mode and try to take note of such the rhythms of the language and the body language of the people. even there, already on the plane, it was evident that the entire rhythm of barcelona was going to be different than copenhagen. the pulse and the beat on the streets was more lively and immediate somehow. less reserved. part of it is simply that there are so many more people, but it must also have to do with language and the actual music of the language itself. people simply express themselves completely differently.

we noticed that there were danes everywhere we went in barcelona. and they seemed to be caught up in the pulse and the liveliness as well, as they too were more animated. they were talking louder and using their arms more as they spoke. so something in the spanish culture was catching. or maybe it was just the sunshine and the warmth.

and now, i transition back to the cooler northern climes as big flakes of snow fall outside and the fire crackles beside me. transitions aren't all bad.


Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

"i go into observation mode and try to take note of such things"
-I do this too when I travel. Why travel if not to watch other cultures in action?
People are all the same deep down, yet mannerisms and speech can be so vastly different. Fascinating.
I'm still catching up on things after my own trip. So much to write and think about.

julochka said...

hi elementary! welcome back from your trip. it is really a luxury to have experiences to write and think about, isn't it? i look forward to reading yours as well!