Copenhagen

Postulate: the activity on this blog is inversely proportional to the activity in my real life.

So if it’s been quiet in here, it’s been busy out there.

I was invited by some Danish organizations (Danish PEN, KVINFO and DCCD) to attend another blogging workshop, in Copenhagen.  And let me just say that if the idea was to win over my heart and mind, then it was money well spent.  Copenhagen and its good people have left me highly impressed.  It’s one thing to know that there are whole countries in the world that are punctual, and it seems a small thing.   But then to experience it is quite another; to feel what it’s like on a cellular level to depend on the world to live up to its promise.  In Copenhagen Central Station the number 5 train to the airport arrived at precisely 10:01, and stayed in the station for some predetermined number of seconds.

But mostly I was impressed by the bikes.  That is one of the first things that struck me, how Danes have collectively settled on the bicycle as the cleanest, greenest, cheapest, quietest, healthiest mode of transportation.  Again, it seems small, but it’s its own revolution.  There are bike lanes on every street, making it safe and enjoyable.  I also bike in Marrakesh, but let me say that it takes a lot of care and wits to make it through the chaotic traffic here.

I didn’t know it was possible to live in noiseless city until I went to Copenhagen.  Between the bikes, the underground metro, the Danes’ natural inclination towards quietude and their great skill at double-glazing windows, there is a muted quality to the air, like living in a silent movie.  And the air, the light, it has a watery grayish hue to it, so that colors do not pop out.  Because of this Danes crave bright colors, at least in houses and flowers, to give life some visual contrast.

The Danes I interacted with were genuine, helpful, in that easy way that I most associate with Moroccans.  There did not seem to be so many degrees of estrangement (as I experienced at times in the US): scary stranger, neutral stranger, casual acquaintance, friend.  When I talked to people (mostly asking for of assistance in figuring out how to get from here to there) I felt like they addressed as they would a friend.  They were unperturbed by my outward foreignness (hijab).  I could go on and on, but I think you get how impressed I was with everything from the sidewalks (they are very important to me), to the Royal library, to the tulip-filled Tivoli gardens, to the myriad positive encounters with everyday Danes.

My impressions of the city of course were only a backdrop to the workshop.  This is the second workshop I attended with many of the same women from Amman.  I have to say that although I’ve lived in Morocco most of my life, I haven’t met many women from other Arab countries.  We are geographically and linguistically isolated here, and I didn’t realize the extent of it until I met women from Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Palestine.  And they seemed as “foreign” to me as the Danes that I met.   I was thankful for the opportunity to learn each woman’s name, to learn some small part of their stories, to share moments with them that will forever humanize those countries to me.   They always say that travelling broadens your view of the world, and whoever they are, they got that right.

A typical Danish parking lot:

Denmark parking lot Copenhagen bikes

Rush hour:Copenhagen street with bikes

The stock exchange:Copenhagen

Inception:

Low bridge:

A rather large photo of something small and lovely:flowers growing in old wood stove

To illustrate my point about color:Copenhagen old red buildingAnd:
Christiania Copenhagen

22 thoughts on “Copenhagen

  1. How lovely your photos are! I was in Copenhagen in 2008 and I too took SO many photos of bikes, bikes, bikes. Even though here in Vancouver, B.C. there are many bike lanes and lots of bikes there’s still far too much competition w/ cars.

    And having been in Marrakesh I can’t imagine riding a bicycle there!!

    Appreciate you taking me back to one of my favourite cities!!

  2. Abdurrahman says:

    What a sane people! I was impressed in Paris by the rent-a-bike stands everywhere but there were still way more cars there than (it seems) in Copenhagen. It’s also interesting to see that they use bottled gas like in Morocco, but what a lot of sense to have hook up outside.

  3. thanks for sharing🙂
    lovely pics , seems a great place indeed🙂

    I`m not 100% sure , but a couple of jordanian bloggers were there too, ola and mayyasi?
    🙂

  4. Gosh, Nora!
    Now I need to go to Denmark straight away! The bike thing is excellent — but, of course, I think Denmark is rather flat. It is a pretty small country and pretty much socialist.
    But the weather might be a bit too chilly.
    Morocco, to me, is so warm the people…..and the weather.
    The US is much tougher altogether. That’s what travel is all about –understanding new places and learning a little about one’s own.
    Much love to you and your family.

  5. Alexandra Gomes says:

    Hello, I’m from Portugal and I’m one of the portuguese people that travelled in my own car to Morocco twice. Never felt fear or insecure and I loved it. So I’m a big fan of Moroccan people and trying to “bring to this fan club” other portuguese people who has the wrong ideas about Morocco. I’m a big fan of you. Always learning from you, specially being a mom of a 3 year old tornado.
    Kisses from Portugal. Hoping your visit to my lovely and friendly country. Alexandra

  6. Fatima says:

    Assalamu alaikum Nora,

    I am glad my hometown made such a great impression on you🙂 InshaAllah you will come back to us again.

    Fatima

  7. Christina Juhlin says:

    Dearest Nora – I can see in your pictures that you see and like the same things in Copenhagen that I see and like. The pictures aren’t just pictures but your specific experience of and openness towards the city. It just so happens that many of these pictures are from what used to be my daily trajectory through the city, the bridge being my favorite place of all. It is funny to see my own city through your eyes and I am happy that you’ve found people open. I am especially happy that you got to meet my mom! Copenhagen is really a nice city, and I can understand all these enthusiastic comments from people about wanting to go there… but please don’t think Denmark is a socialist place anymore! We have welfare but we also have neoliberalism. Just last week Denmark actually made it to the front page of the New York Times for suggesting border controls (which, in Europe, is pretty controversial). Anyway, I don’t mean to disillusionize you all, Copenhagen is green and great and culturally really interesting and open, but that doesn’t reflect the whole country…

  8. Hello Nora, greetings from Southern California! I’m so glad Elizabeth sent me your link; I can see from the first couple of posts I’ve just read here that I shall enjoy perusing your blog and seeing your world through your eyes and words. I love that we have this tool for learning more about this wonderful world of ours and meeting potential friends on the other side of it too. And educating ourselves about the humanity and kindness of others who are in many ways so different from ourselves. That is always a good thing.

  9. aisha says:

    oh you made me feel homesick now lol! i really miss copenhagen, lived there before moving to the UK.. The atmosphere there is unique and so are the people, love it!

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