zondag 25 augustus 2013

Norwegian Wood

After an amazing week in Trollheimen, Norway I was at the border between reality and daydreams, while quick images of mountainous landscapes, the sparkling lakes and the wood of this Scandinavian country print in my mind. The train from Oppdal to Oslo took some hours, and instead of reading a book, I flipped through my memories...

Memory of the trekking in Norway, thanks to EGEA Trondheim

...until an old American couple came to the four seats, and I had to make place so they could sit. They answered me in an accent, which sounded North-American. I asked them if they were from Canada. 
"We're from the United States."
I smiled: sometimes people from the US forget America is a continent, and not a country. People from Mexico, Canada... don't like people use the word America if they only talk about US. 
They were from New York, and we started to talk about this city. I have been there. The woman decided to take a look where Edward was. After she left, her husband told me -on a softer tone- that they met a young man, who they met in Alesund, and had seen back on the platform of this train, after another week of division. "He is an handsome guy, who will study economics in Colombia University. He is called Edward the Fourth." I frowned my eyebrows. I only thought kings got a number. "I recommend you to marry him..."
Americans... I mean... US citizens... they are always so helpful. I didn't know this man well enough to know he was joking or not, but I smiled. The woman came back, with the announcement that Edward (the 4th) did find a place on the train, although it is known that you've to book train tickets in Norway in some advance. 
We started to talk about Norway, and from this country our stories started to travel over whole the world. 
The woman asked me if I planned every travel.
"Sometimes, in the beginning, yes, I had a plan, but then... you meet people, you get inspired, and whole your planned future changes. How is this expression? When you plan something, life happens?"
"I love this about life," the older woman replied, "Isn't it great that you always have the chance to change from route?"
"Exactly," I said, "but I guess sometimes friends don't like me always making new and other plans. Things just happen, and things don't go as planned..."
"Did travel change you?" the woman asked curiously. 
"I don't know. Some people say I did. Some people say I am just the same. I sometimes make still the same mistakes. I don't know. You are always your own company, and then you don't notice change so easily as people who only meet you once in a while."
"When we lived in Japan, I experienced so much, learnt so much... I totally become someone else," the woman said. Before she could give a further explanation, Edward IV appeared on stage. He didn't wear a crown... by the way.  
The old couple invited us for a beer, which is really a nice offer, if you know the prices of alcohol in Norway, and there she told more about Japan. 
"You know, there are people, writing blogs, telling that they know Japan after they have been there for two weeks. They mention geisha, shinto, sushi... in their story. I lived for more than 7 years in Japan, and trust me, after all these years I still don't understand the real Japan. Real Japanese people are afraid. They don't look in the eyes of strangers. Forget they will talk with strangers. The Japanese people who talk with you, are excluded by the real Japanese..."
"Aren't they also Japanese people?" Edward IV remarked. "I mean... since when are you a real Japanese? Since when is someone a real American?" Someone doesn't know America is a continent... but I thought he made a good remark. 
The woman smiled. "That is the point... Can you say that you know a country, or even a person, even if you know it, him or her for years? I don't think even Japanese people can really describe their country. They say there whole culture is based on shinto, but there aren't writings about this belief, this philosophy, in contrary of the islam, which has the Koran, or the Christians, who have the Bible."

She made a good point. We talked even later that sometimes stories change in history, just because memories fade away, or get another shape, because of the context of time, or just because minds filter a lot of information. Sometimes I wonder if I could describe myself perfect, because I already lost so many memories. I guess also some other people will see me differently than others. Is this the same about a country, a culture, other persons... ? Which story is then true? If my best friend talks about me, it will be even true, as I'll tell something about me. She wasn't in my presence for 24/24,7/7, but I also filter information conscious and unconscious. Look at facebook. It is so easy for me to show only the information I want other people to know, so they perceive me as the person I want. Is it possible to know everything?
I don't think so... but you can be critical, and realize that one perception is not enough.
Japan is also not only geisha's, shinto and sushi. 
Norway is also not only mountainous landscapes, sparkling lakes and wood .

ps I didn't marry (prince) Edward IV in the end of this fairytale ;). 

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