You know you've been here too long when....

It’s official; I’ve been living in Norway too long (3 years, 7 months and 15 days).
Neither my husband nor I eat cheese but with my new intention to eat less meat, I found myself gazing at the cheese fridge in Smart Club the other day, searching for ricotta to use in vegetarian lasagna.

A complete stranger, standing nearby, a young woman of similar age to me, ahem, asked me what cheese I’d recommend. I wondered if perhaps I’d heard her wrong and that she was a shop employee trying to entice me to buy some fancy new cheese or other, because dear people, complete strangers do not talk to you in Norway (unless they are begging or selling something).

I told her that I didn’t eat cheese, which made me look a bit stupid loitering in front of shelves of the stuff, so added that I needed it for my son, who was sitting in my trolley. She asked how old he was, and marvelled at how big he is for his age. At 18 months, he’s bigger than most two-year olds which is weird given that I’m so small – we look a bit like Laurel & Hardy, the latter in nappies, without the moustaches and cheap suits – I digress.

Basically she made chit-chat, asking where I was from, talking about her sister-in-law who lives in Brighton and who is pregnant, and the sister-in-law’ son who is two and obese, and so on. And all the time, while pleased that I was managing to maintain a conversation in Norwegian – albeit predominantly on the receiving end of it – I was think of my wallet in a bag in my trolley and wondered if this was some sort of rouse to rob me. I mean really, what was this woman’s ulterior motive in talking to me?

But there wasn’t one. She was just being friendly, something that back home happens everyday. Shame on me for being so suspicious.

Thank you again to all who wrote in with helpful tips on sourcing organic meat in Oslo and on vegetarianism. I bought no meat this week, but after two days of a really tasty lentil vegetable stew, my husband was craving a Thai chicken pizza, so I gave in. Still, today we’re having homemade veggie burgers with a few sausages on the side for the carnivores, and I’m definitely going to get around to using that darn ricotta in a lasagna before the vegetables allocated to it crawl out of the fridge. We’re not going to become full-blown veggies but I’m certainly going to make an extra effort to try meat-free dishes several evenings a week. If nothing else, it’ll be easier on my pocket.


Joanne Rasmussen said...

29.5 thats bloody hot!!! It is p....... down with rain here and has been for days, relentless, I am beginning to wonder where it is going.

Victoria said...

As I was reading your post I was wondering what the strangers motive was too. ha!

Aidan said...

That's a funny story. I have been living in Holland for the best part of ten years and it's funny how easy it is to adapt to being unfriendly. I think that I have become almost as cold as the average Dutch person to the extent that I get a bit freaked back home in Irelad at having to salute people on the road (small town ;-) or having to make small talk with people in supermarkets. It's sad really because being friendly and open is a much nicer way to be.

Just as a matter of interest, do Norwegians themselves think that they are unfriendly or is it just foreigners that think that of them?

OSLO said...

Joanne. It's still that hot here - and we're lovin' it!!!
Glad I'm not the only Victoria ;-)
Aidan (you do know that that's my favourite boy's name as I called my son that, don't you? ;-)) I've heard Norwegians who have been to Ireland say that when they got back from their hols, it took a few days for them to adjust to how unfriendly people were in Norway in comparison. Otherwise, I'm not sure that they are aware of how insular thay are. In contrast, Danes are very good at acknowledging the presence of other human beings even if they don't know them. Having met lots of really in-your-face Dutch people, I'm surprised that they are not all so friendly!

Aidan said...

Well I hope that your son will enjoy life as an Aidan. I have three daughters and not one of them has an Irish name because my wife is Polish so every Irish name I liked got vetoed and every Polish name she nominated likewise.

Dutch people abroad are very friendly indeed but in Holland we are like 16 million sardines squashed into a very small tin so people are pretty protective about their rather limited private space. In Denmark I found the people to be very friendly but maybe I am also much friendlier as a tourist. My parents are visiting at the moment and they have spoken to more people in my neighbourhood in a few days than I would in a few months. As a tourist you do lose all inhibitions and throw off the shackles of social protocol.

beaverboosh said...

No shame, it is an extraordinary experience!