08 November 2010

We need to talk

In the passage leading into the Geek Girls, I found this. And I was not even going to post it here because it is written in Swedish, and that's no fun outside of Scandinavia. But I posted in on Flickr, and from the response and number of people linking to it and leaving little messages, I see that we need to talk.

Souvenir from a Swede

Copenhagen is nice
if you don't want to be a part of it
I could go for days without
speaking with a soul
I loved the bars in my neighbourhood
and the moon here is 
the most beautiful thing
you can live a life here 
in secrecy

It breaks my heart that people walk around Copenhagen feeling invisible and alone. Like it wouldn't matter if they were here or not. To the Swedish person writing this I can only say that it can be the same if you are a native. We are not picky that way. I don't know how we got to this point, and I certainly don't think it has always been like this. Maybe it is a fear of sticking our noses where it don't belong, because I don't believe it is about ill will at all. 

Just the other day when I was photographing a detail on the street, a young boy walked by me. He must have been about 12 years old, and his face was hard and red and swollen from crying, everything about his walk told me his was hurting. And I still think I should have done something, talked to him, asked if I could help in any way. But he walked so fast, and I was still stepping on my own toes, trying to think of an approach, as he turned the corner and disappeared... I really think we need to talk to each other more, and show that we care. I'll go first by ending this post with a nice tour of the streets. Nobody are allowed to leave this blog feeling depressed ever again, if I have anything to say about it!


The music venue Stengade that was first doomed and closed, but is now back from the dead in a new outfit, dressed up as a huge sound system. I love it, but I also know it will be painted over a hundred times already by this time next year.

Sound system

Children have a way of cutting through the crap...



(And that's an order)


  1. I think you are quite right, but the funny thing is, I read the swedish poem-thing in a positive light. Alone is not always bad. What if that person wanted to be alone, wanted to just look at the moon? It's another thing with people crying in the street though, it's always heartbreaking and you wish you could do something!

  2. I was thinking this first too, that maybe it is just me. And I am also a big fan of alone-time, but only when it is a choice. The flickr comments from resident foreigners recognise this poem as sad truth. I hope that you are right, and it is just by a happy Swedish moon lovin' loner. :-)

    (how underligt at write til dig in English, haha)

  3. I feel like in Portland, people are very ready to help each other in the case of a crisis - for instance, recently a man fell of his bicycle (cause unknown I think, possibly mechanical failure) and was hit by a car that was driving behind him and was in a coma for a while - and some people in the community started a fund for his family and were bringing meals and that kind of thing...

    But we aren't very good at the day-to-day stuff. It seems hard to build real relationships here and while people are more-or-less friendly in public usually, I think we mostly just ignore each other as much as possible.

    Of course there are exceptions, but as a general rule...

  4. hey you can feel that way in any big city. actually i like it, the feeling of being able to be alone in the city. but it works if you have friends to be with at other times. when i visited copenhagen i talked to greek people who hated it there because they thought people were cold and not nice. but maybe it is also a cultural shock from greece to denmark.

  5. I might be a little naive, but surely a stranger in any foreign city will feel an overwhelming sense of 'aloneness'.And the older you become, the harder it gets.Lets face it, once you hit your thirties, it becomes very hard to form meaningful friendships. People have already found thier life long friends and the best you can hope for, is to fit in,somewhere in the outer orbits. Or am I being too cynical.


  6. Oh, that was a lot of good comments, I love it when that happens!

    Dave, that story of people helping when they were needed the most is so good. We have people helping out here too, one woman lost everything in a fire not too long ago, including loved ones, and there was a group collecting money for her the next day on facebook. They really saved her.

    and hello Carole, you may be right, that it is just what happens when a city grows. I also hear this complaint of your Greek friends from Danes moving back home, after a time abroad. The circles are closed, it can be pretty claustrophobic... but we are all good inside, we just need to open up a bit. I think.

    Hi Ian, you probably are cynical, but then I also think you are right. Only I assumed this was just a Danish thing. I prefer meeting new people who are open to making new relationships. One thing I have never been able to grasp is the "I have enough friends" (closing the door for the possibility of new ones). What kind of bullshit is that?

    Ha, this was fun. :-)

  7. Regarding friends, it seems that it is just kind of the way our life goes (my wife and I), that we often have really good friends for some period of time, and then one or the other of us moves on and we don't stay in touch very much, then we meet someone else, and the same thing happens. So, we have had many good friends at different times of our lives, who have come and then gone. A few people we still know and keep in touch with often from a long time ago, but not many.

    For that reason, it seems harder for us I think, that it is difficult to form close relationships here, because we haven't just developed a group of friends who we stick with and who will always be our close friends (except maybe my parents).

    So, we are open to new relationships all the time, but we have also become a bit cynical now, because we've had such a hard time of it. We do tend to be a bit intense and serious (not necessarily that we are serious all the time, but we don't just want to bullshit forever, we want really to know people), so maybe that scares people off, I don't know :)

    I suppose part of it also is that we are willing to back off on our other relationships either to make sure ours is ok, or to rest and repair ourselves when circumstance in life make it necessary, so we might, at some point, say "we don't need any more friends" - but probably that will change before too long :)

  8. Sandra, I just LOVE your blog! It's as simple as that! You are amazing! ♥

  9. Oh, Spiren, thank you. It makes me so happy to hear. :-)

  10. As a Canadian that used to live in Copenhagen, I have to say that it can go both ways: it can wonderful to observe Copenhagen, and the rich life there, as an objective bystander but it can also get extremely lonely as you realize that the coziness does not include you...

    Thanks for the thought, Sandra!

  11. Hi Celena, this was what I was thinking too. We need to give crash courses in "hygge". Danes spend a big part of the year indoors (with the cold and the dark), and I can imagine it is not easy to get invited.. I will try to see if I can identify the invisibles from now on. :-)

  12. @Carole - What you say about the greek is something I've heard other foreigners say about us - that we are cold and hard to approach. Compared to other people (Italians for instance) I agree that we are not as loud, temperamental or open as other cultures. Often we are just shy - which foreigners can misunderstand and interpret as arrogance. Other foreigners have no problem with our way of being, some actually even settle here and become a part of the community. But I think as a newcomer to a city, you also have a responsibility yourself to get in contact with the locals. You can't get everything served on a silver platter...Communication goes two ways ;)
    I've been in the situation myself, when I moved to Copenhagen about 6 years ago. I did have friends living here already, but I've also met many new wonderful people. The great thing about a big city is, you can be anonymous when you want to, and engage in social activities, when you want to. It's the main reason I love this city of ours - including all the different nationalities living here - also the greeks! ;-)


I love comments! Go ahead, make my day. :-)