Wednesday, 1 December 2010

being local...

I knew I'd become more or less a local in Oslo when, after ten days of being there, I was sitting in a tube station at ten in the night and explaining with great panache the tube schedule to a local man. The thing is, the electronic notice board said 'Instituttet' next to the name of the tube that was due in five minutes. The same thing had happened the day before. Not knowing any Norwegian, except for the words for thank you (tak) and hi (hi), I was blissfully unaware that instututtet meant off or cancelled. Though being from London and inured to disruptions in the tube schedule - in fact, I expect them, and start to worry if things are running on time and are doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing, I might have ignored such a message anyway. In any case, there I was sitting on a bench, dangling my legs back and forth, when a Norwegian man asked me if I knew anything about the next tube.

"What does instittutet mean?" I said.

"Cancelled," he said.

"Oh, that's okay," I said, with a gentle, and gently-amused, flick of the hand. "It said that yesterday, too, and the tube came anyway. In fact, they say that all the time, it doesn't mean anything."

Sure enough, the tube came five minutes later, and all was well, and I smugly got on it with a floating arabesque, feeling very good about myself and my knowledge of local trivialities.

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