This blog will be dedicated to the beautiful passions of life: Food, Film, Football (Barça), Philosophy, Literature, Art and Humanity.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Icelandic Anecdotes

One year when I visited Iceland I used to visit this second hand bookshop. I spent quite a bit of time browsing the books, looking up subjects I could be interested for all kinds of use. The owner's son worked there, he is a son of a famous Icelandic artist and the owner of the bookshop. Unfortunately for him, he is just extremely ugly, not a nice thing to say, but apart from being friendly and slighlty eccentric you can't get a way from that thought that he is very unlucky with his looks. While I was there other customers came in and out, one had the feeling it was a community centre for eccentrics. In a society which is fairly small and one tends to know the "strange" ones, it was their place. It was a place where one could allow oneself to be whom one was. There was something beautiful about that. After a long browse I finally bought some chess magazines from 1972, all of them, mainly focusing on the World Chess Championship that year. When I went to pay there was a glint in his eyes of approval, I had made a good choice. I kept coming back during my stay, to see if they had anything new in stock and on my last visit I chose a couple of books by the Icelandic writer Throbergur Thordarsson (one of my favourites) and when I went to pay, the young son, refused to take any money. It was a gift.

When I went back to my mother's friend, whom I was staying with, she told me that when my mother came back to Iceland after my parents divorce she had rented a house on Flatey (an Island in Breidarfjör∂ur) from this bookshop owner son's mother. Later my mother's friend bought that summer house of her and later bought the house they are living in (a wonderful old wooden house with corrugated iron) off his father. So perhaps there was another reason for that gift.

The Friday Dance
On Friday's the people at Hrafnista (the old people's residency) would get together for a dance. THe orchestra was made of a few harmonica players and a drummer, all living at the residency. As the classical tale tells, the women and men would sit opposite each other, waiting for the men to invite the women up for a dance. It is one of those moments which brings some joy and liberation into a life that might not be as it used to be.

Trips with the Old People's Residency
While I was visiting Iceland, quite a few trips were organised by the residency, one was to the old Whale Fishing Depot. It was a memorable moment and one could not help thinking that this could have been one of their many jobs in their youth. The station has been empty and unused for quite a few years now, but its architecture and surroundings are impressive. The smallness of the building gives you a clear idea of a small nation, its huge tanks stationed across the landscape, a desolate touch.
Another trip was to the cinema to watch The Sea, a film by Baltasar Kormákur.
In one of the first scene a fishing boat is destroyed and with the first hit, the whole cinema screamed. There was a pain in that scream. how it hurt to see a fishing boat being destroyed. It was one of the biggest cinema experienced ever.

I find churches quite magical. In Iceland, as a recent country, one which has a fairly new history, the churches take all shapes and a lot of them are extremely eccentric if one could say that. With an architecture that is quite esoteric and individual, if not slightly anarchic.


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