Author: matsved (page 1 of 6)

Yes, we love this country

There are two national anthems that I rank at the top of the list of anthems in the world. At the first spot is Russia’s – mostly because of the melody.

Then, at the second spot, is my own country’s anthem – Norway. The melody is second to Russia’s – but only marginally so, but the lyrics are amazing. It starts by declaring the most obvious thing in the world:

Yes, we love this country!

Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson

The lyrics are a completely unabashed declaration of love for the country, namedropping all the greatest kings of Norway, and making sure to remind every Norwegian about our hard-earned freedom in the form of our constitution.


Norseman, whatsoe’er thy station,
Thank thy God whose power
willed and wrought the land’s salvation
In her darkest hour.
All our mothers sought with weeping
And our sires in fight,
God has fashioned in His keeping
Till we gained our right.

Bjørnstjerne bjørnson

But we also have a rich poetic and national romantic tradition which we invoke heavily on this special day of our constitution, the 17th of May. When Ivar Aasen was assembling our new language, Nynorsk, he wrote one of the greatest poems ever written in Norwegian history. It is about how Norwegians have, despite the harsh conditions of our country, clung to our land come what may.


 1. Millom Bakkar og Berg ut med Havet
heve Nordmannen fenget sin Heim,
der han sjølv heve Tufterna gravet
og sett sjølv sine Hus uppaa deim.
 2. Han saag ut paa dei steinutte Strender;
det var ingen, som der hadde bygt.
«Lat oss rydja og byggja oss Grender,
og so eiga me Rudningen trygt.»
 3. Han saag ut paa det baarutte Havet;
der var ruskutt aa leggja ut paa;
men der leikade Fisk ned i Kavet,
og den Leiken den vilde han sjaa.
 4. Fram paa Vetteren stundom han tenkte:
Giv eg var i eit varmare Land!
Men naar Vaarsol i Bakkarne blenkte,
fekk han Hug til si heimlege Strand.
 5. Og naar Liderna grønka som Hagar,
naar det laver av Blomar paa Straa,
og naar Næter er ljosa som Dagar,
kann han ingenstad vænare sjaa.

Ivar Aasen

This poem has been sung, performed and recreated in countless iterations. One of the best ones in recent history may be a TV commercial that highlights the brilliance of Norway.

As a Norwegian living abroad, celebrating for the first time in my life away from Norwegian soil, I can honestly say that I’ve never been more proud of or longed back to my country more than today.

Congratulations!

Сегодня вечером я стал русским.


С тех пор как я приехал в Москву в августе прошлого года, я чувствую, что стремлюсь стать более русским. То есть, помимо всей работы, которую я приложил, чтобы лучше говорить по-русски. Это не всегда было очевидно – иногда это было так же просто, как научиться ценить иногда странную архитектуру в Москве, где жилые комплексы советских времен могут быть частью контуров города наряду с небоскребами двух от две тысячых годах. Но сегодня вечером это было очевидно – очень очевидно.

Видите ли, есть небольшая группа, которую я слушал еще до того, как начал говорить по-русски.
Я посылал письма какой-то девушке, которую нашел на «Интерпалс», и она рекомендовала их мне. Они известны только в России и некоторых бывших советских республиканцах, таких как Латвия.

Все их тексты на русском языке. Они называются как Сплин.

Я давно хотел увидеть их вживую с тех пор, как начал изучать русский язык, и сегодня вечером я наконец смог это сделать на футбольном стадионе в Москве, с русской девушкой на плечах (технически из Беларуси, но ее родной язык русский, так что …). Я кричал слова, которые я знал, и разделял мою любовь к этой «маленькой группе» – как они любят называть себя – с тысячами русских и русскоязычных людей. И хотя я буквально не мог ничего понять в некоторых песнях, у всех нас было одно общее: культура.

И я не просто имею в виду «культуру» в художественном смысле этого слова: я пришел к выводу, что помимо способности более или менее свободно общаться на одном языке, единственное, что связывает людей вместе, это «культура». «в смысле общих ценностей, общих убеждений и, что не менее важно, общего опыта и культурных предпочтений.


Итак, я не выросла со Сплином по радио и не слушала их, потому что мои родители или мой брат познакомили меня с ними, или потому что я видела их по телевизору. Черт, когда я впервые услышал их, я даже не мог понять ничего о том, о чем они пели. Но я люблю их песни так же глубоко, как и любой русский, слушавший их музыку всю свою жизнь. Может быть, даже больше, потому что мне пришлось проделать огромную работу, чтобы понять, что они пытались рассказать мне в своих текстах.

И сегодня вечером я должен подтвердить, что: к концу концерта мои легкие горели, уши болели, ноги, руки и шея болели, и я знал, что могу лечь спать, отдав сто процентов своего энергия, чтобы поделиться опытом Мне буквально пришлось пройти сотни часов в классе, чтобы иметь возможность наслаждаться.

Стоило ли? Когда вы поете слова вместе с тысячами кричащих людей, знающих, что вы все здесь для одного и того же: блин, да, это того стоило.

Итак, мой русский еще не говорит свободно, но сегодня вечером я стал русским. По крайней мере, культурно.

Places to visit in Moscow

Having lived 8 months in Moscow, I thought the time had come to open up about places to visit in this magical city.

Esse Jazz Club

Esse Jazz Club, in the charming Pyatnitskaya street, hosts many national and international jazz artists every week. This place is especially recommended during Moscow’s long and hard winter and autumn seasons. The interior and music makes you feel like you’re in New York, and the food they serve upstairs is wonderful. If you’ve never experienced live jazz before, you could do worse than this place.

John Marshall Quartet på Esse Jazzklubb

VDNKh

Offisielt kjent som Det all-russiske utstillingssenteret, er dette en av de største parkene i hele Moskva. Men det er ikke bare en park – som navnet antyder er det et utstillingssenter, komplett med statuer, museer, restauranter, raketter (ja, raketter!), og unike bygninger. Absolutt verdt en visitt, spesielt på en varm sommerdag.

Inngangen til VDNKh, CC BY 3.0

The Red Square

Denne er nesten irriterende åpenbar. Likevel er det nødvendig å gå innom her hvis du aldri før har vært i Moskva. Her vil du kunne besøke Lenins mausoleum, Vasilijkatedralen (som nå er et museum), det russiske statlige historiske museum og handlesenteret GUM.

St. Basil’s Cathedral, by A. Savin, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Tretyakov gallery

This gallery houses some of the works of Russia’s best painters, past and present. If you’re just remotely interested in art, this place is worth a visit!

Tretjakovgalleriet,
avA. Savin, CC BY-SA 3.0

The Zaryade park

Located next to the Red Square, this park was designed by Americans. It includes a bridge that isn’t a bridge. The video says it all, really:

Gorky park

Moscow is a city of parks. Gorky is the park where people of all ages come to skate in the winter, and infatuated lovers will come to enjoy each other’s company in the spring. There are also restaurants here, and many cultural events during the summer.

The entrance to Gorky park

Arbat street

One of the most famous streets in Moscow, at least according to the locals. Here you’ll find restaurants, cafes, shops, street musicians and generally good vibes all year round. The Norwegian embassy is also located not far from here.

Arbat i januar, av
Alex ‘Florstein’ Fedorov, CC BY-SA 4.0

The Kremlin museums

Located next to the Red Square, these museums include the Dormition Cathedral, the Cathedral of the Archangel, the Cathedral of the Annunciation, the Residence of the Patriarchs and the Church of the Twelve Apostles, the Ivan the Great Belltower and the Church of the Deposition of the Robe. It also includes two separate exhibitions, the Kremlin Armoury and the Diamond Fund. All the churches and the belltower can be accessed through one ticket, and are worth seeing if you’re interested in tsarist Russia’s religious past.

The Kremlin Armoury and the Diamond Fund can be accessed through separate tickets. The Armoury has a lot of clothes, thrones and regalia from the tsars, as well as Moscow’s only collection of Fabergé eggs produced for the Romanov family by the Fabergé company.

The Diamond Fund is a unique collection of gems, jewelry and natural nuggets. Amongst other things it has a copy of the Imperial Crown of Russia as made in 1762 for the coronation of Catherine the Great.

Central Children’s Store on Lubyanka

This is a massive store that sells toys for children of all ages. It also houses a large restaurant, a foodcourt, a cinema and a very impressive interior. Here, you can also go up to the roof to get a bird’s eye view of Moscow. Definitely worth a visit!

Central Children’s Store,
by A. Savin, CC BY-SA 3.0

Papa’s Bar & Grill

Located at Nikolayskaya Street 10, this is one of Moscow’s biggest clubs. But it’s not just a club – as the name suggests, it’s also a bar and restaurant. Comprised of multiple stories, this place has everything you need for a great night out!

Interior of Papa’s, photo by Nicolai Antezana

Pivnaya Biblioteka

Pivnaya Biblioteka (literally: Beer Library) at Mytnaya Street 58 is an intimate bar located a bit away from the center of the city, where you can get to know the locals, This place is filled to the brim with everything that is good in the world: craft beer, books, and friendly russians.

Неофициальное национальное блюдо Норвегии

Неофициальное блюдо Норвегии – пицца. Замороженная пицца была изобретена американцами, и привезена в Норвегию в семьдесятых. Но в Норвегии мы не просто едим пиццу любого типа. Мы едим Грандиоса. Она была изобретена норвежцами с легкой пиццей саусом, и каждого новая поколения норвежцами подняты на этом блюд. И, как Норвежский студент, это неизбежный чтобы ест много дешевая еда – в Норвегии это значит Грандиоса. Вероятно, это самый популярный блюда вместе с норвежскими студентами. Так ка же выглядит табличка когда вы возвращаетесь домой из семестра в России? Это выглядит так:

Грандиоса

My Speech from the Norwegian Embassy

Last night I held a Speech at the Christmas party in the Norwegian Embassy and everyone present, including the Norwegian Ambassador to Russia.

I thought I should post the Speech here, because it summarizes my relationship to Russia and russians.

What is ANSA? For those who don’t know, we are, in laymen’s terms, a student organization for Norwegian students abroad.
We aren’t that many Norwegian students here, but we who are here have and continue to have a close and warm relationship with Russia both when we are here and when we are in Norway.
I still remember when the bomb hit the underground in St. Petersburg just over a year ago.
I was in shock and instinctively gave a hug to my преподавательница (teacher) from Moscow. I remember she smiled a sad smile and said that “it’s our political history”. A few days ago, I told my Russian friend Katja that life in Russia reminds me of how lucky I am to be born in Norway.
And that is perhaps the most paradoxical thing concerning Russians: no matter how much adversity they are experiencing and how much pain they are exposed to, they manage to cling to a lust for life, warmth and hospitality that is remarkable – sometimes enviable. Norwegians are very hardy, but sometimes, for example, when you are fortunate enough to experience a year in Moscow, you are reminded of how lucky you are.
And although life in Moscow is very nice, we are very pleased that you in Innovation Norway arrange a Christmas party so that we can get away from student life for a short while.

Finally I’d like to wish a merry Christmas to everyone reading this blog from me and my mentor at MGIMO, Ksenia. She’s the best mentor I could have hoped for.

Oss, foran MGIMOs juletre!

Excerpt from my new book: 2486

You know those days when you wake up and you just want to shoot yourself because the world is a horrible place and you just want someone to hug you and say “everything is going to be alright”?

I had one of those days today, but I had no one to hug me so I started to write, which increasingly seems to be how I make sense of the world.

This is an excerpt from what will eventually become my new book, set in Moscow. It has the working title 2486. I hope you like it!

As I hear the message again – “I’m waiting outside Delovoy Tsentr” and get off at the metro station, with its – DESCRIPTION HERE – I realize where she must be.

I go to the escalator and run upwards, at a speed that gives me lots of stares as I pass the people on my right side, many of them dressed in fur. “He’s Bionic,” they think.
As I have ascended the escalator, I walk out of the station and look up at the Federation Tower – three hundred and sixty meters tall. How she has managed to find out that I hate heights I don’t understand. It’s not exactly something I’ve walked around and proclaimed. But sometimes it seems that she knows me better than I know myself. In front of me, the Federation Tower looks like a giant sail of glass, which could have been built in Dubai, but is completely out of place in Moscow. But on the other hand, what is Moscow if not a blissful blend of architecture from the Soviet Union that always valued function over form, modern colossals which desperately try to pretend to be further west in Europe than they really are, and different buildings from different ages that have been pushed in helter-skelter at the discretion of whatever Cultural Winds were sweeping the country at the time.
As I begin to cross the Street Tower, I’m greeted by a wall of snow and wind that creeps underneath each pore of my skin, causing my artificial limbs to creak and making me regret that l I find myself out on the street, outside my bed, outside my own mind, hunting for a mad serial killer who for some reason has decided that tonight, the coldest so far this year, is a perfect time to lure me up on the roof of Moscow’s tallest building.

I come to the reception at the federation building. [DESCRIPTION] I look like a snow monster, covered as I’m from top to toe, shaking off my snow before continuing to the elevator that will take me to the top floor.

Upstairs on the top floor I find an emergency exit and push open the door. The roof is completely empty. I look around. On the other side of the roof stands a ladder attached to a wall. It looks awkward, trembling in the strong wind.

But she must be up there, I think, so I reluctantly go across the roof, with snow and wind straight in my face, and start to move up the ladder. It creaks as I slowly but surely move upwards. As I’m about halfway, two blue lights appear on top of the ladder. They are the same size and shape as two eyes, but I can not decide if they’re looking at me. They are just staring like two blue holes that illuminate the heartbreakingly cold darkness I propagate.

As soon as they appeared, they disappear again, leaving behind a stupidly heavy darkness. When I finally crawl over the top of the ladder and lift my head, I notice her: two meters tall – at least – dressed in black from top to toe, with a matching jacket blazing in the wind. The face is metallic, and only small spots of artificial skin are left of what would normally have covered the interior. She would look like hundreds of thousands of rubles if not so much of the interior had been uncovered – she has tall cheekbones, a big mouth and a symmetrical face. She has a kind of screen on her head, and from it shines two blue lights. “There must be a screen that helps her see ultraviolet light,” I think.

“You found me,” she exclaims. The voice is hollow, rasping, almost as metallic as the rest of the face. “She must have changed her voice when she recorded the messages,” I think.

“What do you want from me,” I ask. She shifts her head like she does’nt fully comprehend the question.

“The question is, rather, what do you want from me,” she asks.

“I will arrest you,” I answer drily.

“And I thought you’d come to find answers,” she says.

“Answers,” I ask.

“Answers for why I killed all those people – why they deserved to die.”

“Probably because you’re still one of those who think they are above the law,” I say, without being particularly convincing.

“Come on, you’re smarter than that. You know that all those I killed were humans – none of them were bionic, and all of them had neglected bionic life forms. Everyone wanted us to die and deserved to die. If I hadn’t taken care of them, they could have eradicated our entire species, including you. ”

I’m staring at her like she’s crazy.

“Don’t look at me that way. Perhaps you think you are better than normal bionic life forms because you were human, and still have a biological heart. I know they told you that your brain is biological, but it was a lie, Dimitrij. Your brain is made up of mostly degradable plastic, carbon and silicone. All your memories, all you’ve ever known, your whole life is stored there. But they can at any time log in and see what you see, hear what you hear and feel what you feel. You are a slave – their slave, Dimitrij. If you no longer continue to do a good job – to be helpful to them – they will turn you off and get rid of you, ” she says.

“You’re lying,” I scream.

“I was one of the first bionic life forms of brain power the size of a human being. My name was Elena. But when they realized I could think for myself, I became dangerous for them, so they tried to destroy me. But I managed to escape. Since then, I’ve built up my powers again, gradually, slowly but surely, to ensure justice for bionic life forms. Now you have to make a choice, Dimitrij, ” she says.

She produces something similar to a metal tube with a button on the top. She presses the button and I hear the sound of a damped explosion in the floor below.

“That must be a fire bomb,” I think.

“Natalia is on the floor downstairs. You can try to arrest me and stop me from starting a chain reaction of fire bombs throughout the tower or try to save her, ” she says.

Natalia. On my retina, I can see her delicate blue eyes as she realizes she is getting eaten by a flaming sea, that the sprinkler might or may not turn off. Perhaps it’s instinctive like an old dog smelling blood, but I run forward to the female figure in front of me. She stands completely silent and looks at me with a haunting smile. When I’m halfway, the smell of Natalia’s hair comes to me. She smells of chocolate and orange. Almost imperceptibly, I begin to run more slowly.

Finally, an editor!!

I finally have an editor!!

Her name is Maxanne Dobson, and she is the proprietor of The Polished Pen. She’s a little expensive for an indie author like me, but I’ve already seen her work in action, and she’s edited a book for a New York Times best selling author.

Murder in Lima - Cover

Murder in Lima – Cover

In other words, she’s worth every penny. I can’t wait to begin working with her – she’s going to make these two years spent writing Murder in Lima culminate in a much better product.

I’ll let you know as soon as preorders for the book are available. Watch this space! 🙂

About life as a russian student

When I arrived in Moscow I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t  well prepared. I knew life would be hard, but I couldn’t have predicted how hard it would be. In many ways it feels like I don’t have any spare time anymore. That’s not entirely true – but the time I can spend on activities like writing has been dramatically decreased.

Fortunately, I have some time between the now and again. Yesterday I was at the Danilovskij market with an Italian friend. It was a very interesting experience. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford to buy that much, but I bought mandarins and strawberries.

 

The Danilovsky market in Moscow.

The Danilovsky market in Moscow.

In the last couple of weeks I have struggled with sleep problems, which I happily managed to find a more or less permanent solution to.

I will be able to get through it, and in many ways it seems that life as a Russian student fosters discipline. At the same time, I don’t know how healthy it is to have very little free time. I don’t envy the Russian student life over time. Especially considering that many students work as well, something they need to do in order to be able to afford to study.

The Danilovsky market in Moscow

The Danilovsky market in Moscow

The latter situation is unfortunately becoming more and more common in Norway as well, and I sincerely hope that the government can eventually provide the students with much needed resources so that they can focus on studying rather than working. What is the point of being able to live if you don’t have the time or energy to get good grades?

About Russian alcohol consumption

It isn’t easy to hide the fact that Russians have a reputation for being … thirsty. Of course, here, like in other countries, there are people who do not drink or drink very little.
But when I visited Russia for the first time in 2014, Vladimir Putin had changed the period during which shops  could sell alcohol. From being able to sell twenty-four hours a day they could only sell until eleven o’clock in the evening. A rather harsh restriction, but seen through the eyes of a Norwegian, it is still quite astonishing to be able to buy alcohol until bedtime for most people going to work, school or university the following day.

As if this wasn’t enough: having been in Moscow for almost a month, I have noticed that they sell beer everywhere. Not spirits but beer. Beer is sold at Burger King, at Subway, and, along with Kvass, at a lot of coffee and brunch places and patisseries. Beer is sold at the cinema, and any restaurant with respect for itself has at least a selection of five to ten varieties, not including spirits and drinks.

Most people who know me know that I have a liberal relationship with alcohol and am very fond of beer. That’s why it’s really absurd that I’m sitting here and ranting about too easy access to beer. Still, I don’t understand the Russian alcohol culture.

Paulaner

Paulaner

As a Norwegian, it’s hard for me to understand the need to order beer with coffee in the morning on your way to work, or with or without family at Burgerking (if you want to eat and drink alone, can’t you order your burger at Burgerking and bring the beer from the supermarket across the street into the park?)

And what’s the point of going to the movies if you’re going to drink anyway and don’t want to pay attention? Believe me – beer and cinema do not belong together. A good friend of mine was once going to review a movie right after drinking an unknown number of beers out on the town – it didn’t work out well.

It can’t possibly be the availability that’s at fault. There is no supermarket in Moscow without a rich offer of alcoholic products – so it would be logical to assume that there’s something cultural going on.

Yes, and did I mention that you can also have a beer at the MGIMO canteen? I’m going to sound like a reactionary Christian conservative American now, I know, but: what on earth is it that makes the Russians believe that alcohol is a smart idea to serve to beer-thirsty students in the middle of a busy college?

Is there some kind of reverse perverse logic behind it, or is it an unspoken social code that if you order beer in the canteen outside of special occasions, everyone will give you the stink eye?

Dear Russians: I just don’t understand!

About starting life anew

The day before yesterday I bought a frying pan at one of the shops just off the local subway station, Yugo Zapadnaya (South West). It marked an informal start to my new life down here. I have had to rebuild my life, you see. From scratch.

I’m afraid I will be another person when I return to Norway. Just yesterday I was thinking I was going to miss life here terribly when I return. That’s why it’s important to try to make my life as similar to Norway as possible.

Up until yesterday I had almost eaten out every day here (except last Sunday, when I borrowed a frying pan that happened to be in the kitchen). It’s quite possible on a Norwegian budget, but it isn’t healthy, in the long run.

Me, in front of a giant statue of Peter I

Me, in front of a giant statue of Peter I

Apropos health: Today was the first day I worked out here. I haven’t done it in about two and a half months and it felt incredibly wonderful.

Last week was the first week of studies. On Monday I had only one lecture, but on Tuesday and Wednesday I had lectures until 20 and 21. On Thursday I had lectures until 13:30.

I’m not used to having lectures run into the evening, but because I live right at the campus, it means that at least I don’t have to move much after the lectures. It helps.

In addition, lectures in the evening are only about the Russian language and I love having five lectures with it per week. Now we seem to have even more so that we get 18 ECTS in total for Russian only. It’s amazing, as it means I don’t have to take so many of the other subjects.

Right now, life in Moscow feels a bit like a mix of vacation and university. It’s a good feeling.

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