Tuesday, February 7, 2012


I saw Trolljegeren tonight with three friends: the German who lives down the hall from me, a German I’ve hiked with before, and his Polish friend. On the bybanen on the way into town, while the Polish guy introduced himself, I asked him which city he comes from. His eyebrows shot up, so I told him that yep, I’d been to Poland.

“Really?!” I assured him I wasn’t kidding.

“But why?” "School trip." After more pressing, I reluctantly told him that my tour of his country had been mostly a visit to concentration camps and cemeteries. He nodded.

“You know that we’re not really the ones responsible?” He made a funny jerking movement towards the Germans, which I didn’t get, and a humorous eyebrow wiggle, and then suddenly, in a brick-in-the-face kind of way, I realized he was trying to tell me that the Germans, not the Polish, were responsible for the Holocaust, and was doing so by gesturing to my two friends. I managed to smile and crush the instinctual recoil from Holocaust jokes, trying to figure out a way to respond lightheartedly and clear the air.

“Erm, yeah. You know I come from a country that actually was built on slavery, right?” I answered. “How ‘bout we let individuals not suffer for the sins of their countries' pasts?” Then I told the story about how I fell asleep in a cemetery in rural Poland and got left behind by my bus. To lighten the mood. But weird to think this guy lives in a country that to me means pretty much nothing but death and destruction. And to realize that Germany's associations in my mind manage to encompass the Holocaust without being overwhelmed by it, while Poland seems built entirely on it and of it. 

They're so cute!
Both the Polish and the German guy are big, seriously tall men, with hair to their shoulders. Stephan, the German, is a sweetie, but to look at him you’d think he was tough. They decided we should get off at Nygård and go through the park. Since I’ve never been through at night, and normally don’t have such bulky bodyguards, I agreed. We talked about how the drug addicts are meant to be mostly harmless anyhow, on our way up the slope. As we reached the square where they congregate, I saw a large clump of people. A woman stood in front, and as we approached, asked “hvor er narkomen?” Swiftly we passed her, though she followed us, and headed through to where men were standing, arms crossed, in front of us. For a sickening second, they formed a human blockade, and I thought they were not going to let us through. The Polish guy was at my elbow and steered me firmly beside him, and the men parted. Caroline maneuvered around to between him and Stephan. Whew! That’s the last time I go through Nygårdsparken at night, even with muscle backup.

Trolljegeren is fun, and I highly recommend it for not only a glimpse into Norwegian culture, but also snippets of this country's great natural beauty. On a hike this morning, I left the trail and after wandering under snow-laden pine trees and past delicately etched twigs, thought perhaps I might have left reality behind entirely and see Mr. Tumnus trot out from behind a hillock at any moment. But then realized that in Narnia, they never fell into snow drifts up to their tushes.  Totally worth it.

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