Monday, July 7, 2008

Perhaps it was inevitable that Iceland would end up contrasted to India, or perhaps it only became inevitable when I decided to write an entry or two about it here. However, there are a lot of contrasts between the two that go beyond even my reply to a Facebook thread between some fellow India alumni.
Reykjavik is like Bangalore but about 30 degrees cooler and without the indian people and the pollution and for the most part the traffic and it's at sea level and the colors are kind of de-saturated instead of over-saturated and the rocks are jagged and volcanic instead of worn down by millennia of staying in the same place. Okay, it's like Bangalore in that I'm writing about it in my Bangalore blog, but otherwise it's totally different but still kind of awesome but I'm still kind of a little bit cold.
One of the ones I was thinking about this morning was the isolation -- not cultural isolation, which many of us experienced in India, but literal, there-is-no-one-here isolation. I just went to a shopping mall that was obviously nice and well-kept, but which was nearly uninhabited. And it was so quiet -- the space seemed to totally devour the faint background musak, and the sounds that you do hear are more natural or mechanical - an elevator whirr, some water falling down a drain, a passing automobile. I find myself shy and tentative to approach the ubiquitous automatic sliding door for the frequent fear that it will not be open -- the stores here seem a little relaxed about opening times; that's a similarity with the subcontinent.

Another difference is food - northern European tastes grate against mine in roughly the same way that Indian tastes ended up largely compatible. Perhaps is was an issue of attitude -- I'm going to be here for three months, I better get used to this -- and certainly India increased my vegetarian tendencies which does not benefit me here, as I didn't even see chicken at the grocery store I slipped away to. I wasn't looking for meat, though, so it might have been there. I was generally hungry after missing breakfast and specifically seeking a little fruit, which I found courtesy of globalization.

That's all for now. These strawberries, which appear to be called either "jarđarber" or "flokkur" in Icelandic, are delicious. Being (well, hopefully) able to eat fresh fruit without thick skin is pretty convienent.

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