Saturday, December 25, 2010

Alternative Jul

Yesterday on Christmas eve I had Pinnekjøtt (lamb ribs, it was quite tasty, I don't usually eat lamb), courtesy of  It's an "alternate" Christmas organised by volunteers for the homeless, drug addicts or people who have nowhere to go basically.  From their website:

OUR GUESTS are many people in our city that fall outside the "usual" Christmas celebration. Homeless, people with alcohol and drug problems, or just lonely people who, for one reason or another wandering the streets during the Christmas weekend because there is no "space" for them in the traditional family Christmas.

It's still going on as of today and will go on till Monday and is held at the Oslo Kongressenter.

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You first register at the counter where they take your coat and place a green tag around your wrist then you go up one level to the ballroom where there's plenty of different food and drink (non alcoholic).  The food was actually really good.  There were many different types of people including shady ones.. and many romanian gypsies.  Some people were so greedy they grabbed bags of chocolates and Christmas presents (they give up out as well).  I saw some people pile up their plate with food and not even finish a 10th of it (It's a bit stupid they even do that because you can go back for more if you want, it's a buffett).  Really human greed has no end. :)  There were some people who got chased out too because they were attempting to steal from other people.

I chatted with a 53 year old Croatian by the name of Ante and a 52 year old Chilean by the name of Carlos.  Ante was there he was supposed to be staying at a friend's place but the friend didn't show up so he's staying at there overnight and leaving tomorrow for Hamburg.  He told me stories of how he thinks Norwegians are cold and do not share personal things with you, but he's grown used to that.  He thinks Arabs are friendlier!  Maybe he has some truth in what he says, he's been living in Norway for 40 years.  He is from a town close to Split in Croatia and says it's very beautiful there.  I also found out from him that it's really cheap to catch the train into Europe, a monthly InterRail pass is about 7000 nok, and that allows you to travel all around Europe.  He also told me several times how he almost won the lottery, but didn't because one number didn't show up. :)  He's divorced, has one adult son but hasn't seen him at all. We also talked about soccer.  He's happy the Croats defeated Norway 2-1.  Oh another thing is over here you can greet your parents by their first name, or rather, you can.  But in Croatia if you do that you'll probably get a slap just like in Asia.  Interesting.  So Western Europe and Eastern Europe appear to have different customs.

There was a girl who I spoke to and she was there doing an assignment on the event.  At first she thought I was working there until she saw the green wristband.  She took 2 photos of me and asked me for my details.  I said to her please email me if you publish this.  So who knows, I'll end up in a magazine or some publication with a bunch of other homeless people?

Anyway this is what I got from them.  Of course each person was given one but many went back for seconds and thirds. ;)

It's even nicely wrapped!  I have opened it now and what's inside is a brown ribbed jacket, not very thick though so you can't use it for this weather.  But maybe in autumn or spring.

I was there about 4 hours from 6pm till 10pm.  When I left the ambulance had arrived and there was some commotion.  I'm assuming it's drug related. :)  The person ahead of me who picked up his jacket didn't have gloves or a beanie and the woman behind the counter gave him a pair of gloves and a beanie, I thought that's really nice.

All in all, it was a very.. interesting occasion.  If nothing it's definitely an eye opener.

I'm off to have an American Christmas soon.

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