Sunday, July 17, 2005

The Mercedes of the turkish shoe maker goes off the motorway. Christiania: fatherland of those emigrating from the system.

My entry to Denmark was untidy, it started as a ballet movment but dropped out as bowling strike. In fact, I entered in the Mercedes of a drunkmen turkish man who had just had 25 beers, with the predictable consequence of almost rolling over and ending off the road (I was quick enough to get the wheel myself). As compensation he payed the dinner and that night and camped in a park in Odense.
The following morning my stomach took me to the supermarket rather than to the road. Denmark is not yet in the eurozone, which accidently made me discover how to shop for free. The method implies asking a random person if he could change you a 2 euro coin into local currency. Normally people wants to help so they give you some coins but don’t accept the 2 euros, and the same coin can survive several breakfast and lunches.
In that way I arrived to Copenague. My plan was to stay there just a couple of days. But I discovered Christiania, a section of Copenhaguen that, after funtioning for centuries as militar barracks, it was derelict and subsequently occupied by pacifist, unemployed, junkies and hippies in 1972. All people in genuine search of an alternative social space. The following day a left wing newspaper comes out with the headline “Emigrate with bus number 8”. Against all odds (everyone seemed to be quite sure that the area was gonna be just a shelter for shoplifters and junkies) and after surviving several police raids, Christiania gained its right to exist as a social experiment and now counts 1000 inhabitants which are highly organized into a free town with its own currency and so on. Danish government present atittude towards the Christiania issue is to kick them out: 85 acres in downtown Copenhaguen are a real estate temptation. So slowly measures are being taking, as forcing the inhabitants to take a legal address (so from now on Christiania as an entity doesn’t exist anymore and we can understand what individual rights were always intended for…)
The first thing you see when you ger in is a sign that when you look at it from the back it says: “You are entering the EU” (in reference to Copenahaguen. Another signs says: “Say no to hard drugs”. Saying that in Chrstiania everybody smokes hash without, even in front of their children, without moral dilemas, is to reduce things to a single dimension. The point is for me that it’s a space design to live and not to consume. All the town is pedetrian area, people move around in bicycles, and trash is recycled. A big factory whose chimney has been covered by vegetation (what a metaphor!) houses several flats as well as a café. Opposite it there’sa tibetan stupa and a large parke where corwds sit to read a book, eat out salads (everybody seems to be vegetarians), smoke, jaggle, etc. When police is around people’s attitude rasumes their philosophy: they do “om” all together to keep the off…
Christiania is by force a meeting point for people in spiritual trips. We all look for a way out and we try all sort of keys. I could prove it, I stayed all week in the house that a group of people were inhabiting near the lake. They were Kir, blonde rasta danish girl, pacifist and owner of the VW van, she spends several months a year volunteering in Cambodia; her friend Maya, danish, taoist, with whom we shared the idea of letting the flow of the universe determine our steps, Helga (only Christiania citizen of the group), Lisa and Nina, to whom I helped to build a metal ostrige for a circcus event I will never see.. And there was also Mikkel, from Sri Lanka, who also thought someday to start a self sufficient community. And many other norwegians, spanish, dreamers, lost ones, they all promise to leave and next day they are meeting in the park and saying to each other: “still here?”. The place is sticky.
In the evennings we would go dumpster diving, that here throw away packed and safe food, God knows why. Parasiting the system we complain about doesn’t seem to be very coherent, but it’s good for my budget and all those bananas and apples and vegetables don’t have the fault and should be eaten, it’a matter of respect for the food. At night we would grill everything collected and it was hard to believe that all that delicious food was basically from the bin. Little did I get out of Christiania during the week, and one of the times it was to print my book, that finally is ready. I finished it in Claudio’s house, an argentinean exiled in Denmark in the early 80s, who never came back. He lives from social security, in haooy loneliness. Lot of people that fought for liberty in our countries are here. That’s why when we attend a concert in Southamerica we only see under 40s. Where are the missing ones?
Christiania shows the world two things, that rebelion is not generational determined, and that the hippie movement didn’t collapse, it is just suffering a low tide. So I exited Denmark, without having ever changed a single danish crown but with cash, thanks to the books and to the providential finding of 400 DKR in the street.

No comments: