Friday, November 27, 1998 9:58 AM
part 11

It is snowing in Iceland. It must be some kind of freak weather condition, further evidence of global warming, or El Niño, or something like that. :-)

Icelanders have a snack that is made from doughnut dough, but looks like two croissants joined together into an oval shape. It is made, according to one of the people who worked in the factory before she came here, by taking a flat sheet of dough, cutting a hole in the middle, and rolling through the hole the outside edges of the sheet. The Icelandic word for it translates as "knuckle".

There is a building near here, whose chimney looks somewhat out of place: the building itself is tall and narrow, and the chimney looks like some kind of implement has been thrust through the roof, leaving visible only the handle. Certainly, it does not appear that the chimney was part of the original design. Perhaps it was bought cheaply at an auction, or someone found it in a shop and thought it would look good, and brought it home. I can picture the scene in politically-correct, gender-neutral terms: person 1 enters looking very pleased, a certain knowing smile that says "I have done very well", and person 2 sees that smile, and asks "Oh no, what have you done *this* time?", at which point person 1 displays the chimney. With the understandable response of "You can't be serious, get that out of my sight", it ended up on the roof, where chimneys are usually found. I don't know if this one is functional, though.

I experienced my second earthquake - nearly 5 on the Richter scale. The epicentre was only about 40 kilometres away, so it's getting closer! This one was much shorter than the other one, and I knew immediately what it was, and didn't even react. I suppose that I'm getting used to it. There was an aftershock a few hours later, and another quake the following day. It must have been something it ate.

Going to the movies in Iceland is an experience. It begins with many people crowding into a small room to buy the tickets. When the crowd is large enough, the indication of which is that the faces of the people pressed against the glass begin to change colour, the staff open the outer door, and let the crowd into the area in which one buys the essential rations before the movie begins. The door into the actual cinema remains closed, though, so the crowd builds again. When the door in opened, there is a surge forward, to get the best seats. The advice for the amateur cinema patron: "Don't fall". It's every person taking care of itself, even old ladies (who have sharp elbows) getting into it. The cinema has a double-door entrance, but only one door is managed to be opened before the crowd begins to move. If one stays in the middle of the crowd, one is least likely to be injuried. Once inside the cinema, and in a front-row seat (because one waited for the crowd to go through the door, before one entered), it is the typical cinema experience: the lights switch off, and begins the seemingly endless succession of uninteresting advertisements for products that one would never even consider buying, and the promotions for movies that one wouldn't actually pay money to see. Eventually, the movie begins, much as one might expect, and so it goes... until halfway through, always in the middle of a tense scene, the leading character, surrounded by many heavily-armed enemies, possessing the grand defences of a fork and some twine, the film stops and the lights switch on! It's the mid-movie break, a tradition found in only Iceland, or perhaps in only the country whose consumption of Coca Cola is the world's highest per capita. When you drink that much, you need a break.

After sufficient minutes, during which more rations are bought for the final leg of the movie, the crowd surges again through the doors (both of which are open now), the lights switch off, and the movie continues in roughly the same place as it stopped, just as the leading character finishes making the armoured car, using the welding kit and spare parts from the garage (or was that the A-Team?). There's an Icelandic word for a break, which is used to describe it: hlé.

Snow is still a novelty for me. I went for a walk to the park, and observed that the paths through it were covered in snow, and that no-one had walked on them yet, so I did. I also observed that my boots have about as much grip as my bare feet. I'll have to cut some treads into them (my boots, not my feet... well, my feet could use them, too...).

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