It is now nearly three years since my first visit to Denmark. Danes seem to be a people who are quite set in their ways and don’t see much point of doing things any different if they have worked so far. I have written a bit about things I find a bit perplexing in a previous post, Perplexing Danes. However, as I spend more time with them I am finding two other things which for a reason I cannot quite put my finger on, I cannot really put my head around.
Independent Danes? Or Not?
My understanding of the way Danes are is that they are quite focussed on being a whole person. Being capable of self-expression and not rely on others is seen as quite a positive trait. Babies are placed in daycare when they are young, and by around 21 it is quite expected that the kids move out. This is something which is considered normal, and good for the kids. It also seems to me that Danes are quite proud of this trait and like to put this forward as a sense of independence and a lack of crumbling to group pressure. If this was so, I would applaud. But then I get a bit confused. Going to their houses, they all have the same gadgets and items, and they all have the same aspirations for having a house and kids. I find it quite bizarre to find the exact same water jugs, and wine bottle stoppers, and Christmas decorations And candles, AND tablecloths. Having a house which lives up to the standards of your friends seems to be quite an important aspirations. So I wonder…what is it? Is this really a sense of independence that these Danes crave? Or is it the possibility to have the concept of independence as an excuse for selfishness, but then still crumble to peer pressure?
Can we Finish Now?
Ahh…the Danes and efficiency of things! Danes seem to also aspire to efficiency. Having efficient farms, and efficient transport, and efficient this and efficient that. So why ever can they not be efficient in what they do outside of their work lives? I tremble at the thought of Danish meals, not because I tremble at the thought of the food, but because I tremble at the thought of their duration! A meal does not just consist of the eating, but also of all the talking that goes on and the interminable breaks that occur between the courses. All well and good if you are part of the conversation, but if you don’t understand much Danish, they are definitely terr0r-inducing boredom, as there is no point where you can politely take your leave as would happen if the meal is done, then you are considered to be on a break, and then have coffee (rather than it all being on huge chunk of time)! Luckily Michael has now caught on to this, and on this trip has been very good at giving me the possibility of getting up from the table and go online, or read a book, or go to sleep!
This thing doesn’t only relate to meals though! Playing a board game? Why wait till the finish to have coffee? We can have coffee as part of the game, so we wait for coffee to be made, then we slowly drink it i.e. game goes slower, and then bathrooms are needed and then dish washing and then and then and then! Can’t we just get on with it and finish the game? Please, please, pretty please?