“If you choose not to find joy in the snow, you will have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow”
Norway… you beautiful, mysterious, weird, cold, empty but full country. Thank you for always remaining predictable but with surprises. Arriving in my ‘home’ country always creates mixed feelings. The best feeling in the world knowing I soon can embrace my family and friends. See their beautiful smiles, feel their loving energy, create magical moments together, hold my friends’ children in my arms, inhale the extremely fresh air Norway is so fortunate to have, appreciate the complete silence you can experience even in the bigger cities, hot showers!!!, the extreme cleanliness (a bit over the top though?!), and last but not least the knowledge I have and the familiarity of culture. How to describe the feeling when arriving at the airport; the weird feeling of something being so familiar and so strange and distant at the same time. Being a Norwegian but in some way feeling misplaced while being at the exact right place. That is pretty much the closest I can come to explain my relationship to the nation I grew up in.
Traveling the world for the last 12 years has been the greatest gift in my life. The knowledge that I have received from all the beautiful beings I have met around the world is something I cannot appreciate enough. The love, the curiosity, the anger and hatred (very rarely!), the surprises, the challenges, the help and hospitality, the energy, the misunderstandings, the patience of strangers, it is beyond words how lucky and fortunate I feel. I have been in constant pressure of challenging my comfort zone, always trying to understand diverse ways of living, be able to put myself in their way of viewing the world, understanding something in a different way then I have been taught through my cultural upbringing. That has always been an aim and my continual teacher when travelling. This time in Norway, Sabin and I had his family visiting from Nepal and I became increasingly aware of the fact that I would be the lucky observer of their understanding of the culture I was created by (I think we are all a product of our culture and upbringing, off course with individual personalities but you cannot escape its way of establishing parts of your mindset).
Welcoming Sabins family at the airport was both scary and super exciting. How to show the Norwegian culture and making them comfortable at the same time? How will they feel with everything being sooooo different then what they are used to in Nepal? Sabins family is easily the most openminded and loving family in Nepal, so there was not really any reason to worry. Spending a lot of time with them in Nepal though had created the knowledge of how they normally live, and how drastically different everything will feel for them in the Norwegian context. From picking them up at the airport in my old tiny Nissan Micra they had big smiles on their faces even when covered in the luggage all the way up to Fagernes to visit my mormor(grandmother), the car so overpacked that they could hardly move their big toe. Throughout the three weeks they spent in Norway they were super happy, sweet and helpful at all times, even though being on the edge of their comfort zones. I think the hardest part for them was the food (but they never complained!). In Nepal most people eat dal baht twice a day which is combination of rice, lentil soup, curry and sauce. Obviously, this is pretty far from the Norwegian daily or even twice bread meal and potatoes etc. for dinner! It made me realize how much food really means to us and our culture. As a vegan I have adapted quite an international mix of dishes, but I still loooooooove me a nice seedy wholegrain bread with lots of avocado and tomatoes! Bread is still rooted (and will always be) in my heart. As I am sitting in café in Cambodia at the time of writing I have to admit that even I miss dal baht now (and bread), as it is getting close to 5 months since we were in Nepal.
I think I came to appreciate many things of Norway, feeling like seeing them through renewed eyes, traveling my home with a fresh perspective on everything. I will always remember Sabins mom first time experiencing proper snow. Something completely surreal for them as it was summertime (end of May, so maybe not really summer but almost!), but the mountains in Norway is colder in summer then Kathmandu is in winter. She was literally jumping, screaming and throwing the snow around (without any gloves!!). She had the biggest smile and excitement in her face like she was a little girl eating ice cream for the very first time, and then realizing how cold the snow is, as it had never occurred to her. Some knowledge we all have which is taken for granted, clearly, she knew the snow would be cold but not sooooo damn cold it actually feels when holding it, until your finger little by little are getting numb. That is something that has to be experienced. This really gave me a newfound love for snow. And the fact that if you are 10 years old or 50, it certainly doesn’t matter, life should still be jam-packed with these moments of pure joy. I have to say this was only one moment out of many where you could see her jumping out of enthusiasm and it would warm my heart until almost melting. Observing that the country I grew up in can create such magical moments for others as I have when traveling. I do very much appreciate and love the Norwegian nature, but after seeing this I have been contemplating and realizing I should give it a lot more appreciation. Try to see every experience and magic of nature as it is the very first time, to fill every moment with that pure joy and excitement that something has given all of us at some point.