Monday, August 21, 2017

tabt i oversættelse ... i København

Futuna's (non legally binding) declaration of intention:
I won't be too long, this time. I won't spend hours and paragraphs telling you EVERY detail and story.
This post is gonna be MAINLY images together with a shooort explanation of the how and why.
Now, this is absolute vodka b-llsh-t! I am NOT capable of doing this short and neat, but I can still TRY, though.

København downtown: modern-art buildings under the sky ; rococo "fantaisie" on its bed of lettuce ; roof edge bike shop hipst-vertising.
Well, it was a not-so-sunny, not-so-hot early August in the Ariège. We were in the middle of the beginning of the crazy vorágine of renovating this beautiful and little grand ruin of ours, when our favourite translation agency contacted me (Futuna) for a "special" job offer. Tied by the non-disclosure agreement, I'll just leak that the client was in Copenhagen, Denmark ; that instead of wanting a (french) translator to work FOR them, they wanted a (french) translator to work AT them's ; that it was a 3-day mission in their premises, all-inclusive-all-you-can-eat style ; that the terms of the deal were really decent ; and that it sure was going to be genuine un(t)raveling stuff. Pretty uncommon.  Quite unconventional. Highly unexpected. Dangerously untimely. In a word: absolutely unturndownable!

vers les docks (where fish strive out of the water) and on the sunny side of the street, among rusty cars, vintage bikes and... Møbelstof.
Following this phone call, things went very fast. Like lightspeed, scary fast. And suddenly it was mid-August at an airport terminal, mid-August on a plane and mid-August at another airport terminal, farther north. I was in Denmark for the first time. How weird is that? I took a suburban train to Sømeplåce døwntøwn, walked towards the water, took a left and started to hunt a hipster bar to get a decent cåfelåtte. My first impression? Suburban trains and cåfelåttes are freakin' expensive in this country, trøncø! But considering the whole thing was scenic, exøtic and deliciøusly nørdic*, I said to myself "whåt å wønderful wørld"** and kept wandering the streets and docks randomly. Our friend U., who'd visited us a few weeks earlier, had put me in touch with a local-ish friend of his he'd met ten years ago, while studying here. Thanks to a misunderstanding and to having the same name as a mutual friend of theirs, I ended up invited to surf a couch at his family's (so many thanks again, P.!!): all I had to do was agree to meet him somewhere sometime, only it'd be without an operating cellphone (thanks to Free's cheapest fare) and wondering "just how?"

doubting between "tunnel visiøn" and "døwn the råbbit høle" ; black lamp in a colourful setting ; classy n' glassy side of the street!
After some long, unworried hours of københavnin' around, partially following some of his advices and tips, I sent friendly P. an email which he answered right away, telling me he'd be at the main exit of some centric subway station at 5 sharp and that he didn't wear dreadlocks - which was, let's recognize it, a dramatically useful description of his person! Long storty made short: we met, he walked me and showed me around, took me to touristy, colourful and über-cool Christiania (see below), where we enjoyed a locally brewed beer, the gorgeous variety of the indigenous fauna and flora, as well as a nice piece of conversation by the river - or was it a lake? After that, we walked back to a place where a bus was seemingly waiting to take us away, took a ride to P.'s home, met his lovely wife and two kids, cooked and had dinner there, had a shower (not together, do I really need to specify that?) and before I realized (not an apology nor a justification, but it had been quite a hard day and it was getting night-ey already...), I was sleeping like a log - please don't insist, Mum: no way I paste a link here, two Beatles' songs in a row would be way too much.

fløwer pøwer @ Fristaden Christiania ; scafføldings and gråffitis in B(ike) flåt ; the øne and ønly sølyst plånt/høme...
About Fristaden Christiania: what you'll read - or have just read - on the wikipedia page (link above) is sure enough more informative and accurate than what follows, but if you wanted informative and accurate stuff about specific things, you wouldn't be reading this blog in the first place, would you? So, Christiania is apparently THE thing to see in Copenhagen, while the little mermaid definitely isn't. Indeed, the little mermaid is in the absolute top five of all disappoiting monuments and must sees around the world ; even crappier than the tower of Pisa and the Buddha park in Vientiane. So, initially an autonomous anarchist town on squatted old military premises by Copenhagen downtown, it now exhibits all the features of a Boom Festival: rusty upcycled cabins, flashy New-Age artworks, dystopic SciFi sovietic vans, dreadlock-wearing alternative/underground/anti-everything nihilists and tons of legal, ilegal, unlegal and alegal highs. A beautiful place to be, where you'll buy and consume whatever you please without hiding and where the setting seems to be designed to help you trip for hours without exposing yourself to any hazard - if you except: drowning in a pond, impaling yourself on some piece of art, choking with a "homemade" falafel, being crushed under the rubble of a collapsing shack/art gallery, OD-ing with happy 'shrooms, getting bitten by a gigantic and moody rat or simply suffering acute septicaemia... Like a psychedelic Dejima, it's a lovely place to spend a while, sincerely!

this cool van keeps remindng me of some Björk classic (directed by Michel Gondry?) ; just another one of Christiania's nice lil' shacks.
Woken up early the next morning, just on time to get on P.'s car and drive the kids to school before he dropped me at the closest suburban train station. We hugged thank you, good bye and good luck, and in about the amount of time needed to yawn and stretch my back, I was already on the right line and on a direct train heading to the client's. It was cold and grey at the station, so I crossed the street of cobblestone (no, no Simon & Garfunkel song, here. it'd be too obvious. or maybe? let me think about it for a second...) and entered the Coffee shop just opposite the round-about I'd seen on google maps and suggested to N. (my yet-to-meet German translator colleague on this project) for a BBB - a breakfast business briefing. I was early, she was right on time, we had a quick coffee with milk and pastries to break the ice and soon walked to the client's to get the job done. I won't be saying a single word about translating except, maybe, this: as we (both) assumed (and repeated) beforehand, it was nothing that couldn't have been done from (our respective) home. Only it got us to travel, producing a few extra tons of carbon dioxyde, disposing cardboard coffee cups, discovering a beautifully singular place on earth and being paid for doing so. Sweet!

Christiania's handcrafted cårgø bikes ; one of its cåbin pørns by the låke ; and some pøliticålly incørrect ørchårds and vegetåble gårdens.
Since talking about work isn't really an option, then ¿what? Let's talk about the time off and surroundings: time off was basically breakfast, dinner and the way from the hotel to the office. And back. An average 20 minute walk in the middle of a residentiål nøwhere, which logically takes us to the "surroudings" chapter - smooth transition, isn't it? Well, my hotel was stuck to, or built against, the local soccer team's arena. It was also the official venue for all sorts of trainees, fellow or opponent teams, journalists and V.I.P. living of, for and around the soccer thing. Søccer! My soft spot, my weakness, my cup of tea! The one and only reason I get off bed every morning! Couldn't have dreamt of anything better, couldn't have been any happier. ¡Wøøø!*** Only relief: there was a state-of-the-art gym in the 1st underground floor, with a 24h all-you-can-sweat pass included in the room's fare. Pretty much everything I'd seen on TV, brought to me in real-life: superlative dudes with their protein shakes, making sure their triceps were slightly more inflated than the neighbour's, and fit-as-hell girls, with their pastel pink and green outfits, doing the step machine as if it was the last thing they'd ever do... I spent an instructive and delightful hour "working out" (trying out every single machine) there both evenings, between the walk back home and my shower and in-room instant noodle soup dinner.

indigenøus håbitåt in a residentiål neighbøurhøød ; say "bikey bike" and ride it ; dangerously irreverent wine støre and a vintåge cøupé.
Another one of the hotel's interesting features was the wake-up call service: it didn't seem to be working. Well, they failed to ring my room's phone twice out of two mornings, even though I walked to the front desk and asked for it specifically both times. Not a big deal, it gave me a chance to try and enjoy their branded bicycles through the neighbourhood and to make commuting both faster and more fun... As for the surroundings, then: somewhere north of Copenhagen, a half-residential, half-industrial (and half-desert) suburb, with little to do if you except staring at everything with fascinated alien/tourist eyes. Not a bar, not a shop, not a bench, not a single area designed for unbusy people to spend time outdoors. You could reasonably uphold that the Danish weather is generally not inviting, but it falls short with the first sunbeam, when you witness everybody getting on the street and turning their faces south, as though desperately trying to synthetize vitamin D for the next 12 months. So, maybe it's just a cultural thing: the outdoors may just be this awkward no man's land you cruise through between home and somewhere else, with no other reason than the act of transiting. This being said, houses look homey, streets streetey and bikes, bikey.

indigenøus håbitåt in a residentiål neighbøurhøød ; say "bikey bike" and ride it ; dangerously irreverent wine støre and a vintåge cøupé.
Then, a bit too soon to be honest, it was Friday afternoon and the job was all done. It was time to say "gøødbye, fårewell and see you ågåin sømedåy", rush through traffic to the airport, share a barely decent pizza and local beer with friendly N. before flying back to our respective homes. We exchanged emails and FB-friended, invited each other to come visit someday and wished we'd have other opportunities to city-break somewhere that fancy in the future... and, of course, on the house! Working 3 whole days lost in translation with somebody you've never met before can be stressful or a plain pain in the a--, but getting to do it with N. was nicer and funnier than I could have expected. Another good reason to thank Rñkjvsb (the Danish client) for this cool experiece. My flight back home was quiet, beautifully stormy and generally boring. If the descent on Barcelona was gorgeous, with Montserrat, Tibidabo and Montserrat bathed in late August sunlight, the landing was really tough. I came back, almost unaware, to a post-terror attack city where tension, fear and grief were tangible on the streets, on the subway and on every face. I spent a night at dear L.'s new shared appartment, the two of us in a state of shock, hitting on a bottle of red wine. I came back home the next day with her and our friends A. & M., the official home(t)raveling architects. But that's another story.

stormy weather over western Europe: dark clouds and scary light ; minutes to landing: Montjuic, Tibidabo and Montserrat in the distance.
Ah, I almost forgot to tell you about the postcards! Copenhagen is indeed a beautiful and fascinating city, in which postcards are not only VERY expensive but also VERY difficult to find. Do millenial city-breakers not send postcards anymore? Do they use a f---ing app. to send e-cards? What's the post-modern equivalent of "sending a postcard"? Some kind of tatoo printed on unbleached paper with vegan ink that can be shipped by UPS to a remote location, or some stuff like that? Anyway... Well, talking about expensive, you should have seen the face of the (not so friendly) lady at the post office when I asked for 10 stamps for my 10 (XXth century style) postcards: she stared at me with both pity and disbelief. She warned me I'd only be able to pay in cash and it was going to be a substantial amount. I was prepared but I was naive, too. At the current rate of the Danish krone, 10 stamps for Europe are worth slightly less than 40 euros! - which is proportionnally even more ridiculously expensive than the hipsta-latte or the 2-zone suburban train ticket. Here's a proof I didn't give up: those 10 fellows probably don't realize how privileged they are!


* I solemnly swear I'll try to refrain from overdoing this ø and å thing! I'll try, okay... but you'll have to admit it's tempting...

** Oups! I did it again...

*** You guys don't need a tag to understand sarcasm, do you?

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