Winner of www.Denmark.net's International Blog Contest, 2009. Updated version, March 2012.
All Danes are blond and gorgeous. And every single of us have a cabin with a view of a lake. No wonder the whole world wants to be Danish, but don't get your hopes up. We're very protective of our gene pool.
You're planning to go to Denmark.
You've always wanted to visit our country because you know that it's the most exciting nation in the world. You tell yourself, "Why would I want to go to London, Barcelona or Shanghai when I can go rock climbing on Lolland?"
"Yes," you continue, "I'm trendy. I want to visit Denmark because the Danes are so eco friendly with their bikes, cuisine, and state of the art dildos. And most important, they're the happiest and most trusting people in the world."
Yes, that's right.
In 2008 Denmark was named the happiest nation on the planet. And I'm living proof of that. Right now this Danish novelist is sitting in happy Copenhagen staring at the happy rain, enjoying the 43 degrees of happy spring.
Come and visit us, will you?
And please bring all your credit cards because you're going to need them!
GUIDE TO DENMARK
Here's a superficial introduction to my Southern Scandinavian Paradise. Everything you read in this guide is the gospel truth, so please don't sue.
Name: Denmark (Danmark)
Inhabitants: 5.6 million.
Capital: Copenhagen (1.5 million)
Ranking: Most livable city in the world (Monocle, British Magazine, 2008)
Other Top Rankings in the World That We Take Pride In:
a) Most trusting people in the world (April 2011)
b) Best restaurant in the world (Noma, 2010, 2011)
c) Most Pork consumption per capita (not counting your neighborhood Iman)
Government: Constitutional monarchy.
Currency: Kroner. (5.6 DKK to a US dollar)
Religion: No, thank you.
Name of Queen: Margrethe II.
Name of Prime Minister: Helle Thorning-Schmith. As popular as chlamydia.
Size: The 8th biggest country in the world if you count Greenland. (Always count Greenland).
Weather: Not really.
Unemployment Rate: Rising
Hospitality If You're Not White: Falling
Crime per Capita: Fourth lowest in the world.
Corruption: Second lowest in the world.
Average Consumption of Beer per Capita: Fourth highest in the world.
World Ranking for Danish Men In Bed: Number 9.
Famous Dead Danes: Hans Christian Andersen (fairy tale writer), Søren Kierkegaard (philosopher), King Canute (conquered England), Tycho Brahe (conquered the universe), Isak Dinesen (conquered Africa), Karen Blixen (conquered Meryl Streep), Vitus Bering (explorer), Niels Bohr (physicist), Georg Jensen (design), Carl Nielsen (composer), Carl Dreyer (film director), Victor Borge (comedian), Hamlet
Famous Living Danes: Caroline Wozniacki (tennis player, cute), Lars Ulrich (founder of Metallica, not that cute), Anders Fogh Rasmussen (General Secretary of NATO; he'll be happy to bomb any country America tells him to), Helena Christensen (model, unfortunately not in porn), Peter Høeg (author), Michael Laudrup, Peter Schmeichel (soccer players), Lars von Trier (film director), René Redzepi (chef)
Danes Who Ought to Be Dead: Jante.
Famous Half Danes: Viggo Mortensen, Scarlett Johansson, Ludvig Holberg.
Biggest Danish Film Star of All Time: Asta Nielsen (Die Asta from the silent age)
Best Mads Mikkelsen: Mads Mikkelsen
Most Trendy Film Director Right Now: Nicolas Winding Refn
Most Hilarious Grossfest: Clown, The Movie
Denmark's Favorite Neurotic Who Probably Isn't a Nazi: Lars von Trier
Most Popular Danish Children Song of All Time: Barbie Girl by Aqua
Best Danish Band Right Now: Mew
Most Famous Danish Building: The Opera House in Sydney (Jørn Utzon)
Danish Imperialism: Lego, Maersk, Ecco, Vesta, Bang and Olufsen, Carlsberg, Tuborg.
Daily Smokers: 10% of population. (All of them will be sitting on your lap when you go to an outdoor café)
Obesity Rate: 22% of population.
Best Danish Food: Moss, lichen, and soil mixed with bone marrow from an animal you don't want to eat. (Noma, world's best restaurant)
Denmark's Claim to Fame in Great Britain: Bacon.
Denmark's Claim to Fame in Spain, Greece & Cyprus: Blond girls with herpes.
Denmark's Claim to Fame in the Far East: Badminton.
Denmark's Claim to Fame in the Middle East: Cartoons.
Most Important Danish Invention of All Time: The atomic bomb (Niels Bohr)
Denmark's Biggest Contribution to American Sports: Morten Andersen, the all-time leading scorer in the NFL.
Best Tourist Attraction If You're Into Knights in Shining Armour: Frederiksborg castle, Hillerød and Kronborg, Helsingør (Hamlet's castle)
Best Tourist Attraction If You're Eight Years Old or Behaving Like It: Legoland.
Best Tourist Attraction If You're Eighty Years Old or Behaving Like It: Tivoli.
Most Overrated Tourist Attraction: The Little Mermaid.
This is the kind of abuse we Danes have to tolerate every day: Foreigners who fondle our national treasure as if she were a common strumpet. Shameless, that's what it is.
Time of Glory I: When the Danish vikings conquered England in the 11th century.
Time Of Glory II: When Denmark won the European Championship in soccer in 1992 and the whole country behaved like a frat party.
Most Beautiful Cities in Denmark: Copenhagen, Helsingør (Elsinore), Ærøskøbing, Faaborg, Ribe, Skagen, Svaneke.
Places to Avoid at All Costs Unless You Have A Secret Death Wish: Mørke, Ringsted, Brøndby, Fisketorvet.
Best Months to Visit the Land of the Danes: From late May to mid-September.
Best Month to Commit Suicide Because It's Dark, Dreary, and Everybody Wish They Were in Thailand: January.
Best Danish Traits: Tolerance, sense of humor, informality.
Worst Danish Traits: Intolerance, pettiness, self-satisfied melancholy.
What You'll Miss the Most If You're an American Visiting Denmark: TV anchors with perfect teeth.
What You'll Miss the Most If You're Italian: Bread and Berlusconi.
What You'll Miss the Most If You're Norwegian: Norway
Most Beautiful Area of Denmark: The Silkeborg lake district in Jutland and the island of Bornholm.
Most Stupid Thing to Say to a Dane: Now, which part of Germany are you from again?
Second Most Stupid Thing to Say to a Dane: Sweden is by far my favorite Scandinavian country.
Enjoy your stay. And please forgive Copenhagen for looking like Pompeii. We're building a Metro that we don't need ...
Copyright, Peter H. Fogtdal, Danish Accent, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Denmark For Dummies - A Superficial Introduction to The Happiest Nation on Earth (Updated, March 2012)
Friday, March 2, 2012
If I were a saint, I'm sure that Jesus Christ and Buddha would appear before me, offering me advice on how to save the world and myself. And not necessarily in that order.
But I'm just a novelist, so the only one who shows up in my dreams is George Clooney, and when the brilliant actor offered me some advice on the progress of my novel, I listened humbly.
This is not as weird as it sounds. Everybody can get help from their dreams. If they are strong and have a visionary quality, they can aid us solving problems in our lives. So believe it or not, My Inner Clooney was a big help to me. I won't promise that I'll dedicate my book to him, but if he invites me to stay at his villa outside Como, I could be talked into it.
Okay, let me be serious for a second. In this memorable dream I just had, George Clooney said that I should try to be less aware of myself during the writing process (which is something I always work on intensely), and he also added something that made me laugh when I woke up: "Let the Swiss be Swiss and the Germans be Germans."
On a superficial level this comment didn't make sense at all. There are no Germans or Swiss in my novel. The story takes place in an ashram in India with an American Dane as the protagonist, but instinctively I knew what My Inner Clooney meant: the novel had become too weird and enigmatic. It needed to be more grounded.
You see, for the last three months I have tried to rewrite the story as a fable, inspired by Franz Kafka and too much spinach curry, probably. George didn't like that. He wanted the novel to be more orderly, structured, and down to earth (Swiss, German).
The reason why I took this dream seriously is that it was Clooney who said it. If it had been Justin Bieber or Kim Jong-Il, the dream would have meant something different, but to my mind George Clooney is an accomplished artist who does quality work, so when he breaks into my dreams I better take him seriously.
When I sat down and read the third draft of my novel, I had to agree with My Inner Clooney. The novel didn't work as a third person fable. It had become weird, pretentious, and boring. I had moved too far away from its irreverent, humorous, and slightly surreal base.
So all I can do is thanking George for making me see that.
But hey, if I'd met My Inner Clooney many years ago I would have asked his advice on how to pick up Italian women, but that's a different story we won't get into here...
One of my best novels, Flødeskumsfronten (Le Front Chantilly in France, O Paraiso de Hitler in Portugal) was based on a dreamlike vision I got in 1999 that was so strong I'll never forget it. So whether you're an artist, scientist, barista, carpenter or assassin, just know that your subconscious is bursting at the seems with ideas, insights, and visuals that would make Magritte proud.
Use them so they don't use you!
*****Art work by A. Huda*****