-18 in Oslo

The misery around me is snow and ice. I slip with my heavy bag, why is no one else slipping? I’m clearly the newcomer here, my first time in temperatures of -18. “Welcome to Norway, Sean my dear” – It’s great to hear Nizam’s voice again even if it is only on my answerphone – but it is impossible to comprehend how he can tolerate this cold. How did the ‘Road to Damascus’ lead us here?

I’m freezing. My ears worst, then my nose. My nose runs a little bit, and then it freezes on some nose hair. A brave painful tug removes the tiny snot ridden icicle. A homeless guy sits staring at me. How can he sit there in this weather?

I continue delicately making my way down a dirty public staircase. Is this the clean Norway life Nizam told me about? I spot a film of oil that makes beautiful colours down the dirty stairs, oil can’t freeze I tell myself, then it dawns on me that this is another oil rich nation I have found myself in, just like Iraq, Iraqi’s always blame the oil for the war – ‘We had to share it with the American’s’ – but here in Norway it’s peaceful. Why don’t they have to share their oil with the Americans? Maybe Norway will be invaded next? I doubt it; Norway is far too cold for American GI’s.

With a tiny population of only 5 million Norway is one of richest countries in the world. I am always fascinated where the oil money goes and how it reaches the people. The oil money goes to provide better social services I am told, that is why immigrants want to come here they say. People will always follow the money I reply, it is the natural way of things.

I pass some prostitutes standing in the freezing cold outside of my hostel, I refuse to imagine how can they have sex in this weather, as I climb the stairs again and disappear into my room to wait for Nizam.