Exploring the Cityscape, part I

Welcome to my findings of interesting phemonemas in the wild, urban cityscape of Oslo. As you all know, I’m a redneck, a Sami (indiginous folk of Norway) and born and raised in the North, which is why I am repeatedly amazed by the intruiging and interesting things you can stumble over in a city like Oslo. This is the first part of my new series that I chose to call: Exploring the Cityscape.

Part 1: The Smoking Ashtrays
Up in the North we’re raised to smoke cigarettes from the age of six. This is not due to some dominant, evil tobacco industrialists, but because in a country were temperatures can go as low as -40°Celsius, where sun won’t rise during the entire winter, smoking cigarettes is a part of surviving. We are talking self-rolled cigarettes, naturally.

Why is this important? Well, the iceage never seemed to leave Northern Norway, so the inhabitants had to learn how to cope with cold. The first rule of surviving is then, obviously, the ability to make fire. In order to get this done, you’ll need a lighter or matches, which is the essential equipment of any half-decent smoker. As we say: there’ll be no fire without smoke! In addition light is sparse in the Northern areas, due to the un-democratic polar-circle, which means Northern Norway is without sun for a couple of months (in the summer we’ve the complete opposite; midnight sun, meaning sun 24/7). So, if you’ve got lost in the woods on your way home from hunting, light up a fag, ’cause the glow of your cigarette may just help you get rescued.

In Oslo, which lies in the southeast part of Norway, people smoke of other reasons. These are reasons incorporated by the dominant, evil tobacco industry. But, as in the North (or, in the cities of the North), they also have outdoor ashtrays.

One thing I noticed when I moved down here, was the size of them. Oslo is the biggest city of Norway with it’s 1 million inhabitants (and growing!), which means more smokers pr. meter. If the city council had ignored all us decent smokers, the streets would be flooded with cigarette stumps. Hence you can find one in every Subway entry, outside every major departement store, in the parks etc. etc.

The phenomena that I’d thought about presenting today, was the smoking ashtrays of Oslo. I’ve never seen anything like it before!! If you roam about the city for a while, you’re bound to find an ashtray, but we’re looking for a particular type; namely the ones you’ll find outside the metro system; big, blue, steel cans with a steady grid on top. Thanks to the great city council, the city hasn’t provided enough labour force to empty these cans, so they tend to get rather full.

The subway entrance is often very drafty; when you open the door a gusty wind from the underground or from behind you will always flow around you. The ashtray takes advantage of this situation, because it is situated right beside the door. Now, people who’re running to catch their train, don’t have time to put out their cigarettes properly, which is the cause of this extraordinary phenomena.

When the ashtray is full, some cigarettes still burning, and the outgoing/incoming wind has been allowed to pass a few times, the ashtray starts smoking! Yep! We’re not talking about a slow burn or a small fire, we’re talking about a naturally created big-size model of the physical principles of smoking (inhale, blow out, etc)! It’s truly fascinating when it happens, and despite what one should believe concerning rush-hour and so on, the phenomena seems to occour only every once in a while. So, if you ever get the chance to see a smoking ashtray, fetch up your Nikon camera and start shootin’, ’cause chances are this has never been documented on tape before!

Stay tuned for the next part of Exploring the Cityscape here at Sigg3 dot net. And if you thought this introduction was too long or too boring; speak to the hand, ’cause the face ain’t listening!

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