Going from Volda to New York, one of the intense experiences is that of the crowds. Always packed with people, the city buzzes with human life. It is both fascinating and terrifying, and in the summer heat I avoid other human bodies, no longer wishing to have them close. Is that how simple I am, the desire for humanity ruled by a need for warmth? On the plane back I was freezing, and I found myself edging gently closer to the man next to me. His warmth, radiating from his arm and shoulder was so attractive, I was fantasising about leaning in, cuddling against his side like a cat or a puppy.
How different, this cool place, where summer is defined by a lack of snow and the colour green. There is space around my body, as I walk to work, silence, for long stretches, nothing but the click of my computer. And from this cool, quiet, distant place I read the weblog of an indian woman, an academic, watch her pictures and read her stories, and wonder who I would have been if that was the natural state of my life.
Eva Dahlgren asks the same question:
Åh, jag undrar så ibland,
Om jag, blivit född
nån annan stans,
I ett annat land,
med ett annat namn.
Jag kanske va brunett
och inte särskilt lång,
och min röst var gäll och dan,
ja, det lät som fan, när jag tog ton.
I wonder occasionally/ if I was born/ elsewhere/ in a different country/ with a different name/ I might have been a brunette/and not particularly tall/ and round/ and my voice was.../yes, it would sound like hell, when I found a tune.
Byt Ateya's world is a different one yet, her everyday further still, from Volda, than even the crowded intensity of New York, and her trainrides are colourful fairytales when read from across the world, a tale of bodies trapped in intimacy or forced apart in ways which make me feel exotic in the cool isolation of the north.