For the love of the game

April 10, 2008

Photo by: Jpghouse

The number of audience that went to see a match in the Danish Hockey League has risen this season. 1.534 persons pr match. This is what I have to compare with when I see cars everywhere in Montreal with the Canadiens-flag out of their window. This is what I have to compare with when I see a car painted in the red, white and blue colors with the Canadiens-logo on each side, of course. So I guess you can understand that it seems a bit overwhelming.

I read an article in Metro a week or two ago about how it affected the happiness of the Montrealers if the Canadiens are successful. I think I found the same study here, and even though it is in French, I pretty sure it says that one person out of five thinks that the performance of their club influence their level of happiness. Wow! I don’t even think the Danes feel that way with one of the Danish national sport soccer (can’t be sure of course).

I would have loved to see all of these strong club-feelings evolve live at the first play-off match tonight, but of course the ticket are sold out months (seasons?) in advance. That is what I call commitment. I will do the second best at go to the local sports bar, can’t wait to see this intense hockey-culture when the stakes are as high as they are. I wonder if it will be quite the anticlimax to go and see hockey in Denmark, when I come back…



April 9, 2008

Photo by: EBR

Just recently 60 Minutes had a piece about a scientific survey concerning happiness made by Leicester University in England. The piece was about Denmark, which came in number one as the happiest people in the world. Canada came in number 10.

In the piece from 60 Minutes the journalist Morley Safer interviews a Danish journalist and comedian, Sebastian Dorset, and he says that even though the Danes are the happiest people you do not see them go around smiling in the streets, actually they look a bit discontent.

I saw this nodding in recognition and it made me think about walking in the streets of Montreal the last couple of sunny days. It seems to me that the people of Montreal have got a dose spring-joy with all these sunbeams and now they walk around smiling on the streets.

I have to confess that I have had my dose as well, and perhaps this little piece is affected by this, but seen with my Danish eyes (which are not scientific, representative or unbiased) people actually seem more relaxed and smiling here. Perhaps it just the sunshine speaking…


The streets of Montreal

April 7, 2008

Photo by: AKidd

I always notice and sometimes greets them walking on Ave Mont Royal. They sit or stand the same place; the guy with his dog in front of the pet store, the lady with the big winter boots outside the SAQ and the man who plays with his cap. But they are not always on the street.

As I wrote earlier in A Dane wondering, I have been thinking about where the homeless people on Ave Mont Royal go in night or when it gets cold or wet and how the social system takes care of them compared to the Danish social system. Just to make it clear I base my wonder about the homeless on the assumption that these people on Ave Mont Royal are in fact homeless, I don’t know if they are just begging for money and going home to an apartment.

In Denmark there are about 5.000 homeless people, in most cases these people have the opportunity the be helped by the social services, but since 69 percent of them are addicted to alcohol, hash, narcotics and/or medicine and 30 percent suffer from mental illness they do not always get the help. And therefore they end up on the streets, homeless (of cause for some it is a way of living).

As I tried to find out where the homeless go to sleep, eat, and keep warm in Montreal I stumbled upon this webpage that offers interesting insight in the lives of homeless people in Canada. On the webpage it says accurate stats are hard to get, but estimations would be that there is anywhere from 10.000 to 30.000 people in the city without a fixed address.

To me that really seems like a lot, when you take into consideration that Montreal has 3.5 million inhabitants against the 5.5 million people in Denmark. I didn’t manage to find out why Montreal has such a big share of homeless (“address less”) people, from the webpage it seem as if there was a lot of places to go to sleep, eat and keep warm. So I didn’t get the impression that Montreal doesn’t care, but perhaps I’m wrong?


A love story

March 31, 2008

Photo by: Kornum

I have passed it a few times on Rue Rachel, and every time it puts a smile upon my face. Je t’aime. I don’t know, what the true story is, but I know that I like the story I have made up in my head about the Je t’aime just above this grey looking letterbox.

It’s the story about how the young handsome man wins over the love of his life by painting the Je t’aime above her letterbox, reminding her every day of his love. (I know that I’m very much affected by a lot of very non-realistic love movies).

Perhaps you know the real story, but if it’s not as good as mine, I’m not sure I want to hear it…


The classic issue of tipping

March 31, 2008

Photo by: Aubreyarenas

In Denmark I would only tip if I had eaten in a restaurant more fancy than a café and if the service was worth paying for. Perhaps that makes me cheap, but it also makes me pretty typical Danish. I read an article about an investigation of how tourists from different countries were looked upon – the Danes were, sadly enough, some of the tourists that behaved worstly.

Thanks to my travel guide – Lonely Planet Montreal I knew before coming that tipping is custom here in Montreal. So in every restaurant I go to people might wonder why I’m sitting with a strange look on my face, when I get the bill; I’m just trying to figure out how much 15 percent of the amount is. I will be embarrassed, if I do not to give enough and I’m living on a student’s “salary” so I can’t afford to give too much.

The tipping can still sometimes make me feel uncomfortable, because, as I wrote earlier, I’m from a country, where tipping is given only for the good service and there are no rules about the amount. Here I find it difficult to tell by the expression of the waiter’s face when he or she takes the money, if I tipped ok. An example could be if I should pay 21 dollars including the 15 percent tip, but I just round the bill up to 20 dollars because it’s easy, should I then really break a 10-dollar note to get the last dollar for the tip?

I heard somewhere that the reason why tipping is customary here is because the salaries for waiters, bartenders etc. are very low and the tip is a big part of their earnings. I tried to find out what the average salary of waiter in Montreal is, but I had no luck. The average monthly salary for a waiter in Denmark is 4,529 dollars (remember we pay around 50 percent in taxes of the amount) I wonder how big a difference that is to the salary of a waiter in Montreal?


Just a little one about the kissing

March 27, 2008

Photo by: B Tal

Being a Dane use to firm handshaking and slightly loose hugs (only with your good friends), it was kind of a surprise for my cheeks coming over here and being spoiled with all those kisses. Not a bad surprise. I know it is obvious when you are in Quebec, a French province you will be greeted the French way. My cheeks and I just came a little unprepared. And most of the kisses came mostly from other exchange students…

In Lonely Planet – Montreal it says this about cheek kissing:
“As in France, it’s customary among French Quebecers who know each other to exchange bises (kisses) as a greeting (men do this occasionally, too) While two to three kisses on each cheek are typical in France, the usual ritual in Quebec is one glancing peck on each cheek. Any more will get you weird looks.” (Page 29)

As an exchange student I find it interesting how all the exchange students has picked up on this cheek kissing; even if they are not from a country where this is the normal way of greeting.

It is not that I don’t like it, as I have said before “when in Montreal do as the Montrealers”, but it makes me wonder, if “real” Montrealers look at us, the international students, kissing like crazy on each other’s cheeks with the weird look that Lonely Planet is talking about.

I guess I’m just not sure how big the cheek kissing really is in this city. Is it really something everybody does? Or is it just the wannabe Montrealers?

I would love to get some comments on this from some cheek kissing or non-cheek kissing Montrealers!


Now that Montreal is melting…

March 25, 2008

Photo by: Butterflysha

Now that Montreal is melting, I would like to salute the “winter-inhabitants” of Montreal. I know, it is not with joy in their mind and praise in their heart that Montrealers shovel through meters of snow to get to their car or put on clothes on top of clothes just to get some milk or bread. Still I have felt a winter-love in this city, which I have never experienced before.

It has been snowing in parts of Denmark the last few days, and I see how the snow is the subject to many news reports in the newspapers, I also see, in these Facebook days, how my Danish friends update their status with complaints about the snow, As if life cannot be lived fully when it snows. But I know it can, I have seen it the last few months.

Even during the really bad snowstorm here in Montreal a couple of weeks ago (March 8th) the taxies didn’t stop driving, the shops didn’t close and the city didn’t stop turning. The day after you could see not just a few people outside enjoying the weather. Perhaps they would have preferred the snow not to be there, but now that their Sunday once again turned out to be a white one, it seemed to me that the Montrealers just chose to live and embrace the snow.

I checked the Danish Meteorological Institute’s webpage to compare the average precipitation in Montreal and Copenhagen. In January, February and March Montreal has had 232 millimeters precipitation, while Copenhagen had 94. In the same period Montreal had 44 days with precipitation, while Copenhagen had 27 of those days. Remember this is all in average.

I found the numbers interesting because you would think that the people with the most precipitation would be the ones to complaint the most about it. But then again you could argue that you get more use to living side by side with the snow, when it is always there. I know of cause that Montrealers also get sick and tired of the snow, but it can’t change the way my eyes see the relationship between this city’s inhabitants and the snow: like an old marriage kept together by love and a good screaming quarrel once in a while.