What's it like in Copenhagen?

Posted by: Linkesh Diwan on

Copenhagen is an amazing city. It's been billed as the happiest city in the world (a fact proudly related to me by two different Danes on an equal number of different occasions). The first thing we noticed when stepping off the plane was that it was quiet... silent! At the Airport! And what was really interesting was seeing the ground staff moving around the tarmac on bicycles!

The next surprise comes when you get on the metro - the best way out of the airport. The ticketing system is honour system: you buy your ticket and then get it punched by a punching machine. Then you board! No turnstyles, no security check, no anti-cheating machines, nothing! This must be a very honest country. They do have, once in a while, ticket checkers who administer fines of 750DKK on the spot, if you are caught travelling ticketless.

Everyone here is very helpful, and most people know English well. One night Mom and I were trying to find the address of the Climate Justice Fast meeting. All I had was a phone number of someone who knew practically nothing about it! Eventually, we went into a Apple Computer Store, checked the email, got Anna Keenan's number (Anna has been on the Climate Justice Fast, water only, for the past 31 days as of writing), then accosted a friendly customer, who very kindly let us call her, and then waited in the cold for an SMS with the address!

Phone booths, however, are not so friendly: I tried to use one, and it ate my 3DKK just for the attempt to call (I didn't even get through)! This experience has prompted us to rely on passerbys if I need to make a call. I've made four, maybe 5 calls for free (and I think it was free for them too) just by asking friendly people on the street!

Danish people walk alot, and cycle alot. On day one, we took a bus from the main metro station to the Global South-South meeting, the meeting of all the youth from the "Global South" countries. I left early, and walked back with a Dane (President of a local climate-related NGO) who told me that it was just a 5 minute walk. 20 minutes later, we reached the station.

Bicycles are everywhere in Denmark. Every metro station has a huge rack for locking bicycles, and there is a special part of the trains that have a very interesting device to hold bicycles en route.

For all that interesting-ness, Denmark is very cold, and very monochrome. The single most popular clothing color seems to be black, and the temperatures have consistently hovered below 10deg C. It has not gotten cold enough for ice yet, though! It rains almost every day, not hard, but enough to make mud, puddles, and dirty wet shoes.

The official COP is yet to start. Yesterday we ran into the 30-member Government Delegation from Thailand, in the Metro station. I met them as we were all crowding around the metro map, and I turned to my neighbour asking for translation of the map, and they had no idea either! The man I met was a jovial guy, nice, and was nice enough to agree to my calling him Uncle.

Here's to HOPE(nhagen) and prayer that we are successful as a youth movement, in bringing Ethics, Climate Justice, Love, and Life to the negotiations that start tomorrow!