Wednesday, February 20, 2008

The woman who sits in the desk next to mine arrived this morning with a suitcase. She’s off to Tallinn on an overnight cruise that includes all of seven hours in the Estonian capital, which is rumored to be quaint with a well-preserved, if rather small, old quarter surrounded by medieval walls.

I’ve never been to Tallinn, which I am ashamed of, since it’s so close. It used to sound so exotic to me. But how do you define exotic? If you make Scandinavia the center of your map, Krakow, St. Petersburg or Tallinn are hardly exotic destinations, none of which I’ve been to and all of which I feel I should visit, and soon before they change any more than they have already changed since the unravelling of the Iron Curtain.

But exotic or not isn’t even just a matter of geography. Thailand or the Canary Islands don’t fall under the exotic by Swedish standards either, since you can go to either place on the cheap. In fact, places ranging from the Gambia to Reykjavik to Petra no longer seem remote, living in a land where people think one of the basic human rights is the right to travel to far-flung places. Or at least far-flung places with lots of sun.

So what is exotic anymore? Antarctica? The moon?

The Swedish word for the day is omöjligt. It means impossible.

- by Francis S.

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