Sunday, May 22, 2011

A trip to Iceland

 My good friend Octav sent this email to Irina, and then forwarded it on to me at her suggestion for possible inclusion in a movie script. As soon as I started reading it, I realised it was perfect material for Kitten Tumour. Having now gotten permission to publish the email from Octav, I present to you a worldwide exclusive only to be found on Kitten Tumour: the story of Octavian's latest trip to Iceland. Enjoy it.


MAN!!!! This was the most intense Iceland trip ever!!!

You know how I get to meet all the nutcases, right? That's what I kept in mind, to try to have a safe distance from people that went a little funny in the head lately.

As I arrive to Reykjavik I call Asa, Aslaug's distant cousin that she never met in her life, but she introduced her to me on Facebook. She is this neurotic driver that has a really old Hyunday with an automatic gearbox. She drives with one hand on the wheel, one on the cigarette that she smokes without getting the windows down, because outside it's a snowstorm (in may), and in the same time she's showimg me beautiful landscapes while she's doing 100 on the edge of a very sharp cliff. Then we stop. She shows me some mountains. She tries to turn the car. We are with the front wheels on the edge of the cliff. She turns her body, just as if she tries to see what's behind. I see with the edge of my eye that the gear lever is in "F" position (which I brilliantly connect in my head with the english word "FRONT", and I think: "I hope she'll put it into "R") ...but she didn't, and pressed the gas pedal to the floor.... I end up pushing the car back from the lava gravel back on the asphalt road. So we were literally centimeters away from falling in the Atlantic ocean with an old Hyunday.

Then we go to this graduation party of an icelandic composer that everyone is related with. After that we end up in a very posh party in the house of the uncle of that girl that graduated. I have a blast with the owner of the house, who ends up telling me how much he hates his wife, and how much he loves his daughters, grandchildren, nieces, cousins and whatever is in the middle. After we leave the party I find out that this guy is actually the icelandic minister of foreign affairs, and one of the most influential characters in Iceland's political world, for the past 30 years.

I found out that there is this thing called "trunor" or however it's being written... which means that every saturday evening, people get totally drunk, and start telling strangers their deepest hidden secrets, and the person that hears them is supposed to keep them to himself... now I wonder what would happen if I hear some information about the secret NATO air bases in Iceland...

Then I met Vladimir Ashkenazy, who at the age of 75 moves like a teenager. He came to Reykjavik straight from Hong Kong and he started rehearsals right away. 8 hours long rehearsals, with breaks in which the orchestra was having coffee, but he was giving interviews for BBC, DW, RTL, Arte and so on.

He was in Iceland for 5 days. Every day started with an 8 hours long rehearsal and 3 of them ended with a gala concert in the newly built concert hall that is just amazingly great! And the acoustics is STUNNING.

I followed him everywhere with my camera, made friends with the orchestra and singers, who are like all european names, singing with the Scala, Paris opera and Berliner Philarmoniker.

Then I met the daughter of the minister of foreign affairs. Aslaug told me that she is somehow a distant relative of hers aswell, and she's born in Isafjordur. She was suggesting her as a Facebook friend for me like 3 years ago. I added her, but haven't been in touch with her since then. We met at that party, in her dad's house and we looked at eachother, not knowing where do we know eachother from... then, a couple of ays later I saw a post by her, on Facebook, and saw the face! BINGO! So I called her to have a maltextrakt and some rotten shark with me, in this amazing meeting place, which became my favorite spot in Reykjavik, called "Islenski Baarin"

She came. And so I realised that she is as famous as Michael Jackson, in Iceland. I was waiting for her for like 30 minutes, because she was having an argument with the ammerican ambassador to Iceland which concluded in her slamming the door of the US embassy, yelling "ASSHOLE!!!" to the guy. When she entered the bar, she had to struggle to get to my table, as there was an army of icelanders running towards her, screamming icelandic angry words to her, and she shouted back in full power, something that sounded like revolutionary slogans... "What the fuck?" I was wondering... And she came to the table. She told me she is devastated. So she said that there is this guy that worked for the iranian guverment and he leaked military secrets to the ammericans, act that brought a death sentence over him. He managed to escape by running to Afganistan. Neither of the ammerican army bases offered him protection, then he went further and ran to TUrkmenistan, and crossed the Caspian sea in a bath tub, reached Azerbaidjan, Armenia, TUrkey and from there on water again, he crossed the whole Mediteranean sea up to Spain, from where he somehow got on a plane with a false passport to Iceland. And he is in Iceland for the past 7 years, in which he asks for political asylum that no one understands why isn't he getting... Anyway, she said that the guy called her the other day and asked her to come to his house. He was in a very "determined" mood. He handed her a closed envelope written in arabic, and told her that he trusts she won't open it until the time is right. Then he asked her to show him her phone. "Oh! No camera? ... here! Have my phone! It has a camera! And send all my best wishes to your dad!"... (remember that her dad is the foreign affairs minister)

"Maybe he wants to blow up the parliament building! What should I do?" she asked me. "Open the envelope!" I said. "NO! He trusts me! I can't open it!"... "but if he blows up the parliament a lot of innocent people will die, and you'll have them on your conscience!" ..."I CAN'T OPEN THE ENVELOPE!" ..."Then call the police! Have him under surveillance! Have them follow him with trained bloodhunds, so if he exists the house with explosives, they'll stop him." ..."now this can be a good idea! The head of icelandic police is an old familly friend from Isafjordur!"

Then all of a sudden a lady commes at our table. They hug, start speaking icelandic, then I get to be introduced, and we invite the lady at our table. She of course tells me her name, but as I'm not icelandic the name doesn't ring any bell. We get to speak with her for like an hour and a half. She leaves, and I got to find out who the lady was: "her daddy's boss"... meaning, the prime minister of Iceland... I'm like the unfaithfull Thomas, and I get my internet deice out of my pocket to check it out... "DAMN! That really was the prime minister... and we spoke about the delliciously disguisting foods of Romania, like the pig jelly made with the pig's nose and ears, and the world famous cow stomack soup!" ...but we had in front of us a plate of deliciously smelling rotten shark cubes...

So we were chatting in the bar until 3 o'clock in the morning, when of course we were the only ones that remained in the bar, and the barmans were not having the guts to tell us that they want to close up the bar and go home.

So, on the way home I make this google research on her. It turns out that she has a monumentally popular TV show on the main icelandic national TV channel, that deals with exposing cases of corruption. She is a master of stearring the international shit. In 2008 she was the mother of this revolution that you probably heard about, called "The pots and pans Revollution" in which she asked on TV for the people of Reykjavik to come with hoise making devices, in the streets, in front of the national bank building... it sort of ended up with them setting the building on fire, but as she said, the chief of police is an old family friend, so everything got solved easily.

After that I called the main actor from that Noi Albinoi film (the original reason why I ended up in ISafjordur) and asked him if I can take some portraits of him. And he said he can, but he's very very busy, as he has to build up muscles very fast for a movie he's working on. But he spared an hour for me. We met in the center of Reykjavik, and I took 4 films of him. He's amazingly epressive! I cant wait to get the pictures finished.

The next day I meet Aslaug, who came from Isafjordur to see Ashkenazy's concert. As I get in her car, some "BREAKING NEWS" came on the radio. Everyone is "shh!!!! shhhhhhh!". I quiet down, I let them hear, and then they translate to me: "An iranian guy was entering the red cross building with 50 liters of gasoline. He bloked the doors, poured it on himself, then on the whole room. When he was about to light up the fire, 20 police men came from everywhere and imobilised him."...

So this daughter of the foreign minister calls me crying histericly. I try to calm her down. She tells me that it was my stupid idea to advice her to contact the police. "BUT YOU SAVED HIS LIFE, and the building, and probably the other people's lifes, as he poured gasoline on everyone"

Anyway, I met her again in the Islenski Baarin, and calmed her down with a plate of rotten shark (it's amazing how that rotten shark calms down every icelandic person) and managed to get her focused on the future plans: "I mean think of all the amazing interviews of mass murderers that you'll take! Shevarnadze, Smirnov, Karadgici!" now I'll go with her to take pictures of mass murderers. I hope she won't get us in a transnistrean jail or something...

So I got to make a photography exhibition on the bridge of the Reykjavik city hall (where everybody gathers to feed the ducklings). It looked pretty cool. I thought that it won't happen, as the green light from the city hall came sooooooooo slow... it actually came when I was in Iceland, so I had to print everything in there.

I met Ashkenazy's daughter aswell, and we had a (sort of) dinner with Ashkenazy and the president of Iceland. It was like a reception given in Ashkenazy's honor.

And then a cello player from the philharmonic took me to an AMAZING place, 50km from Reykjavik, to take pictures of her! TOTALLY amazing lava field + abandoned fishing cottages + car wrecks + ship wrecks + wooden boat wrecks... TOTALLY AMAZING!!!!!

so... what's new in your life? How's school? :))


Copyright &0169; 2011 Octavian Balea. Used with permission. 

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