One of the best things about this project has been re-introducing Oslo to residents who have lived here much longer than me.
There was the time that the research trip to Bjerke travbane turned into a family trip and the length of time the people represented have lived in Oslo stretched the span from me at just over 4 years up to my husband’s uncle at 60 years. However, in a group of seven people that all live in Oslo it was the first time for all of us to be at the racetrack. That trip probably wouldn’t have happened if not for #hverbydelharethjerte. I have been involved in heated debates about which neighbourhoods belong to which bydel (and I’ve even been correct!). So far one of the best experiences has been the research trip to Bøler (Østensjø bydel).
Margrete is a friend I met in writing groups. OWL (Oslo Writer’s League) is a group of writers that write in English living in Oslo. Margrete is Norwegian and writes in both English and Norwegian. She has lived in Østensjø for ten years. I keep talking about her because she is passionate about the bydel that she lives in. I learned a great deal from a thoroughly researched presentation that she led us on. We are both part of another writers’ group called Pen to Paper. In Pen to Paper we meet together and just write. It is an act of positive peer pressure. For the purposes of this project we’ve agreed that I will move the writing sessions around the city. On the day that a session was held in Bøler, Margrete led myself and Tone, another member of both writing groups, on a guided tour.
As we walked she pointed out notable sites, she read us poetry and excerpts of longer fictional works, there was even a point where she sang us a song. Margrete is the hero of this particular blog post. I will tell you briefly about the other neighbourhoods in the bydel that I visited, but Bøler is the standout heart of Østensjø. I fell in love with it because Margrete showed me how beautiful her neighbourhood is.
By the way, more of this please. I am open to persuasion. Feel free to try to sway me. Brag on your ‘hood. If you are convinced that you know the heart of one of Oslo’s bydeler, convince me!
A major feature of bydel Østensjø is Østensjøvannet (Østensjø Lake) which is in Manglerud. Walking/jogging the track around the lake is a popular activity. It’s also a nature reserve and therefore a great place to birdwatch (or one of my favourite past-times watching birdwatchers). There are also cows for some reason.
As for Bøler: Bøler is an artistic neighbourhood. Notable writers, singers, and grafitti artists come from here. One thing that I have not discussed in this blog yet is the strong divide between east and west. The western side of Oslo contains areas, such as: Frogner,Vestre Aker, etc. This is where the large houses are. As discussed in the last blog the ski heavy Vestre Aker is a hub for large homes and ski resorts. The east of Oslo is decidedly working class. There are specific accent points that each side sticks to. I have heard east Oslo folks deride the pronunciation of Majorstuen as a opposed to Majorstua as posh. For the record the sign at the T-bane station says Majorstuen. As a foreigner this is interesting for me. Working class in Oslo (probably in Norway in general) is comparatively rich to the rest of the world. The cost of living is very high here, but so are the wages. Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in the world. One of the reasons I made the final decision to move was that I couldn’t afford to be in a long distance relationship with a Norwegian partner while earning British wages. Coming to visit so often was breaking my budget. After moving even though I worked several jobs which would be comparable to minimum wage positions and freelancing, I was/am able to afford basic expenses. Anyway the point it is, Bøler is proud of its working class roots. Bøler is the centre of the bydel in a way. Bøler is the centre of east Oslo in a way. If you know anything about literature you will find it telling that Don Quixote is the mascot of Bøler. There’s a stylised statue of the character on top of the T-bane stasjon, in front of the shopping centre, and the logo of the shopping centre includes a silhouette of the statue itself. We started at the T-bane station, past the shopping centre, Nøklevannet, Nøklevann skole, the edge of Østmarka, Rustadsaga and ending at Rustadsaga sportsstue.
This is the table of contents of the presentation:
- Bøler Gård
- Don Quijote nr 1
- Don Quijote nr 2
- Bare Egil – Egil Hegeberg – Bøler Samfunnshus
- Statoil til Kuppeln – Ingrid Bjørnov, kake på taket (Oppsal)
- Trolltun og Anne Cath Vestly
- Pompel og Pilt – Nøklevann Skole
- Stig Holmås – dikter
- Olav Nygard og Tor Jonsson
- Leif Isaksen, Stomperudtegneren, Bølerskogen
- Jokke – Joakim Nielsen, Ulsrudveien
- Solan Gundersen Rustadsaga
The heart of Østensjø bydel is Bøler, and it is because Margrete’s love for that area grew my love for it.
Kjærlighet bygger kjærlighet
Fordi jeg er glad i deg,
om du liker noe
så kommer jeg til å like det også.
Fordi jeg elsker deg,
om du er forelsket i noen
så kommer jeg til å være glad i dem også.
Kjærlighet bygger kjærlighet.
Throughout 2017 poet and blogger Leeanne Stoddart will travel around Oslo searching for the heart of each borough. She will write blogs, take photos, and write poetry from each place she visits. You can trace the journey here, and follow @hverbydelharethjerte on Instagram. The blog posts will be in English, whilst the poetry is in Norwegian.