norway is not strictly norwegian.
in oslo all the cab drivers are pakistani. i washed down a tandoori reindeer dinner with a portuguese wine while listening to arabic rock and roll. a friend ate balinese squid a la mode. and paprika kangarou [sic]. the next night i danced to a degenerate form of LA rap music with an adorable russian girl who was raised in greece and had more energy than a rising sun. i saw a movie that had two simultaneous subtitle tracks - one in english and one in norwegian. norway is inventive and combinatorial and big.
but when i got off the plane nobody asked me questions, or for my passport, or for proof of anything. i just walked into norway like i'd walk into a gas station. the norwegians are too politically alert to be hated. everyone loves them - iranians, americans, colombians, spanish, ghanians - and if they don't they probably have some family member living there or are descended from someone that lived there, once upon a viking past.
i don't speak norwegian. i can't even understand it. but i can tell it from chinese, german, english, portuguese, japanese, sinhalese, and african-accented french. all of which i heard walking down the streets of oslo.
on january 21 of 2002 a kid named Benjamin Hermansen was killed by some neo-nazis. it was called a racist killing. the norwegians were so upset that 80,000 feet started walking the icy streets of oslo in protest. even Harald V, and Sonja, the king and queen, joined the crowds in that snowy january.
oslo is not strictly oslo. its too political and too modern. even this provincial patch of only half a million people is a tidepool of a hundred countries.