I think «coming home» can be defined in many ways. It depends: is home a physical space, or a more abstract place in presence of the people you love?
Arriving home, which in my case is Copenhagen, happens often as an everyday event in my life because I travel a lot. I have lived different places around the world. I feel at home very easily, and I adjust immediately. The feeling of home is, therefore, an idea that interests me.
Copenhagen will always be back home, not just home. Back home is synonymous with something truly familiar to the extent that you do not think about it. Or is it just the inevitable familiar frame that doesn’t seem to change or move, which then becomes back home?
Copenhagen is not a global city. It’s small and negotiable, quiet and with a lot of green space, all walkable in every direction. People look healthy and, I guess, very hipster. You recognise instantly what the current fashion is around town. You can barely go anywhere without meeting people, which you know. When going shopping in the morning, the city is almost empty; rush hours are short and most evident on bicycling lanes that even for a Copenhagener like me can seem scary and out of control.
I am very drawn to global cities with lots of diversity and noise – places where you can get lost and where you do not have to explain yourself. Everybody seems on the move, new friends are easily made also just for the week.
Global cities are places, where I can find really good noodles, Szechuan food, a diversity of sushi, something unexpected and always somebody, who will go out for a drink on a Monday night, excellent well-cooked breakfast very early in the morning on a weekday, a different newspaper… I, therefore, always need a few days to adjust, when I return home to Copenhagen.
For that reason I need rituals, rituals for retuning back home. First thing: I have to have a cup of black tea. It’s interesting, how difficult it is to get a decent cup of tea when you travel. Even in the best hotels, they do not have a clue. So first thing, no matter what time of day of home arrival, I will make myself a cup of black morning tea, the best cup of tea, and it seems always to be available in my kitchen.
The tea comes from Perch’s, which is a teashop with a long history located in the centre of Copenhagen. When one enters Perch’s teashop, it’s like time travelling. While you stand in line, and lines can be long, you are in deep contact with pre-digital times. First thing, you take a paper ticket, then a number is shouted out by one of the sales assistants and you realize – they are all about teas. The service is impeccable.
Then, when you have bought your tea and paid your bill, they will offer you a piece of candy from an old jar. It’s the kind of jar Granny keeps her candy in – that sought-after jar you as a child always was aware of was there somewhere, but never dared ask for.
We call this kind of candy for bolsjer. Many of them have specific names like Kongen af Danmark, which is red and made on anise seed oil, or dameskrå, which is black and tastes like liquorice. At Perch’s they come from another Copenhagen institution, Sømods bolsjer, that has a small shop and factory in Nørregade, a street close to Perch’s in the city centre.
When I sit there in my kitchen, I have to run through the Danish newspaper – not the mail, however, because nowadays the mail follows you around the world on your computer, so you never really need to catch up. But I need to check on local news. So I pour the black morning tea, add milk, and then I know that I’m back home. I sit still for a moment and enjoy the great flavour and comfort of the warmth from tea. May 4, 2015