Monday, March 31, 2014


Approaching Pingo, Bjorn was struck by the low prices displayed for petrol at the petrol station next to the super market.

"Nineteen MG for a litre of petrol," Bjorn remarked. "Is that even possible?"
"Apparently," Geir replied. "That's what the sign says after all."

Then, suddenly realizing how the low price could be possible, Bjorn answered his own question with another question: "They are not paying any taxes here, are they?"
"Probably not," Geir answered. "Or very little?"
"To Pedro, maybe?" Bjorn speculated.
"Could be. How else is he making any money? Somebody has to pay him, and if it isn't through taxes, how else?"
"So you think this Pedro might be some sort of king down here?" Bjorn continued, fascinated by the implications of such a situation.
"Could be. Or this Jan and Pedro might be having some unholy alliance."
"The casino owner?"

Bjorn could not help feeling intrigued by the village, and the murky circumstances that led up to its recent resurrection. "Come to think of it," Bjorn wondered out loud, just before entering Pingo. "I have not seen any sign of this Pedro at all. Wasn't he supposed to take care of the asylum seekers?"
"Well, that was the idea," Geir agreed.
"Yet everybody here seems to have been left to themselves," Bjorn continued. "Strange, don't you think?"
"Yeah," Geir nodded in agreement as he stepped into the store together with Bjorn.

Bjorn looked around in the brightly lit super market, half expecting to find some sign of Pedro. But here again, everything was as focused on the business at hand as everywhere else. The store was crammed, and felt disorganized, not for lack of effort to keep it tidy, but for lack of space. However, apart from it being too crammed, it did not seem very different from any other super market. Bjorn found it interesting that it had a whole aisle dedicated to wine, since wine can only be sold in special state run stores in Norway, but by now, Bjorn had gotten used to the idea that rules rigorously followed in Norway proper did not necessarily apply to Lundby.

There was plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables to choose from, and both the meat and fish counters were well stocked. But there was also a large sections dedicated to very cheap foods like dried lentils and beans, rice of different kinds, flour and similar basic ingredients. However, keeping in mind that so many in Lundby must get by with as little as a hundred MG per day, this was hardly a surprise. The store was simply stocked with the huge income disparity in the village in mind, with both high end food products and cheap bulk foods, laid out in separate aisles for convenience.

It all looked surprisingly cheap to Bjorn, though, considering that the super market was located in an arctic village, far from where any of the products were actually produced. Every last product in the shelves had to be shipped up to Lundby somehow, and yet the prices for some of the goods were well below what he was used to from Oslo.

"This is kind of expensive," Geir commented as if he had heard Bjorn's thoughts, and decided to deliberately contradict him.
"What is?" Bjorn asked surprised.
"These cheeses."
"They are cheaper over at the market," Geir explained. "And the same goes for the carrots."
"You want to buy this stuff over at the market?"
"No. I can't be bothered. It is not that big of a difference, and I got this debit card I can only use here at Pingo."
"It is Ante's card," Geir continued. "I'm sure he won't mind if we don't buy the very cheapest of everything. It is not like it is a huge difference anyway."

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