There is so much shit happening in the world right now. Stupid and bored thugs in London are ruining the city, the news seem to include people getting shot every single day, people are starving and their governments are corrupt. Numbers of rape have multiplied by four on The Horn of Africa. People seem to hate each other!
I’ve found my favourite place to be in all of this – the arrival hall on airports. On Monday night I went to pick up my best friend coming back from ten weeks in Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi. I got there half an hour early, and enjoyed the view of people crying from the joy of seeing their friends and family coming out through the customs.
I wish we all could love each other that much all the time.
I’m traveling between time zones. And realities. Yesterday I was in Mauritius, this morning I woke up in London, and tonight I’m going to bed in Denmark. I have three different realities the three places, and I’m wondering if they fit together. My life has been in Mauritius for two months, and everything going on has happened there. That’s how I’ve experienced it anyway. In a few hours I’ll land in Copenhagen, where my family won’t understand what I mean when saying ayo or alala. That means I’ll have to remove what has been and still is my reality, because I’m the only one living it. It is really a shame, as nothing covers the meaning of ayo like ayo.
There are some things – well, loads of things – that are hard to leave behind. Boyfriend, friends, language and to some extent even my personality. I’ll miss all of this. Still, there is something lovely about coming back to another home. Things you didn’t even know you missed. Like your own duvet cover, or the smell of Sainsbury’s washing up liquid. All those small things that you can’t really take with you.
Now is the time to make sense of what has happened for the past two months – go through everything again. Look at pictures and digest the experience. I’ll probably write about it, just like my shrink told me to. Writing is my way of philosophising. While living in Mauritius everything has been a flow. Even though no one is stressing, there is never time to sit down and figure out what is happening. Everything is a kind of flow.
Mona asked me yesterday what I’d done at work, and it turns out all those hours when I didn’t feel like I did something actually resulted in tangible stuff in the end. So what did I do? I initiated a training course in human rights for Mauritian hotels and businesses. Hopefully in five years it will mean that more that the current 1/3 of the population knows Amnesty. I have gone into factory buildings and dormitories I wasn’t supposed to visit. Sometimes I was stopped and kicked out by aggressive guards, and other times I was invited for tea. I’ve taken pictures and had dinner with migrant workers who want to leave Mauritius to see their families at home. They’ve told me their stories, and I’ve published articles about them. Some of which have been discussed in the parliament. Reading the parliamentary debate afterwards it turns out some of the ministers don’t really appreciate my work. Then again, I’ve played a main role in giving the workers an opportunity to go home. Eight have gone from being harassed at work and being paid 40 pence an hour to now being on their way home. Meeting some of these workers after they got their tickets has meant the world to me. I know they are forever grateful, and that is so much more important to me than worrying about getting a new residence permit or one of the ministers refusing to take my hand.
At this time tomorrow I’m flying high over Africa. Right now I’m doing everything again for one last time. Yesterday night we dressed up and went for dinner at Indian Summer, my favourite restaurant. Now we’re off to lunch at Hare Krishna, some gift-shopping in Rose Hill and a final farewell to everything that has been my home for two months.
I have loads of things to do today. In exactly two weeks I’m going to Egypt, but I’m not going home before that, so my dad has to pack my stuff to bring it to Denmark when we meet there. Everything that is happening somewhere else doesn’t feel real. I know my father has to pack, but right now I’m living in a reality where I don’t understand that he has to. He is living simultaneously somewhere else, but because he is so far away it doesn’t feel real to me. I’m taking loads of stuff with me home from here, though. Memories, over 3000 pictures and great friends. Some of whom I’ll meet up with later, others I probably never will see again.
Right now I’m back to feeling the same as when I waited for my flight from Paris two months ago. I’m going, and I don’t feel anything about it. Maybe just a bit empty. It will be good to see family and friends, and it will be sad leaving family and friends. Altogether this makes me feel careless. But tomorrow at 5:45 am it will hit me hard in the face.
Ramadan starts today, and I’m gonna eat breakfast soon. It must be hard in such a multi-religious country to stick to the fasting. I will join when I go to Egypt in 17 days, but until then I’ll eat normally. I’ve had loads of Islamic events going on lately. I’ve been to a wedding – twice. First the family of the bride hosted a dinner, and then the family of the groom. It is fun to see how 700 guests spend hours to get ready, come to the dinner, eat and then go again. No one sticks around, which I guess might be good if you don’t have anything in common with your family. At times it might be better than trying to keep a conversation going with someone you’d rather not talk to.
We were dancing in the wedding:
And when I went for a walk yesterday, the Mosque was calling on us for prayer. The entire city was empty, because it was Sunday, and this was the only sound I could hear. Lovely!
And here are some pictures from the wedding:
It’s crazy being so far away from home. Of course I am happy to be safe, thousands of kilometers away from the bombing and the shooting, still it’s tough being the only Norwegian here. On Friday I went to bed knowing that 20 had been confirmed dead, when I woke up the number had risen to 80. Now we’re up in 91 dead, and 97 severely hurt, and many still missing, and I’m just hoping my friends are safe, and that this is all over now. Inshallah!
There has been no way for me to see the police press releases or be a part of the Norwegian society from here. I’m sending warm thoughts constantly; but sadly that’s all I can do. It has been hard to keep up to date with just twitter, reading how a Pakistani guy got beaten by a Norwegian couple for being Pakistani; how many first blamed “some muslim”; how the press refrains from calling Anders Breivik a terrorist after it was discovered he is Norwegian. I don’t like seeing my country and people being such rasists. Even VG asked the question of why he chose to use a method which is regarded as Islamist. We need to stop blaming Muslims for the problems in this world. Some of my best friends are Muslim; especially one who has taken such good care of me when all this bad happened to my county and the world around me just kept going as if nothing happened. What he did has nothing to do with Islam, it’s pure violence and evil. Still, I’m proud of being Norwegian. I’m proud to see how well the Prime Minister and the King has tackled it, as well as how we regardless of political views keep together as a nation during all of this.
While being here I have understood how proud of our nation we are. My friends here, whether Mauritian, Indian or even Danish don’t understand it. I’m proud of my country, as long as it keeps being a place where people from various backgrounds can live together and share their cultures.
I started this blog at a point in my life when things were falling apart. I had university, work, friends, exams and travel, and it was all making a mess in my head. My reaction was to cut out everything and just get out of bed when it was absolutely necessary. Or when my friends forced me. I love them for it, because I know it was what I needed, I just couldn’t do it alone.
I’m about to catch up with things now. That is, I already have. The sort of catching up I’m doing now includes books that have nothing to do with business. It includes longboarding and sitting in the sun while looking at the skin getting darker. I’m simply refueling, and that’s all. After a long and stressful, but incredibly rewarding, year, this is what I need. It’s what I was longing for those days when my alarm woke me at 05:30am and I got home from work at 9pm. That was when I was thinking that I should just settle down for a bit; chill out, have barbecues in the garden and be happy. I’d read books about happiness and suck in more knowledge. So I did take time off – time to reflect. And now I’m bored of it.
What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger. There is something to that expression. I don’t think experiences solely makes you stronger, they are also what make you happy. Happiness comes with experience; it comes with learning from others, but more importantly it comes from within yourself. See it, believe it, achieve it as we say in AIESEC. That means getting new experiences, which is definitely tough. But if you learn to love the journey great things will happen.
So I’ve been in Norway for some weeks, I’ve fully recovered and now I’m ready to experience more of life and more of the world. Hopefully someone will take a picture of the first time I see a mango still on its tree – that would be capturing true joy. I’m ready for everything! Well, except eating the boiled dogs that my Mauritian friends have told me about.
I visited a friend today. He is the most pessimistic person I’ve ever met, and whenever we are together I take on the role of being the double-positive one. I’m optimistic for me and optimistic for him – it takes it all to a whole new level. It was his graduation, and while he was planning his retakes, I got some time to think about my time there too.
I finished the exact same programme a year ago, after living there for two years. It was my first home after moving out from my parents’ house, and I loved it. I lived on 17 square metres, in a tiny one-room thingy, without a shower for two years. We called it the doll house. They were two amazing years!
The first sun after a long winter over my roof back there.
Whenever I’m with my friend I relive that time a bit. We went into the city, and seeing the main square, the harbour and my old way to school made my heart go all warm on me. It was a strange feeling. It is as if I never lived there, still it feels like home. I love the place because it feels like home, after all it used to be, but it feels so unreal thinking that I lived there for so long. It’s too intangible, in a way. The only real thing I have from there is my friends and who I became by living there. I had a beautiful armchair in my livingroom when, and my parents and I are fighting about throwing it out at the moment. I want to keep it because it is one of the last things that give me the feeling of that home. I understand them, though. It is huge! But that’s why it is so lovely…