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.
I requested one final performance from the boys, as a last gift. Here it is. Aren’t they amazing…
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.
I want to make a collection of some of the offensive stuff I’ve come across online after the terror attack in Oslo and Utøya.
Nabogutten fortalte at hans pakistanske kompis ble dratt ut av 31 bussen og banket opp av et norsk par.
(The neighbour’s son told me that his Pakistani friend got pulled out of bus number 31 and beaten by a Norwegian couple)
The problem with Islam is that the religion actually preaches that to be a good Muslim, you have to kill non-Muslims.
Jeg synes det er avskyelig det som har skjedd, men jeg synes det er like avskyelig at enkelte medier forsøker å trekke en kobling mellom denne mannens udåd og Frp.
(I think it is disgusting what has happened, but I think it’s just as disgusting that some media are trying to draw a link between this man’s crime and Frp.)
The Sun front-page headline:
“Al-Qaeda Massacre” – Norway’s 9/11
Those fucking Al-Qaedas…
In addition to many other offensive comments.. I don’t know what to say. It’s simply hideous that people can think this way. It kills me to know that the media does not call him a terrorist because he’s a Christian.
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’m featured in the third edition of the Summer Exchange Newsletter that AIESEC UK sends out every week. Here is what I told them:
I’m at the airport, after a sleepless night on a 12-hour flight, ready to take in what Mauritius has to offer. After several rounds of interviews Amnesty International wants me, and my only plan is to leave in two months knowing that I have made a difference. I have the structure of a big organisation behind me, now I need to understand and experience the culture of Île Maurice.
On our way home from the airport, we stop by Blue Bay for a walk on the beach. Contrary to what the name implies the water is postcard-turquoise, and the coconut and pineapple sellers are lined up, offering fresh fruit with chili and vinegar sauce – delicious! When seeing my new home for the first time there is no water, so my first shower is taken with water bottles. I’m greeted by other EPs who quickly become like the best friends you’ve known forever – one of whom I’m visiting in Egypt during Ramadan later on. In the kitchen, which is decorated with German, Indian and French flags, a girl is getting her left foot henna-tattooed. Lunch often consists of the national dish, the dholl puri, which people sell from their motorcycles for 25p. I love it!
I start my internship the following week, and the work of a Danish EP interests me. We decide to work together on the preliminary research of the conditions of migrant workers, doing dormitory inspections and writing articles for the national newspapers about our findings. We start our blog about the topic, mwmru.wordpress.com, which two weeks later is discussed in the parliament. The leader of the opposition wants to greet us, and we are frequently published in several newspapers. Eight migrant workers who are held against their will, currently being paid 30p an hour producing garment for Ralph Lauren and Hugo Boss, are being given their tickets to return to their families in Nepal. Another house with 15 Indian workers invites us in for a cup of authentic masala chai and a Bollywood movie. The country is filled with nice tourist attractions, but it is these small encounters with the true local reality that is making my summer on exchange spectacular.
A few minutes before the first time I saw Moris.
During a night visit I did with Jeppe, Edeen and Annie to some dormitories, we were invited in for a cup of masala chai and a Bollywood movie. Our Indian friends speak primarily Hindi, but having a quiet cup of tea watching a movie is amazing anyway. You may say whatever you like about the white beaches and five-star hotels; I prefer having homemade Indian tea on the floor in a crowded living room with people I can’t communicate with perfectly. I tried asking how they made the chai, and I understood enough to have a good starting point to play with when getting back home. Now I make a mean masala chai, if I may say so myself. When moving back to London I’ll take up employment as a chaiwala. When leaving I kindly said shukriya – that made them laugh. My Hindi vocabulary is pretty limited (hello and thank you are the only things I can say), but they understood me nonetheless.
I’ve had some good last days with habibti FatimaZahrae (aka Tamy). We went to Trou aux Biches the other day, spent hours sunbathing, swimming and watching the sunset. My brother, Edeen, and I have our own internal thing which is about watching the sunset upside down. We’ll stand by the water bent forward with our heads between our legs. Sometimes people walking past us stop up and try it, and they like it!
Sunset at Trou aux Biches – The Edeen and Maria Louise way.
I’m not only here to work; I do have fun as well. Whenever not spending time with the boyfriend (yes mum, I know it’s stupid…). The beach is lovely, we’ve also gone to Pamplemousse Botanical Garden and l’Aventure du Sucre, an old sugar factory. There we walked our way through the entire history of Mauritius as a major producer of sugar, and had a sugar & rum tasting. Who knew sugar could have that many different flavours.. The workers carried bags of 80 kilos on their back to move the sugar, and we got to try carrying it. Both Annie and I were strong enough, but the other girls had some problems with it.
Annie carrying the 80 kilos
Tamy and me at Trou aux Biches
One of the most popular songs: