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Monday, January 7, 2013

Friends, bureaucracy and the snow

One day, the Norwegian bureaucracy will thaw and the people will look around and suddenly recognise themselves as the country. The youth will look to America less and sing in Urdu as proudly as they sing in English. So very often one meets opposites in Oslo. One meets Norwegians who are so friendly and eager to invite one into their lives and then one meets the less open person who is described as Scandinavian by those who come from other lands.

She sat next to me as we drank the traditional Norwegian porridge on the 23rd in an almost strictly family set up. She came in happy and well dressed, cheerie for such a winter time. It is hard in the winter to make the difference between oneself and the cold hard weather clear. Some people love it but it but it pinches at some stage. Well, I know for most girls the long and elegant legs are hidden for long. But anyway, she was not one of those. On her mind were many other things. She had a sick child but she was cheerful. She just kept the phone near her. We chatted. I was next to her and she was happy we could say quite a lot in Norwegian.

Then the topic came up. Loneliness. You see an ad in the papers months before Christmas had stirred quite a lot of debate. It was a woman asking anybody to join her and celebrate Christmas with her. It touched many people to remember that there are people who are that lonely. People who so yearn for a human touch and cannot easily get it. But our conversation never actually mentioned this person or the ad. It was simply about how different peoples relate. She told me that she was a social worker. She is Norwegian. She said she was tired of people pretending that they did not need others and in that regard she was not in favour of Norway when it is seen as people who would rather keep to themselves.

She told me too that her daughter often wished they had been born Africans. We did not go much into that but the reason I had to ask for. Well, she thought Africans... we, have a way with relationships? Is it us or all people from where the sun rises joyfully and truly and is happy to spend a longer time? I am so afraid of stereotypes these days that am writing a book titled Out to Kill. 

Yes, to kill. To kill stereotypes for they are far too many. They are killing us these stereotypes. But anyway I knew what she meant. At Stortinget station as I waited with my little one to get onto a train to Vestli for this party, an African man came running. Was he African? Is skin enough. Well, he just missed the train for Songsvan. He almost made it and .... no he had to wait again. When we looked our side I smiled and said to him that in a few minutes another one was coming. He was in a real hurry he now took ours... seems he could connect somehow. But he was so happy that we noticed him and spoke to him. I only knew that when he got off the subway. He happily bade us goodbye. We had never seen him.

I was telling my friend then that perhaps because of our many experiences in life we learned to allow other people to lean on our thoughts, on our reactions, a smile or something ... some concern. It helps you know. Sometimes your ribs are dry in the city and you are nervous in case a bomb should go off or in case of I do not- not- know -what, yes, maybe you are looking for a job?
Ellers snnake du Norsk?... and you are at home or not at home but this is home for now. And there is noone to lean on in that way? Not all love was meant to be intimate... society is meant to love in the streets... and laugh too? I know it is not funny. I know.

But she was happy talking to me and she loved me. I know. We had a very good time with a family that invited us ever since when they did not know us, you know? There are Norwegians who are known for their hospitality. And they have stories about hospitality in the very past, long, long time ago... with stories that end with a snip, snap snutte!