26th Aug—between time zones:
On the flight… almost back home… trying to entertain ourselves with movies and sitting in the lap of luxury 10000 feet above the ground… nothing can recreate what we went through the whole of last week!!
It will take pages upon pages and many songs to explain everything, and we can’t do that. Yet we want to share!!
What to do???
let’s try summarizing…
Ok that might be an exaggeration for we really have not seen that many places in our lives. But until now we’ve never seen a more beautiful place… imagine lush green mountains, oceans, lakes, beautiful women, all in the same place! It’s what you read and fantasize about… and when you see it, you just can’t believe it!We couldn’t stop taking pictures and shooting videos!
Mind you though… you cannot even come close to feeling what the place actually felt like unless you are there yourself. And you have to visit the place more and more to experience the true essence of it, at least that’s what we have in mind!!
Oslo city is amazing! Like any cosmopolitan city – full of life, tourists and Scandinavian beauties – we couldn’t divert our attention from that! … Especially when Zameer arrived, the three of us went on a grand international poondi binge (and don’t think it’s only us Desis doing that stuff!). Mandana has gotten used to it all, and even she helps out every now and then!
In February, we had made friends with a Norwegian couple, while they were visiting Pakistan. Hans Christian Lunder and Anne Mari Graver had then invited us to visit their house, which is on an island, whenever we were in Europe. To everyone’s surprise, the Mela gave an abrupt opportunity to follow up on that offer!! And we had never been on an island ever in our lives!! … So one can imagine the excitement we had about the whole thing!
But before that, we had to do a show… remember? That’s what we were there for!
Luckily, Anne’s daughter Dyveke was there to show us around Oslo. A night before the performance, she took us around the city – saw the Vigeland Sculpture Park, the Oslo Opera House, had some great burgers, and then later at night went to this bar to see some really heavy punk metal performances, by some local bands. Although we are fans of such music, we realized that one can only handle such noise for a short time! Sustained pleasure from this music is only for really messed up people!!
Thanks to Dyveke, we got to experience Norway as a Norwegian would!
It was also great to have Zameer over for the show. We as cousins had been separated for almost 10 years. And ever since Canada happened, it has been non-stop interaction! There is so much we have in common, and so much we share that every time we get together, it is a memorable experience!
On top of that, Zameer is by far the most talented musician in our family. Inshallah people will be seeing a lot more of him, both as a solo act and as a collaborator with noori!
Coming to the part we most wanted to talk about!!….
Børøya… what a place!!! If there is any place where we would like to die, and spend the last years of our lives, it is this island. Down south of Oslo, it took almost 3 hrs to get here. The road trip was itself an eye teaser, but little did we know that when we entered the island, it would be as if we had entered heaven!
You’re almost on top of the world, and the weather is the most pleasant you could ever feel. You’re on top of a mountain range, more than half of which is buried under the ocean (it was ice a few thousand years back). These mountains are lush green with vegetation ranging from huge pine trees to the most beautiful see weed growing at the shores. The ocean is not clear blue but definitely clear enough to see schools of baby fish popping up between ridges.
You don’t have to search for beauty. It’s out there in front of you, wherever you look!
The two days we spent in Boroya were a spiritual experience more than anything else. Although most people visit their summer houses in the summers only, Anne and Hans have been living there since 2000. Hans is a practicing psychologist in a nearby hospital, while Anne is a meditation expert. And it seemed so natural, that such nice, relaxed and peaceful people would be found in this paradise!
We took a boat ride with Hans and Dyveke around the island; A first in a lifetime experience for all three of us! Navigating water is so much different from land navigation. The whole concept of directions changes!
The rest of our time was mostly spent at their beautiful house where finally we learnt a little about European eating/cooking habits. It is definitely one of the healthiest diets, and quite tasty too!
Our discussions revolved around perceptions of the West and East, about each other. One major yet quite obvious lesson we learnt was that this world is extremely diverse and we must learn how to appreciate this diversity by accepting differences and searching for positive commonalities. Second, we found out how in the west, trends are changing towards pursuing a more traditional lifestyle. Women born in the generation of the feminist movement, which initiated the concept of man and woman living together, instead of getting married – their daughters now are considering to get married instead of just living with men.
Many such discussions took place, and maybe sometime we will share all of them. But for now, we had to go back to Oslo, and then, the next day to Pakistan.
After bidding farewell, we took a train back to Oslo. Found another friend there and ended up inviting him to Pakistan! …
Last day in Oslo was an interview for a Norwegian desi website, so keep a look out for that. And then, finally, we met up with our biggest Norwegian fan – Humera. She came especially to the hotel to get a poster signed!
Now, as we sit here in Pakistan and conclude this entry, we write about the last, yet most important experience of the trip.
Pakistani’s in Norway are the largest minority in that country. And Norway is one really rich country, because of its oil reserves. Out of all the ex-pat Pakistani’s we have come across, we found the Norwegian Pakistani’s to be most well-adjusted in their surroundings. Obviously, there are some extreme elements, such as forced marriages of daughters born in Norway. But it was also great to see a group of Pakistani filmmakers making a documentary on the issue!
All in all, the Pakistani’s are respected in Norway … at least now they are!
In this sense it was a great experience seeing a new breed of young Pakistanis who are prospering. We strongly feel these guys can do a lot for Pakistan. In fact as we travel and come across more and more people in the new generation, we can clearly see that there is great potential for change. We pray for better times, where all of us will be positively involved in building a new Pakistan, and we are quite hopeful that a new chapter is about to begin. History is once again in the making…
Until then… we need to backup all our media data, as load shedding back home has already damaged 2 of our hard drives!!!
Norway… we’re definitely coming back!