Sunday, March 21, 2010

Merging cultures

I am a result of a cultural merge. A cultural merge occurs to one who experiences a mix of often two or more cultures, combined as a form of travelling or shifting from one country or geographical place to another. One of the main dilemmas we, travelers, meet merging into a new culture is the decision of whether we should keep up with our old traditions and ways of life, or if we should adapt to the ways of our new home country. Either way, we lose something, but which loss is bigger?

First of all, when a traveler leaves for the voyage ahead, he not only packs the most valuable materialistic goods but also carries a baggage filled with olden traditions descending to the voyager´s forefathers. Traditions relating to his people filled with patriotism and nationalism. Traditions describing and reminding where home lies. These traditions, morals, values and principles build up the traveler from the inside, and indicate an identity and personality spectators could relate to. In an encounter with a new culture, many immigrants find it hard to let go of their identities they have often spent their entire lives building up, just to be accepted by the people of their new culture. The new guests in the new culture, when asked to let go of their past traditions and ways of life, sometimes describe the gesture as assimilation. Therefore, when a traveler starts his journey, he often promises that he would never lose his identity, where his roots, culture and traditions remain buried.

On the other side, when travelers arrive their new home, the host prefers them to adapt to the country´s culture and traditions. Moreover, the host calls the process: integration. In many countries the government has established committees working with the process of safe integration to help newcomers adjust to the new environment and adapt the country´s ways of living.  Many residents of the new country state that it is important that the immigrants learn the lifestyle and culture of their new home, in order to be respected and be able to adjust with the people already living there. In addition, some also choose to follow the advice of a famous man who once uttered, “Do like the Romans, when in Rome”. According to one of Paulo Coelho´s books, “Veronica decides to die”, he commences a debate regarding the righteousness of the majority of the society, but also states that in order to be accepted by the society, you must follow the majority. Hence, the majority of the new country often advices and demands for the new arrivers to adapt to their lifestyle, because the newcomers are “guests” in someone´s home.

Today, in our so called modern times 2010, we have all three consequences of cultural merging: assimilation, integration and stubbornness. We have people who want all new immigrants to be like themselves, and demand for them to give up their traditions and cultures completely to adapt their new lifestyle. We have people who want a little bit of both worlds, and who advice keeping up with their old traditions but also adapt the new traditions. Thus, live with the “best” traditions of both the worlds. Finally, the third kind of people, who possess the commonly known quality of stubbornness, and refuse to change and practice the new traditions and culture. These cultural differences as a result of merging cultures have created communication problems mainly due to the different traditions each group of people possess. Then the question of what a traveler has lost following one of the above mentioned paths is diagnosed. 

I am a result of cultural merging. I chose the path of integration in order to be accepted by the society and be equal to the rest of the population in the eyes of my hosts. I sought for acceptance, knowledge and better communication. Likewise, I lost a major part of the traditions I treasured. I became more radical. In addition, adapting to a new lifestyle has given me deeper insight into what universal principles such as life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness means for someone of a different heritage. To achieve my broad-minded understanding and integration, I lost and sacrificed a huge deal of my baggage. Oppositely, if I had chosen the path of stubbornness or assimilation, I would have lost even more. I would have lost my personality and my identity and dignity, treasured values a traveler promises not to lose. 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Yesterday, today and tomorrow

Today I cried, someone hurt me yesterday
Today I laughed, someone made me happy yesterday
Today I smiled, someone smiled to me yesterday
Today I frowned, someone disappointed me yesterday
Today I yelled, someone made me furious yesterday
Today I listened, someone taught me something yesterday
Today I spoke, someone listened to me yesterday
Today I prayed, someone made me believe yesterday
Today I dreamt, someone made me hope yesterday
Today I kissed, someone loved me yesterday
Today I felt, someone pushed me yesterday
Today I acquired, someone helped me yesterday
Today I thanked, someone sacrificed for me yesterday

Yesterday I wished to be a someone tomorrow.

"The difference in winning and losing is most often... not quitting." -Walt Disney

It’s not always easy to see someone’s true colours. Sometimes you must ignore the sparkle of the jewel, to know you are looking at a fake. Yes, people hide their true nature from us every single day. We would rather remain silent to protect ourselves than to take an action and suffer.

But when do we win? Are we winners when we can tolerate the injustice around us with a fake smile? Or are we winners for standing up against what we prospect as morally wrong according to our so-called guilty conscious? Either way, someone loses. But which loss is bigger? 

Monday, March 8, 2010

Independence yet to declare?

Today, on the 8th of March, we celebrate the life of a woman, every woman. Some had to face hardships with their inner strengths, some had to make difficult choices, some sacrificed their lives and then led exemplary lives.

The battle of the sexes is as old as the mountains. In many societies, women are conditioned to accept men as the superior sex. But awareness, education and life´s struggles have led women to shed their inhibitions. It is very much important for us to recognise our heroes, but even more our she-roes! Even in this day and age, women face discrimination and prejudice. Yet, women all over the world continue to work hard to make a difference. Let us gather together to help.

I salute you! Happy Women´s day!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

I think I am addicted.

Relax! It is only knowledge I am addicted to! Could that be dangerous, by the way?

I have lately felt the urge to learn something new all the time. My eager towards knowledge has suddenly and rapidly increased leaving me behind restless craving to read, see and listen to something new, something factual, something I didn’t know or even think about before. It is as if the more I learn, the greedier I feel. Hence, I feel addicted to knowledge.

Looking on the other side of the bank the more I read and the more I understand, the guiltier I feel. I realise that life is like an hourglass. We have so little time to do. Thinking about this gives me a headache, a severe headache as a matter of fact. I believe that with knowledge comes great power and with power comes great responsibility. I am 18 years old, and what have I accomplished in life? If I die tomorrow, how will people remember me? What difference has my presence made? In addition, learning and gaining so much of knowledge makes me angry. My face turns red with rage learning about the injustice and justice in our so called “modern times”.

I do want to study and educate myself. I truly feel addicted. But pardon my attitude, I just got another headache.

The 14th of February

And then came one of my most favourite remarked days of the year: Valentine´s day!

History: One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome under Emperor Claudius II. The Emperor had given the order that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and children. Priest Valentine realised the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When the priest´s actions were discovered, the Emperor ordered the penalty of death.

Valentine: According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a Valentine, is a card sent, often anonymously, on St. Valentine´s Day to a person one loves or is attracted to.

History: Another legend foretells that while in prison, it is believed that the priest, Valentine, fell in love with a young girl, most probably the jailor´s daughter. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter, which he signed “From your Valtenine”, an expression in fashion today.

To me: Valtenine´s day is not just for lovers or people who are legally bonded, but a day of appreciation and love for everyone who has touched my life in some way or the other. Happy Valentine´s day!

Friday, February 5, 2010


Casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about others with spiced up details, often not known whether confirmed or not.

Welcome to the world of gossiping. It is over here lips joggle and words rumble continuously till breath no longer can provide life.

Red lips, high heels, straightened back, raised neck, sharpened eyes and a fast walk.

Polished shoes, gelled hair, short comments, quick glances, over-collared shirts, branded watches and scented bodies.

Did you think these were the stereotypes or the prototypes?

No, these could either be the victims or the adherents of gossiping, or simply the ones who bother being neither of them.

The stereotypes are you and I.

But you know you love gossiping and you know you are one of Them.  

Welcome to the world of gossiping, where your words tremble and your lips fumble.

Yours forever. 

Thursday, February 4, 2010


12th of February 1991           
“My name Hussain Abdulla. I living in England for almost five years now. I work as cleaner in Super Mall. My wife name Sarah Abdulla. We together have two daughters and one pride, our son. Mohammed, Zullah and Rafiqa are children`s names…”

A feeling of embarrassment crosses over your face as you look back at your old times and read excerpts from your childhood. The silly mistakes you used to make, the unreadable handwriting and the funny grammar that you know that you no longer have. The maturity that is in you right now makes your previous immaturity look balmy and then you laugh. Laugh and smile at old times. Old times that are now golden moments you wish you could have much more of. But not me, because my story is somewhat different. I don`t dare to look back at old times in fear of humiliating myself in front of the mirror.

I`m sorry, I forgot to introduce myself! My name is Harry Clayton, and I am a born and brought up Briton.

14th of March 1991
“I come to England from India on 1956 with wife. India was a tough place for us Muslims. The Hindus and the Muslims always fighting when I live there. I participated in many wars and have been shot in the heart, but I survived! Why to live in such bad condition? That`s why Mrs. and I leave India and come to England for better life, but did not get what I have expected…”

Since April 1999, I have been working as a linguist. I live in central London. My job requires an excellent English vocabulary and a proper grammar. English language-history is my specialization and I work in different subcategories within my profession, like for instance research on cultural influence on the language, political influence, international implementation, etc.

1st of October 1993
“I come to England for better life, but no better life over here. I was a soldier in my country, her I am only bathroom cleaner. I sweep toilets and clean after other people`s shit. Today it been seven years since we come from India. People respect us in India. We have friends and family, but nobody over here. Nobody understand me. I know I not perfect in English, but I try. All Englishmen are fools! They talk bad about us foreigners. One day, when we all foreigners leave, they shall realize that they need us to clean their dirty toilets. I try to build the language correct inside me like a tower. I place words on top of each other, like bricks on top of each other on wet cement…”

I used to be a construction worker before. Placing day and night bricks on top of wet cement wasn’t really fun. And in addition to that, a lot of my colleagues were first generation foreigners, who could barely speak proper English. I get very annoyed when foreigners come to England and try to make their own language as the official language of Britain. A communication problem resulted in death of a fellow Briton colleague in a construction area in 1995. Communication is important!

31st of December 1993
“Skin-colour and English is what matters for Englishmen. I try to build the language inside me, but people don`t understand what I say. They see only if you are white or black, can speak English or cannot speak English. I miss my home. My children are born and brought up English. They embarrassed by me. They call me dad instead of papa, and say I should say nothing in parents` meeting and in front of people when I am with my children. What kind of kids has God punished me with? For New Year my resolution is to get a English job. I want to prove that I learn English and speak well English. My kids shall no more embarrass by me. I start today!”

I have no connections with my family. In fact, I don’t even know, where or who my family members are. I am an orphan and was found left in a park. My spouse and I have three children together. We live in a house just big enough to shelter us.

5th of January 1994
“I very happy today. I have got my first respectful job. I am a construction worker. My wife says my English is getting improved day by day. Soon, I can probably get a proper English job! But this country not that good. I got ten refusals before this job. I think it was because of my foreign name. Therefore, I changed my name and then I got a job in one go. I didn’t know that changing my identity would help me get a job. Now what`s left is to speak English properly.”

Harry is actually my nickname for Harrison. Tomorrow I shall be celebrating my 60th birthday. Doctors say that it is a miracle that I have lived for such a long time. Actually, I have a heart problem and have suffered a severe heart attack before, but I survived.

1st of October 1999
“Today I am very proud and pleased of myself. I, Hussain Abdulla, has managed to achieve my first English job with dignity. I will be from now on working as a linguist. But as the law of nature says, to achieve something, you have to sacrifice something. And I have made sacrifices to gain and earn respect.”

You look through the rest of the diary and smile before you shut it. Your heart pounds and your mind wanders away in past thoughts and dreams. Then, you shut your eyes and feel the tears rolling down your cheeks. Golden times, you whisper. A feeling of embarrassment crosses over your face as you look back at your old times and read excerpts from your childhood. The silly mistakes you used to make, the unreadable handwriting and the funny grammar that you know that you no longer have. The maturity that is in you right now makes your previous immaturity look balmy and then you laugh. Laugh and smile at old times. Old times that are now golden moments you wish you could have much more of. But not me, because my story is somewhat different. My name is Harry Clayton, and I am a born and brought up Briton.

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Water, water everywhere

not a single drop to drink anywhere,

The drinkable ones I have seen

so seldom remain clean,

we never realize before the polluted ones are there

Photo: Sondre Aasberg

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Sweet dreams

Dear fellow citizens and residents of Norway, please take a walk with me. Let us pretend for a second that we are not better or richer than anyone. A famous man, whose name I beg for forgiveness for not remembering, once said, “When you own more than four things, the things start owning you.” I suppose we have crossed that limit for owning things long ago. Our greed is resulting in complaints, which again results in greed for and expansion of our materialistic world. We complain about all that we have and not have, and our demands increase day by day. We complain about our lifestyle and about the insufficient effort the government puts into the society. Living in a dream world, where millions of people just dream to live in, we don’t realize what we actually have today. Therefore, my question is, how do we, Norwegians, sleep at night?

A father in Tiruppur in South India tosses around on his worn mat at night wondering what sunrise would float to surface and how his children would encounter the financial world of 2010. Wrinkles on his face show the tension and the hard work he goes through to earn 100 INR, equal to 15 NOK, every day, just for his children to be able to attend school and afford three meals daily. A mother in the olden part of Czechoslovakia with a Ph.D. in physics dwells around the cream of the western world to be able to send her daughter abroad. Tears rolling down her cheeks show the brutality of her job as a mannequin, hoping to be sold every night to the generous American and European tourists. A sister overhears her parents argue every sunset. One final night, her ten-year-old brother is sent to Nigeria as a factory labourer. Poverty hasn’t only shattered the family picture into pieces but also left an invisible scar, which would probably never be healed. Every night you can hear screams of newborns from the forests of Southern China. The waifs that are found by the local police and adopted away to the west are usually someone´s daughters and sisters. How do we sleep while the rest of the world cries?

Norway, to be nominated as the best country to live in by the UN through the HDI ranking, and also credited as the most beautiful country of the world, possesses a rich fauna and flora, minerals, forests and water resources, natural gas and petroleum and last but not least “untouched” nature. In spite of the natural beauty and wealth, we complain that Norway is not as commercialized as the U.S. There are several groups proclaiming to bring franchises such as Star Bucks, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Burton to Norway. But are there equally many groups against? How many of us realize that by bringing multinational companies to Norway, we would actually be polluting thousands times more in the global perspective. Multinational companies not only exploit on cheap labour in developing nations, but also ruin their natural resources and leave the population behind in corruption. On the other hand, yes, we, Norwegians, do become richer on these franchises and develop a new economic market. I wonder how we dream and what we dream about when the rest of the world suffers due to our financial growth?

The 2008-2009 financial crises has been the worst financial domino effect this decade. Thousands of people have lost their jobs mainly in the western world, mostly in the U.S. Several documentaries were soon made to show the governments in the western world and the people about the situation due to unemployment. We wanted the governments in the west to take some action. However, have we ever imagined how unemployment must feel for the developing nations, who have half the population living in it for more than a decade or two? The two years of a crucial financial crisis Norway, along with other western countries shook the people off board, but did we ever realize how thousands of people are actually living in it daily? What do we feel when we see all the jobless all around the world? How do we sleep at night?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Morbus tardus

Belated – coming or happening later than should have been the case.

Origin: early 17th century.

We human beings often tend to be late. As a result of our illness of being late, we have also invented proverbs to compensate for the damages caused. “Better late than never” or “Fashionably late”. Deep down inside us, we know that we hurt people due to our illness, and also cause inner damages within ourselves. I call it “Morbus tardus”, the “late sickness”. 

Morbus tardus |ˌmôrbəs tärdəs|
The sickness of being late. The first symptoms are usually stressful behaviour, mild sweating, mumbling and increase speed of talking and use of curse words. The illness attacks the brain with a headache, following by heartache and a guilty stomachache. The general symptoms are followed by severe guilty conscious and the urgency to appologise at every given chance. The most serious case of the condition is when the guilt no longer exists and the nervous system gets used to all the minor pains, leading thus to a cold, superficial behaviour. 2009 reports state that it is only found in human beings so far.

I appologise from the bottom of my heart! Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2010 (two thousand and ten or twenty ten!)