Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wrapping is all up: Sun, breastfeeding, and mythmaking

Fish and caviar are great. But so is the sun. And boy, is it a rare site in Norway. Today was the first day I actually saw the sun shine in the entire week I’ve been here. The entire week!

Apparently in the summer in Oslo, its reversed: they only get 4 hours of darkness; Further north, they get no darkness at all. In the winter, because the sun shines so infrequently, Norwegians actually buy sun-lamps and use them indoors to stave off depression and get a dose of Vitamin D in the winter.

With that, I will try and wrap up my Norway posts with a few final observations (and pictures) :

Norwegians dress practically, not fashionably; I guess the weather forces them to do that. Their boots are shoes are flat, never healed. Their fabrics durable, not always breathable. I’m sure the Italians would have a field day with their fashion-sense, but then-who really cares what the Italians think when you live in this kind of weather?

Norwegian babies: are rare to find-apparently the divorce rate is sky high here and the marriage and population even lower, but when you do see them they are just little bundles of cuteness, all wrapped up like little polar bears and waddling like penguins down the streets.

And unlike the U.S. (and increasingly, many parts of the world, including Gaza, thanks to Nestle) mothers actually breastfeed here, everywhere! The whopper is: Norwegians get something like 10 months of paid maternity or paternity leave! Or you can divide the time between mother and father. UNREAL. And the US calls itself progressive?

Public transport: Subways and buses like many European cities. But also you can actually rent bikes off the streets here-they are parked in public spots, and you simply buy a “bike card” valid for three hours at a time and return them at some other location.

Oh right, politics. Well, maybe later, I’m exhausted after a long walk around Oslo, but the one major observation I, and I think many of the more politically active young Norwegians at the conference had is that on one hand, the Norwegian government perceives, and portrays, itself as being very progressive/liberal/socialist and as one of the countries that is most sympathetic and in solidarity with the Palestinians; but on the other hand, its policies vis a vis the new Palestinian government is essentially the same: reflexive, absolute boycott.

I also had a chance to visit the Nobel Peace Institute today, which has many fabulous very high tech exhibits about the history of the Institute and various prize recipients, as well as a photo exhibit by an Iranian-Parisian photographer (Abbas) about “the children of Abraham”, chronicling the lives of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities since the 1970s, in addition to an exhibit on child soldiers.

The interesting thing is a video they had running about, among other things, the Oslo Accords, glorifying them to no end, at which I had to smirk. I suppose you can’t very well trash talk the Oslo Accords in the Peace Institute.

Tommorow my journey comes to an end as I head back to North Carolina, and in a few weeks, onwards to Gaza.


Blogger Heba from Gaza said...

dear laila ..Happy eid to you and your family is my first day at work-Thursday- and everyone in Gaza is still on vacation...i am so happy that you are coming back to Gaza because that gives us a chance to meet, right ? Gaza is a very small place for those who don't know already . Good luck with your travelling .You are making us proud.

9:45 AM  
Blogger Dino$ said...

i love the way u express urself :) love reading ur blog... post new pics of adorable yusuf soon mwa :hug: regards to ur family

5:34 PM  

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