Happy Birthday Pakistan – Love from Oslo

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Its been close to two years that I’ve been living Oslo, Norway. Away from my beautiful country, family and friends. Away from my home. But I find myself going back everyday. Travelling many miles to my country through Facebook, news on TV and other media tools. Some days the news from home jolts me out of the safe and comfortable “expat bubble” and I find my heart heavy and sad with news of widespread violence and relentless suffering of the Pakistani people. There is a unique helplessness that people feel when they are far from a troubled home. Restlessness and uncertainty accompanied by many questions “what will happen?”, “when will this end?”. There are many happy days too when one longs to be home (in my case, the city of Lahore) and celebrate and feel the excitement in real time. For example, when Pakistan beats India in a cricket match or Eid festivities.

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However, today is a special day. Its Pakistan’s birthday. A day that unites the people of Pakistan like no other. This day is the most anticipated in the entire year, when people both young and old, from all over the country are united by patriotism and festivity. Spirits run high, the green and white crescent flag proudly flying on cars and houses. Its a national holiday and the cities are decorated with colourful lights and banners. Every city puts on a great show and all the people come out to see it.

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Something like Syttende Mai (Norwegian Constitution Day) is our Chawdah August (Pakistan’s Independence Day). Of course we don’t have a Royal Palace with the King and Queen waving from the balcony but we do have a mad rush of happy people out on the roads, dancing to the beat of the dhols and loud music blaring from cars. Children with bright big eyes watching stuntmen and young men entertaining the crowds with funny antics and dancing.

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It is the only day when people get out of their homes to get stuck in three hour long traffic queues. Yes!!! We drive out in our cars (each car packed with friends and family) and drive towards the longest, craziest traffic lines so that we can drive at snails pace for at least a couple of hours. Because the traffic is so low (almost still), hordes of young boys with flags rush out of cars to dance around cars and they run back to their cars when they see the police approaching. The excitement is electric and mad.

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The restaurants  and food streets crowded with people who come out to devour local delicacies on this special day. Delicious, spicy, meat foods that are being prepared for so many hours being consumed in every street corner. People only stopping to gaze at beautiful fireworks that light up the night sky or amusedly watching stunts performed by the high-spirited motorcyclists and street performers.

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It is a day we celebrate with fervour and pride even (especially) in the hardest of times. A day when we free ourselves of security concerns and join our fellow Pakistani’s on the roads. A day when we forget our worries and take a moment to celebrate our beautiful country. Celebrating the bravery and sacrifice of our ancestors who gave up their lives and families and homes so that we could have ours.

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This year we celebrate cautiously in the face of political protests, growing intolerance, increased marginalising of minorities, growing poverty and ignorance, cultural and religious extremism plaguing the young country. Some (maybe most) people ask, why are we even celebrating, what are we celebrating today?

We celebrate Pakistan and its brave and resilient people. People who have suffered long and hard at the hands of religious extremists, hereditary corruption and the curse of patronage. Despite the fear and hardships, they stand strong and proud and optimistic, looking towards a turn in this chapter. Looking at a new Pakistan. An educated and tolerant Pakistan where an Ahmadi and a Sikh can live without fear. An equal Pakistan where the Christians and Hindus enjoy the same rights as the Muslims.

Pakistan Zindabad. Gratulerer med dagen Pakistan.

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The Expat’s choice: Oslo or London?

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A year ago, before I moved to Oslo, if anyone had asked me “Oslo or London?”, I would have laughed at the absurdity of the question. I mean seriously, is that even a question?  How can you compare a megapolis which is a melting pot of different cultures, art and lifestyles with a small city (town?) in Scandinavia. Its like comparing a station wagon with a Ferrari. Or a cycle with a segway (which is now legal in Norway, yayyy)!

Having lived in London for six years, its been my favourite city to live in. I have my special corners in the parks, spoilt for choice when we have to go out with friends and a choice of cozy cafe’s to enjoy a cup of coffee with friends. I know where to shop and go for anything i’m looking for, I rarely get lost. I even know the exact aisle at Waitrose which stores my favourite tea snacks. I’m familiar with the bus and tube routes so planning an excursion is easy. And even when there’s nothing to do or no one to meet, I know where to hang out just by myself and be fine.

Luckily this past year after some adjustments and lots of exploring, I have all of the above in Oslo too. In my broken Norwegian sentences, I have discovered my favourite grocery shops and local markets. I have adjusted to shops closing early and planned for a Sunday without any “shopping”. When its too cold for a picnic in my corners of Slottsparken, I know where to go to read my book or knit. I know where to go out with friends and not be disappointed (or rather, where NOT to go). Slowly and steadily, I’ve found my friends and feel a fleeting sense of joy (followed by guilt of course) when I have to turn down invitations when “i’m too busy” (for my friends who are reading this, please don’t stop inviting me).

But could I EVER compare the two cites, let alone favour Oslo over London? Would there ever be a moment when roaming around in my favourite city I’d miss Oslo???

Last month, I spent a a few weeks in London. I was “vacationing” with my family, met old friends and simply had an amazing time. But from the time I landed at the ever so busy Heathrow till the time I was in the taxi on my way back to Heathrow, I found myself comparing and (silently) finding faults with London!!! I was shocked to find myself excited to be headed back “home” to Oslo. Even though the vacation had ended and I should be…sad, I was relieved.

And even though London will always be my special place and has so many good things going for it, here’s the top few reasons that made me miss sleepy beautiful Oslo (almost every day):

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1) Crazy traffic and never-ending noise

I know we complain about Oslo traffic, because it delays journey times by a few minutes. But London is crazy!!! On the roads, in the bus and especially in the tube trains. Public and private transport is a nuisance. And if the traffic wasn’t bad enough, the horns of agitated drivers and shrill sirens of ambulances and politi make it even more unbearable. There’s a constant noise at all times of the day and night, after a while the ears just buzz on their own.

Oslo’s silent (barely any horns) and slow traffic or occasional sirens allow for open windows (try opening your apartment windows in London) and noise-less (or lesser-noise) living. Even the people don’t make too much noise, except the happy drunks. Its a blessing to be able to sleep in a peaceful environment when you can even hear the birds singing in the night (this does not include weekends). But thats ok, I’ll take four good sleeps in a week.

2) Too many people (especially tourists)!!!

Its ironic i’m complaining about this because in Oslo I complain that there are too few people. But i’d rather have a seat on my tram than to push people to make a tiny space in the tube. And I like walking on sidewalks please, not the roads because theres no room on the former. But of course in Oslo you can walk on Karl Johan because there are barely any cars, what a delight!!!

The bus drivers in London will run you over if you cross without looking out, while in Oslo you can leisurely walk and know that you will be saved by the drivers.

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3) London closing hours for department stores and grocery stores are in the wee hours of the night. Many places are open around the clock. Which means that anything you need is available at any time. Which also means that if you’ve run out of toilet paper or milk, you are expected to run out and fetch it. Now I find that extremely inconvenient because there’s no concept of “take it easy, you can get it tomorrow or on Monday”. I’d rather have the local Meny (and other grocery stores) in Oslo that closes promptly at 11pm, so one can relax and KNOW that NOTHING can happen after 11 pm. NOTHING!!!

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4) Safety and fear for life (quite literally).

London is a city with a high and increasing crime rate, one of the most dangerous in the world. Even in the poshest (hence safest) neighbourhoods of Chelsea and Belgravia, one must be careful and stay on guard at all times of the day and night. Ironically, when I lived there I barely ever felt unsafe but always took necessary precautions (not walking late with music blasting through my earphones, unaware of my surroundings). But after living is Oslo, which is comparatively MUCH safer, one gets accustomed toa newer sense of safety.

And this time, I felt my fear multiplied after hearing stories of “mishaps”. Walking back home after a night out, I’d constantly look around for potential stalkers and rapists.

While in Oslo, I never leave a party early because its “getting too late”. And even though there are few people out on the streets very late, it still feels safer in the “seclusion” and less threats of getting harassed. However, there are occasional incidents and one must always be careful.

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5) London life is extremely fast-paced, exhausting and tiring. People have no time, they work till late, always in a rush to get somewhere in that god awful traffic and rush, they walk fast. Even meeting friends happens in a hurry because there’s a table reservation after yours, so you have to gobble and talk at the same time. There’s a queue outside toilets, concert tickets are sold out months in advance and its impossible to get anyone to help you get that shoe in your size at Aldo.

In Olso, its life in slow motion, so you get to notice and appreciate the small things. A walk in the park, the efficient transport, the music in the streets, the dong of the church bells, the silence of the night, the annoying garbage collection trucks in the morning. Salespeople making me jump out of my skin with the constant and shrill “hei hei”.  Enjoying quality time over the weekend with my husband and friends because there’s no shopping (especially on Sunday’s when everything is closed). Falling asleep in the park because its so serene and peaceful. And my most favourite thing, being able to go out for a walk at any time of the day or night without having to worry that i’ll be stabbed or mugged. That i’m safe outside and inside my house.

6) And finally, where does one “går på tur” (go for a walk in the nature) in London? The parks are crowded with happy tourists and happier “Roma’s”. And even if you find a time or place where you dont have to “excuse-me” your way through, the damn pigeons will crap on you and make it miserable. Maybe one could drive out (for two hours depending on the traffic?) to the beautiful meadows and hills on the outskirts.

I cant say this enough and its what I love most about Oslo (and Norway). Its close proximity to “nature”, take your pick:  islands, lakes, parks, mountains, forests or fjords are at a proximity of 5-20 minutes form the city’s centre.

You can walk through the biggest sculpture park in the world by Gustav Vigeland or hike on the hilly park of Ekeberg displaying masterpieces of Salvador Dali and George Cutts (The Dance, my personal favourite).  You can trek through a lush woodland of forests or swim in an ice cold lake sparkling in the summer sun. Take a ferry from Aker Brygge  and go island-hopping to the small islands like Hovedøya or Bygdøy surrounding the city. Hike (or ski) across the hills of Holmenkollen or zip-line 350 metres down the Olympics ski-jump (i’m not joking). On a sunny day, take out a picnic on the boat and spend the day cruising through the Oslo fjord.

There is an abundance of nature and adventure waiting to be explored.

Its like comparing a fjord with an island. You can only favour the fjord when you’ve witnessed its extraordinary beauty, experienced the calm it brings to your life and take in its serenity. You’ll never want to return to the island.

OsLove to all!

🙂

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The Best of Oslo – Brunch, Fluffy Pancakes and American Soul Food

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A few months ago, while lounging around with a friend we decided to go out to grab a bite. It was close to 7 pm and she suggested we head to Cafe Fedora where “they have the best mac-n-cheese” in Oslo. When it comes to food, I’m a little skeptical when anyone suggests that there’s “the best” of something in Oslo. While there are many good places, there are even more of the “below average” one’s that people recommend as “great”. So there were no expectations other than spending too much on something I’d never want to try again, let alone recommend. 

 We reached the cafe a few minutes shy of its closing hour but when Anthony (the lovely American expat owner) saw us at the door, he invited us in and served us his lovely mac-n-cheese and charmed us with stories about his experiences in Oslo. Needless to say, my friend Zaynab was absolutely right about the mac-n-cheese and we became regulars at Fedora.

 Anthony and his super friendly team at Cafe Fedora know exactly what they’re doing when it comes to American food and Southern hospitality. A cozy cafe tucked away in Oslo’s elegant neighbourhood of Frogner, has the friendliest service and delicious food. Ideal for brunch or dinner, or even just a cortado with dessert.

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Pancakes are so simple that its difficult to get them just right. Cafe Fedora’s deliciously light and fluffy buttermilk pancakes, along with creamy scrambled eggs is the perfect American breakfast for the weekend. The spinach and cheese omelette with warm toasted bread is another great option.  Healthy salads keep it light but Anthony’s famous Mac-n-Cheese (my favourite) is a guilty indulgence worth every bite. Some Americans have told me its the best mac-n-cheese they’ve ever had.

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And if you’re there, you can’t leave without a taste of the homemade pies or the cookies and cupcakes. The pecan or zesty key lime pie is simply scrumptious. Perfect to be pre-ordered for a party at home or to take with you to a dinner at friend’s.

The ambience is cheerful and comfortable which makes the experience even better. Adequate portion sizes and reasonable prices for great food is what makes Cafe Fedora a special favourite for its “regulars” and has become a hot favourite amongst both locals and expats lucky enough to have discovered this hidden gem.

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 Cafe Fedora offers a special discount (see below) to the blog followers of An Expat in Oslo, so keep reading our blog and hope you enjoy the pancakes and Anthony’s company 🙂

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How to get the special 10% discount at Cafe Fedora: 

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 1) Please follow An Expat In Oslo.

2) Like An Expat In Oslo and Cafe Fedora on Facebook, share with your friends.

3) The 10 % discount is applicable on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 1100 to 1600 hrs. Not on weekends or super club events. Quote the code “An Expat in Oslo loves Fedora” to get the discount.

Do you really have to learn Norwegian?

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I never gave any thought to learning another language. Fluent in Urdu, English and Persian, I considered myself multilingual enough for this life. There was once a scary hype about Mandarin “taking over the world”  but seriously??? Who wants to sound like that?!

When I moved to Oslo, I remained complacent. The thought of learning norwegian was daunting, it sounds very complicated, like German and Danish. And since Norwegians speak English very well, I happily trotted on with the occasional “tusen takk” (thank you or thousand thanks), “hei hei”, “God dag” and “nei”. I called it Norlish.

Surprisingly, many words that we simply take for granted in other languages seemed completely unnecessary and lost in Norway. For starters, there’s NO word for “please” in norsk. Imagine a world without “please”. Its lovely!!!

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And “excuse me” (unnskyld) – people will brush past and make their way through crowds and there won’t be any “excuse me”. Even though there’s a norwegian word for it, you’ll seldom hear it. And sometimes when I do hear a murmuring “unshh”, I’ll literally jump out of the way.

Another word “sorry” (beklager) which is overused in english, almost as if we’re ALWAYS sorry about something, is barely used in norwegian. According to some myths, a person only says its when they are extremely remorseful of their actions.

On the other hand, if you ask anyone for help or advice, Norwegians will happily and seriously give out information sufficient for a college thesis. And it doesn’t end there. If/when they see you again, they’ll remember and ask if “it was ok”. And this is one of my favourite norwegian characteristics that helped me settle down here. To decide which bread i’ll buy (nordic breads are very confusing for newcomers), where to rent an apartment, Helly Hanson vs. Canada Goose, Kvikk Lunsj or Kit Kat (obviously Kvikk Lunsj!!!).

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So barring the words “please”, “sorry” and (sometimes) “excuse me”, English is sufficient.

Then why learn Norwegian at all?

1) The painfully obvious reason that any immigrant can confirm: if you don’t speak Norwegian, its difficult to get a job in Norway. Swedish and danish help some, you can at least work at shops, restaurants and cafe’s. You could work as an au pair, but even that requires compulsory enrolment in norskkurs (norwegian course) during the contract. Therefore, if you intend to work full-time or half-time for any period of time, its highly recommended to invest time in learning the local språk. Apart from local schools like Folkuniversitetet and Alfaskolen, there are some useful online resources too. There are also “Language Meetup Groups” where you can practice and learn in groups.

2) Moving to another country (or even city) poses many challenges. One of the biggest in Norway is that its difficult to make “a new set of“ friends or permeate into existing social groups as people are not “approachable”. There is a typical “clique mentality”. They will help and even be friendly but they don’t become your friends easily. Unless you are working, have friends or family, learning the local language lowers barriers  and makes it easier to approach people, initiate friendships, network for jobs or just have a better life time.

In such an isolating situation, norskkurs, is a welcomed social activity and the best way to make new friends who are equally ignorant as you. Many of them might even understand why its initially embarrassing for english-speakers to keep saying “ganske bra” (pretty good), “veldig bra” (very good) or just “bra” (good)!

I completed my third norwegian course at Folkuniversitetet this week and can vouch that the nicest people and some of my closest friends in Oslo are from my “norskkurs”.

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3) Shopping becomes easier as you actually know what you’re buying now. No more of “I thought I bought greek yogurt, why does this taste like cottage cheese?”.

Its also easier to identify sales and offers or avoid waiting for the bus for an hour because the service is “stengt” (closed).

4) After a coupe of drinks, “speak in english because she can’t understand” is taken over by “who cares about english and who is she??”. Everyone will speak only in norwegian. You can try and catch up but they’ll speak so fast you won’t know what happened. If you try and shift the conversation back to english, they’ll speak even faster.

To avoid helplessness and boredom, drink more than anyone or leave the party by 11 pm. Advice from partners (girlfriends/boyfriends/wives or husbands) of Norwegians, who go through this kind of drinking social alienation very often a) stop smiling and pretending you understand. No one cares, Or (b) start singing a “what did the fox say…” , they’ll stop talking and sing along.

5) When you learn norsk, its highly appreciated by the norwegians. They love that you’re making an effort to learn their language . They will gently correct your mistakes and help you learn along the way.  And soon you’ll be able to say “menneskerettighetsorganisasjonssekretæren” without even coming up for air. Yes thats ONE word and it means “the secretary of a human rights organization”. 

6) Speaking in norwegian is fun. Like you’re singing a song, alternating between the high and low pitch. Luckily, its also the nicest sounding Scandinavian language.

7) But most importantly…..when the two girls sitting opposite you in the tram are talking about “what happened last night”, you can understand EVERYTHING!!!

OsLove to all 🙂

When in Norway, a few (unspoken) rules to be followed:


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– Never complain about the weather, no matter how miserable. Unlike the English, Norwegians are extremely practical people who barely ever complain and believe “there is no bad weather in Norway, only bad clothes”. So invest in the warmest down’s jackets, woollen underwear and boots. The uglier the clothes, the more effective they’ll be and you won’t freeze to death.

– Follow the weather very closely (twice an hour) on YR.no. If you demonstrate knowledge of precipitation levels for the weekend at different times in the day, you might get a loving look.

– Try to become (even) more active in extreme weathers. Gå på tur eller stå på ski (Long walks or skiing is preferable). Never admit you go alpine skiing, ONLY cross-country is acceptable. Alpine skiing is frowned upon, its like the “cool down” program on your treadmill.

– On entering someone’s house, its customary to take off your shoes. Even if they are laced up boots that took an hour to put on. Refrain from hovering and making conversation while guests are bent over taking off the boots. Give them space.

– Always be ON time. Seriously. Even if you’re 5 minutes early, you’re not welcome.

– Never make an appointment (doctor, etc) if there’s a chance you’ll miss because they’ll still send you the bill. That won’t be pleasant.

– Do not assume that the Thai and Filipino population are domestic help.

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– Everything out of the sea is edible (and a delicacy if its rotting), even whale meat. Please disguise shock.

– Always complain about how expensive everything is. The food, the clothes, that new restaurant, cigarettes, rent, parking, movies, everything. Keep a special eye for anything that says “billig/ billigere/ billigst” (cheap/ cheaper/ cheapest).

– Never ask people over for dinner, they won’t invite you back. And if you’re really dying to feed them your karahi chicken then a) go easy on the spices and b) don’t go overboard. As a true Lahori (a person from the city of Lahore ♥), going overboard is an integral part of our nature and we are proud of it. We’ll sweat it out all day (and the day before) to lay a grand feast for a party of just four. Actually the size of the party is irrelevant. Well……..save yourself a huge hassle (and money) and keep it very simple. Otherwise you’ll scare them away.

– Don’t sweetly smile at people in the streets, its random and they don’t like it. In fact if you can help it (I can’t), don’t look at people walking in the streets at all.

– Very important rule and remember at all times of sadness, happiness, excitement, even love. Don’t come too close to people. No hugging, no smoochies on the cheeks. Norwegians are petrified of loving touch. Just a handshake (not too firm) from a safe distance will be sufficient.

– Bring your own alcohol to a party. Don’t expect to be served. And please don’t show alarm if the guy sitting in front of you takes out a small bottle of gin from his coat pocket, takes a swig and tucks it back safely. He won’t offer, even if you look with longing and desire…..

– Its not “hi”!!!!  Its “hei hei” , preferably in a very high pitch.

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– Never play in the snow, even the little kids don’t do that. They take snow very seriously so make sure you don’t run around throwing snowballs or making snow angels. You’ll look extremely stupid.

– Recycle properly if anyone is watching, there is no forgiveness for mixing plastic and paper.

– Don’t even dare to go to the gym if your body fat percentage is above 15% AND/ OR you can’t run (not jog) for at least an hour without breaking a sweat. Unless you want to shatter every bit of that self-esteem you landed here with.

– You can literally live in training or gym clothes, in fact the more lycra you wear the better. Anytime and everywhere, no eyebrows raised.

– Always split the bill, in fact ask for the server to make separate bills so there’s absolutely no confusion there.

– Lastly but most importantly, always say “mmmm” every few seconds when being talked to. Its super cute.

Oslove to all.

🙂

Even the Chinese have not discovered Norway (yet)

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Before moving to Oslo a little over than a year ago, I didn’t know much about Norway. And that didn’t really bother me because everyone else seemed to know what I already knew, as they only ever asked permutations of the following:

“Why move to Oslo? Its freezing there!!!”

“You know the Sun comes out for just a couple of months, even the days are dark!”

“Amazing, they have the highest standard of living in the whole world.”

“I’ve heard Oslo is the most expensive city in the world.”

“Oh so lucky, its been my dream to see the northern lights.”

Apart from the above, the savage Vikings, the local mythical creatures called trolls and mighty Thor were also a part of this image of Norway thanks to Hollywood and school history lessons. And even though I had visited Copenhagen and Stockholm before, I was wrong to assume that they would all be the same. So when I landed in the first week of May 2013, I was in for a few surprises. Here are a few of mine during my first few weeks in Oslo.

– It was not freezing and there was light. I didn’t land on the set of Frozen as I was hoping. It was sunny and I had to quickly rid myself of the winter woolies I had donned before landing in anticipation of close proximity to the Arctic. Later, I would realise that the sun in Oslo makes you want to bask in its (short-lived) glory and thats a big deal for me because any Pakistani would tell you that we don’t sit in the sun for extended periods, we prefer shades. So while the parks and side-walks are swarmed with six-pack bodies (both men and women, old and young) laying oiled in the sun ALL DAY, I take my picnic basket in the warm shade and sneak guilty peaks at the painfully fit and beautiful norwegians.

– The northern lights are not visible in Oslo and can only be viewed in some parts of Norway, mostly the north, if one is lucky and patient enough to wait between December and March. But the night sky is bright with a million stars and chirpy birds. I don’t think the birds sleep here. Its a little annoying.

– The airport immigration line for non-EU residents is much smaller and for once I don’t curse my immigrant status.

– In all of my travelling experiences, I have seen fellow travellers eager to end their journey’s, rush out from the plane, collect their bags and reach the comfort of their homes or destinations. Only in Oslo, the passengers rush out to shop at the wines and spirits sections of the duty-free. They hover and linger and choose at leisure, probably never even having to wait for baggage. The reason for this being that the State discourages excessive consumption of alcohol by levying high taxes and limiting access. Distribution is limited to the government owned outlets called Vinmonopolet (Wine Monopoly), the only company allowed to sell (not serve) beverages containing an alcohol content higher than 4.75% in Norway, operating for limited number of hours during the weekdays.

– Unlike other tourist destinations, Oslo has not been discovered by the Chinese. Some have managed to learn about the country’s awesomeness and can be seen walking around enthusiastically with city maps but the rest of the 1.4 billion minus 50 are still in World minus Norway.

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– Everywhere you look, anywhere you look. Up the hill, on the road, in the gym, in the park, by the sea or even in the snow – all the locals seem to be engaged in some state of high-intensity physical activity. If they are not already running then they are just about to break into a run. They ski all winters and long after the snow is gone, they can be found gliding on dry land (dry land skiing). The cyclists have baby wagons wheeling behind them. Its taken a long time for me to control my palpitations just looking at these sights.

– And finally, the only expectation that was met over and over and over again. Oslo is one of the most expensive cities in the world. Where even a small sandwich from a local deli costs GBP 15.00, an all-day travel pass for public transport is GBP 9.00 and an average meal in a barely average restaurant sets you back around GBP 100.00 for two people. I wonder how these people date? Who pays? Is there a state-sponsored allowance for young love?

Oslove to all.

an expat in Oslo?

According to the Urban Dictionary, an “expat is a person taking up residency in another country”, a country other than the person’s upbringing. I’m from Pakistan and the move to Norway feels like I took up residency in another planet, let alone another country.

I  have lived in London for six years and never once felt like an “expat”. Maybe because its pretty easy to masquerade or even become a “Londoner” over a relatively shorter period of time. If you live in London’s zone 1 (Zone 2 if you really push it), speak English, listen to music while grocery shopping, hop in a black cab without wincing at the meter, know your tube map and bus routes without looking at the maps, order at a pub without looking at the price-list  and shop without converting the GBP (£) to your national currency – then you’re pretty close to being an actual Londoner.

Oslo, however, is a different experience. Truly an expat experience because I feel the change, the contact with a culture starkly different from my own and proudly original in its own. The city, the language, the landscape, the weather, the food, the social life and the people adamantly holding on to their “norsk-ness” while graciously accepting expats and mini-cultures from all over the world. The mini-cultures adjusting themselves within the norsk, the two engage but do they merge?

The characteristics of “norsk-ness” are not clearly obvious at first as the Norwegians seem as friendly but only much more good looking than the rest of the Europeans. And Oslo only feels like a smaller, more traditional and less happening city than the rest of its neighbouring capitals. BUT dont be fooled! Oslo and its people have many many (mange mange) layers. The discovery and peeling of every layer is an experience that brings you closer to what it means to be norwegian, norsk. Mostly delightful and sometimes very cold.

And right now, I am on a journey of discovering and peeling the layers and I have to say the past year has been the most exciting of my life. Life feels like a journey and the most unexpected but beautiful consequence of this journey has been that while learning the new ways of this amazing country I have also been revising/revisiting what it means for me to be a Pakistani. Therefore, everyday I adjust a little of myself, my Pakistan within this big sea of Norway. Adapting and living happily.

My blog,therefore, is dedicated to all the expats who have moved away from their beautiful countries and are learning the “norsk way of life”.

Oslove to all!

🙂