Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Santa Maria reached Grønland - 2010

[Memories of 2010]

In 1492 expedition ship (invading war ship) Santa Maria carrying a crew of prisoners and one remarkable explorer (ruthless plunderer) reached India. 

India… err… it was so at least for the man who dared the journey in the look for a little more spice. I am unaware whether Christopher Columbus knew that it wasn't India, or whether he was happy for where he reached. But we were happy when we reached Grønland and knew perfectly that it is the best India that we could find in the Norse-land.

It all started while wandering. We were hell-bent to find a place with spicy food at cheap price, and few other accessories of life that we were used to. We found ourselves fortunate to meet one Pakistani shopkeeper at no other place than Sentralstasjon [oh how many times will I write this name] who was extremely helpful. He wrote the word Grønland with a Norwegian ‘
ø’ in a piece of paper and gave us with vague directions. Grønland sounded as if in the other side of the moon, yet we went on.

After endless troubling to people we met on the way, with a silly rain wetting our shoes, we found our way in a maze of Gata and Gate [Oslo’s two words perhaps standing for Road and Street] of tong-twisting names. Directed and misdirected with their perfect English to sign language instructions, it sounded like almost impossible to find this unknown dot of the suburb in Oslo’s mesh of places. To make matters worse, the map we found seemed to cut its limit before the mark, maybe composed by someone who had bad taste for spicy food.

Finally we reached there. Even before we reached the mark its signs appeared. Oslo’s usual order and cleanliness deteriorated. Passers changed the color and boards changed language.

“Communication Café” one board read. It should have been “Kommunicasjon” my one-day-long Norwegian talents suggested. “Tandoori Take Away .... Kr” read another. It was too much priced, so we’re not yet there, we thought.

Roads narrowed and crowd got noisy. We walked into a mall of some sort with reducing price for rice and curry versions of Indian names. Sarees and Kurthas replaced the display windows of Textile outlets which were closed on Sunday. We believed we got there.

If Indians were a familiar sight, Africans were total opposite. Do not take it derogatory as I didn't mean anything about their racial backgrounds. But those Somali vendors who ran make shift shops that piled with mess in once-upon-a-time beautiful courtyards of an "ancient city", sounded and behaved pretty much like a bazaar in east Africa. Threatening and scary at times, never inviting to wonder into those ghettos and dark corridors.

There is a bit of a story about this Asian/African wonderland in suburban Oslo. Long time ago when the city became industrialized, the factories were built in the two banks of the stream. With that village folks who were considered lower than citizens in class hierarchy of that time started to migrate to city looking for a living providing cheap labour. Naturally they settled near the factories. Little by little the "common man" population grew and moved towards those Noblemen (or so called). They did not like it. So they collected money and bought a huge chunk of land separating them from those "untouchables" in their view. The big chunk of land was made into a park separating the two classes. Time rolled on, and those labourers grew in wealth and they also found the ghetto region not so entertaining. Timely so, Norway started giving refugee visa to a big chunk of Pakistanis (1960s). The locals sold their houses at cheap price to refugees and moved on. After several decades the region has primarily non-Nordic population, visited and controlled by them. Today, it is the King's palace that sits in the lovely park that separated the two regions.

Anyways, it was the little India (or little Somalia) of Oslo. We found a wide range of dining places for our choice. Prices were reasonable and look was familiar. Place was full of a variety of people. I was pretty good at guessing their nationalities, which I dared asking and even getting right. We spoke to the Asian and African culture nursed in the vibrant colour of Oslo. We had many lunches, on many times, and found many food items with the spice of homeland in it.

Santa Maria finally reached the real India we concluded.

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