Adventures in Oslo: Part 2
My gorgeous red Jafferjees handbag (yes, the one that makes me drool) containing passports, my ID card, tickets, wallet, credit cards and all my money was stolen in Oslo this afternoon and my travel insurance does not cover loss of passport or personal items. Other than that rather unfortunate incident at the Oslo Town Hall, it was a very interesting start to the trip.
Angels in Norway
Mudassir’s suitcase still hadn’t arrived at breakfast so no mics or tapes. We munched through our salmon and smoked mackerel and heaps of cheese and tried to figure out what to do. Just then Carsten, our first angel, arrived from the Norwegian MFA.
A gentleman with a great deal of experience in the region, he was DHM in Kabul and I imagined we would have a great deal to talk about over the next few days.
Our immediate concern was mini DV tapes. He had no idea where to get one and eureka! It hit me like a flash – we were meeting journos at TV2 (Norway’s largest private TV network) so I thought to request Carsten to make some calls. Sure enough Qadaffi Zaman came through and in 5 minutes we had acquired tapes.
A Parliament with no tea
A visit to the Norwegian Parliament and I feel that meetings, in fact tutorials, by Norwegian parliamentarians should be made mandatory for most Pakistani politicians.
A few years ago they decided to abolish food at the meetings as it made them all fat. Only water was served at meetings, beverages i.e. tea and coffee etcetera were sold at a vending machine.
The Parliament is accessible to anyone. It is a public building and all parliamentarians want to be available to the voters. They keep saying we are spending the money of the people. this country has one of the highest GDP’s in the world.
We met the committee on Kashmir Affairs with angel number two: Ali Shahnawaz Khan – discussions revolved around how the group had managed to get the prime minister to attend the Pakistan Day conference and stated that Norway’s position was to support the UN resolution. The only country to have done so out rightly.
Given their success with conflicts and building bridges between sworn enemies I asked them about the cartoon riots and the role played by the Kashmir group to resolve the situation. Norway had apologised for the offense the caricatures had caused. The party to do this was the Christian Democratic Party which brought the illustrator to talk to religious leaders of the Muslim Community.
The theme of building bridges across cultural, economic, social lines stayed with me.
Sport is an obsession
The next meeting was with a football club that works for Social Integration Valerenga. It is one of the top three soccer clubs in Norway and has 10,000 members. Their idea was to transform the hooligans who supported them into functional teams. Sport here is an obsession: soccer and ice hockey. Their projects are being replicated in over 82 clubs over Norway. I even met and interviewed two Pakistani lads who played well enough to become part of the team.
This was followed by a lunch hosted by angel number 2. A delicious BBQ and then we ran to our next meeting with the Ethics Committee of the Norwegian Petroleum Fund. This was the initiative of the Norwegian Government to ensure the benefits from the sale of soil covered generations of Norwegians.
The ethical Committee reviews all companies and makes sure the Fund is invested in and warns them and also disqualifies them if they don’t. A rigorous process that spares very little. Even Barrack could not make the cut.
Their office was in the old district and was beautiful, with white walls and lots of sunshine. Tea, coffee, cut and peeled fruit and cookies were served to us over an extremely interesting presentation.
And then we had a meeting with the organiser of the mela. We tried using that hour to film B-roll. I should have been more careful. Then we arrived at the police station and proceeded to lodge our reports. Two hours and many phone calls later, the report was registered.
Sigh… I really like the people, they are friendly and sympathetic and helpful too. If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.
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