Sunday, 6 June 2010

Some girls are prettier in London

The other day I was thinking about this girl I know. Her mind is absolutely beautiful. A mind that inhabited all the traces of being open, inquisitive and completely extravagant. The kind of mind-state you get when a really good song you like starts playing, and you – on par with the surrounding darkness, the high of the moment in a mist of absolute dancing satisfaction.

But then again, you find lesser interesting minds.

My best friend, a white Norwegian, joined me to the island of my ancestors (some of them), when I was about 19. We had a great time; however one incident shocked him quite badly: We were in a small town where people rarely see tourists and a group of drunken youngsters came up to us and started yelling 'white pig' to him in their local language. He understood the meaning of the word, because I had called him that some times just for jokes. However, the incident made him sad the whole day afterwards, and I was utterly ashamed over the ridiculous behaviour that the locals expressed.

Oh, dear. Oh, dear.

During my stay in Cape Town, I experienced something interesting related to this subject. After a month in the beautiful country, I roamed the streets of Sea Point for a barber where I could cut my hair. I found a place that looked like a barber shop and went in. To my surprise, everyone stared at me in a silly way, and when I asked if they could cut my hair, they said: "Sorry we only cut black people's hair". I was perplexed and tripped back to my apartment with a crushed self esteem. For fuck sake, does my skin colour make that of a difference, I thought to myself.

Narrow minded at the barber shop? Yes of course. Ok, then lets roll from barber shops to physical attraction.

"Are you attracted to her? But she is so pale". A relative back in Sri Lanka on Norwegian girls. He continues with: "I think white girls can be cute, but never sexy. I never think I could sleep with any of them". What a fucking moron, I thought. You are missing out on a lot. Yes, indeed he was (!). Closed minded - or just inclined to society standards? It is easy to be prone to what others around you like, and it is challenging to have individual views in a homogenous society. Why do you think Pakistanis usually marry Pakistanis and Norwegians usually marry Norwegians?

Because it is the easiest thing to do.

I do understand you, you weak shit. I have a really good Colombian friend; she is cosmopolitan, beautiful, educated and has an Indian boyfriend. However when we were discussing skincolours and attractiveness, and she said she didn't find Asian men attractive. However she thought black men were quite sexy. She couldn’t exactly tell why she didn’t have an attraction towards Asian men. It wasn't racist at all, just her views. I asked if she had been travelling to Asian countries, and she said that she hadn’t. Colombia is a very diverse country, you find all kinds of skin colours – but you find very few Asian men.

As products of our surroundings my Colombian friend was no exception (for the love of herself I hope she finds a Chinese husband).

I would say that that includes me as well, to a certain degree. Travelling Indonesia and Malaysia made me quite inclined towards Asian girls. They are stunning. Long legs, and perfect skin. In Africa it was the black girls. They are perfect. In Scandinavia the blonde ones, in Italy and France, the brunettes, and in India and Sri Lanka, oh the brown skinned ones. Not to mention Arab girls, and Persians (oh my god!). However it was different for me in London: The melting pot created another approach to attractiveness. At the LSE library my jaw would drop seeing all those exceptionally beautiful Italian girls, and in the dark alleys of Brick lane I would loose my breath over the extraordinary hot British girls, in Brixton it was the black girls and Piccadilly the stunning Indian girls and so on and so on. But when in a rather homogenous country I have a tendency to be attracted the dominant part.

Some girls are actually prettier in London.

We do act in a certain way to please our surroundings and to confirm our own identity. The drunken youngers yelling racist remarks to my friend made a quite clear statement on who they were, and what kind of identity they had. It is easier to be a slave of the masses, than thinking for yourself. Then only mental freedom can utilize a mind without prejudicsm and preferences - like the girl I know, with the beautiful mind. So freedom comes into being only when we understand, not intellectually but actually, our every day life, our activity, our way of thought, the fact of our brutality, our callousness and indifference; it is to be actually in contact with our colossal selfishness.

What the fuck am I trying to say?

Well, put it another way: A successful Saudi businessman once said to me: "I'll tell you one thing, son. In business, you really give a damn about the other person (business counterpart). You don't care if the person is brown, black, white, christian, jew, muslim or whatever. The only thing you care about is to make a profit so you can provide for your children and travel to St. Tropez in the summers." He understand that his needs, as a individual, either it be sex, money or status – comes before anything else on this earth. Because in the end: History, life and being is all about you.

Nobody else.

I must admit that I am in contact with my colossal selfishness (With some exceptions of course. I also have moments of ignorance). Why? Because I really don't care who you are, where you are from or what you do. As long as you are interesting, I like you.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Thank God for transvestites in Shoreditch

After endeavouring back to the cold North I felt alienated by culture for the first time in my life. Six months adapting to Saudi Arabia, and then back again to the Norwegian culture took me about three months. I couldn't buy Galoises anymore, so I just decided to quit smoking. Regaining cultural awareness is quite important for me: I have a weird capability of completely (or nearly) absorb myself to the country culture that I inhabit. I also realised that there is no 'home' for me in the sense of country wise belonging. I have lived in so many different countries that I completely consider myself international. However, I was slightly down over my own soulful pettiness for some days. It was just as if the walls was about to close around me and I was about to die. However I realised that I was fucking privileged: I did inherit fragments of Averroes' thinking from my grandfather, but I never did “inherit” identity.

Like some of my nearest relatives. And like you (most likely).

I remember that when we travelled back frequently, we stayed at my uncle’s residence. He had a big gun in his closet that he used to hunt animals with, and every morning he would attend the morning prayers before going out to the factories to look after the family business. They have a lovely villa and all, and it is always a pleasure to visit. My cousins went to the best private schools in the country, and had a strong feeling of self confidence based on a strong identity – inherited through their status and position in the society they lived.

However, for me now it seems fictional. They never built anything for themselves. Their self confidence, their drive and their status, was all inherited from their father. That again inherited his from his father. And so on. But is that so bad? In an evolutionary perspective, they are survivors and will definitely breed. Also, when they travelled to London, they still had their inherited self confidence with them in their luggage. However, their notion of being “superior” limited their ability of socializing with people different from them.

They never went to Brixton, because it was “dirty”.

Their early exposure to servants was also an interesting phenomenon. For me it was kind of surrealistic to be fed and bred by girls my age, when I was about fifteen. They slept on the kitchen floor on a hard madress, and they watched TV sitting on the floor. I remember that one of the girls was actually quite cute. But she was treated so badly. Like she was worthless. Once in a while the power used to go off – due to power cuts in the country, but since my uncle had a generator we had light after 5 minutes - whilst the whole city lay pitch black. During one of these power cuts, one of the servant girls took my hand quickly and held it for some seconds. She smiled and was pleased.

But even though she was pretty, I was ashamed and disgusted. I will always regret that feeling. I should have kissed her instead – but my surroundings would not approve of it. That exact feeling of disgust, based on hierarchy and a kind of notion that I was “clean” and she was “dirty”, haunts me still to this day today. There is no difference between her and me. My position was inherited and my identity in that moment of disgust, belonged to the people around me. I was not an individual; I was a part of a group. When I think about it today, it was scary. But it explains “mass hysteria” a lot. I don’t miss that feeling.

Thank God for dirty places like Brick Lane, for transvestites in Shoreditch and gay bars in Brixton.

I sincerely hope that she is happy wherever she is now. The sad part is that for people with a strong sense of inherited hierarchy based identity, such behaviour is absolutely normal: It’s ok, because they are “they”, and “we” are superior. To take another example: People often use religion to classify others. After the tsunami in late 2005, I and a friend travelled to Indonesia and Sri Lanka – partly due to some house projects that was initiated in the respective areas, but also because we wanted to study the disaster with a blank eye. In the midst of this crisis I was surprised to hear that the preacher in a Mosque claimed that the tsunami was a punishment from God, since the Muslims hadn’t been Muslims enough. What a stupid old goat, I thought to myself after the session. But my Christian friend would come back from the church and say that the priest had said exactly the same. We both decided to crucify religious collectivism.

Reborn prone to extreme individualism I guess some of us are indeed free people. There is no factor of belonging: Just fluctuating control.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Change 1: How tech kills bureaucracy

Both my dad and my brother are elected politicians. They often discuss politics around the dinner table, and especially the running Israel crisis has been a hot topic. I think they sometimes talk too much. Thats a problem with politicians, they talk to much and nothing really happens. Bureaucracy. I friggin' hate it. There is better things to talk about right now, like me finishing my thesis and laying plans for adventures this autumn. Destroying my thesis gave me some freedom, a freedom I decided to use on change. So I changed the language on my blog, and informed my co-writer about it (he is a Grenoble Graduate as well).

I think he gave a fuck, because he hasn't really answered me yet (he just wrote me back:"Read Friedman's WF"). But he has relocated to Paris, and is probably busy pursuing sins there. However, its an interesting read. Thomas L. Friedman writes in his "the World is Flat", that today's rapid technological environment creates countless of opportunities across the whole globe. A intertwined world brings down boundries and opens our eyes in many ways. Also old and grumpy people full of prejudicsm are about to die: The cheese on the toast is melting, things aren't that stiff anymore. I am sorry you were the former generation, please go there in the corner, be idle and fade gracious away. Don't talk. Oh, for God's sake just shut up.

So rapid tech is changing the game, just as oil did decades ago.

The biggest privately held company in the world is Saudi Aramco, and the biggest public held company is PetroChina. I don't think its an coincidence that both those companies are energy companies and a product of humans craving for entertainment and a warm bed. I recently quit my job as a stockbroker in Oslo, Norway and fled away to Amsterdam. The main reason was probably my lack of being able to stay put in one place when I have better choices. Another reason is my incapability of dealing with systems and regulations (no, I wasn't inside trading). However, Amsterdam was a warm intimate heaven. We rented bicycles and were free birds in the city of heavens. But since my funds has a tendency to quickly disappear, I was either forced to call through slack phone lines to Tehran, where my dad is currently posted, and ask him to throw me a lifeline, or becoming a male prostitute in the Red Light District. None of the options were attractive.

I am a grown ass kid, I should play around with selfmade funds.

So I relocated to Stavanger, and decided to pursue a short career in the energy industry (I am tired of finance for a while). The introduction to a petro-related company was sweet, not only did it double my salary from what I made in Oslo - but it also gave me time to learn more about the most profitable industry on earth. The manager of my division (purchasing and logistics) took me around and told me a lot about the Norwegian oil industry. It is truly an extraordinary story. A tale of a small group of people that changed the whole economy of Norway, by in a smart way luring the British and the Danes. Anyhow, thats a long story. The most interesting fact about the petro-industry is that it is becoming more and more advanced. In the future offshore rigs and platforms, will ble completely managed by robots and machines - thats at least the goal and the vision.

Through sophisticated ERP and CRM systems, my company was aiming to cut service and production costs with drastic numbers. The new integrated systems had created a communication flow between division that in many ways diminished the former hierachy between workers and managers. This new efficient technology made them extraordinary when it came to assess and analyse a task, work on it and then complete it. I really loved the way that technology killed bureaucracy.

But you can do the same thing in other ways as well.

It was at an internet café in Amsterdam that I read through this amazing story about a Brazilian entrepreneur called Edivan Costa. The guy owns a business all over Brazil, that he built up from scratch and employs about 90 people now with twelve branches. What catched my eye about this story was not the fact that Costa started out from scratch (most billionaires do that), or that he is an Afro-Brazilian (Who really cares anymore?) or that he was uneducated (you don't need a degree from Harvard to be a smart man). The news here is that he made his money on: Beating the bureaucracy.

Yeah, you got me right.

Beating the fucking bureaucracy. As one of the infamous BRIC countries, Brazil is a growing with an tremendous speed. But on the contrary to the Saudi's and their ambitious "ten by ten" goal (look up SAGIA on google), its not that easy to establish a company in Brazil. The government supposedly takes one-third of your revenues in taxes, there is an inflexible labour law where you cannot fire people that easily, and because of all the licenses you need, I could take you up to 150 days (!) to start a business there. But Costa didn't use high tech gagdets to make the old office dwellers hurry their asses, he carefully studies how he could improve and help foreign companies establish a business more efficient and thus got down the whole process to 30- 40 days. Now he drives a fast car and has a beautiful girlfriend(s).

Good for him.

End of story is that the future is bright: A place where bureaucracy must die, and where rigidity stands for fall is the perfect future for free birds.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Amsterdam er deilig - når Aftenposten er lukket

"Rosa sat so Martin could walk, Martin walked so Barack could run, Barack ran so we all can fly."

På en liten, litt sliten internettkafé i Amsterdam leser jeg forundret et intervju i Aftenposten av en informatikkprofessor kalt Ole Jørgen Anfindsen. Jeg og en venninne fra Spania har vært og syklet langs de fantastiske kanalene i byen. Amsterdam er en fantastisk by, ganske internasjonal, multikulturell og nederlenderne er utrolig hyggelige. Men dette intervjuet i Norge plager meg litt. Overskriften lyder "Ønsker debatt om rase og IQ".

Harald Eias program om raser på NRK har sørget for en liten bølge med forunderlige etterdiltere som denne her Anfindsen. Informatikkprofessoren går ut i Aftenposten som en eller annen nymotens Oswald Spengler og sier følgende om den økte innvandringen: "(...) Men når dette samtidig fører til et fleretnisk og raseblandet samfunn, blir det et problem. Videre mener Anfindsen at "intelligens er viktig for samfunnets bærekraft".

Hva er det du sier Anfindsen, at "afrikanere" ikke er smarte nok til å få komme til Norge?

Anfindsen språkbruk synes jeg er interessant. Han kategoriserer og setter mennesker i ulike båser basert på en faktor; såkalte raser. Å diskutere om eller ikke det eksisterer raser, er irrelevant. Det som derimot er interessant er Anfindsens synspunkter blir presentert i Aftenposten som om det var noe helt ordinært, noe helt vanlig.

Hva er det som egentlig foregår i lille Norge? Jeg tror jeg utsetter min hjemkomst ytterligere.

Kapitalistene fant raskt ut at for å øke produktivitet, så måtte man sile ut mennesker basert på deres intelligens, uavhengig av andre kategoriseringer. I de største investeringsbankene i London og New York jobber de skarpeste hodene på denne jordkloden. Da jeg i 2008 kom gjennom til tredje runde i JP Morgan's harde intervjuer for å lande en jobb, var jeg omgitt av afrikanere, kinesere, indere og europeere - alle typer mennesker. Av over 4000 søkere fra hele verden var 150 stykker blitt silt ut til siste runde. Det som karakteriserte menneskene der var at de var uhyre flinke, analytiske, unge og sultne.

Suksess kommer ikke med farge.

Uten oljeinntektene i Norge, ville landet hatt et gedigent handelsunderskudd som ville fått problemene i Hellas til å blekne. Det Norge trenger for å skape en bærekraftig fremtid, er entreprenører som skaper velferd, økt eksport og teknologiske nyvinninger. Dette gjør vi i samarbeid med resten av verden - og ikke isolert. Uten det flerkulturelle Norge ville hvite nordmenn gått rundt i sin egen lille boble og vært redd hele verden.

Når en informatikkprofessor begynner å snakke om raser - kan man egentlig spørre seg selv: "Hvor mange de eldre norske menneskene i offentlige instanser lider av denne type sinnsykdom?" Jeg tror det er svært mange. Noen eskimoer på Grønland (øya) bruker en nedsettende tiltalelsesform når de snakker om andre som ikke er eskimoer - for de tror de er "smartere" enn de fremmede. Jeg synes synd på dem. Jeg synes synd på Anfindsen. Han kommer sannsynligvis til å leve et latterlig kjedelig liv isolert i sin lille norske konkong der han svinser rundt og innbiller seg at han er smartere enn andre bare fordi han er hvit.

Lev vel Anfindsen,

la oss krysse fingerene for at dattera di kommer hjem med en pakistaner.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Våren gryr i vinterns trakter, där jag frös.

- Jag vill möta livets makter vapenlös. 

Vagabondens tid er forbi, hvisket skjebnen til meg en tidlig mandagsmorgen i Jemens hovedstad, Sana'a. Grålysningen skimret i gatene og morgenduften var deilig. Jeg og en venninne trasket mot en sliten jemenittisk taxi, slengte våre kofferter i bagasjerommet og gjorde oss klare til å returnere tilbake til Norge. Utlendigheten var snart over. 

Jeg har kjørt langs røde vakre fjell i Iran. Jeg har sittet på en benk, relativt beruset, og snakket om livet med ukjente mennesker i Beirut. Tatt lokaltaxi alene fra Amman til Damaskus med bare en neve med penger, en disfunksjonell mobiltelefon og et rødt pass der det stod "Norwegian" på. Jeg har spist kanapéer og diskutert politikk med svært mektige mennesker, og jeg har kysset noen saudiske piker - som ville ha resultert i 160 piskeslag om jeg ikke var beskyttet av et særdeles gunstig grønt kort. 

Nok om det.

Oslo ventet, og jeg skulle begynne min karriere i finans, mens jeg skrev ferdig masteroppgaven min. Livet var deilig. Impulsrikt og eksepsjonell i sin brokkede galskap. Land, kulturer og mennesker av et gedigent omfagn var blitt pløyd gjennom. Jeg var klar for å roe meg ned, og etablere meg i en hovedstad, et land, en plass, som for meg fremdeles var litt av et mysterium. Den brune nordmannens evige kvaler. 

Stakkars ungdom.

Det var da. Snart 3 måneder siden. Det tikker et bilde inn på mobiltelefonen min. Det er en venninne som sender bilder av vannflasken på en restaurant i Milano. Hun har kommet til Europa fra Sør-Amerika for å ta en opptakstest ved Bocconi. Hun er forbanna vakker, ung og gal, men sitter på en fin restaurant og spiser alene. Jeg skulle egentlig ha møtt henne, tatt toget fra Milano til Bologna og levd. Men jeg kan ikke. I morgen må jeg på jobb. Da jeg begynte å studere samfunnsøkonomi på NTNU, hadde jeg lyst på en jobb der jeg kunne gå i dress hver eneste dag. For å gjøre en karriere.  Jeg skulle relokalisere til Oslo etterhvert, drive med politikk og jobbe i finans. Nå er jeg her, skriver masteroppgave mens jeg jobber på bryggen - men den siden av hagen lokker ikke lenger. Jeg har spist for mye av idyllen og frihetens kake. Vagabonden brenner som aldri før. 

Oslo er en fantastisk by. Våren i byen er herlig. Den er deilig, myldrende og spennende. Men som mange andre byer i Europa har den sine problemer med den nye befolkningen sin. Jeg ser det mye klarere nå, etter å ha vært ute. En av mine fire mentorer, en kanadisk venture kapitalist, mente at jeg burde flytte tilbake til London, mens jeg begynte på en doktorgrad ved Grenoble Ecole de Management. "Du vil få flere muligheter av å være i sentrum, enn av å bo i en landsby. En person som deg vil visne vekk i Oslo." Jeg er litt uenig. Alt er hva du selv gjør det til. Jeg tror det er mange utfordringer som kan være spennende her. Men det får vente. Jeg må ut igjen. Kanskje jeg kommer tilbake igjen - om 5 år. 

Lenkene løsner. Det er deilig.