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.

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