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Proud to be Norwegian

juli 7, 2015

I’m not particularly nationalistic. I don’t believe in ancestry and bloodlines and my mum’s geographical inclination at the time of my birth, but I am proud to be Norwegian. Not in the sense that I believe I am better than others, or elevated or infallible or anything – not at all. But some things do make me proud.

This is one of the things that make me the proudest. The elderly gentleman on the right, is king Olav of Norway. The year is 1973, there was a shortage of gasoline, and the king wanted to go skiing. So he took the tram. He didn’t have to take the tram, and yet he did. As the conductor approached, not yet realising who that guy sitting next to a startled young girl was, the king rummaged around his pockets and took out his purse to pay for the ticket.

The shy girl on the left didn’t notice who she was sitting down next to at first. Ms.Berit Okkenhaug was a student of theology, and she became the first female priest in the county of Telemark in 1986.

You can’t see it in this picture, but the man sitting behind the king was asleep as the king arrived. He was Mr.Mohammad Fayyaz, a Pakistani who immigrated to Norway the year before. He was tired because he was working very hard as a busboy at a restaurant. He later opened the first fast food restaurant in Drammen town, and made a good life for himself and his family.

King Olav himself was, of course, also an immigrant. He was born in England, and was a prince of Denmark. He came to Norway at the age of four, as his father, the Danish prince Carl became king Haakon, the first Norwegian king in modern times.

The king doesn’t look very kingly in his anorak and his cap. In fact, he looks very much like my granddad, a hard working country boy who started working as a shepherd at the age of five, moved to the city to become a painter and build a house, and to father my mother who went on to college and became a computer engineer in the very first years of the profession’s existence.

We called him The people’s king, but it’s not the king himself that makes me proud to be a Norwegian. It’s the people who allow and appreciate a king taking the tram to go skiing. This picture is a small piece of Norway at its best. The hardworking immigrant on a path of opportunities. The shy yet progressive female, facing antiquarian convention and winning. And a king, looking like a granddad.
This is my pride.


From → Skriblerier

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