Archive for the 'Muslim' Category

Getting compliments

Being in Sweden has changed my attitude towards compliments. In Germany, be it in school or university, I or we were quite used not to hear many compliments; except nerds (forget for a second that I am a nerd, actually I am not; just a wannabe nerd, so keep on) could get some German compliments, like “Gut! Sitz! :). But being in Sweden, has changed everything. Here (not in Italy) everyone is doing bra (good), or more often mycket/jätte bra (very good) and equally often everything one does is bra jobbat (well done/performed). First it seemed strange to me, but with time it felt good, really good and I think it really animates students to do more. Here in Italy people are lazy to say it, but use instead their thumb to show that something is well done. But, whenever I go out with our son, I get a lot of compliments. I do not know why and for what, but it has something to do with our son. I just filter the words complimento, bambino and bellissimo out of a string of Italian words. It feels strange to get compliments for something one can’t control actively (appearance of an infant) and additionally as a Muslim you are supposed to read two prayers from the Quran (looking for the English term of it; German: Schutzsuren; Arabic: Mu’awwidhatayn; Turkish: Muavvezeteyn) each time you are getting excessive compliments; so you can imagine how much we murmur if we are outdoors in Italy.

So after all the years in Sweden I still haven’t learnt how do deal with compliments. Additionally I spend two years of my childhood in a special school were we got lots of compliments, but it all didn’t help much. (Keeping this in mind my old teachers might think that schools in Sweden are generally special schools) Maybe it is because I figured out that they complimented us without having accomplishing something, just to make us feel good or to motivate us. Now, some 20 years later, I still feel that compliments are not distributed with caution. For me it is the same with with food. If you didn’t accomplish your goals for the morning, why should your stomach get an reward? (Try to tell that to an Italian in respect of his coffee breaks; they even drink it if it is hot and the only thing I can see is icecream or cold water) I think, nowadays, many things are just said without reason or meaning, just for the sake of smalltalk.

That is also what I dislike in conversations with especially Turks (as already mentioned here and here) or Arabs (mainly males have this “disorder”). I suppose it is a cultural thing, and not meant to tease me. Imagine you meet a nice Turkish or an Arab guy and you start a conversation. Normally the question “How are you?” comes up. This would happen one time in a “normal” conversation (twice if we consider both parties). But almost all Turks or Arabs I have met (not all of course, but statistically it is the majority of those whom I have met so far) repeat this question or rephrased after 2-5 minutes. Until some years ago I always repeated my (same) answer and kindly asked them as well (like a while loop). But since few years I stoped answering the same question (no matter how smartly they rephrased it) and interestingly they don’t seem to notice or to react to this. But I still felt like loosing time in a conversation or felt even annoyed so I started telling those guys to stop asking me and even to ask me at all, because if I wasn’t in a good health or state they would either see it or I wouldn’t stand in front of them. I told the latter of course only to extreme ones, most others got only the request to stop asking me after the first time; but also those stopped asking me at all. The conversation in time has reduced a lot, much more than I thought. Imagine how much time one looses with repeated phrases, where the answer even doesn’t seem to have an impact. My behaviour wasn’t seen as a attempt to save us from empty talks, but as an insult. So I suppose it is an cultural thing and I have to be careful with things I say. Sometimes it would be useful i in real life to have the internet chat function “busy” or “appear offline”.

Poor man …

… or woman? I am not sure, but the following seems to be not a joke (although I wish it were), but rather the view of a limited mind.

It reminds me too much on my grandfathers talk, who didn’t want my father to marry a woman, who went to school. Educated women were and still are a threat to him. My poor grandmother went – if I don’t remember wrong – out downtown (10 km near) for the first time in her marriage few years ago, after hours of debate with my father who wanted to show her the main city. Afterwards she said: “I didn’t miss much in my 65 years!” and proofed my grandfather right. Nevertheless one has to admit that the moosback (Hinterwäldler?) on TV at least knows how to use a computer, maybe one day he learns to think before he speaks.

PS: Just to be clear, I do not – I repeat – do not agree on anything this guy said. I would be happy to hear from some Arabic speaking people if this guy is still on TV and whether there was a campaign against him.

Unreliability …

or the dismissed importance of keeping a word. Since my childhood, almost all my stories start alike (it might show that I haven’t changed a lot over the years), I have hated it when people didn’t keep their word, especially if it concerns minor issues. I haven’t had much trouble with people who were not keeping serious promises, just because I stopped hanging out with them, but people who had problems with minor issues are not so easy to get rid, because they mostly do not see why I had to let them go. Few simple examples:

a) The towns Imam, in which I studied, was also the person who was selling Islamic books in Turkish language in Germany. So I ordered few books from him and arranged a meeting with him at a certain place, just because I ordered a bunch of books and didn’t want to enrich the German post. As far as I remember we agreed on a Saturday at 11 a.m. and as usual I arrived few minutes earlier, to be on time. At 5 past the agreed time I left home and some 20 minutes later I got a call. He was angry and asked where I have been. I said, that I was there on time and waited even 5 minutes. He said, that he just arrived AROUND 11 a.m. After asking him several times what exactly AROUND means he said that he came just 20 minutes after point 11 a.m. The same scenario happened 2 more times at two different times and places with the same person. From that day on I stopped respecting him.

b) A friend who wanted to meet me asked if we could have a coffee in Kista. So we agreed on a time. I went there, earlier as usual, and waited at the agreed place. 5 Minutes later, after not seeing him I went home and some 15 minutes later he calls me and asks if I were late. I said no, I was on time, and I am on my way home again. He said, that he came all the way from blablabla and that he had to drive 30 minutes. That was approximately the same time I needed to go there, but anyhow, since that day I do not make appointments with him, so we just see each other accidentally. And the strange thing is that he thinks I am rude. That is exactly what the Imam told others, viz. that I would make him wait. Tssss!

There are many similar stories, and another one happens almost every time I have to do laundry. There are lists to sign up for laundry times. And whenever I go down on time, someone exceeds his time and makes me wait 5-15 minutes. That is lost time, because I am too lazy to go home and come back and it is too booring to just wait in the laundry room and most of the time I forget to bring a paper or a book to read. In Germany, where similar things happen, I usually switched off the washing machine and put the wet clothes somewhere, IF they were washing in my time. But here I can’t do that (I tried that of course), because the door gets locked and than I can’t use the machine. The problem is also that if they exceed my time I am forced to skip the pre-washing step or steal time from the next person. And I would rather die than steal time from others! I never thought that such things would happen in modern countries like Germany or Sweden. I am just used to it in Turkey, or Turks who keep their strange tradition of a timeless life even in Germany or Sweden. I wonder how they manage to start their work on time, but not to keep their word/agreements/appointments. The good thing about being German with Turkish roots is that one can criticise both sides and escape unpunished from both sides :). I am not saying that it is wrong to live a life without precise times, IF one lives in certain places where other signs are used instead of clocks. It is for instance normal in the villages where my parents are from to say: “We will visit you tomorrow” and than show up 3 days later, that is still within the time period of “tomorrow”. I had to adjust to it during vacations in those villages, when I brought my motorbike to the technician and asked him if he could fix it tomorrow. A normal answer would be “inshaAllah“, meaning “if it is God’s will”. I thought it means that he will do it tomorrow, unless someone cuts his hands or he dies, but for him it is nothing more then “I will do it whenever I will, maybe tomorrow, but rather next week”. Unfortunately people do not think about thinks they say as much as those to whom they say it.

We live in a time where almost every little child has a mobile phone and is able to inform another person that he or she is late. I admit that I as a family are more often late than I as a person, because I still haven’t managed to enforce my adapted German habit of Pünklichkeit (German for punctuality) to my German (to be correct: East-German) wife. I hope that I will be able to teach my son to pee or poo on time, that would be very practical from a selfish point of view. I could continue to tell stories over stories over different incidents, and while writing I get angry over these people and in the same time I hate my self for every minutes I have let people wait for me. As an alibi I can say that most delays are caused by my wife :), but still I have to enforce the only German habit I have adapted to all Germans I know, otherwise Germans will be only known for their funny English pronunciation!

As can be seen I tend to misuse this blog to handle my anger rather than improve my English. But lately I started to get angry about every little thing, like today, where I got a parking ticket (SEK 500, ca. 55 Euro), because I parked the rented in front of our door. I deserve it, I agree. There are certain rules one has to follow, but I rather pay the money then letting the car somewhere else where it could be damaged and then one has to deal with the renting firm. No thanks! Than I was at the library of Stockholms university to copy some classic German meteorological papers from the beginning of the last century, which our university didn’t have. So I went there opened an account to copy them and didn’t manage because there was a “1” in my password which looks like a “l”. So I tried several times got pissed off and opened a second account, where the same happened. After 30 minutes of trying and getting angry with little baby tied to my body I came up with the idea that “1” could be “l” and it was as I thought. Why on Earth do they still give passwords out where “l” and “1” are indistinguishable? At least the weather was nice, above 20 degrees Celsius, and our son was smiling for hours.

da

PS: It is late and little son sleeps in my arms, therefore I haven’t had much time to write carefully.

“Muslims are known for their sense of humour.”

I started to watch Little Mosque on the Prairie, a new comedy about Muslims in Canada. Of course it is not funny as “Family Guy funny”, but still it is a beginning and shows that Muslims can be funny. Here is a short clip from the Pilot of this new comedy:

Hollywood came of course 2 years before up with this idea, but it also wasn’t really a success:


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