Centreline Editor Ansar M Bhatti: “I go to Norway every year to celebrate 17 May
By Atle Hetland
When the Ambassador Tore Nedrebø welcomed guests at his residence on the Norwegian national day 17 May, he underlined that it was a garden party, not a formal reception; hence, no chief guest and no cake cutting ceremony. But there was the official playing of the national anthems of Norway and Pakistan. The Norwegian was sung by half a dozen embassy staff members, and the Pakistani national anthem played by The Red Blood Cats band, who entertained guests throughout the evening with local pieces.
A few days earlier, the Pakistan-Norway Association (PANA) held a breakfast, hosted by the PANA President Dr. M. Ali Nawaz, related to the national day, focusing on readings from Henrik Ibsen’s epic poem and drama, Peer Gynt by Henrik Ibsen, a dreamer and fantast, yet, a creative and human character, with great achievements as well as great mistakes in life; one of his weaknesses is that he finds it difficult to approach problems head on, instead wanting to go around them.
“Peer Gynt is a Norwegian character, alright, but he could actually be from anywhere, including Punjab or elsewhere in Pakistan”, said a guest who had studied Ibsen for her Master’s degree in literature at Punjab University.
At the Ambassador’s garden party, the guests were treated to smoked Norwegian salmon and other international and local food dishes. “I missed ice cream”, said a Pakistani Norwegian visiting her parents home country after many years.
“In Norway, ice cream is a must since the Norwegian National Day is also a children’s day. The ambassador underlined that himself in his welcome speech”, she said.
In the Norwegian capital, this year there were more than 60,000 school children from over 100 schools going in processions through the streets, with brass bands in the lead, passing by the Royal Palace with the King and Queen waving from the balcony.
“I remember I never felt more proud of being a Norwegian than on that occasion”, said the Pakistani Norwegian who grew up in the Norwegian capital.
“This year, there was a particularly large number of New Norwegians celebrating the day, many of them Muslim asylum seekers and refugees. I hope they felt welcomed.”
“We were lucky this year with fine summer weather in Oslo and elsewhere in southern Norway. In the north, it was still slightly chilly. Never mind, it is always a very special day. I don’t think any country has a national day as festive and all-inclusive as the Norwegian 17 May”, said Ansar M. Bhatti, Centerline’s Editor-in-Chief. “I go to Norway every year to celebrate the day and to see my brother”, he added. “He has lived there for many years”, said Bhatti.