Postulate: the activity on this blog is inversely proportional to the activity in my real life.
So if it’s been quiet in here, it’s been busy out there.
I was invited by some Danish organizations (Danish PEN, KVINFO and DCCD) to attend another blogging workshop, in Copenhagen. And let me just say that if the idea was to win over my heart and mind, then it was money well spent. Copenhagen and its good people have left me highly impressed. It’s one thing to know that there are whole countries in the world that are punctual, and it seems a small thing. But then to experience it is quite another; to feel what it’s like on a cellular level to depend on the world to live up to its promise. In Copenhagen Central Station the number 5 train to the airport arrived at precisely 10:01, and stayed in the station for some predetermined number of seconds.
But mostly I was impressed by the bikes. That is one of the first things that struck me, how Danes have collectively settled on the bicycle as the cleanest, greenest, cheapest, quietest, healthiest mode of transportation. Again, it seems small, but it’s its own revolution. There are bike lanes on every street, making it safe and enjoyable. I also bike in Marrakesh, but let me say that it takes a lot of care and wits to make it through the chaotic traffic here.
I didn’t know it was possible to live in noiseless city until I went to Copenhagen. Between the bikes, the underground metro, the Danes’ natural inclination towards quietude and their great skill at double-glazing windows, there is a muted quality to the air, like living in a silent movie. And the air, the light, it has a watery grayish hue to it, so that colors do not pop out. Because of this Danes crave bright colors, at least in houses and flowers, to give life some visual contrast.
The Danes I interacted with were genuine, helpful, in that easy way that I most associate with Moroccans. There did not seem to be so many degrees of estrangement (as I experienced at times in the US): scary stranger, neutral stranger, casual acquaintance, friend. When I talked to people (mostly asking for of assistance in figuring out how to get from here to there) I felt like they addressed as they would a friend. They were unperturbed by my outward foreignness (hijab). I could go on and on, but I think you get how impressed I was with everything from the sidewalks (they are very important to me), to the Royal library, to the tulip-filled Tivoli gardens, to the myriad positive encounters with everyday Danes.
My impressions of the city of course were only a backdrop to the workshop. This is the second workshop I attended with many of the same women from Amman. I have to say that although I’ve lived in Morocco most of my life, I haven’t met many women from other Arab countries. We are geographically and linguistically isolated here, and I didn’t realize the extent of it until I met women from Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Palestine. And they seemed as “foreign” to me as the Danes that I met. I was thankful for the opportunity to learn each woman’s name, to learn some small part of their stories, to share moments with them that will forever humanize those countries to me. They always say that travelling broadens your view of the world, and whoever they are, they got that right.
A typical Danish parking lot: