I feel numbed…. #JeSuisNice

Yesterday evening it happened again. A terror attack in France. Last time it happened in France, it was in Paris, more than one hour flight away from my home. Last night it happened 8 km away from my own entrance door. You might say 8 km is far away. It is, and it is not. My mother-in-law lives maybe 2 km away from the scene of the terror.This is my territory.

Promenade des Anglais is one of my favourite places in Nice, like it is for so many others. Here we walk, bicycle, run, swim, have coffee or just sit and enjoy the view of Baie des Anges in one of the many blue chairs. It is also the site to watch the fireworks on special occasions, like 14th July.

I feel numbed, sad, angry, heartbroken.

When looking for tickets for this year’s summer holiday in Norway, I decided to go for the cheaper flight. It was the day before 14th July. After I regretted a bit. Last year we had such a nice time taking the kids to see the fireworks. Not in Nice, but in the nearest town where we live. This year, had we still been at home, we would probably have gone to “our” beach, not to Promenade des Anglais. We would still have been at a safe distance from the horror that took place in Nice. Still our boys, aged 4 and 5, would have experienced an immediate evacuation. They would have seen the horror on peoples’ faces, sensed the sudden fear.

My boys woke up this morning in a sleepy, little town in southern Norway. They still know nothing about what happened on the beach where we have had so many nice walks. I have no intention to tell them anything.

I put them to bed this evening, in a safe place, with their innocence intact. Not all parents did that.

Ever since the terror attacks in Paris on November 13, we have been facing the highest level of terror threat. It implicates our daily lives. We were hoping it would be better now, after the European championship went without incidents, and after the soon to come end of Tour de France. How mistaken we were.

Let me give you a couple of examples of how this affects our daily lives. We are not allowed to enter the school premises at any time during school hours. For the ones who has their first day of school in September, it means that parents are not allowed to accompany their children into the classroom for their first day in school. Already, before the summer holiday, school trips were cancelled, the annual summer concert was cancelled. Our children are delivered at one entrance in the morning, collected at another in the afternoon.

I still wonder how the teachers explained the cancelled school concert that the children had been rehearsing for for months.

Having my bag examined like at the airport security check has become a habit when I enter into big shopping malls. Heavily armed guards became a common sight in the train station, just like it has been in the airport for years.

Still things seemed to be a bit more relaxed as time went by after 13th November. Until the bombs went off in Brussels. And now in Nice.

Still, I refuse to leave. This has been my home for the past 7 years. I’ll probably take my precautions, whether I like it or not, but I’m not giving in to these crazy people.

I read a heading today, that we have to stop saying it has nothing to do with Islam. I hesitate. I hesitate because I think it has more to do with some completely insane peoples’ interpretation of Islam. Like I know some Christians still have pretty insane interpretations of the Bible. Fortunately, the last ones doesn’t have a habit to blow themselves up. It’s what differs between the two. I can’t see an end to the blood shed if more groups started blowing themselves up in markets, airports or just any big crowd having a good time. Turkey seems to have it from two fronts. It can serve as an example. And it’s not a good one.

I have received touching messages from Brazil to India today. Dear friends asking about my whereabouts, sending their love and expressing their concern. I have sent messages to ask about the whereabouts of our friends. Fortunately they are all unharmed and safe. It’s the good news I have to appreciate on a day like this, and I can’t even express how good it felt to establish contact with the ones we know.

I beg your pardon if this became too long and too emotional or confusing. There are so many feelings to handle at the same time.

I’m happy that my dear boys were so far away from their daily surroundings and that they will be for the next couple of weeks to come. I’m devastated about what happened. I’m immensely sad thinking about all the dead and their grieving families. I’m angry because there are people out there who enjoy planting seeds of fear and hatred among us. And I’m happy that family and friends are unharmed and safe.

I do not intend to let fear rule my life. Nor anger or hate. The world has seen enough of that. What we need is more love. And my love is going to be bigger and stronger than my fear and my anger.

#JeSuisNice

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The things we take for granted

The other day I got stuck in rush hour in Nice, and everybody who travels regularly with their car to work and back knows how boring it is to be stuck in traffic like this. Let me say at once that for me this is not an everyday event, it happens only from time to time. Anyway, sitting there in the car, moving with the speed of a land turtle and looking to all the cars I thought that even if this is not something very pleasant, at least the rush hour is an indication that people are free to move wherever they want and at any time. They are fortunate to have a job and a car, to have access to all roads, to have access to fuel. Traffic is not jammed due to road blocks or mines along the road. We’re not queuing up waiting to show our papers and have our cars searched, with the risk of being held back for hours due to the bad mood of a soldier. Or worse, we could risk being harassed, abused, and refused to continue.

 It so easy to get irritated when stuck in traffic like this. I mean, I certainly have better things to do. The same I often think when I have to wait “for ages” in the line at the cashier at the supermarket. But again, I should rather think about how fortunate I am who can go to a huge supermarket and buy whatever I want and still some more. There’s no shortage of anything, everybody can buy what they need and want (in the sense there are no rations to think about. The economical aspect of buying whatever people want is another topic).

Every so often I find myself waiting in the waiting area of my son’s paediatrician. And that’s yet another story about waiting. Everybody knows that doctors are always late on their schedule, and maybe ours are no worse than the rest, but at times we wait for almost two hours after scheduled appointment. I have to admit I get upset sometimes, as this is really not the fun place to spend the day. But we have access to a paediatrician, who has a nice and clean office (and a clean and big waiting area, even if it’s rather dull), he takes good care of my son and takes his time with the kids (which is probably the cause of the delays). If my son is ill he prescribes medication, and I can go to the pharmacy and get it straight away. There’s no shortage of anything. So what am I complaining about? In other parts of the world people walk for days to get to a hospital or a rural Clinique, and usually a poorly facilitated one that will be. If people have to seek the Clinique during an epidemic or disaster sometimes they have to wait a day or two to see the doctor!  No medicines available, or when they are often at a high cost. If the patient is severely ill there might be a long way to travel to a better facilitated hospital. A travel that will often be done on foot, on a donkey- or bull chart, or if lucky, in an old car on a bumpy and dusty road. I even know of cholera patients who has been too weak to walk that they family has brought them in to the Clinique in a wheel barrel! In the western world we call for an ambulance if the patient is too weak or ill to be taken by car. The contrast is somewhat grotesque.

When being in Europe for longer periods of time I sometimes have to remind myself of all this; that I am among the most fortunate people on this planet.  I can move wherever I want whenever I want, I lack nothing, in fact I have more than I need of material things. I go to sleep in a warm bed at night; I can have a warm shower any time during the day. I can go to the market without fearing bombs and snipers, I can walk everywhere outside the road without fearing mines. If I get sick I go to the doctor or the hospital and I get treated. When giving birth to my child I do so in a safe environment with skilled personnel present and I can even have anaesthetics if I want.

I realize that I have to remind myself more often that what I take for granted is for others a dream or a luxury. I have no reason to complain about anything. I should be immensely grateful for living in Europe.