An Enemy of the People in Oslo

by Rimini Protokoll



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Name: Surjit Singh
Age: 64
District: Stovner
Nationality: Norwegian/Indian.
I live together with my wife Jagdish Kaur and my daughters Puneet and Navrit.

I first started working in a brush factory in Oslo and after a while I started my own grocery store in Maridalsveien, this was in 1980. Later I started a shop at Frogner in Thomas Heftyes gate. I think I was one of the first people from India coming here and starting a food-shop in Oslo. I am retired now but I have worked hard all my life, mostly seven days a week.

I belong to the Sikhs, the fathers of three, the cultural and sports interested, the secular, the social and the ones laughing a lot, but I do not belong to the fanatics or the lazy.

I wished for a better life and came from India first to Germany. Norway wasn’t even in my head. I was staying in Germany, thinking mainly about USA or Canada. While in Germany, I coincidentally met this Pakistani who recommended Oslo, and said it was easy to get work there. I arrived in the city on the 14th of February 1974. It was really cold. I was 29 years old. After four days I got a job without knowing any Norwegian.  I experienced Oslo as a very nice place, people were greeting me and were generally really curious. The first place I stayed in was Ljabru, and then after a while I got a flat in Majorstuen. 1982 was the first year that one was allowed to vote at the local elections even if you had another citizenship – my family was depicted on the election- posters from that time. I tried moving back to Punjabi twice, but it was not possible because of the unstable conditions at the time. I did not think I was going to live my whole life in Oslo, but now it looks like it.

I had heard about Ibsen, but not An Enemy of the People. When I was told about the plot I realized that I had seen a film by the Indian director Satyajit Ray- he made a film-adaption of the play in 1989 called "Ganashatru". I can relate to the saying “the strongest man in the world is the one standing the most alone” because I myself have experienced being shut out, because I stood up for something I believed in.

A turning point for me was when I chose to apply for the Norwegian passport in May this year, after having lived nearly forty years in this country. I realized that I would never be moving back to India.

I am taking the train from Lørenskog station to the theatre.