Thursday, May 27, 2010

Life 101 at refugee camp!

I arrived at Loren transit camp early in the evening for medical reason. The receptionist ushered me to a room assigned to me. He knocked the door and opened it with his master key as there were no reply from inside. A mix of suffocated air with the stench of unwashed socks and some kind of food smell welcomed us from the 3x4 room. There are four blue plastic chairs with one armchair and a table at the middle, one sauce pan was next a one of the two metal bunk beds, unwashed socks, winter shoes were everywhere, the two white closets stalled on both sides and there's one white refrigerator next to to the door, at the right there was one cupboard which was piled up with different food items, under the small round table there's a very dirty towel whose color was beyond recognition because it was served as a mop and stained with lots of oil and other unknown substances. The room was so dirty and disorganized-typical bachelor's room-which made it smaller than its size and the wall including the closets were covered with over due Christmas gift papers and postcards. After a while somebody from the bed on the right hand side said hello to us in a falsetto voice, all I could see was only just a head covered by yellow towel and a spectacle. The receptionist went back to his job and my new roommate raised his back from the bed and started to talk. New arrivals should expect 3Is' when they arrive- introduction, interrogation and induction. Now my eyes were able to see the guy clearly, he looks like one of the characters in a comedy books -lost all his front teeth-he is in his 50s, tall and well-built, bald with dark complexion. He introduced himself and then said that I had a big luggage. I looked around and all of the baggage were smaller than mine so I felt guilty. Then he told me to put it on top of one of the closets, I looked around again and there was one luggage on top of the other cup-board then I feel like it was a rule and struggled to put mine but if it wasn't for his help I would never managed as it was a bit heavy. Then the introduction part started, he told me who he was and started interrogating me where I come, who I am, what I was doing and simply speaking he just cornered me. He finalized by induction:he told me not tell all the answers, that I gave to him, to other roommates or people who are living at the camp as it might jeopardize my asylum case. He cautioned me to take only one from each cutlery from the kitchen box that was given to me from the camp to avoid controversies arising from mix up with other roommates. He also told me not to buy too much food items adding that there are organizations which provide food hand outs. Then, the other roommate came in and did all the 3Is' that I mentioned above-just human curiosity. He started to laugh after seeing my luggage on top of the closet and told me to put it down on the floor, I did and I left to buy some groceries from the nearby supermarket. When I came back I met the third roommate and he wanted to do the 3Is' but I told him all I wanted to do was just to cook some food as I was very hungry. Here we go, the kitchen was my biggest shock, it was very hot (though it was below- 10degerees outside) was filled in with a mixture of fried oil and cigarette smoke. There were about four men in their 40s from Albania arguing noisily and smoking, regardless of a no smoke sign on the door and on every 3cupboards. All of the three stoves were covered with thick grease and littered and stained with spaghetti, rice, oil, some spill over from hot cooking sauce pans and the floor is wet with muddy water and other substances. The two garbage bins were full to their limits and the remaining trash were scattered on the floor everywhere nevertheless the people cooking there seemed/pretended to care less. There are regulation notices in various languages (Persian,English, French, Arabic, Spanish,Albanian, Turkish, Polish, Tigringa, Amharic, etc) along with pictures posted on the cupboards but this one is the most which grabbed my eyes and I guess you have never seen that kind of notice anywhere in the world in the kitchen. Don't brush your teeth and don't wash your feet in the sink! Well, I was hungry and I had to eat so I joined the club. I just cooked as fast I can and left that messy place to fill in my stomach. I ate what I cooked and wanted to go to the toilet, to my dismay the gent's toilet on our floor was shut down for repair so I had to use the one upstairs. Oh gosh, I expected it to be dirty after seeing the kitchen but I wasn't ready for the kind of dirtiness and smell. Simply speaking, I caught cold after I visited that toilet-the floor was soaked with urine, the toilet seat stained inside out, the shower was filled with cigarette tubs and hairs . I couldn't believe that human beings can be as negligent as they can be and damage their health and the people around them. Shock, shock, shock. I spent the next few weeks coughing due to the smell that I had from that stinky toilet. This camp never seized to amaze me with these strange notices, you can find these notices on every toilets' door. Watch and enjoy like you have never been before, it's surreal. I went to the kitchen with my roommate and there were those same guys smoking and chatting as if it was a bar or smoking place and I was so outraged I showed them the 'don't smoke sign' but they were even more outraged by my reaction and one of them started to tease me like this 'you reception'. To make things worse my roommate said to them ''hallo ma frand'' (meaning my friend) showed thumb's up which really shocked me. I told him stop but he said he didn't want any argument and continued encouraging them to smoke, so I felt like an outcast and helpless. Two of them were smoking when I went to the kitchen a few days later and and I told them to smoke outside by explaining my allergies towards cigarette but they made a fool out of me and continued smoking but this time I couldn't take it anymore so I told the receptionist about the issue and he gave them warning and from that time on they always check if I am around in the kitchen if they want to smoke in there.

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