We are very excited to share with you a transcription from our second Podcast, “with my feet in two worlds”, an insightfull interview with Rachid – a real Aarhusianer with 29 years old and a lot of thoghts to share about Aarhus, Gellerup and alternative ways to spend time in the city at night.
“If a Danish person learned about this (how we spend the nights around the hookah) he might be surprised to know that this is an option in Aarhus. I am not surprised because I have a foot in both worlds. A big part of me has a Danish culture and a big part of me has a Middle eastern culture.”
Read bellow the transcription translated from danish to english.
You can hear the original interview in danish here.
My name is Rachid, I’m 29 years old. I’m born and raised in Denmark and I have lived in Aarhus my whole life. I have a degree as a building constructor, and I have worked as a construction manager on different projects throughout Jutland. Most recently I have bought a juice bar, that I am investing my time in.
I am a real Aarhusianer.
What makes Aarhus special to you?
I feel like I have been a part of it from the start. Aarhus 20 years ago is not Aarhus today. I have experienced changes in the city that make me feel like I have been a part of it from the start. I have lived in Gellerup almost my entire life, which is like a Suburb to Aarhus, but it is becoming increasingly incorporated into the rest of Aarhus.
How do you think the structural changes that are taking place in Gellerup will affect the area?
What I normally say, is that you have an apple tree that you decorate with Christmas ornaments, but you cant call it a Christmas tree – it is still a decorated apple tree.
You decorate to give it a more appealing image, but you don’t work on improving the infrastructure – it is mostly just decoration. People here enjoy it, but there are unfortunately still issues here. Everyone here is interested in change, but people are not interested in being forced to move because buildings are being torn down.
If you could give people an understanding of what is happening, then people would be more accepting of what is happening.
10 minutes in we begin talking more specifically about experiences of the night.
What makes Aarhus at night different from Aarhus during the day?
I think Gellerup is the same. In the Middle East, the life begins at night.
In the night in Gellerup, people go for walks, bring tea and sunflower seeds and spend time outside.
In Aarhus city, there is more diversity during the day than during the night. The type of people you meet during the day are different from the type of people you meet during the night in Aarhus.
What type of people do you meet in during the night?
The youth. As a Muslim, and a youth, I have been lucky that what I have been interested in is to have a good time with the boys. I have been lucky to have some good friends that I can hang out with at cafés without being drunk.
What makes meeting outside when it’s dark different?
You meet all of your friends downtown. Your danish friends and your other friends. A lot of different groups with different intentions can meet in the same place because the river is in a way a family friendly place. You meet people from both worlds. Those who are there for a cup of coffee and those who have already drunk 2 liters of Grey Goose.
Can you elaborate on what it means that the social life starts at night in middle eastern culture?
When I saw my parents meet with their friends, drink tea, and have a good time later in the night, it has automatically made me feel that it would be natural and safe time for me to meet with my friends at this time.
It is not abnormal to have guests at 10pm or at 2am. It is not abnormal to meet at night. We just have other plans when we meet.
In the Middle East it is because of the heat that it is harder to spend time during the day. It is during the night that it is comfortable to be outside. In the middle east people are interested in spending time and talking together.
My friends are like me. We don’t feel out of place by the river at night, even if those around have other intentions about being there than we do. But I have met drunk classmates several times who want me to join them and I have to explain that I don’t party like that.
He takes it as a given that I am there to party, because he is there to party. I understand that in Denmark, when you are young and you don’t party people wonder “hvad sker der”” (Why?).
Then people quickly judge you as a religious guy which isn’t necessarily true, because our culture just tells us that you can have a good time during the night without partying.
Are there places you prefer to be during the night?
The night is maybe pushing the limit but right when the night begins, around 2am, shisha bars are a good alternative.
We socialize around the hookah, not because it makes us high or anything, but because it’s what we have seen. It is what we know from our culture. That our parents have relaxed and talked over a hookah.
At these bars, all they serve is a shisha, tea and coffee, and you almost have to book a seat to a spot.
If a Danish person learned about this he might be surprised to know that this is an option in Aarhus. I am not surprised because I have a foot in both worlds. A big part of me has a Danish culture and a big part of me has a Middle eastern culture.
I have brought my danish friends and they think it is interesting because it is new to them.
Are the things you talk about over a shisha different from the things you talk about during the day?
Yes – I might become unpopular for saying this, but as an immigrant, the real work starts after you get off of work. I have 5 siblings besides me, and cousins and aunts, and I need to help people. There is always something to do after work. When I am finally off, I don’t talk with my family about the same things that I talk to my friends about. It is less about chores and more about “hygge snak.”
Believe me, if Bilka and Bauhaus were open during the night, we would be busy 24/7. Our parents and our families cannot force us to go to Bauhaus when they are closed.
When my friends don’t talk about anything else but their plans to party on Friday, I want to be a part of it until it is about hitting your head against the wall and becoming dizzy. That is where we differ. It is not that I go home to sleep. I just have a better alternative for me. To go downtown to a shisha bar and hang out with my friends.
It would be easier if we immigrants became better at saying – it is okay that you party Christian, but it is not for me because 1. 2. 3. 4. We are not that good at explaining why we do what we do.
It is not that I don’t want to be Danish. I just don’t enjoy it (partying downtown) because I didn’t grow up like that. I think I can say with certainty that my children will feel that this is more normal than I do.
I study with 10 danish people and 10 foreigners, or immigrants, or new-Danes, or dash Danes, call it what you want.
I react like they do, I play ball like they do, I study like they do (or maybe not exactly), I talk about girls like they do, I date like they do, I do everything like they do, but when it becomes dark, we can be so different.
I can understand that for a “forever danish person” that it is hard to understand that we can do everything together, but we cannot party downtown together. Then we don’t have the same stories to share when we meet again on Monday.
Having grown up with a different culture, you cannot prove what is different. You can try to show it but it would be difficult to understand because you haven’t lived it. Like people wondering why we don’t eat pork when we eat everything else.
Has the role of the darkness and the night in Islam influenced your perception of darkness?
I wouldn’t think that religion has influenced my perception of darkness as such. I think that as a person, in relation to Islam, I have some responsibilities during the day and in the night. Doing these things, as Muslims, we feel more connected to who we believe has created us – God. We bow down and place our forehead on the floor to submit to our religion.
The darkness can have a flirtatious, new … like the dark side of your personality comes out. It doesn’t have anything to do with my upbringing – no one has told me that when it becomes dark we should hide under the covers. But it is from my experience that things change during the night – the girls reply more. It is not something I have learned from Islam, it is just something I can feel as a person. Something I experience on my own body.
you can receive a phone call at 2pm where someone says “hey” and at 12am where someone says “hey” and you will think two completely different things about that “hey.”
It is automatic. I don’t know if the media has played a part in forming that perception, but people are more likely to misunderstand things during the night.
What could be done to make Aarhus a better place to be?
Speaking from my own experience, Aarhus is a great city that is developing in the right direction. Personally, I don’t think Aarhus should become a small city with a grandiose self-perception.
The city should preserve the diversity and invest in projects for youth who have a lot of energy. They have started making a lot of street football courts. Those things are really good – what we call Ghetto fitness – all of those things will always help people be more humble. These things don’t reflect a “see me” attitude.
Thanks for reading with us and stay tuned for more interviews.my