Migrant Nights

Dissecting layers ..Art in a Migrant Night

Dissecting layers ..Art in a Migrant Night

Alternative life stories made me realize that visa and passports are not what make life, though they do have an important bearing.

In the previous blog https://prashantbhatt.com/2013/03/17/easter-discussions-again/ we had discussed regarding Anti-Citizens, which some workers also term as Non-Citizens.
The limitations of nationalism make some other workers talk about Global citizens.
Whether it is Anti or Non or Global, people do develop life around the places where they work for long.

“Her husband is dead. Her lovers are dead. But she is still going strong” one long term expatriate
Told as she introduced me to this lady who first came to Tripoli in 1968 during the time of King Idris. She was from former Yugoslavia, presently holder of a Slovenian passport, but Tripoli is home to her, a place where she lived and worked for 33 years.
Talking to this lady with a lamp, who served in Central Hospital-or Shara Zawia’s Mustaspha Markaizi as it is known to locals, gave me valuable insights into what has gone into building this institution of healing. She herself was trained and mentored by staff nurses who had served in the 2nd World War in Europe. These conversations and links give a window into the thinking of the managers and planners who tried to bring staff from foreign countries to service the population. Each of them brought their experiences, cultural issues and attitudes and taught the local staff nurses in their own ways issues of ward management and patient care which reflect in these institutions to this day.
The work of staff nurses in arranging the wards, ensuring that supply of medicines, dispensing treatment and preparing them for more complex interventions like surgery cannot be understated.
Talking to this veteran who served in the Libyan health care system for 33 years after having initially trained in Yugoslavia made me realize further the depth and meaning of the African proverb
“He who upsets a thing, must know how to rearrange it.”

(To read the complete narrative see book- In Transit at Dubai International. This book includes narratives of expatriate workers from different continents who have worked in the Arab world for long) https://prashantbhatt.com/books/

The association with different communities and traveling through time made one feel closer to other expatriates and Diaspora who had made Tripoli their home.

Emilia Salvanou, in her paper “’Migrants’ Nights’: Subjectivity and Agency of Working-Class Pakistani Migrants in Athens, Greece aims to elucidate migrants’ agency towards the marginalizing hegemonic discourse that constructs them as anticitizens.
Among the most interesting forms of resistance elaborated in this context is the narration of alternative life-stories. Through such life-stories and the subjectivities they embody, the hegemonic discourse is substituted by a discursive system which reflects their expectation and which they develop within their communities.

Observing different groups practice their faith and retain links with their culture can be observed at different levels in a cosmopolitan city like Tripoli.
Last meeting, Dr.Bachchoo Singh brought a Gita in Devanagri script, printed at Gita Press, Gorakhpur.
“It was given to me by Dr.Gaur, the anatomy teacher at the University who had stayed in Libya since 1974, being one of the first founders of the department.”
Dr.BS himself has been in Tripoli since 1988 and our weekly reading sessions were enhanced by this addition to our library.




Now some of their rich managers are returning and are being welcomed and even dinners are being hosted in their welcome. But their weak links with the local community were exposed when they fled.

The world of Oil , at least for many expatriates is a world of Camps, isolated from the bazaars and mainstream of the local communities.

Hence the observation and question of the writer Amitav Ghosh..

“Why has the great Oil Novel not been written?”

* * *
Alternative life stories made me realize that visa and passports are not what make life, though they do have an important bearing.


About prashant bhatt

A psychologist, interested in mindfulness practices. I practiced medicine as a radiologist for 23 years in India and Libya as a radiologist before shifting to Canada. A regular diarist, journaling since 1983 Reading journal : gracereadings.com
This entry was posted in Everyday History, life and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Migrant Nights

  1. Pingback: Exploring Worker Poets | Prashantbhatt's Weblog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.