There are people who never take their black Burberry coat off at a party. It is hot, incredibly hot, and still, those people are standing around in their coat, holding a drink. Other people, let’s call them the half-naked ones, are mocking them, but they don’t get it. It’s a kind of camouflage to protect you from the place you are and you shouldn’t be. Or you might just be a kid too cool to let your coat go. Anyway, Anissa is one of the coat people. It was on the evening of the 24th December, we were standing around in our dark coats, surrounded by half-naked people, and probably, most definitely, looking stupid. Maybe Anissa wasn’t wearing a Burberry coat, but the colour was definitely black. Standing around on the night of the 24th in the Kaserne Basel is a kind of ritual for many people returning to Basel over Christmas. So there you meet, either full of food or full of strange season’s feelings or just full of the year almost gone. A common friend introduced the coat wearing Anissa to one of the half-naked people and said “she’s one of my few intellectual friends”. The half-naked one didn’t seem too impressed. I know what my friend wanted to say. He wanted to say, Anissa has a PhD in neurobiology, almost studied medicine together with her PhD, could be a professional flute player, and talks seriously about serious matters. And in a way, he got it right, and at the same time he got it completely wrong. What sounds like the straight way to academic fame, which some people confuse with intellectualism, is merely a quest for ones own soul. Anissa is deadly serious and deadly unserious at the same time. She is all classical music and then all hip hop. She makes a journey every Wednesday from Zurich to Lausanne which takes 5 hours back and fourth to play the Arabic “Oud”, a lute. She dances a weird welcome dance with her old friends from school shouting out her name. She is Basel, Zurich, Tunisia, academia. She is camouflage in her black coat, smiling an endless enigmatic smile and all full of doubts. Maybe that makes her intellectual, being full of doubts. Where to belong, what to do. Spending a life in a laboratory or not. Being a musician or not. Playing the flute, playing the oud. Standing around in a black coat in the Christmas heat or not. Finding her way through the half-naked ones.
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