Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Swirling Around Arlanda

As far as being stuck in airports goes, Arlanda, north of Stockholm, would be high on my list. In fact, the only definite winner over it would be Singapore's Changi Airport. Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi is also worth a mention - for some reason I always buy a book while I'm there. Last time it was (I am only slightly embarassed to admit) 'Why Men Love Bitches'. (I don't like the word bitches myself and avoid it, but I happen to be overly nice sometimes, so I thought it might be able to help.)

I found out at around lunchtime today that I would be flying tomorrow. I believe the phrase 'didn't bat an eyelid' applied to me during this moment. I'm so used to changing where I am that it just seemed like a fairly conventional thing to do to compeletely make over my holiday, alter the flavours, adbuct the existing smells and overpower the nose with the pungent aroma of something entirely different.

Tomorrow I'll be in Barcelona... who knows, maybe it's time to soak up some sunshine in one of the Spanish islands... I donät really feel like museums or cultural attractions at the moment... I feel the urge to relax, to let go like I havenät done for ages... maybe... Corsica... or somewhere 'exotic' like that. Yes, my definition of exotic is probably different to yours.

Iäm quite proud of myself for manouvering outside my comfort zone every day while grappling with gastritis. Perhaps I should have stayed at home. I know that I am coming for Thailand, permanently, soon, and this extended stay abroad feels like too much of a tax on my parents' resources... but I went. I couldn't help myself. If someone offers me a ticket to Europe, I'm not going to say no. These opportunities are best not wasted. So, even though I am suffering in part, I am also reminded every day how stimulating and even relaxing this experience is.

My second experience with Sweden started in the train station of Malmo, across the water from Copenhagen, and I fell in love with it again. The train, lulling from side to side with each turn, took us through Lund and some other Swedish cities, offering me some idea of what the rest of Sweden might look like. I found myself asking why every summer house (or hermit's abode, perhaps?) I saw was the same shade of dark red, but Iäm yet to find an answer to that question. Because an answer is what I'll no doubt get. But why not a question in return, eh cosmos?

I had a brief chat with a mixed race Swedish and Costa Rican girl who drew on her eyebrows and worked at the 'Happy India' restaurang at Mariatorget. I was almost given the "Indian version" of the butter chicken curry I ordered because apparently most Swedes donät know this dish by name. The girl asked me if there were a lot of Indian restaurants in Australia, and I guess they are. Or maybe I just know Indian food better than most casual appreciators of the cuisine.

I'll say this for Sweden: Everyone who lives there seems to love it. Except that academic who was hanging out across the border at Helsingor. The dude thought the lack of socialisation in Helsingborg was stupid, but that this habit didnät extend to Stockholm, a city he liked spending time in. He was pleased with the more right-wing swing of Swedish politics of late. I suppose the wedish welfare system isnät going to have an easy time in this day and age.

Back to my tangent: "Sweden has always been welcoming of people in conflicted countries," supplied my waitress. Swedes have many things to take pride in - and they do. It's tough not to cheer them on, but no nation is perfect either: a conformist streak can get in the way of my appreciation, and the taciturn affect, while not as difficult to perturb as I initially suspected, does dull the vibrancy, even as it naturally bubbles up. I feel free to be myself in Sweden, as a sexual woman. I know that people won't think badly of me if I express desire. Not that there is much to express - I remain aloof from romantic or sexual interest in others. But sometimes even the way I carry myself can be interpreted as sexually open. I am a very strange individual - I pose as a very liberated sexual character, whereas in reality I shy away from much in the way of flirtation.

I can tell this is going to be a long night (waiting for my early morning flight)... but at least I have the internet to keep me happy. :o)

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