The rudeness of strangers

Before we came to Sweden, we’d read how Swedes tend to be a bit standoffish when it comes to strangers. How they are very family oriented to the exclusion of all else. Since being here, on the whole, we have found the Swedes we’ve met and the ones we pass on the local streets, to be friendly and happy to chat.

Mirinda regularly returns from walks to tell me how many locals she’s chatted with along the way. She tends to recognise the dogs more than the people but that doesn’t stop the humans talking to her. They seem to have a bit of a fascination with why we’re here and for Max. In fact, most people she meets and chats to know us by Max.

Then, of course, there’s Camilla and Anders and The Perfect Swedish Family who are all, very friendly. It is different, however, when it comes to going shopping.

One of the things that is quite difficult to get used to is how fellow bus passengers have no regard for anyone but themselves. In fact, when I’ve gestured for people with strollers to get on the bus before me, as well as a flicker of gratitude, their faces also show surprise.

Seemingly able-bodied young men charge onto the bus ahead of old men with walking sticks, school kids take the best seats for the disabled, ignoring the needs of others.

Don’t get me wrong. This is not a criticism, it’s merely an observation. I have experienced the height of cultural rudeness in various countries around the world. I find it fascinating more than anything else. Is it a lack of empathy? I don’t know.

Also fascinating is the fact that we have had very little sun since October. Which is one reason why I’ve included the photograph below. As you can see, there is the vaguest slash of blue sky. Sadly, that was it for the entire day as the wind and rains came for most of it, making for possibly our most miserable Swedish day.

Not that I was miserable. I went shopping first thing then waited for the Polish dryer chaps to arrive with a tumble dryer that actually works.

They were rumoured to turn up at 6pm, but it was sometime closer to 7pm when Anders announced their arrival, and they all started installing another, reconditioned machine. I was cooking dinner and left them to it. We were dining early because Mirinda had booked onto a talk from Chawton House.

I had discovered that pork tenderloin was readily available in Ica and decided to try the Mușchiuleț Sibian from my Romanian recipe book. It’s not always easy to get the proper cut of pork from UK supermarkets but there’s a lot of it in pork crazy Sweden.

And it was very good. Almost as good as the freezing time I spent with the girls outside to give Emma a bit of a run around and Freya a bit of a shiver.

Freya really does prefer the warmth of the inside.

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