• Sweden edition
 

Stockholm Syndrome: Carpets and wood

Published: 29 Sep 2005 15:07 GMT+02:00
Updated: 29 Sep 2005 15:07 GMT+02:00

The list of adjectives I was supposed to be memorizing (tedious, useful, soporific) as part of a renewed attempt to conquer Swedish lay unread on the table before me. Crockery clinked like wind chimes and I breathed in the best of Stockholm.

But not for long. Behind me, by the entrance to the cafe, a conversation had become an argument in the space of a couple of seconds.

I edged around to see what all the fuss was about. A woman with two small children, one of whom was in a pushchair, was arguing with the café owner.

It took me a moment to realise that it was Linda, a Rumanian woman (taciturn, short, unpredictable) from my Swedish class. She doesn’t normally say much but the week before she had distinguished herself in one of our regular 'What’s the difference between Swedes and people from your home country?’ conversations.

While the rest of us were muttering quietly to each other, Linda stood up and declared:

"In Bucharest we have carpets in our apartments. In Stockholm they have wood. That is the difference."

We all laughed and then, when we realised she was being completely serious, congratulated her on her wisdom.

Now, though, there was no evidence of that economy of words. She fired round after round of Rumanian invective at the owner who apparently didn't want to let her in.

Then one of her children started crying (loud, snotty, irritating). I remembered her saying during our break that she had problems with her son. He had ADHD and, as well as being in trouble at school, he was disrupting their home life.

The family had been forced to move from their last apartment after all the neighbours had complained about the noise the boy made. Apparently it was no better in their new place.

Anyway, back in the café I probably should have shown some solidarity with my immigrant sister. But I just sat at my table (cowardly, selfish, embarrassed) and hoped the moment would pass.

Eventually it did and, shepherding the children before her, Linda plonked herself at the table beside mine.

"Hej!" she said, as if nothing had happened.

I feigned surprise as well as I could and moved my chair to give her some room for the pushchair. It was the least I could do.

In our overlapping broken Swedish she communicated to me that she had just wanted to have a coffee and give her boy some cake and they wouldn't let her in but if she was Swedish they would have done and it's discrimination and...

I assured her that this wasn't the case, and that more and more Stockholm cafés had a no-pushchair rule these days. I pointed out that the café owner himself didn't exactly sound Swedish.

"Then that is even worse," she said.

Her son was quiet now, holding onto his mother’s leg and looking up at me with big brown eyes.

"How’s it going with the apartment?" I asked.

She took a letter from her bag and handed it to me. It was from the chairman of the board of her block and in just two lines explained the situation: neighbours were complaining about the noise and if it didn’t stop the family would be asked to leave.

"What do they expect," she said loudly, "with all these wooden floors? If they had carpets in this country there wouldn’t be a problem."

I nodded and glanced back at my list of adjectives.

Proud, defiant, hopeless.

Discuss this topic!

Paul Rapacioli (paul.rapacioli@thelocal.com)

Today's headlines
Politics
Reinfeldt's top team hold last meeting
Fredrik Reinfeldt is exiting Sweden's political stage. Photo: TT

Reinfeldt's top team hold last meeting

Sweden's outgoing centre-right cabinet have gathered for their last meeting, as Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven prepares to take over as Prime Minister. READ  

Interview
Geena Davis: 'I want to be in a Swedish movie'
Geena Davis. Photo: AP

Geena Davis: 'I want to be in a Swedish movie'

Oscar-winning Hollywood actress Geena Davis was an exchange student in Sweden in the seventies and was once engaged to a Swede. She chatted to the The Local's Natalia Brzezinski about how she'd love to star in a Swedish movie. READ  

Politics
Löfven in U-turn over restaurant sales tax hike
Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

Löfven in U-turn over restaurant sales tax hike

Incoming Prime Minister Stefan Löfven won't be increasing taxes in restaurants as promised, despite his strong criticism of the former government's tax cuts in 2012. READ  

Lifestyle
What's On in Sweden: 2nd - 9th October
The Weeping is one of the works on sale this weekend. Photo: Stockholm's Affordable Art Fair

What's On in Sweden: 2nd - 9th October

Stockholm's Affordable Art Fair returns, British rocker Midge Ure is in Malmö and one of Gothenburg's most creative spaces is hosting a ten year anniversary party. READ  

Sport
Malmö beat Olympiacos in Champions clash
Rosenberg celebrates his second goal. Photo: TT

Malmö beat Olympiacos in Champions clash

Malmö became the first Swedish side to win a Champions League match in 14 years after beating Olympiacos 2-0 on Wednesday night. READ  

Education
Three Swedish unis in world's top 100
One of the buildings at the Karolinska Institute. Photo: TT

Three Swedish unis in world's top 100

Three Swedish universities were ranked among the top 100 in the world in the new Times Higher Education ranking, with another two featured in the top 200. READ  

What's next on Sweden's political stage?
Social Democrat leader Stefan Löfven. Photo: TT

What's next on Sweden's political stage?

Upcoming Prime Minister Stefan Löfven announced his new Red-Green coalition government on Friday, but what happens next? Here are all the important dates you need to know. READ  

Politics
Nuclear freeze agreed by new government
A nuclear power station in Forsmark, Sweden. Photo: TT

Nuclear freeze agreed by new government

Sweden's Social Democrats and Greens Party have announced a coalition agreement to halt nuclear energy development. READ  

International
Sweden rethinks Afghan translators' protection
A Swedish soldier in Afghanistan. Photo: TT

Sweden rethinks Afghan translators' protection

The Migration Court in Malmö has ruled that Sweden's Migration Board was wrong to reject the residence applications of seven Afghan interpreters without assessing their protection needs. READ  

The Local List
Top five winter festivals in Sweden
Speak Percussion will perform at Connect in Malmö in November. Photo: Connect

Top five winter festivals in Sweden

Autumn has swept into the country and chilly days lie ahead. But there are plenty of winter festivals where you can warm up in the coming months. With tickets already selling fast, here are The Local's top tips. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Gallery
People-watching: October 1st
Analysis
Should Sweden's school age be raised?
National
Top Swedish skier killed in Chile avalanche
National
JohannaN: Jewellery inspired by northern Sweden
National
Apology for Swedish model's stolen photos
Blog updates

01 October

Future tense – ska or kommer att? (The Swedish Teacher) »

"Hej igen! Karen had a question the following question on that about future tense: Explain when you use “komma att ” and “ska”. I’m running along forever here using “ska” and realize suddenly everyone uses “komma att” this and that all the time! In Swedish there are three different ways to express future tense and they are not..." READ »

 

01 October

Academy-Award Winning Actor Geena Davis on Changing the Way We View Women in Media (Stockholm in my American Heart) »

"There are two moments in Geena Davis’s life that molded her into the powerful women’s advocate and founder of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media she is today: living in Sweden and starring in Thelma & Louise. The first part of her personal journey took flight in Sandviken, a small rocky town east of..." READ »

 
 
 
Politics
New coalition agrees on defence and migration
Fastighetsbyrån
Gallery
Property of the week: Botkyrka
Education
New government to make school compulsory to 18
Politics
Sweden Democrat wins Deputy Speaker spot
National
Swedish scientists sneak Bob Dylan lyrics into articles
Lifestyle
The five best Swedish songs of the month
Gallery
People-watching: September 28th
National
When Italian style meets Swedish simplicity
Lifestyle
Review: Sweden's first alcohol-free nightclub
Gallery
In Pictures: The MS Estonia disaster
Lifestyle
Ten things expat women notice in Sweden
Politics
What's next on Sweden's political stage?
Gallery
Sweden's 2014 election: Most memorable moments
Society
What's on in Sweden
Gallery
People-watching: September 24th
Seaman Oliver Gee with his first lobster
Lifestyle
How to catch the first lobster of the year
Gallery
In Pictures: Fredrik Reinfeldt through the years.
Society
Plucked out of Canada for love and guitars
Sponsored Article
How to start a business in Stockholm
Sponsored Article
Introducing… Insurance in Stockholm
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

866
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com
PSD Media
PSD Media is marketing company that offers innovative solutions for online retailers. We provide modern solutions that help increase traffic and raise conversion. Visit our site at:
http://psdmedia.se
If you want to drink, that’s your business.
If you want to stop, we can help.

Learn more about English-language Alcoholics Anonymous in Sweden. No dues. No fees. Confidentiality assured.
AA-EUROPE.ORG/SWEDEN