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Sometimes when I am on the tram, looking out the window, I feel like it’s the city that’s moving and not the tram.

There were hardly any people out in the streets on Christmas eve (Julafton) and Christmas day here in Gothenburg and that reminded me of Kathmandu during Dashain. How empty the streets become when everyone has left to go home, somewhere outside the Valley…somewhere to be with their friends and families. And even those who remain in Kathmandu are gathered indoors – playing cards, eating masu and drinking beer. It stays that way for days…or weeks..I should say. hahaha…Until one day, we realize that we have the ‘Dashain and Tihar’ hangover i.e. too much masu in the system…hahaha.

Anyways, I was thinking that it was going to be quite similar out here and that things would lay low until after new years. Before the eve, people were shopping endlessly for gifts…just like how we shop during Dashain. Then came the eve and things were quiet. But the quietness lasted only for three days – the eve, the day and then the boxing day. After that, everyone was out back on the streets and guess what they were doing??? Shopping! coz now it’s after Christmas sales. hahaha. Fascinating!

And it hasn’t snowed again since the first time earlier this month. But I’m not complaining at all! No, no. I am not a fan of snow. Here are some recent pictures of the city:

Sometimes at my tram stop (the one that takes me home), I am the only one getting off.

The population of this city is around 500,000 according to one of my Swedish friends. Compare that to Kathmandu’s 2.5 million. :-P No wonder we get sandwiched in buses and micros. hahaha..anyways, I wanted to write about some of the strangers I’ve met in this city since my arrival in August.

Stranger # 1:
I met him at the grocery store near my university. I was browsing around the yogurt section to buy something that would go with my muesli. (I don’t like muesli but I bought some because it’s healthy and saves time at breakfast.) He was an old man (all white-hair old) and when he saw that I couldn’t decided which one to take, he said something to me in Swedish. I replied, “Oh, I don’t speak much Swedish.” Then we went on in English, pointing out at a yogurt brand, “Take this one. I like this very much. It is good…better than this one.” He was referring to the one I was holding in my hand. I gave him a puzzled look but he kept on insisting. Anyways, with that he moved on with his shopping, leaving me standing in front of the yogurt section.

I picked up the things I needed and bumped into him again at the payment counter. He glanced down into my shopping basket and gave me a nod of approval, “Yes, yes…good…that is the one I like.”

Well, I’m glad I decided to go with his choice because this short encounter still makes me smile and I hope it makes him smile too. :-)

Strangers # 2:
I was returning home and met with a couple in front of the elevator. The building I live in has two elevators – one big and one small. The big one is slow and the small one is fast. The small one fits max 3 people. So this couple and I were waiting for the elevator.

And then the guy asked me, quite excitedly, “Kommer du från Kina?” (Do you come from China?). I replied, “Nej.” Then he made another guess, “Japan!” I replied, “Nej.” But before I could say, “Jag kommer från Nepal”, the small elevator had arrived, which meant that the three of us had to cramp inside it. I held the door for them to enter first and the guy said to me, “Xièxiè”. And that’s ‘Thank you’ in Chinese. Something I had learnt from a friend. hahaha.

Well, I guessed that they were Chinese but we did not talk for the rest of the elevator ride. Imagine three adults cramped in a small elevator. We are almost in each other’s faces….and that’s just an awkward moment to talk. :-P

And then another day, I bumped into just the wife. She did not ask me where I was from, again. hahaha…but we had the funniest moment at the elevator. We got on and I pressed button number ‘7’ and she pressed number ‘8’. But when we reached number 7, she got off too. I got confused but realized that I was on the right floor and that she was on the wrong one.

Using a combination of my basic Swedish and various hand gestures, I tried to explain to her, “Nummer sju (7) här…nummer åtta (8)…upp upp.” And ‘sju’ or 7 is the most difficult thing to pronounce in Swedish. hahaha. And then she in return was like…no this is number 8 and number 7 is downstairs…hahaha…At this point, she had already taken out her keys and was about to try and open someone else’s apartment. Then I had to really explain…”NEJ, NEJ, NEJ…,” I said, pointing at my door and saying that this is me here, hoping that she would understand since we were not neighbors.

It took a few minutes.

Then when she finally got it, she burst out laughing. And so did I. hahahhahahaha… “Förlåt…förlåt…,” she said, continuing to laugh and pressed the elevator button to go to her floor. I haven’t met her since this funny incident.

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