Monday, May 02, 2011

sweden q&a, part III


I haven't forgotten that there are still more Stockholm, Sweden questions to be answered, I really 
haven't. It's just that life has a habit of getting in the way of (blog)plans and intentions. Today I will answer a few more and, hopefully in a not too far future, wrap it up in a last answers-post that will be all about some good places to see and experience in Stockholm and other parts of Sweden.

Some questions have been thought-provoking in themselves, in general, so they will as a whole preceed my answers (they will make you think too I hope) -

 ::  I was wondering if you'd been to Uppsala (since it's somewhat close to Stockholm) and what it's like in general?

Uppsala is the beautiful university city situated about 70 kilometres north of Stockholm. Yes I have been there many times (although I studied at Stockholm university myself), it's an easy commute both by car and by train (I have had several colleagues who lived in Uppsala and worked in Stockholm). Uppsala university was founded in 1477 thus making it the oldest centre of higher education in Scandinavia. The cathedral is beautiful, the castle not, but in general it's a pretty and bustling city with many architectural and cultural merits well worth a visit I think.

::  I'm very curious to know, how are people reacting to these changes that you are seeing in politics and any other matters that you mentioned. Such changes, and loosing faith in your culture seems to be affecting more and more countries. Some are starting to push against what they don't like, but are the Swedes noticing the same changes that you are? If so, what are they doing about it?

It really is the most troublesome of times right now. The politicians constantly in their lack of wisdom and visions keep failing to serve the society. And of course there's is a hidden agenda in the ongoing dismantling of the welfare society. A system that very, very, very much needed a proper see through and constructive revamping, but really not this uncompassionate and heartless dismantling which takes us back decades. Where the ones who honestly needs support and help don't get it, while the grabby too many line their personal pockets on other people's expenses.

My answer is yes, I think we see a lot of more angry people and grass root-movements today than before. Unfortunately, in general and so far, I think Swedes are so darn well-behaved, we grump a lot, we whine and curse about the latest greedy big business or corrupt politician or industrialist, about a system gone way awry, but then when the stories aren't the latest news or when we are fed enough superficial crap (royal weddings and sports included) and alcohol we get numb and indifferent again. The will to fight and stand up for injustice doesn't seem to be too well-entrenched in the Swedish mentality. These days. With general complacency comes laziness?

And well, some of us also do fight our own private wars - due to the same faulty system... - the energy may not really be there, where it should be. Which also is a way to keep people in control.

But I'm also hoping all these grass-roots movements will lead to a much needed change in this crazy  system. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not next week or even next month. But hopefully next year...

:: Well, I was wondering how does it feel to live there? Are you happy? When traveling elsewhere, do you mis coming back? I live in Romania and i wouldn't want to go elsewhere definitively, but now I live in another city than my native one, and overall our country changed and it feels dusty and lacking a good urban design. When i was growing up, i loved the streets I knew, the familiar shops, the parks, the old houses. Now they changed, people are obsessing about profit and do not invest in preserving history or beauty and this upsets us. Old houses are foolishly restored without conserving their traditional looks, and the people who hold the financial power are not educated or cultivated people. Sometimes I miss the summer days of walking the streets to a nice park...

How would you describe your city from this angle, what feeling do you get from it?

In many parts, most parts, I think I am truly blessed being born and bred as a Swede, yes. The way our welfare system, the education system, the political system and the visions that were when I grew up here, I do believe they were wonderful in many ways. It has been a life, a system that has encouraged free-thinking, questioning of authorities and open debates. Sadly it isn't anymore, really not like it once was.

The things that makes me happy today, in my life as it is, are family, friends, my accomplishments and the beauty in nature, animals, everyday small matters (yes bobbaloos, shoes and colours included) but not Sweden as a country to be proud of living in anymore.

We have so much good things, good people, good happenings, an in general more than decent standard of living, but greedy want more. And really, this hysterically glorified rate of growth (on expense of nature, life of others and our own), it needs to stop. We need to examine our lives and lifestyles, elevate to the next level of thinking. For everyone's sake.

I'm certain most every country suffers from similar issues, or worse, and I would probably not consider myself a "happier person" living somewhere else as things are now. I'm just in a far to jaded place in my life and the way I see people and their actions. There are politicial and social systems gone horribly askew everywhere.

When I travel these days I take great pleasure in small-analyzing what I see - scratching the surface only I suppose - comparing tendencies, people, actions, the ways of life in those places with the way we're living and thinking (in general) in Sweden. So far I have definitely not seen any other place or country where I'd love to live the rest of my life for ever and always, but I have seen solutions and ways of thinking, acting and living which I have been both appalled and very impressed by, some places I've certainly loved and found more alluring than others.

Most of us so obviously need to ransack our way of thinking, acting and living. But most of us seem to be so locked into various social systems we're not capable (or interested) in doing that.

A few time before I've mentioned how 
builders and city council have made their best (ever since the 60ies but with a never seen frenzy these past ten few years) to ruin what was once an overall more  picturesque and befittingly quaint city silhouette. What a supersized city like Berlin can handle in urban development a smaller one like Stockholm can't. And I personally find, that walking the streets of Stockholm and seeing the architectural monstrosities being built in the most unexpected of places, it really breaks my heart.

:: Here in the US we have a knack for tearing down history to make room for the new. We don't have quiet streets that whisper history in our ears or people who have any real ties to heritage and their traditions. Some yes, but usually no. Does Sweden still have those quiet places to discover? I've been to a few other European countries, and I'm a little dismayed at the current rate of "progress". What you have is timeless and irreplaceable. Do Swedes in general value this, or is it seen as antiquated and unrealistic, do you think?

This question interwoves with the above. And sadly I do think that Swedes in general are too anxious of not being hip and modern, taking care of the timeless and irreplacable haven't been a high priority since the 60-70ies (although, granted, we have seen a backlash of people being interested in restoring old buildings, private homes as well as official buildings, rather than tearing down and building new the past ten or so years, a part of living a slower life).

I mentioned this briefly in a post nearly four years ago (my way of thinking has in many parts changed since, so beware, what you find in older posts may or may not concur with what I think or feel today) and I feel not a lot has changed since. At least not a lot that has truly influenced the way our cities are developed.

But yes, we still do have quiet places to discover in Sweden. Places were time may have stood seemingly still, places that have been cherished and lovingly cared for, quaint smultronställen, which links the past to the future that can be. In the answer-post I will hopefully give you a few tips on those.

stockholm q&a, part I

stockholm q&a, part II


Becky said...

I was just wondering how the death of Osama Bin Laden was seen in your country. Here in the US there is everything from complete disbelief to overwhelming jubilation. I'd really like to know how it is seen elsewhere. Especially in a neutral country like yours.

P.K said...

Interesting post. Sweden has always been a country that I admired, and hope to visit someday.

The Elephant's Child said...

Thank you. And by co-incidence a friend sent me a slide show of your subway art today. Beautiful. Ours are on the whole dingy, dirty places that reek of urine. So ... another thing for you to be proud of.

Arjun said...

I am visiting your blog the first time and loved it instantly. I didn't know anything about Sweden and your blog is providing me with lots of information. I want to know how is Sweden as a tourist spot?? I love nature very much. Are there any beautiful landscapes, forests, etc.??

Anonymous said...

"John" left the following comment -

Liked your post very much. Thanks for providing these informations. This will surely help us know Sweden better.

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