14

Starting Over, Again.

Moving to a new country – how do you do it? Well, the moving part is easy. The difficult part is what follows.

This is my second time (or third, if you count the 3 + 6 months I lived in Switzerland), and though I may have gotten an idea now of how it works, I usually still feel like it’s all new to me.

In 2010 I moved to Nepal, where I didn’t know a soul, or the language. And I managed. I even enjoyed it. I enjoyed it very much, actually. But here I am, 4 years later, just moved into our apartment in Sweden. Another country, another language, and it feels like I’m starting all over again.

And even though I’ve done it before, it can still suck sometimes. Trying to find peanutbutter in the supermarket. Or powdered sugar. Neighbors that try to make small talk and me stammering ‘eh…jag pratar inte så mycket svenska…pratar du engelska?‘ and the blank face that follows.
Sitting in the apartment with no friends calling or stopping by, cause, quite frankly, I don’t have friends here. Needing Jacob to translate letters for me, and the manual for the laundry machine, and what the neighbor was talking about.
Trying to figure out where in the heck I’m supposed to bike. (sometimes on the sidewalk/bike path. Sometimes on the road. And sometimes no one knows.)

So yes, it sucks sometimes. And yes, I feel lonely sometimes. And yes, I feel handicapped sometimes for not speaking Swedish. But I’ve done this before, and I know it will get better. It will.

And when I feel like nothing is working, or I can’t find what I need, I hear my mom’s voice in my head ‘je bent toch niet voor een gat te vangen?‘ and then I remember that indeed, I’m not one who gives up that easily.

(I did find the peanutbutter, while looking for powdered sugar, which I didn’t find btw – but the peanutbutter was right in between flour and sugar. Nice one, Sweden.)

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8

It’s A Whole New World…

Yesterday, I found myself in the kitchen, preparing 4 kg of wild boar and moose meat. These animals had been shot by my father in law.

Life is different now that I’m in Sweden.
When I walk the streets here, people don’t make eye contact.
I wear long johns every day.
There is a laundry machine in the basement of the apartment building and even a drying room with a machine and a fan.
It starts getting dark by 15:30.
People always have several reflectors attached to themselves, their dogs and their kids.

Don’t be fooled by the relative small distance between the Netherlands and Sweden – they are two different worlds. (have you ever even SEEN a moose?)

Anyhow. Fortunately there is universal things that will always be the same.
Even in Sweden the plastic foil box doesn’t open properly (you know, that strip you’re supposed to take of the box, and that ALWAYS rips before you’re even half way done).
Even in Sweden people don’t always clean the filter in the dryer.
And even in Sweden they have Gouda cheese!!

2

Compassion

We all know that poverty exists, but we often prefer to keep a safe distance. Because a close up of poverty is, simply put, not pretty.
But when it is in your face almost everyday, you are forced to think of your response to it.

And though we all know that compassion is what our response should be, a hurting heart does not necessarily initiate giving generously when you are confronted day after day after day with street kids, disabled men that push themselves through the street on a little cart, homeless people with a sky high hospital bill, abandoned babies.
Kids with glue bags in their hands who ask for money but say no thanks to the orange you offer.
A guy on your doorstep with a rice bag and torn clothes, his family is sick, he is hungry. Or so he says.

Cause maybe he is making it up.
And money doesn’t solve the problems, does it?
And wouldn’t he just spend it on drugs anyway?
And what if he comes back tomorrow, and the day after?
And I wish he wouldn’t sit on my porch like that, why doesn’t he leave…
And you find yourself hiding in the kitchen, with your cup of coffee and your fancy chocolate cookie, quietly wishing the guy would just leave now, if only he would leave….

And then you remember those words
spoken long ago

 

…Whenever you did it for any of my people, no matter how unimportant they seemed, you did it for me.”

 

3

On My Mind Right Now

1. Thanks to the cyclone in eastern India, it has been raining here non stop since last night. I’m really cold, I put on socks and I’m sitting here with a yak wool blanket wrapped around me, drinking hot coffee. Then I saw the thermometer in our hallway. It says 21 C.

???!!!

Not sure how that will work out with moving to Sweden, when right now it’s NINE degrees in Vetlanda.

2. When I start learning Swedish, I will already excel in the categories ‘cooking and baking’ and ‘renting an apartment’. The proof for that is the Danish wienerbröd we baked last night from a Swedish cookbook, and the fact I managed to make a profile AND apply for several apartments on an all Swedish website. Yes, I do have a personal translator living with me. But still.
Now picture an Instagram picture of a delicious looking Danish wienerbröd with custard and icing. Hashtag mylifeisawesome.

3. I have clicked ‘refresh’ on the Swedish apartment website about 2.530.959.113 times today. There is 2 people ahead of us for the apartment we have applied for.
Now, how long does it take to make up your mind if you want it or not? MAKE A DECISION ALREADY!!1!!!

 

9

How To…Kill A Buffalo In Nepal

(Warning: picture with blood below in this post.)

1. Get a buffalo.

buffalo2

2. Hammer an iron rod into the ground.

3. Attach buffalo and buffalo’s front leg to rod with a rope.

4. Get previously used (ginormous) hammer and hit the buffalo right on top of his head so it dies.

5. Hit a few more times to make sure it’s really dead.

6. Cut the throat and catch the blood.

7. Skin it, cut it, share the meat amongst the neighbors.

 

buffalo

 

[Some background information: right now it’s Dashain, Nepal’s biggest Hindu festival. Animals are being slaughtered for the purpose of sacrifice as well as feasts.]

4

You Know You’re Married To A True Swede, When…

…you never, ever run out of coffee in your house.
…he offers you a ‘click’ of ice cream.
…he cannot stop talking about kebab pizza.
…sometimes he stares out of the window and says ‘I would really like to cut down some trees now…’

…his birthday breakfast in bed is coffee and kladdkaka

Happy birthday to my super Swedish husband!

boating on the river

boating on the river

fishing

fishing

picking cantharels

picking cantharels

kebab pizza

kebab pizza

the canoe

the canoe

making blueberry jam

making blueberry jam

cutting down trees

cutting down trees

shooting

shooting

9

I Made Pesto – Now What?

I threw basil leaves, cashew nuts*, olive oil, garlic and Parmesan cheese (that’s right – Parmesan cheese. The real deal) in a blender, and pesto came out.

Then I put it in an ice cube tray so I could freeze it.

pesto

Because after 3,5 years without pesto, I simply don’t know what to do.

So what do I do? Recipes? Ideas? Let me know!

ps – actually, I did know what to do this morning. I put cheese and pesto on my home made bagel. That was the best breakfast in a long time. Yes, I wrote ‘home made bagel’. I made bagels. At home. Thank you internet.

*mam, dat hadden pijnboompitten moeten zijn. Die stierven een voortijdige dood :(