This week has been about understanding, or my lack of it. Sure, anyone will tell you that the Swedish understand English fluently and completely. But they understand English like the Japanese understand English. That is to say that a good percentage of them hear it, but I am not convinced that they understand it. When those situations have occured over the past week, I have had to remind myself that English is their second language.
Perhaps that was no more apparent than at a restaurant. They didn't have an English menu, but my understanding was this was one of the best Swedish restaurants in town, so I had to give it a try. I went in, was promptly seated, and that was then the horror began. I ordered a dish involving Elk or something else that stares into headlights. Apparently, to keep the meal warm, they bring a chaffing dish. However, no one told me a chaffing dish was coming. So in his best English, the waiter says "plate on fire". Without even thinking I jump up and yell "plate on fire?" Everyone is looking around wondering what's on fire and if they have to evacuate. Then the manager comes running out telling everyone that everything is OK. After the manager talks to the waiter, the manager then explains to me what he meant to say what he wanted to bring me a chaffing dish to place the plate on so that the meal would keep warm while I was eating it. But you could easily see that sense of disgust in the manager's eyes. The kind of look that wanted me to spontaneously combust. I guess I should have felt embarassed, but I've done dumber things, so this was pretty low on the totem pole.
In other news, I am not sure if I mentioned this, but to replace my Armani custom-made sunglasses, I purchased on Gucci sunglasses. I love them, they look almost the same as my old sunglasses, and that makes me happy. Truth be told, I need some happiness right now. I am not getting homesick as much as starting to feel a tad bit lonely. I need to join some clubs or associations pretty soon. That is now people meet around here I guess. Although many at work have advised me of places to go, places to be seen, and things to do. Most places they recommend they determine are too expensive for their budgets, but hey, since I am on expenses, I can go pretty much wherever I want. stockholm is my oyster. But still, it would be fun to know someone else here. So there is some excitement to the fact that Tim Jacobs and Steve Needham are coming to Stockholm at seperate times. A whole month of other people I actually know! Woo hoo!
Well, other than that, things are going pretty well. Work continues to be a big part of my day. And September 11th in Stockholm was barely noticed. It was then I realized that there are some pretty distinct categories of people and how they were affected. You were in one of these groups, in order of severity:
* Were in the immediate vincinity when the towers collasped and were covered in dust (incl. the pentagon)
* Were a survivor pulled from the rubble.
* Knew a person or people who died in one of the attacks.
* Knows someone who knows someone in Groups A or B
It seems unfair to say that there's a difference between the groups, but there is. If you only have peripheral involvement, then your sense of loss and feelings are different. I wish it were as simple as "national pride" or "collective togetherness", but it is more complex than that. There are people I'll never see again through no fault of their own. I asked a couple of colleagues if they were doing something special on September 11th? One said "work. is that special?" The other said "just what I doing last September 11th. My job." That differs sharply from the responses I got from people who knew people that died.
Anyway, I missed writing in your journal, and I promise to write again soon. Love you journal!