Justin Hall's personal site growing & breaking down since 1994

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hej tak, it's Sweden!

I first visited sweden, stockholm, in may 1997. My friend Svante suggested me as a speaker for SIME 97, sponsored by Spray.

I didn't know much about the country besides scandinavian design and lutfisk.
The salted fish tradition of sweden is still going strong; more palatable than i imagined, but the food did strike me as slightly russian.

The trip was an obviously distorted vision of swedish reality; somebody bought me booze, food, good times. Most my time was spent in the capitol of stockholm, which svante sez is as much reflective of sweden as san francisco is of america. I also took a trip around the archipelagos, the islands near stockholm (which is itself an island - the venice of the north). I spent most of my time there in a sauna, cooking alcohol deep into my cells and sailing.

Nobody bought me swedish woman; it was the first time I'd traveled abroad since Ireland, and I saw clear I think the erotic possibilities of a stranger. I have nothing lurid to link from here, because.

I learned a tiny bit of swedish - the word they use for hello is "hej" (like: "hey") wich is sort of cute and very easy for gregarious americans. The word for thank you is "tack", and only some of those familiar euro-sirens are "blodtransport" which means blood transport in english. I learned quickly the first two, but resisted an easy foreign speakers trick of

"it's good to be here, I have learned some swedish - hej tack"

What I have learned, or imagined as intensely profound, is the swedish word for devil "fan" (said like fahn) which sounds eerily like the word Amy has tought me, thai for white guy, "phlang".
(otherwise i've learned mostly broken english)

I've been back to visit several times - somehow the Swedish like my Internet Speaking rap. Svante is always a wonderful host - I like talking to him and learning from him wherever we are. One time he took me to where he grew up, four hours north of Sweden into Arbro, farm country - I saw a slakthus.

Swedish people seem to like me, except when I burp and fart.
while there's a lot of warmth and hospitality, curiousity, there's a little bit of distance.

Urinal I like swedish urinals. Their toilets are critically different from those of my homeland and illustrated cultural idiosynchrocies.

Not absolutely everyone in sweden is drop dead compelling to look at, just most people. Svante looks a lot like my father, for example.

Sweden may be the most percentally wired nation in the world: every god damned other one of these people has three cell phones. They have weird musik too.

Thank you Svante,

the only things I've helped you with are the basic needs of modern traveller; a place to sleep, some intellectual stimula, a fair amount of bullshit and a kind guide to a new country and culture. Thank you, sucker.

sweden | Scandinavia | trip | life

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