Saturday, 20 September 2008

Back in the old country

Just as I feel more or less settled I must go to a conference in the old country. The conference is in Southern Sweden, and it makes more sense to fly to Gothenburg. Which is weird: I am back, but not really back home. Taking the airport shuttle I note that the traffic goes on the wrong side of the road. Then, as I wait for my train at the station, and on the train, everybody for some reason speaks a foreign language. Fortunately, the conference is in English. But the subject is as Swedish as can be, the national icon, Astrid Lindgren.

The venue is a magnificent folly castle that looks quite genuine. The leaves are turning. At conference lunches and dinners typical Swedish food is served. At the banquet the entertainment is Swedish medieval ballads. Do my eyes really fill with tears? My Swedish colleagues address me in English because my badge says "University of Cambridge".

I am alone in a strange, exotic country with exotic food, cars driving on the wrong side and billboards in a foreign language. I am in a limbo. Water Street is something I have made up. But if so where do I belong? Gossip from my old working place does not concern me. Emails from my new working place do not feel relevant. It is Friday evening and I should be at The Green Dragon with my Guinness. Instead I am going out for another authentic Swedish meal.

I feel homesick. But what is home?

1 comment:

Spouse said...

It must be pointed out to non-Swedes that all seems weird when you are in the dark province of Småland, language, everything. I mörkaste Småland - In darkest Småland.