A visitor from the road

 

When in Bangkok in May last year, I was staying with Peak in her couch surfing community N6. A place where I met a whole bunch of interesting people. One of those was Paula, originally from Argentina but now call the tar roads of the world her home. She barely got in the door before we started talking.
Sitting in the living room of the place for hours, we shared our adventures and found a common interest in India where I had just arrived from and where she recently spent nine months.

A few weeks later we met again in Pai in northern Thailand and ended up travelling together in northern Thailand and Laos for over a month. In the end of June, when Paula celebrated her one year anniversary on the road we parted ways and I returned to Thailand while see continued on to other parts of south east asia, ending up spending quite a few months in China.

A year later, after celebrating two years on the road she hitch-hiked through Mongolia and Russia to finally cross the EU border in Finland. After hitch-hiking north all the way up to Rovaniemi, entering Sweden in Norrbotten and coming down the E4, she ended up on my doorstep.

She stayed with me for five days, and has now continued on to make the roads of central Europe unsafe.
We spent our days and evenings talking, drinking tea, cooking, listening to music and talking some more. Just like we did most evenings the last time we saw each other.

I have always been impressed by her photography. She is sensitive to good composition and oppurtunities and several times I have commented that she should really get a good dSLR instead of the compact camera she is using.
But if your budget is $10 a day, a new camera is not high on the list of ncessary items.

However, she was lucky in timing her visit with my birthday, when I decided to get myself a new camera as a preent to myself, so to support the development of her gift, I decided to give her my old camera, with the catch that she is not allowed to put it in auto except in rare cases.
A better camera doesn’t, however, mean that you automatically become a great photographer. But if you already have a good sense and talent for it, imagine what you could do if you also learn the technology?
In photograpy, the hard part is developling your vision, but the tool is still the prerequisite to get anything at all, so now I hope I get to see even better photos from her. But feel no pressure!

Below you see some of the photos from her trip so far and if you know spanish, you can find her blog here http://depocuntodo.blogspot.com/. More pictures can be found here: https://picasaweb.google.com/pdepli

Pilatus mountain

I am now home. Or maybe not home. I am at my parents place, waiting to leave for Stockholm, pick up my keys and then come “home”.

I have a few things left to write, about my last days in Lucerne, my visit to Vienna, but after that, the trip itself is over. Kind of.

On Sunday, the day before leaving for Vienna, the Dodds family, James and me took the chairlift up to the top of the Pilatus mountain, the highest in the region. There was already snow up there for the kids to play in and the view is undescribable, my pictures are only bad copies of reality (as always).

The easy way out

Children have a dream to grow up and own a toy or candystore. To live in a world of Charlie and the chocolate factory.
Adults isn’t that different. If we could choose we would have unlimited money, travel wherever we want to, eat chocolate and drink cocktails everyday.

Most of us know that life is not like that and we accept it too, but still we spend a lot of time and energy to avoid challenges, criticism, pain and suffering.

But to flee from conflict and challenges is to refuse change. It is to missunderstand how the world really works. It is to take the easy way out.
What seem to be the opposite on one level makes sense on a higher level.

Those who find faults in our service or products make us increase the quality, build better products. Feedback on our work clarify what is expected from us. Skepticism towards our arguments forces us to explain better and in a simplier way. When we say no to children, we teach them to consider others too. If we build our relationships on trust and respect our feelings for each other deepens by conflict and differing opinions instead of making us insecure and afraid.
We should be grateful of skepticism, conflict and resistance. Not look at it as something dangerous or something that causes us more work but rather see the oppurtunity to grow and mature. Uphill is when we build muscles.

I once read a man saying that “what makes us successful is not our skills but how much we are willing to put up with to reach our goals”.

The important is to make sure we surround ourselves with people who criticize not to put us down but to give support, constructive advice and who are willing to grow with us.

I have those people around me. And it makes all the difference.

Friendship

 

Friendship.

One word that explains a lot of the motivation for letting everything go and travel the world.

I have met many people during this trip, many I have never met before and many I will never meet again.

I have had the privilege the last three years to travel a lot, almost always it has been to friends around the globe.
In the end it doesn’t really matter how beautiful the buildings are, what history a country has. In the end, what matters, is the people we meet.
It is these people that give colour to the buildings, fill them with life, pride and a context. The people is the reason the buildings and the history is there at all, and the very same people is the reason they still stand.
It is easy to think of ourselves as separate beings, but we become human first when we take part in a larger context. Our culture and our environment. No matter what we do, we never leave this context.

When things start spinning a bit too fast it is easy to forget what is important in life. Then it can be good to slow down, stop for a while. Put ourselves and our well being first. Only then is it possible to meet our friends with presence, attention and the respect they deserve.

How can we otherwise demand others to show the same respect to us?

I feel immensely happy and grateful for the friendship others has shown me during this trip. Not only from people I have met, but also from everyone back home.

This journey would never have been the same without you.

 

 

Tango tango!

 

Classical music has been a neglected type of music in my life, just like in most Swedes lives I would say. I still remember listening to Vivaldis four seasons and Edward Grieg, but that was more or less it.

By knowing Regi and Dan who are both violists I have had the privilege and oppurtunity to listen to more classical music than ever before. At the moment I can hear Dan practicing in his office.
The first real concert I went to was in Stockholm concert hall in 2008 when Dan came there to play with their orchestra Festival Strings Lucerne (Regi was at home with a newborn).

Later I saw him play in London the same year and this week I have seen three concerts. One with Dan in the Jesuitchurch, one with them both playing with clarinett player Sabine Meyer and this Saturday Regi played a tango concert together with her friend and collegue Anca Serban. Three very different types of concerts but the more I hear, the more I appreciate it.
It’s pretty impressive too that their daughter Yara, six years old, can sit still and listen to a two hour long concert. I don’t think many kids coudl do that.

In a few hours I will get on the plane from Zurich to Vienna in Austria and after a few days there I will return home to Stockholm.

 

Babysitting

 

This is the third time babysitting in my life, third time with the same kids. Maybe I get a bit spoiled, because these kids is really good to deal with!
Except for the time this summer when Yara got a dogs face and tooth right in her face (by mistake from the dog), with two hours crying and a pack of ice, things has been going quite well.

Yara started to cry tonight when her parents Regi and Dan left for rehearsal for their coming concert, so James took the oppurtunity to teach them rule number one in life. No money, no food. No toys. A reality you can’t escape, you just have to accept it. Maybe she stopped crying when she realized that she was lucky to have someone else work for her so she can play “pick stick” (mikado) and “go fish!”.

Later on while eating we got to teach the second principle in life, not to cry over spilled milk. If someone hits you, it hurts. But if you spill your milk, it’s not actually hurting, it’s all in your head. Nothing to cry or get upset about. That is how it often is, most of human suffering is in our heads and the real pain we feel we usually make worse by blaming someone else or screaming loudly about how unfair life is.

Luckily James and me will be long gone when the consequences of our crash course in Philosophy 101 thrown in the face of a three and five-year old pops up and unfortunately therapy is expensive in this coutnry, just like everything.

 

Kids

I have always been scared of kids. Always felt completely lost when they are around. Earlier in my life I was afraid of everything that you couldn’t calculate or control beforehand. And children is not very easy to control.
Coming here means to hang out with Yara and Liam, six and three years old (soon). At first they were a bit shy, but after a day or two, we are now best pals, just like last time I saw them in California in July.

If you are not used to it, you get tired pretty quickly. They don’t. It is probably easier somehow when you are in the middle of it, but I can’t help admiring parents to small kids.
I have learnt the hard way the first rule with dealing with kids. Prepare them for change. Do not just turn off the tv when you think they are finished, but explain earlier that they can only watch another episode. Most of the time you can avoid kicking and screaming.
This might be obvious for anyone with experience dealing with kids, but you got to start somewhere, right?

If you think about it, the difference between kids and adults are not that big. We don’t like change either most of the time.
We all know what we have. Even if we might be unhappy with it, we can usually deal with it anyway. But all change mean you take a risk. It might get better or worse, but we rather focus on the bad stuff. Therefore we avoid a multitude of possibilities only because there is a small chance that things might go horribly wrong. Success usually mean a willingness to fail completely, yet get up and try again.

That is why people in the west is more unhappy, suffer more from depression and anxiety than people in poor countries. The more you have the more you are risking when change comes.

Maybe the only difference between children and adults is that we are better at making up excuses and lie to ourselves about things. Instead of crying and screaming and then accepting we sometimes spend years and years avoiding the world as it is.

Lucerne, Switzerland

 

It is thursday today. I have now been six days here in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Lucerne is a small town in the central part of the country and a popular place for tourists. It is like a miniature town from another time, filled with people living minature lives in some kind of fantasy that we only get to look at from the outside.

It is the second time here. First time was in May 2007 when I went here together with my ex-girlfriend Marina for Regi and Dans wedding. Then already I got a small glimpse of this small miniature world, but we only had 48 hours here before returning home to work, so I never had the time to properly explore the city. I have had more of that this time around.

For it’s small size, this city is packed with culture, old buildings and a long history and despite finding the average store on the shopping streets I can still appreciate it. They have found some way of mixing all these new chain stores with it’s great historic atmosphere.

Our mutual friend James surprisingly arrived here yesterday. The plan was for him to arrive friday or saturday when he got in his 1998 Jaguar XJ 8 wednesday morning in Tooting in South London and started moving south, but when he was in Luxembourg later in the afternoon, he decided to keep on going all the way here.
With the car packed with tuna sandwiches to last three days and a 20 page Google driving direction he parked outside the house on Wesemlinstrasse at 9.50pm after driving 579 miles and after 14 hours and 20 minutes on the move.

We celebrated this pleasant surprise by drinking a lot of wine.

 

Cologne

 

Köln or Cologne pops up every know and then in all things related to Germany, several people I have meet during my travels is either from here or is related to the city and several friends really like the city. For me it’s my first time here though. I am staying with Sabrina that I met in San Francisco in july when we were hosted by the same guy Eric.
The city is the fourth largest in Germany and among other things famous for the Carnival that takes place every year, but the most famous tourist attraction is the cathedral, the Dom.

I got a glimpse of the Dom when i arrived by train from the airport and even though I’m not that big of a fan of sightseeing, I felt straight away that I had to go there.

The cathedral itself is from the beginning of the 13th century and a lot bigger than I thought it would be. I just stand there on the square in front of it. It is probably one of the most beautiful churches I’ve seen, a lot nicer than both the Notre Dame or St. Peters in rome. It’s impossible not to get impressed.

It must have taken hundres of years of combined hours of work from thousands of people to build this cathedral, to work on every small little detail.
During the last six months, I have noticed that I not only pay attention to things, my thoughts automatically also goes to the person behind the thing, how they have put their soul into the creation of it, the enormous amount of time and energy spent on it’s perfection.
It hits me that I’m not only in a building that has a function, practising ones belief, but that people have invested a lot into something that doesn’t directly give you anything back. An enormous building that really isn’t useful.

In todays society, this is something strange, we hardly build anything anymore that doens’t have a direct use. Concrete is popular partly because it is so easy to maintain, you don’t need someone who cut the grass or trim the garden. No one spends months anymore, carving out tiny details in a rock, everything gets done fast and it has to be cheap to maintain.
If you look at what is built today in our society as a symbol for what we as a culture think is important, it’s remarkable to observe that what is built today is Sport arenas and shopping centers.

ABB Arena, Swedbank Park, Cloetta Center.

Less and less people go to these sport events and yet we have seen dozens of these huge business sponsored arenas pop up all over Sweden, just like we have never seen so many shopping centers being built. All of them with the same stores.

These huge areas of malls is our times temples and cathedrals. Sunday mass has been replaced by sunday shopping at Ikea and Media Markt.

Today, many look at religion as an escape from reality, but in a hundred years, maybe our children’s children will look back at our society and say the same thing about shopping.
Karl Marx once called religion for the opium of the people, today we drug ourselves with entertainment and consumption. Every time has it’s drug of choice, but the question is what this so called reality we are escaping from really is.

Are we not already in the middle of it?