Where is Siberia in relation to Sweden, or How (not) to be a Siberian

Every time I say I am from Russia, they ask me: from Moscow? Why? Of course I am NOT from Moscow! I am from Novosibirsk, I used to say significantly. Expecting, in the hundred percent of cases, the expression of polite incomprehension on my interlocutor’s face. Expecting and dreading it. Surpressing the sign of exasperation,…

A reason for celebration in difficult times

I may be mistaken, but I have noticed that in Europe the 8th (9th) of May is not celebrated as much as it is in Russia. And I think it is a shame. It is a shame that the recent years have seen the escalation of political conflict between Russia and the West, with the…

My dear, beloved step-motherland

At the passport control, the immigration officer questioned, one after the other, a bunch of Chinese young men. What is the purpose of your visit? How long are you going to stay? What kind of business are you doing? Their English was not very good, but they answered diligently, and the officer was satisfied. He will…

Language cafes, difficult times and us, immigrants

I never thought I would sit in one of these cubicles in Kista library (for non-Swedish speakers, pronounced as Sheesta). They always felt quite… claustrophobic. When you pass by two rows of these cubicles, you can see through the narrow glass slits desks with people sitting at them, looking very confined. Like they are imprisoned,…

What Norway has that Sweden doesn’t

… is a common Swedish joke. What does Norway have that Sweden doesn’t? You guessed it, a good neighbour. According to the Swedes. The other way round, perhaps, according to the Norwegians. Or maybe they don’t joke like that. In my case, what Sweden had in those short days when I was in Norway, and…

Beer, jeans and the mysterious Russian culture

If my culture is on the verge of extinction, it may not be mainly because of ‘Putin and his dictatorial regime’ (which may have added a twopence, too). It may be, to a certain extent, because of capitalism and the Western ‘values’ and ‘democracy’. How horrible was the Soviet time, and how blessed is the blissful…

Nya ord

Jag har förlorat mitt språk tingen har ingen smak längre i min mun det finns alltid en oändlig tyst stund mellan mig och de nya orden Theodor Kallifatides, Mitt språk och jag

Summer swimming (in Sweden and Switzerland)

Earlier this summer I swam in Lac Léman, in icy-cold, ice-like transparent water. It was a hot, hot day at a villa in Chambésy where we stayed for one night, and from where we could see the lake, and could see Geneva and its tall white fountain at a distance. We reached the lake in…