SFI, or Svenska för invandrare is the swedish language course that all communal schools for adults provide to immigrants – free of charge. If you have a swedish ID, you get to get classes. It’s not easy to get out of work two times a week to cycle to the boundaries of the city for a two-and-a-half hours of classes, but the teachers there make it feel as smooth and easy-going as possible. Plus, you get to meet people from all over the world.
In the last class of the term, a few days ago, the school invited us for a little mingling between classes, some snacks and some singing along. Typical swedish songs for the end of the school year and the beginning of the summer (Den blomster tid nu kommer, Idas sommarvisa, Oh boy!, this last one by swedish blues and reggae musician Peps Persson).
And yesterday was the final level exam day. Around 4 hours of testing of reading, listening, writing and speaking, with a lot of breaks. A long day, hopefully, with a happy ending.
One of my favourite places in Lund is Ariman, a bar that goes back at least one generation. For the young people, it’s one of those places that has always been there, with reliable rock n’ roll and cold beer. For the elders, it’s a landmark and a meeting place for open discussion that goes back to the revolutionary 70s. It caters for both young and old, swedes and foreigners, in seemingly equal parts.
It has prime location both in commercial sense and in its exposure to the sun. When the vitamin D is pouring down upon the Earth, Ariman’s tables outside in the narrow walking street are the place to be.
The easter holidays gave us a few days off to visit old friends and family in Lisboa. Dinner parties become so much cheaper in the local joints, and you can wash the food down with abundant wine without the need for declaring bankruptcy. Of course then you have to dissolve the thin film of oil that coats your oesophagus with aguardente, but by then, your senses have been numbed enough that you tolerate it quite well.
Lisboa has a knack of surprising us with semi-secret places such as Park, a lounge bar sitting on the terrace atop a multi-story parking lot, right in the middle of the night action. The elevator was broken, so a 5-story climb up the emergency stairs was just the thing we needed to digest all the greasiness from the dinner.
The price of the booze was above average, still, it was a privileged view over Lisboa by night coupled with some fine music. I was beat after 15 minutes, but the girls they just kept going for what seemed to be hours.
Taxi rides home in Lisboa are a lottery. You get all sorts of taxi drivers: grumpy, happy, drowsy, political, racist, eloquent, nonsensical, you name it. Very few are women, and this was one of them. She regaled us with stories and anecdotes of her years as a taxi driver and as a Lisboeta. The most impressive memory was of the fire in Chiado in the 80s, where she was working back then. Something I was not around to witness, but was indeed one of those dramatic events that determine a turning point in a place.
Thomas is a frequent flyer at our foldable couch. He is an architecture student from the Netherlands that we met a couple of years ago and became good friends with. Everytime he visits his family up in central Sweden, he takes the opportunity to stop by and visit. On this occasion he was on his way back to the Netherlands.
This time he was driving his brand-new second-hand end-of-the-century Volkswagen Polo and, to cut costs, he went online to a hitchhiking website. Mercedeh was going from Norway to Germany, so it was fortunate for both of them to have met each other. While dining in Lund, we shared some music and customs from each other’s countries. Mercedeh could do the thing with the snapping fingers that only Iranian nationals can.