Wednesday 11 March 2020

In Gothenburg, Sweden

I only know that Gothenburg is by the sea when I arrive for a three-day-visit end of February. Apart from museums and the like (they are of no interest to me, they remind me of school), what would you recommend to go and see?, I ask at the reception of my centrally located hotel. The old town, I'm told, it is a twenty-minute walk. There is no such thing as an old town here, informs me a man on the street, only Stockholm has an old town. Two young women however suggest Haga, a part of town with lots of cafés. The cappuccino is excellent, and to my surprise, cheaper than in my native Switzerland.

I spend my short time in Gothenburg wandering through the streets. Wide avenues, generous space, impressive buildings, big squares, dominant architecture. For quite some time now, my camera is my treasured companion whenever I leave home – it has taught me to look, and increasingly I've started to see lots of things I've never had eyes for.
My walks lead me to an alternative culture centre, the port, various cafés. Also, I tried to practise what I had read on my flight – to replace my autopilot with being in the moment. Once again I failed miserably. Not only was I busily following the corona virus saga and got as usual angry at the media that reported what the loudmouth in the White House who doesn't know shit had said. I also didn't really want to let go of the various distractions my mind seems to like. Only twice was I fully in the Here & Now: When I suffered from a migraine sans migraine and was not able to see properly for around twenty minutes, and when I was visiting a cemetery where I once again became aware how short some lives are.
Apart from the Mongolian roomcleaner who said to be in Sweden for a year, everybody's English happened to be pretty fluent. What surprised me were the many people who crossed the street at red lights.
What books you sell the most?, I ask in the airport bookstore. Management, the young woman smiles, and adds: „We have several shops in town but only the one here has a management section.“ I felt reminded of my former boss in a publishing company who, when asked what kind of books he read, had said: „Management books, of course.“ Until then I hadn't even considered them books. I still don't.

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