For grandmother

DSC_9877DSC_8674It is January and the flowers in Taiwan are still blooming. In Sweden the season for every flower is short, usually just a few weeks. Here in Hsinchu many bushes and trees have been carrying flowers since I arrived in the end of summer.

Don’t they ever get tired?

As you can see these photo is taken on grey day. I think a little more than half of the days here are like this around this season, but I usually avoid taking photos. Sunshine and a clear light just looks so much better.

This post is for you grandmother, we all know how much you love flowers.

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A Very Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas all dear ones!

After finishing a lab yesterday afternoon I could finally go home, get some rest, make phone calls to my family back home and dress up. I had some Christmas gifts that’s been waiting patiently in my bookshelf, and yesterday I could finally open them and try all the goodies inside.

The Swedish exchange students had a gathering yesterday night, including some visiting family and girlfriends we were almost 30 people in total. For me it felt like I was in a dream: being surrounded by my mother tounge, having  Swedish food, Swedish drinks and making very Swedish jokes. The man with the biggest beard was chosen to be Santa Claus and had to come and knook at the door and say “Ho ho, are there any well-behaving kids in this home?”, before reading out Christmas rhymes we had written on each others gifts and letting us guess what might be inside. Some Swedes received slippers, coffee or tea cups, others small games or things of very questionable purpose.

The main discussion of the evening was about the moral aspects of having couscous salad for the buffet. ” This is not Swedish tradition!” Christmas is one of the few days we actually eat food with that is from our own culture.

Today I woke up and decided that I might as well eat cake for breakfast. After all, it’s Christmas. Somehow there was new gifts delivered to me while I was out yesterday night. After finishing eating I have to try to track down the girl who gave them.

I’m also trying to figure out excuses good enough to keep me out of the lab today. “I feel a little sick”? ” I got food poisoning from the experiment yesterday”? “I have an important meeting in my dorm”? But I think the teacher will be very suspicious if the only foreigner in the class is absent at the 25th of December.

I should not complain actually. One Swedish friend had an exam last night, and another one left the party at midnight to go and work with his project group. Taiwan, give us a Christmas break!

May your week be peaceful, your hearts thankful and your tummies just full. Christmas wishes for you!

PS. I did buy Taiwanese Christmas cards which I never wrote or sent. Please forgive me. Maybe you can get them next year? Ds.

7 – A place I called mine

This is a post in a series of pictures from a trip to China in June 2013. Read the first post here

I packed a small bag and said goodbye to my friends in the city. It was time for the suburb. Take a cab, get off at the mall, find the right bus, pay the 8 yuan ticket – I have done it all so many times, but I was still nervous. Would it all be the same? Who will still be there?

The air was foggy and the road under the bus as bumpy as always. Al sent me texts from Sweden and encouraged me. I stared out through the window: the city passing by, the University, the restaurant street, the city gates and after that dusty fields and villages whose names I never heard. It was my first time to travel here in summer and the lotus fields were covered with huge pink flowers. It was beautiful. When I could see the skyline of the familiar houses I called the driver to stop and I jumped of. I was back. DSC_3898They knew I would be coming that day, but not exactly when. As I walked on into the school I could see the surprised faces around me. I guess my face expression was extraordinary as well: nervous, excited and overwhelmed at the same time.

I knew I was going to come back here some day, but already being here was a little too much to take in. DSC_3911When I arrived to Kunming some weeks earlier  they called me and asked if I wanted to come and help them out. I was asked to work together with a volunteer. I really wanted to refuse but also didn’t feel like denying them help, so I ended up saying I would do it.

I was relieved to meet the other guy and hear that he had prepared most of it. I just had to help him plan some games, buy a lot of candy and other stuff and then try out the ideas one by one. My personal favorite was the game “slide a chocolate bun down your face and catch it in your mouth”. We decided we had to practice that one many times.

Here we are later in action: playing a game with the teenagers outside. DSC_3978I love these youngsters so much… I can’t put it into words. DSC_3932DSC_4225DSC_3989Walking home to the shared apartment after a long day. DSC_4116The view from the apartment. When this apartment was my home I used to stare at these roofs while brushing my teeth. Now I was only a guest, sleeping in a guest bed. DSC_3920 DSC_4162Coming back again filled me with such a gratitude. As I said in the first post the trip was almost like a China detox. After being out here for such a long time and then returning back to Sweden for an even longer time, this place felt like if it existed in a parallel universe, a place I couldn’t really get back to. It was good to come here and know that it wasn’t just a dream.

But being here also left me with some heavy feelings. I can be here, in the worlds of these boys and girls, share their days and laugh with them. But in the end I never stay. I always return home. Home to my well heated apartment, home to my University and probably so stable future.

Normal life for me is luxuries for them. Things I take for granted are out of reach in their world. Basic human rights. Knowing that the government will protect you, not protect itself from you. Democracy. Freedom to believe in God.

I wish I could do more. I wish I could help in some way. I wish the world was more fair.

The world is so big, so overwhelming.So real. DSC_3918I do miss you. And I will be back.

Some day.

6 – More Wuhan

This is a post in a series of pictures from a trip to China in June 2013. Read the first post here

Summer in Wuhan is hot and it seems like the rain can start anytime.

DSC_3634DSC_3622DSC_1992By coincidence we passed a wedding ceremony and we sat down to watch. The bridesmaids, the flower boy and the flower girl are getting ready. Any minute now and the bride will arrive.DSC_3459After some busy days I finally had time to visit a special friend. Her apartment was full of people from all over the world and delicious indian food. After 2 am we had time to sit and talk on our own and she could give me some good advises.  I stayed overnight and borrowed a fantastic foot long Indian nightie.

The next morning Wuhan was covered in smog.

DSC_3875Now I just had one more important place visit before returning to Sweden.