Monday, July 6, 2009


I am riding on the T-bana to get to the hotel to collect the rest of my belongings to bring back to the subletted apartment I have dubbed the "Flea Market". Exhaustion has set in after nearly three weeks in hotels spanning South Florida, Phoenix and Stockholm. I am still nursing the remnants of a particularly nasty summer cold that zapped much of my energy and enthusiasm. I can barely make out the names of the stops being called and do not have the energy to try and decipher them this evening.

But, I know that when the women a seat over and across from me begins  to jostle her bags that my stop is near. She is in cover, a Somali I am guessing. A striking woman by any measure who bears a strong resemblance to the 1970's supermodel Iman. She catches me looking at her. What she does not know is that I am thinking she belongs in a photographers studio not on this  city train to a suburban ghetto.

As she gets her bags, I know to collect my purse and the stop is announced. Sure enough, my thoughts were correct. I step off the train into the abnormally warm Swedish evening. I must walk through the Galleria to get to the hotel. Although it is late and a Wednesday, the mall is a beehive of activity. I walk by the McDonald's and notice there is not a seat to be found.  Girls are running through the halls, giggling, buying ice cream and working their cell phones. Women are everywhere, waiting for buses, traveling back to the characterless concrete boxes that permeate the city.

I do not see a woman this evening who is not in cover. Only the cover varies. Sometimes it is only the head, adorned in a fashionable and colorful scarf. Sometimes it is a colorful full body and head cover. Many times it is the, disturbing to western sensibilities, full black hijab. I could be on the streets of Islamabad or Riyadh but I am in a suburb twenty minutes from still greatly homogenous Central Stockholm. 

This is Kista. A corporate bustling center of professionals by day, somewhere else entirely by night. You would recognize the corporate names --the most prominent being the headquaters of the Swedish owned telecommunications giant--Ericsson. I also know this is only one of many areas like this. The areas the cab drivers and more vocal Swedes will tell me to avoid.

It is important to note that I saw nothing ominous this evening. In fact, everything I saw looked incredibly normal. What is abnormal is the complete segregation of two clashing cultures very much at odds with each other. What is puzzling is how Swedes can think this will end well.


  1. Your mistake is to believe the Swedes will "think" this will end well. Socialism requires no thinking.