Sunday, 24 May 2009

Loppis!


Today my local council had arranged for the whole area to set up loppmarknader (flea markets/yard sales). The purpose is mainly to promote recycling for environmental purposes and the hope is that it will big enough to enter the Guinness book of world records as the biggest neighbourhood yard sale. Anybody could set up in any public area in the whole borough and we were all encouraged to empty our cellars and attics.


There's been so many yard sales since I got here and what a perfect way to get rid of junk. It really supports the saying "one man's trash is another man's treasure". It is one idea I wish we'd copy in Ghana. There are so many people who have far too much while others are lacking. I am pretty sure that such an idea would however be looked down and people would be ashamed to admit to buying items there. Here in Gothenburg, such airs are gone and we rather appreciate the quaint finds that can be made.

The best thing about it is that everything is being sold at a fraction of its ordinary price, nobody's looking at making a profit. A handful of children's clothes may be sold off for 20 kronor/GHc3!It is in fact parents that gain the most from these sales; it's an easy way to get rid of old clothes and items that the kids have grown out of and what better way to purchase games, films and clothes that the children will only enjoy for some months.
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I however went away with nothing (believe me, for a bargain shopper like me, that's an achievement!), it was enough to watch the crowds and enjoy the sun that briefly popped out.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Ascension Day

In Ghana we often complain about the laziness of workers, especially civil servants. I'm always unimpressed when I see Friday traffic starting at noon because staff have decided to cut their day short as the weekend is about to start. Similarly it's always funny to guess how many people will show up at work on a Friday when the Thursday before it is a holiday. Usually, the answer is quite close to 0%.

I don't know if I was away from Sweden for too long, but somehow I thought the work morale here was better. It was only when I was heading into town yesterday around 12:30 that I noticed the tram was a lot more crowded than usual. I said so to my mum and she reminded me that today, Ascension day, was a holiday. I still wasn't sure that was the reason I was seeing so many people...until I bumped into my older brother V outside Nordstan, the main shopping centre.

"Are you on your lunch break?" I asked. "Yeah, but I'm heading home, because there's hardly anybody in the office."

Suddenly I remembered my walk in Slottsskogen, the largest city park, three weeks ago, on our first summery day (24 degrees and sunshine!). It had been around 1p.m. on a Thursday and yet it seemed every person in Gothenburg was picnicking in the park. Why? Because the next day was 1st of May, Labour Day.

And as if taking a half day before Ascension Day is not enough, it seems nobody will show up for work tomorrow either. After all tomorrow is known as a "klämdag", a day squeezed in between a holiday and the weekend, which seems to be a good enough excuse to make that too a holiday.

Now I know you're thinking, what the hell is she complaining about, shouldn't we be happy for more days off??? And really, I'm not complaining, I just find the excuses for more time off funny, but mostly I am amused by how easy it is to complain about Ghana when I'm there...and how similar the working patterns of Swedes and Ghanaians are. The two are closer to each other than we think!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Unbelievable

I can't believe it. First my longlost cousin who I'm getting to know now visits Ghana in April. Then my dear friend from boarding school who I haven't seen since 1993 decides to go to Ghana in May.

And now Obama has decided to come to Ghana on the 10th and 11th of July on his foreign tour! When did I choose to be out of Ghana? March to August. What are the odds that I'd be out of the country that I haven't left for more than a couple of weeks at a time since 2005 when this historic event occurs? Granted, even if I were in the country I doubt Barack and Michelle would come over for dinner, but it'd still be nice to be able to say "I was there". At the moment I feel a bit jealous of all of you who will be there to witness the visit. So jealous in fact, I have considered changing my flight, but surely it's not worth it.

Is it?

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Running and Singing

For almost two weeks I haven't been able to write due to lack of sleep, Virgo constantly using my laptop and, most annoyingly, not having anything to write once I finally get the chance to go online.

A Swedish politician created the expression "gröt i hjärnan", loosely "porridge brain" to explain what happened to her thinking process during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Somehow, I think I'm suffering from porridge brain too! The thoughts and great ideas for writing that I had planned out in my head are now muddled up into one big mess, leaving nothing concrete for me to think about. My thoughts flash to my friend who had a baby last year and went back to work after six weeks. How lucky I am not to be in the same position, as I'd probably find myself making mistakes all the time.

Instead I'm enjoying my maternity leave by doing simple things that the brain can handle, e.g. today, watching Göteborgsvarvet (the Gothenburg Race) in the sunshine. For only the second time since I arrived, I had to take off my thin sweater as I was too hot. What a luxury when outside Ghana! Unfortunately I had put my camera away when Spiderman passed me and when two men ran by in only tarzan Speedos! At least I tried to capture a man in a wig and makeup (didn't get a good picture as you can see).




And now, I'm continuing my lazy Saturday by watching the Eurovision Song Contest. Hey, when are we establishing the African Song Contest? Or are we too sophisticated for that...? ; )

video

Monday, 4 May 2009

A very taxing day

Today is D-day in Sweden, as in Declaration day. It's the last day to submit all tax declaration papers and then either look forward to getting some money back or having to pay up a bit more. Sensible people like myself had planned to submit the information via the Tax Office's website way ahead of time, but after spending two weeks setting up my "e-identification" on my new laptop, I then spent another week trying to log in to the declaration page without success. It seems so many people were doing the same thing the system probably went down. Finally, last Thursday afternoon, after many attempted entries, I got in! Only to receive the message that I couldn't declare online but must rather visit their office. As I'm sure you know, Friday was Labour day and so ironically, after trying to declare over three weeks ago, I ended up going to the Tax Office on the very last day.

This morning I tried to figure out the best time to go and decided that it'd probably be best to get there just before lunch, when others would try to sneak from work to drop off their papers. I also thought that with all the available options: preprinted forms to be submitted in the offices mailboxes, online and sms declaration, there couldn't be many people that would need to go to the actual office. How wrong I was!

Already as I got off the tram I realised there were a lot more people on the road than usual. People seemed to be flooding in both directions. But what to do? I took my queue number and decided to wait outside as the pushchair felt a bit to bulky to squeeze in the crowd indoors. 50 minutes later it was finally my turn and the actual declaration itself took a cool 90 seconds.

Amazingly I felt so much lighter afterwards that I decided to skip the tram home, braved the 10 degree chill and headed over the cobble stones for a refreshing one-hour walk home.

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