Monthly Archives: August 2012

I have been looking for this one pair of swimming goggles.

A pair that  would not leak and spare me of swearing in public swimming pools.

On a recent occasion of ocular flooding I approached a girl who was wearing a pair of googles at the pool. I asked her if the googles worked for her. She suggested that I tried on her pair – a Swedish sports equipment company´s own brand (Stadium).

Forget the Speedos and Arenas. They don’t work for me. This pair did.

So the quest started. I  chased them around in the stores of Uppsala. Phoned around only to find out that every single pair of plastic spectacles had been sold out.

I even looked for them in Finland. Raided the shops in Helsinki and Tampere. No goggles to be found.

I finally got hold of them in Linköping. I paid 100 SEK and told the cashier I had high expectations of this plastic object made in China.

Tomorrow I am leaving the North after two months of Swedish summer. This is obviously how I manage my pre-departure stress.

Going  goggles.


In Suomi, Finland, for the fifth, I believe, time in my life.

I have always come here to see friends, so I would describe visiting Finland a bit like putting on a pair of comfortable slippers.

This time however,  I slipped into normal shoes as I had a date with Helsinki. Two days for us to get to know each other  better.

I started by walking into the view from the 7th floor of the Domus Academica hostel and exploring the jogging tracks along the urban coastline.

I entertained myself by walking around the Bulevardi and Fredrikinkatu and stopping for two pots of Earl Grey at the small English-speaking Brooklyn cafe.

I had morning sauna and swimming and went for a pilgrimage at Tin Tin Tango, a continental-style cafe,  Finnish enough to have a backdoor sauna for rent, laundry facilities and an  all day breakfast policy. Figure out the possible combinations yourself.

I tasted thai noodles and Israeli falafel on afterwork escapades with a certain Ms P. and caught some of  the last late evening sunbeams of the season.

I had a vegetarian  lunch-thali  at the Hare Krishna centre of Ruoholahdenkatu to the modest price of five euro. I sat on the floor and felt quite colourless compared to the  middle-aged man in yellow jeans and  pink socks of the next  table.

Then, just on time before having to take the train into the remote suburbia of Tampere, I made it to the Ateneum exposition on Finnish painter Helen Schjerfbeck. A bust of colours, shapes and impressions crafted in a gone era, comfortably located within a stone’s throw from the Central Station.

Dear Olivia,

I want to get physical… Not exactly in the way your song suggests, rather in the purely athletic sense.

Remember the  big guys in your video? The ones that you were trying so hard to reform into sporty animals?

Sometimes I feel that my brain is just as resistent as those obese fellows.

I sympathise with them and with you, because I want to get physical too and shake off more than a decade of sedentary work that has encrusted my body.

But you know Olivia, it is not always that easy….

First of all you have to work out your mind that is  trying to trick you into believing that there is always a better time to exercise, or that conditions are not perfect.

Olivia, in the past months  I have fought chaotic traffic and oppressive Indian heat in my endeavour to be physically active.

I combined long walks with yoga and dance. Once I migrated to the friendlier Japanese climate I started taking morning walks and runs.

Now I am back in Europe and I am jogging, cycling, walking, practicing yoga.

But Olivia, when does it become easy?

When is the mind as flexible as you look in your tight leotards? When does the body become as bendy?

Is there this moment of gratification that will arrive if I just keep on trying?

I hope discipline will dissolve into pure spontaneity and joy.  Will it?

I am thinking that the  next step could be to set up some personal milestones to monitor  my personal progress.

I am regular Olivia and very happy about that. I am my very own Olivia you could say

You’re right to think that I  still need to work a little bit on  my priorities. At the same time, somehow  am already where I am suppose to be.

I hope one day it will feel as easy as you make it look.

In the meantime,  maybe I should get a leotard like yours. Maybe.

Yours truly,


The swing of moods is a tricky thing. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down with no apparent reason…

In such a downwards movement of the swing, I picked up a fond memory from my  travel-pantry, Nasi lemak, the creamy coconut-rice late breakfast treat we queed for on several occasions when I was visiting Malaysia.

I looked for a recipe online and tried to reconstruct the taste according to what I had at home.

The result was so much appreciated, that I am sharing it with you.

This recipe serves two…

Put two eggs in a pot with water, bring to boil, put on the lid, turn off the heat and leave the eggs on the stove for around 10 min. Withdraw.

Cut some cucumber in wedges. You can also add some lettuce leafs.

Get on to the rice.

You will need: 1 dl  of washed basmati rice, a thin piece of fresh ginger finely chopped, less than 1/4 tsp ground ginger, a pinch of salt, a bay leaf, or some grated lime (or lemon) zest, which is what I used.

Bring everything to boil, lower the heat and let the mixture simmer for a couple of minutes, then turn off the heat and put a kitchen towel between the pot and the lid. Let it stay on the stove while you are preparing the rest.

Sauce: you will need a big onion, 1-2 cloves of garlic, chopped. Two-three  tablespoons of crushed tomatoes, one tsp of red chili paste – example nam ya thai curry – dilluted in a bit of water, 150 gr of shrimps or one package of white, washed anshovies. I used eco-labelled shrimps from the North Sea.

Mix the juice of half a lime or lemon together with one tbsp of tamari sauce – i.e. organic glutenfree tamari sauce, Clearspring – and set aside. NB: the tamari sauce was my way of substituting the sugar included in the original recipe. Successful!

Soften the onion and the garlic in a pan in 2 tbsp of oil. Add the chili paste and stir well – proceed with the  shrimps or anchovies and finally the tomato sauce. Let the sauce cook for a couple of minutes and turn off the heat before you add the lime and tamari sauce. Cover with a lid and let it rest.

Now it is time for the final touch…

Heat up  2 tablespoons of oil on medium fire in a small frying pan and fry a fistful of raw peanuts, or cashews until golden brown.Transfer on to some kitchen towel to eliminate excess oil.

Scoop the rice on a plate, add the sauce and the nuts on the side and garnish with the eggs and the cucumber. I put some parchment paper on the plates to evoke take-away. You can check the original look here.

It was a most enjoyable dinner. Soothing for the taste buds, but also for my brain cells that were jumping for joy with the recollection of tropical heat and new discoveries.

We rounded up with gratinated apples picked directly from the lawn of the condominium. Oh, how sweet is the taste of fallen fruit!

It’s a beautiful summer Sunday and we are off to Hälsingland to meet my grandfather and his cousin on her birthday.

We call Karin from a gas-station, a good hour before arrival. She has just finished tidying up after her breakfast guests and sounds eager to hang up to make sure to have a birthday cake ready for us when we arrive.

A promise is a promise.

When we arrive, Karin’s garden is in full bloom and so is she. We all hug her and sing for her. Then we give her a helping hand with the basket laden with china, coffee, tea and of course, cake.

Just to please us, Karin serves us an exquisite hors d’oeuvre – Helsingland cheese cake; a sweet that dates back to the 17th century. What place could be better to savour it than a piece of land that has belonged to the same family more or less since the 1600?

The cake is chewy, hot from the oven and topped with cold, home-made rasberry topping. We are all in a bliss.

As soon as we’ve finished it,  Karin comes out with the real birthday cake. There we are, having a cake-lunch in a family ring of three generations around the wooden garden table.

Everything looks so picturesque and naturally beautiful. The red-coloured wooden house. The blossoming white rose bush that arches around the porch. The fluffy cream in between two layers of cake crust. The green pastures where sheep play peek-a-boo with the shade.

It is difficult to suspect all the hard work behind the surrounding beauty.

Like the 470 liters of red paint Karin cooked herself on a stove in the yard. The daily feeding of the animals and the regular trimming of the lawn. Washing endless amounts of bed-linen, making beds and serving succulent breakfasts to her bed and breakfast guest.

Most imporantly, the hours and hours spent on preserving and transmitting the story of the family, of the village and region with genuine devotion.

Everytime I visit, there is something new to discover from the treasure-trove of  history. Discussions around breakfast and dinner always give food for thought.

I believe that every family has an interesting story, but not every family has its story-teller.

Our family is lucky to have one.

Her job may not be a piece of cake, but Karin is a  true conveyor of the living past. Not of the past as in fragmented exhibits in a museum, but of the instrumental kind that talks to you because it is a part of your present and  future.

Her commitment is a gift to all of us.


Chance of precipitation

Moderate breeze

Scattered clouds and sunny intervalls

High: 21° C.

I  think I do not  want to know the weather in advance. I prefer being curious about how it may turn out. Playing with probabilities and possibilities.

Feeling the great surprise when, after a day of heavy rain-intervalls, the sun comes out from its hiding place at eight o’clock in the evening and throws a bucket of gold paint on everything.

There is no point in putting any blame on the weather-gods for any mishaps –  it is just in vain. If you still need something to blame, the Swedes have developed the following piece of wisdom: “there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes“.

Then comes along a perfect day; I cruise on a borrowed bike wearing a light cotton top and cannot help but feel thankful and wink to the heavens.

Hm, yes, I think I prefer this “notknowingbeforeIknow” option, rather than having to vent my disappointment at the short-comings of some sophisticated and advanced forecast machine.

There is a very good synchronous weather-app by the way. I am using it right now.

It is called a window.

Compatible with both  iPhone and Android.


Clockwise, otherwise & likewise

The Chick on a Pea

Clockwise, otherwise & likewise

Sadness Theory

Music with passion for the environment

zee pause café

taking a moment, having a coffee, writing down some thoughts