Coming back to town always embarrasses me as I am being seen by others. Whether they are acquaintances or strangers, their eyes always make me recoil. I’ve learned to either stare at the ground, turn away or just battle it within. But I see too. So coming back to find myself in the town entails a host of observations as well. I haven’t milled about as I never do eitherways, I mostly hit the town to buy groceries or go the local liquor store where I am a member on a daily basis. But seeing its people always reaffirms old observations that border on prejudice but some behaviors are more translucent than others, I don’t want to generalize but they do exist. For example, as I walked into my local telephone dealer Telia store I saw across it the local coffee house which is a sordid description for it because its more than that. Since its summer or warm, choose, than there are tables on the sidewalks for those who want to sit outside and enjoy the towns traffic or passing by of the pedestrians. I saw what am sure are second generation Croatians sitting and talking together and surely there isn’t anything wrong with it as I said to myself when I saw a group of Somalians walk in their religious garbs as I peddled towards the middle of the town earlier in the same hour. But it did cause me some sort of sadness that these second generation Croations can’t seem to mingle and adapt themselves to the larger society of their living quarters.
I personally don’t consider myself assimilated in Sweden and am sure that I would hang out with those I shared most with but since I am alone in this town, my sole duty is to observe and document and as weird and strange that might sound yet am also liberated from the obligations that entail pertaining to a particular group of people in a different country. I have no one to give account of what I grieve or bitch or gripe about when I encounter the Other, in this case, the Swede. So as I peddled towards downtown and came across a group of Somalians I was suddenly thinking and wondering about their life choices in a country where they will perennially be the outsider. I wondered why would they still insist in being the way they are in a country diametrically opposed to their own ens. Their garbs surely are an affront to the Swede since they are Muslim so these days the very fact they choose to dress and continue as if they were still back in their country of origin baffled me and baffles me all the time.
It’s no different from Mexicans in the USA I thought to myself. Eventhough there have been many generations some traditions are renewed by the influx of new migrants from México so that we are always reflecting on how we are and these days these very reflections acquire a new force since the internet reinforces those very behaviors which perpetuate them ad infinitum. I also do this to myself as I nick and nod when I see such quirks being exposed by our own kind. I also recall being a radical Xicano and insisting back in the late 90’s that assimilation was assassination. This brings to mind Richard Rodriguez and his observations about himself as he thought he was being perceived by the Middle Class milieu in which he landed as he moved in the social spheres of the USA. In Hunger of Memory, the observations about his skin color or facial contours are intriguing because he reflects on his ethnic background to deny its very ens through the lens of language. He is trapped in a language which does not reflect his physical appearance.
One of the things I see in Sweden is exactly the contrary whereby fluency in language entails near acceptance as a legit Swede. Specially the adopted ones seem to embrace their Swedeness effortlessly. But I guess that also makes a country great where people can tolerate each other even though we are so far and wide apart from each other. E Pluribus Unum as presidencial candidate Hillary Clinton saind in the DNC 2016, and yes indeed. Out of many One.
Good thing I stopped myself in my tracks as I observed these group of people because while I griped, I also realized, am no different or my kind in this case, is no different than them.