How Do You Say "Mjölk"?

It is 11 noon.

I was on a tram. After asking for her permission, I took an empty seat beside an old lady. On my lap was a plastic bag covering two containers full of cooked pasta with pesto sauce, tuna, and turkey sausage … my potluck for a friend’s party. Then the white-haired and blue-eyed old lady wearing a beige overcoat and knitted shawl started this conversation.

Where do you come from?


What are you doing here?


How long will you stay?

Two years, hopefully. I will return in 2015.

Would you work here?

I don’t think so.


My study is funded by my office. I need to get back to work after I am finish, otherwise, I have to return the money.

(A moment of silence, then the old lady sighed)

Well, I sent my son to study in London. Now he stays and works there, barely has breaks. He works so hard, until night, even in Sundays. It is different with here. Work in Sweden might be better, you know?

Yes, it could be.

(A moment of silence)

Oh, well. Now I am going to stop in a few minutes. How do you say “mjölk” in English?


Yes, I think would stop and buy some milk in the grocery store. What is “milk” in Finnish?

I do not know, I am sorry. Are you Finnish?

No, I came from northern Sweden.

I see.

(Silence again)

Oh, dear … what is “milk” in German?

I do not know, I am sorry. Do you speak German?

No, I am just wondering. So many languages in my head I get confused.

Oh …

(The tram stopped. The door was opened)

Well, it’s up to you. I think you‘d better stay. You could work here, if you like. Bye (walked down, waved and smiled)

Bye (waved and smiled)

[So far that I remember, this is the third time I had an interesting conversation with a stranger in Sweden.]

2 komentar:

  1. Balasan
    1. also, strange because it feels like people 'know' you for a long time