Monday, June 27, 2011

Revolution Baby

18 weeks 5 days

So I'm going to be a mum! It's the most natural thing in the world, and still it feels very alien and wierd, like something that happens to everyone else (without there being anything strange about that) and not to me. I've always wanted children but I've never felt the right moment for it. This may not be the right moment either, God knows that the circumstances should be different, but they're not and now we just have to make the best of the situation and deal with everything that is to come.

So far I haven't had an easy pregnancy. Been throwing up basically from the first week until now and many days the dizzyness is so overwhelming that I have to spend the whole day laying down. The tests have been good so far, except for once when my blood sugar was a bit high but apparently that was nothing to worry about.

I went to my first regular ultrasound today (had two other before, one in Egypt and another once I arrived in Sweden) and the midwife said that I'm expected to give birth on the 22nd of November. At the time of my first ultrasound in Egypt, all I could see on the screen was a small bean, so from then on the baby has been called Bönan (The Bean). The life inside of me begun some two weeks after the Egyptian former president Hosni Mubarak stepped down. I choose to see that as a sign of a good start of the life that I will be bound to for the rest of my life. Could it be better than to start out when a whole nation is celebrating it's freedom? I don't think so! November seems faaar away but thinking that it's only less than 5 months left is kinda scary! I pray that Khalid will have the opportunity to be here by then. It would suck if he would miss it, since he's already missing out the first ultrasounds, the baby's movements and all that. I'm trying to tell myself that it's not the end of the world if he would be here later, but of course I would prefer it to be sooner rather than later.

I've started to feel more distinct movements now that can last for a good while. Before it's only been a sensation of whirling and bubbles, but now it's definitely something else. It's an amazing feeling and can't be compared with anything else. I don't know if it's a boy or a girl and don't want to know until the baby is born either. Both me and Khalid prefer to live with the surprise, but I have to say that I suspect it to be a girl. It remains to be seen if my feelings are right!

In May, my sister gave birth to pretty Kimberly and in September my brother will become a dad, so that makes three cousins in one year!

Going on a job interview tomorrow for a temp position at a place that I would really love to work. I've kept my eyes on the place for months, hoping for an opening and now I have the chance. Since it's only temp and not a permanent position, I really hope they will look past my pregnancy and instead see to my qualities, experiences and personality. I know that I would make a good job and if all went well, I would certainly not mind continue to work there when the baby is a bit older and all. Keep your fingers crossed!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Små Grodorna Translated!

"Små grodorna" ("The Little Frogs") is a traditional Swedish song and ring dance which is usually sung and danced at Midsummer (and Christmas). The dance is supposed to illustrate what frogs don't have, like ears and tails. In Midsummer we dance it around the Maypole/Midsummer pole and at Christmas around the Christmas tree. 

The melody has apparently been traced from a military march from the French Revolution; "La Chanson de l'Oignon" ("The Onion Song") with the refrain "Au pas, camarade, au pas camarade / au pas, au pas, au pas!" (At walking pace, comrade!"). It is said that the French's enemies during that time, the Brits, changed the lyrics to a rather snide one; "Au pas, grenouilles!" ("At a walking pace, small frogs!"). It's unknown where the Swedish lyrics comes from, but it's possible that it was inspired by the English ironic one.

Here's the lyrics in Swedish and English:

Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se
(Small frogs, small frogs are funny to see)
Små grodorna, små grodorna är lustiga att se
(Small frogs, small frogs are funny to see)
Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de
(No ears, no ears, no tails have they)
Ej öron, ej öron, ej svansar hava de
(No ears, no ears, no tails have they)

Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack.
Kou ack ack ack ack kaa
Kou ack ack ack, kou ack ack ack.
Kou ack ack ack ack kaa

Friday, June 24, 2011

Swedish Midsummer

One of my favourite holidays midsummer and today is Midsummer's Eve. The sun will set at 10.16 PM where I live and rise at 04.05 AM but Sweden is a long country and up north the sun never sets at this time of year, it just touches the horizon and rises again. On this coordinate though, most part of the night isn't dark, unless it's very cloudy.

Midsummer celebrations were meant to welcome the summer and fertility in agrarian times. In the early 16th century Swedes made their own version of German traditions by decorating houses and farm tools with foliage and raised tall, leafy maypoles to dance around. A crown of leafs and flowers decorate the heads of happy celebrating people. In the beginning mostly youngsters took part of the celebrations and indistrial communities, where mill employees were munching away on a feast of pickled herring, beer and schnapps. In the 20th century it developed into the most Swedish of all traditional festivities.

Where I live, the most important symbols of Midsummer are the decorated pole (and the dancing around it), the flower crowns and of course the food feast that almost always consists of pickled herring, new potatoes with cream and chive which is all swollowed down with schnapps. On Midsummer Night, the local tradition says that any girl who climbs seven fences under silence, picking a different flower in between each and then put the small bouqet under your pillow - then she will dream of her future husband. I tried it each year when I was a kid, but I have to admit that I never dreamt of Khalid (or anyone else for that matter, except once when I dreamt of my uncle, which was quite horrifying for a young girl!). Perhaps I did something wrong or simply couldn't help but to giggle with my fellow love-searching young neighbors while we should have stayed completely silence!

Anyways, me, dad and Oskar went for the traditional celebrations in Mariebergsparken in Kinna, that is the native district's park. The park was originally a bushy forest- and meadow ground as well as an old spot for digging gravel that all belonged to the farm Marieberg, whose manor house still stands. When the ground was bought by the native district's association, it was turned into a park and a couple of other old cottages have been bought and brought to the park. It's a popular and beautiful recreation area and weddings and other celebrations are often held in the park lodge. It was great seeing colourful people folk costumes and flower crowns doing "the frog dance" around the pole while enjoying a small picnic in the green grass! Afterwards we munched on pickled herring with trimmings with the rest of the extended family. No schnapps for me though, but I enjoyed the fresh strawberries with cream and sugar even more!

I'll post a video of the famous "Små grodorna", complete with dance and song (translated and all!) in my next post. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Life Works in Mysterious Ways

Khartoum - Sudan, Ameln Valley - Morocco, Cairo - Egypt, Öresten - Sweden
 Even the smallest choices you make, the smallest turns in your everyday life, can really take you to unimaginable places - or away from them. 

Out of the three far-away countries I've lived, Sudan is probably the most extreme of them all. Whilst I had my good share of drama and political corruption, kidnapping, a police who "captured" my passport and persecution (links to previous blog posts) - but the fact is that I could easily have been there right now, if small and seemingly unsignificant events and decisions hadn't taken me elsewhere. Today the largest country in Africa is about to split in two: the north (Sudan) and the south (South Sudan). To my big surprise, many seems to think that this should be the solution to all the problems that have haunted the Sudanese people for centuries. People think that wars will be solved, disputes will be settled and poverty and health problems will magically disappear. Surely you can hope that the long lasting conflicts between the north and south tribes will settle, but as always, things are not that simple. Even if that would happen, Darfur will still be caught in the middle, without any solution close at hand. Thousands will continue to die from starvation and diseases, caught in tribal conflicts (and governmental funded slaughters) and displaced when their villages are being burned. Many will end up in miserable refugee camps, either in Sudan or Chad. Most will have no hope of a safe future.

A couple of days ago, CNN reported that a major military offensive might be on its way in Southern Kordofan (a north Sudanese state). The report is based on field reports and satellite images and that has captured what looks like at least 89 military vehicles in the city of Kadugli, the state capital, which is being controlled by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF). The vehicles included heavy ammunition transport trucks, light vehicles and possible towed artillery pieces. In May, Southern Sudanese forces attacked a UN Mission in Sudan convoy in Abyei. 22 soldiers died and Sudanese troops took control of the city, forcing Southern Sudanese forces out. According to the chief of Southern Sudan's mission to the United Nations, Abiyei belongs to both the north and the south until the people in the city decide otherwise. Now representatives os Sudan and South Sudan have signed an agreement of the immediate withdrawal of Sudanese troups from Abiyei, but the fightings in South Kordofan continue to threaten and claim lifes. My husband is somewhat safe in the capital, Khartoum, but my worries will not ease until I have him within an arms length again.

I spent a few months in Morocco and although I was safely placed in the more safe and touristy places, the ghost of the Moroccan-Western Sahara conflict loomed all over the country and haunted the people. The massive popular movements that have surged through the Arab world in the past few months reached Morocco in February and King Mohammed VI's (in power since 1999) response was a promise of "comprehensive constitutional reform", but protests that have claimed lifes have continued. Yesterday some 10.000 protesters gathered in Casablanca against the king's proposed constitutional changes. Meanwhile unemployment and poverty continues to be a huge problem and one of the major reasons for the unrest.

Most recently I had both the unluck and privilege to witness the popular Egyptian revolution first hand. While teargas and gunshots flew outside my window in central Cairo the Egyptian people gathered in their hundered of thousands in Tahrir Square and across the country to demand that president Hosni Mubarak (who had been in power for over 30 years) step down. After 18 days and hundereds of people dead the people got what they demanded and the military took over. Revisit my blog posts from January to February for personal reports, videos and photos. Today Mubarak is charged with the deaths of the protesters and is in custody in a military hospital in Sharm al-Sheikh after having heart problems. Now his lawyer says that he's also suffering from stomach cancer. The expected presidential election is to be held in December and the parlamentary election is proposed to take place in September which has caused some concerns as new public opinion survey predicts that the islamistic Muslim Brotherhood will by then have gained influence over the consitution.

Meanwhile, in safe Sweden, the politics are swaying to the right, slowly but steadily. The taxes have been cut and apparently the economy is growing, the budget is balanced and unemployment is declining. Even so, long term sick-listed people are loosing their sickness benefits and declined economical benefits from the social services they are forced into work despite of cancer, heavy depressions or no ability to move their bodies. And now midsummer is approaching with dancing around the pole, sunset after 10 PM, herring and other wierd traditions and rituals. As much as I appreciate all the odd experiences in faraway countries, I think I'll spend a few years in my country. I may think its dull or even boring at times, but at least I'll be safely away from violent uprisings, teargas, kidnapping and shootings. The only thing missing is to share the safety with my beloved husband.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Picnic Festival and Swedish National Day

Today is the Swedish National Day and I went to Picknickfestivalen (the Picnic Festival) in Göteborg with my beloved brother Jimmy and beautiful Elina. The festival is arranged each year to promote diversity and fellowship and is against racism. Bands and artists have been on stage since early afternoon until some time before midnight and thousands of wonderful people have enjoyed the Swedish summer on blankets in the green grass. What a better way to celebrate our National Day than to welcome and cherish our multicultural society that brings so much to our lives?

They day was beautiful; the music was good, the people were greater and the atmosphere was fantastic. Maybe I'll make it a tradition to come to that festival each National Day!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Peps in My Heart

I'm sorry that I haven't updated in so long, things have been a bit wierd lately and my head haven't worked properly, to say the least. I'll write more on that topic at a later point.

I'm in Sweden, as you know, and am currently waiting anxiously for Khalid's stay permit. It's empty without him and I can't help to worry about his well being and all, with the situation being as it is in Sudan and all. But all's well that ends well and in the end we'll have yet another obstacle that we overcame with patience and love.

Summer is here, and the Swedish summer can't be compared with anything else in the world. I've travelled far; from paradise beaches with turqoise glimmering waters to smoking sulphur smelling landscapes to the vast deserts, but in the end Sweden in summer time is very very hard to beat. So to celebrate the coming of clear blue skies, the smell of blooming fields, green forests and sparkling lakes, I'll share a song with you. From the sixties into the nineties, Peps Persson has brought blues and reggae to Sweden with his charectaristic voice and sound that brings happiness and goodness into the cold Swedish hearts. Bob Marley is said to have said that Peps Persson is the only white man that has reggae in his blood. Wether he really said it or not, or if it's true or not, I cannot say.

Peps turned even more into a personal hero when he in 2010 decided to sue the racist Sweden Democrats (SD) for hijacking a song of his ("Grannen", which means "The Neighbour") and cutting it down to one verse as a political propaganda for the party. The SD politician responsible for the act did so with the message of "This is why I vote for SD" on a webpage, while in fact the lyrics of the song is meant to advocate the complete opposite of SD's message. This song, "Oh boy" from 1992 is one of my favourites and is a signature summer song for me. I'll make an amateur attempt to translate the lyrics below. Enjoy!

"Oh boy!
What a beautiful weather, sun's shining today.
Oh boy!
No heavy clothes are needed, and that I like.
Stand up and jump, it's sunny today,
and on a day like that you can't lie and slack.
No, leave that and come with me outside
when summer's coming, now winter is gone.
Oh boy!
Hear the bird song, they sing so you get dizzy.

Oh boy!
Here in the yard's path, the road leads to an adventure.
Yes, imagine that you can be so happy
of the ground's flowers and of green leafs.
And the child inside you comes home again
to forgotten dreams and to the summer.
Oh boy!

Oh boy!
What happy tunes, it's pulling and quivering inside of me.
Oh boy!
A thousand million hugs I want to give you.
Yes, imagine that it can be so easy sometimes.
So simple as to hold out a hand,
and wipe the gravel off a child's cheek,
and feel the warmth from a summer wind.
Oh boy!
What a gift from above it is to live today.

Oh boy!
The pure gift of God, is it strange that I'm happy?
For the sun's shining, and you are here,
and earth is spinning on it's heavenly sphere.
And really when you feel like this,
the world is close to a paradise."