This story of a Westerner in tumultuous, dirty, enchanting Mumbai may be true, or it may be the invention of a grand ego. Regardless, the display of colors that are the good, the bad, and the ugly of humandkind is not far from the truth. And in Roberts’s own words, the truth is a bully we all pretend to like.
Polka piglets. I am not kidding. That is how the Swedish national candy, also known as peppermint rock, translates into English. Polka was fashionable when the poor widowed mother invented the candy in the 1840 and set up shop in Gränna, terraced above lake Vättern.
Out of all the ways to make ends meet for her and her children, she chose to take a leap into the unknown and become an entrepreneur. Out of all the things to sell, she chose pastries and her very own white, delicious mint candy with red swirls, which she named after a trendy dance. What a lovely, bright, courageous woman she must have been! And how proud she would feel if she knew her legacy has grown into a national symbol and a town making a living on polka piglet tourism.
Gränna with its polkagrisar, blue sky, lake Vättern, and quaint streets, was the perfect stop on our family trips down through Sweden into central Europe. We took a long time choosing one or two bright-colored bars. Oh the luxury of adulthood and own money! Today I failed to choose and ended up with quite a bunch…
Oh yes, yet another castle, in yet another city. How dreary it must have been to be a soldier stationed in this damp, cold fortress. There was probably little consolation in the gorgeous view overlooking Gothenburg city on one side and countryside on the other. The threat of attacking Spaniards, Poles, Danes, and crazy village people was real for centuries. Gothenburg used to be a burg: protected from all sides. I wonder whether the city walls would have given rise to a sense of security or a feeling of looming threat?
And on we move from lamenting on the bloody history of Gothenburg, Tallinn, and Vilnius; and into the luxury of cozy, chattery cafés in the old town. Heavy thoughts are easily dispersed by giant cinnamon buns and meringue clouds. The Danes won’t be attacking any time soon, so hot chocolate all around!