This blue marble

– and yet it spins

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Lunch in Stockholm

stadshusetQuick snapshot of the City Hall after a lunch with the Mayor of Stockholm. Although I must confess I did not know she was the Mayor until much later – this due to the confusing title she has in Swedish (I just thought she was a senior council member). And I sat opposite to her. Oops.

Usually I don’t make such a miss because I depend on my excellent governmental affairs colleagues who brief me before every meeting. I am terrible at trying to follow the politics of any of the Nordic countries I work in – including my own. Instead of being thankful that I live in a democracy and actively participating, I try to exclude politics from my life. How very privileged and ungrateful.

(Stockholm, Sweden; April 2017)

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Blue for Kathmandu

fundraisingThere was cocktails, and delicious food. There were people dressed up all lovely. There was live music – and an auction to support our orphans in Kathmandu. And the location was probably the most contrasting to the cause: the “home” of Absolut Vodka, in Stockholm.

We toured the “apartment” (which really was an apartment, save for the kitchen, because no rock stars and artists staying here ever have time to cook). There was a bedroom with a floor-covering bed, and a bathroom with televisions from a U2 concert. And a studio. Of course. The staff were fiercely proud of the place, to the extent that they had been insulted by our question if it was possible to serve beer at the bar (only Absolut cocktails were ever going to be served!).

And I could not help but think of the kids in Kathmandu who had probably never tasted Absolut vodka. To whom a brand, an image, of an alcoholic beverage is not worth a rupee. I thought about the absurd abstraction of building a luxury party home for a distilled rye beverage that melts your brain and crisps your liver. And how we worship images, whether they were religious or consumables that we most likely do not need.

I work in the pharmaceuticals and health technology industry; a branch that also has been heavily criticized. Sometimes with reason. But I know we save lives and make people’s lives better. I could not say the same if I worked for Absolut. And yet, because of my lovely friends and the people at Absolut Atelier, we were able to raise a significant sum of money for the kids in Kathmandu; enough for a few years to come.

Maybe Hamlet was right. “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

(Absolut Atelier, Stockholm, Sweden; March 2017)

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Last spring

ice-2Today is a decently warm summer’s day. Just three months ago my home shore looked like this: broken ice crackling against the rocks. Impatient kayakers trying to navigate the slushy waters. A “lifestyle indian” (as we would say in Finnish) enjoying the first warming rays of the sun. ice-1We hardly had any snow that winter, but spring was cold. REALLY cold. Snow on the night before May Day. Unusually much snow in Lapland in June. 11 degrees Celsius and windy on the first day of June. Global warming is upon us, wise people say. But who knows if it means we will actually feel the warmth. Maybe temperatures just even out into in-between seasons all year round? How awful that would, Finland; March 2017)

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Sunday morning, 11 am

Oslo-3Oslo was as crisp and tranquil as the weather on a Sunday morning in December. After a ladies’ weekend out (including spa and sushi and jazz), a morning stroll and a cup of hot tea a welcome moment of mindfulness.
Oslo-2I must have been the only one thinking so as the streets were almost abandoned. So much beauty and nobody but me to see it, at least not today. Oslo-1(Oslo, Norway; December 2016)


Snow confusion in Stockholm

firstsnow-3One would think that, like in Helsinki, snowfall in Stockholm would equal much shoveling and careful driving. But snowfall in Stockholm always equals chaos. Roads close, schools close, trains won’t run, and even this time the subway (?!) did not run properly.

Welcome to Sweden, where modern society has very quickly forgotten how things used to be before climate change. Where nobody skis to work anymore – and thus everything stops when the snow comes. firstsnow-2(Stockholm, Sweden; November 2016)