tisdag 8 februari 2011

Face to face communication

This is the story of how I met a complete stranger at the station that needed help, and how in the end I had learned quite a lot about him even though we barely understood each other.

His Swedish was very limited, he only knew a handful of words, as was his English. After a few attempts of understanding each other we realized that we didn't share a common language. The closest we could get was Arabic, since he was from Iraq, but that gave us about 3 more words...Anyways he had spent the night in Åkersberga and had been told by his Swedish friend to take the sky train to the central station. That's it. That's the only information he got. He knew nothing, he barely knew when his SL ticket expired. I figured since I was going in the same direction the best way to solve this is to ask him to follow me.

He was very social, despite the fact that we had no common language. He told me his age, that his hair colour is fake, he talked about his children and that he drank a bit too much in Åkersberga last night (what happens in Åkersberga, stays...just kidding). I got a description of his workplace, what he does and how it all works. Also got to know a bit about his friends & family.

"Smoke?" he asked me just as we were about to catch the subway. When I said no he gave me a thumbs up and explained how his father had been very strict about smoking and drinking when he was younger. When he got home it was "Salam" followed by his father checking his clothes for any sign of smoking.

At the central station we made a call to one of this friends living here in Sweden. I had to do the talking. They were supposed to meet at Mörby Centrum. Apparently that was what he was trying to say to me when we were standing at Tekniska Högskolan and he said "train" and then pointed at the red sign on the wall. I just didn't put the clues together...but he told me earlier he wanted to go to "central Stockholm".

Oh and I was standing next to Peter Jihde in the grocery store today, pretty cool yeah.

Photo: Arad Hosseini

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