Monday, May 2, 2011

Le charme discret de la bourgeoisie

The lawn outside my flat is clean. That might not sound impessive, given that my country of residence is Sweden, but if you'd been here during the weekend you would be surprised. Valborg, the 30th of April, is something like the Swedish "Students Day", and it is celebrated with plenty of alcohol, and tons of litter in the streets. Think food left overs, whine bottles, beer cans, plastic plates, underwear, demolished bikes...


It is somehow odd, when you have once been to countries where people do what they can to avoid dirt, to note that for Swedes, partying is very closely related to dirt. The dirtier the better. It is interesting how a Bulgarian who likes cleanliness is perfectly able to keep a place in order, even if he or she is drunk, whereas a Swede loses this ability after the first beer. Once the party is on, normal values do not apply.

Hold on, you say - not only Swedes live in Sweden. It is a little premature, almost racist to blame this mess on the mentality of the Swedes. True enough - almost a third of the inhabitants of this corner of Sweden would not call themselves Swedes, but if you go to celebrate 30th of April, that is not the impression you'll get. You will rather come to believe the myth that all Swedish peopel are tall and blonde, for the people who ravage in the streets are predominantly blond and tall. All well educated with good manners - le charme discret de la bourgeoisie.

It is the class/ethnic dimension is what makes it worth blogging about the fact that the lawn today, two days later is clean. Who do you think cleaned it? Tall, blonde Swedes? Not so. I saw a few women of Asian descent, who surely didn't take part in the celebrations, and have personally met the slighlty disabled guy who takes care of this specific lawn. He is Swedish, but lacks in education and manners. After all, who minds cleaning up after themselves if there is an under-paied sucker from a different social group who does it for you?

And what is wrong with that? After all, it takes all sorts of people to make the world, and isn't it a decent job also to clean streets and markets. Undoubltly so, but I think most Swedish people visiting Bulgaria reacts strongly on the fact that everyone cleaining the streets is a roma citizen, and Bulgaria has a pretty bad reputation about discrimination. It looks like one kind of poeople cleans up after another kind of people, and we feel that it is scandalous. It is.

But what is different in Sweden? Nothing but the language of the street cleaners. And the fact We not only litter the streets, but indulge in polluting them, perversly enjoying the fact that it is someone else's mess to clean up.

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