My journey from Amman to Stockholm last week was a perfect picture of how small the world has become and it showed the beauty of diversity and of the mix between cultures, languages, countries and backgrounds.
In the airport in Amman I stand in line to go through the security check to reach my gate. I end up next to a blond woman. She asks me where I am going and I answer “Stockholm”.
“Ooh, så pratar du svenska?” (Ooh, so you speak Swedish?) she says.
“Jag pratar lite svenska, men jag är från Danmark” (I speak a little Swedish but I am from Denmark) I answer.
So it turns out that she is Swedish. She is living in Amman at the moment with her husband (who is a Norwegian journalist) and their daughter – and she is traveling to Copenhagen, Denmark. She is visiting her old mother who lives in the southern part of Sweden which is very close to Copenhagen.
The Dane is going to Sweden and the Swede is going to Denmark.
After a very rushed layover in Budapest (1 hour delayed arrival and only 35 minutes between my two planes) and a goodbye to the Swedish woman, Ingrid – I board my next plane bound to Stockholm.
I find my seat and kindly ask the guy next to my seat to let me pass. I settle in and he jokingly asks if I am who they have been waiting for the past hour (Malev Air kept the connecting flight waiting for me and 3 other passengers). I smile and we start talking.
His name is Mario. He has just been to Lebanon to visit his old parents and now he is on his way back to Sweden where he lives. He lives in Norrland, northern Sweden, with his Swedish wife and their 3 beautiful children. He speaks French with his wife, Swedish with his children and Arabic with his family back in Lebanon.
The Arab lives in Scandinavia and the Scandinavian lives in the Middle East.
I felt so inspired and I just had to tell him about Ragda Butros’ recent article on 7iber about “Choosing not to Choose” – and the discussion about identity, culture, background, history and the likes kept us entertained all the way to Stockholm.
At the baggage carousel I say goodbye to Mario but at the same spot I meet a very confused young man. He speaks only a few words in English and is asking all the Arab looking men in the area if they speak Arabic. Since he is not having any luck with the men he is asking I offer my help.
“Biddak musa3deh?” (Do you want any help?)
An expression of great relieve spreads across his face and the next hour I spent running around the airport with him trying to get him a ticket to Finland. He was from Syria and was trying to get to Finland where his girlfriend was. He spoke only Arabic and a bit of Finnish that his girlfriend had taught him – so getting around in Arlanda Airport turned out to be a bit complicated
And finally – after sending my new Syrian friend off to his Finnish girlfriend in Wasa I could leave the airport. And I took the bus to town to meet with my own cultural melting pot: my Jordanian/Swedish/World citizen man with whom I speak English, Swedish, Danish and Arabic (sometimes all together).
Love knows no boundaries and the world is truly very small