See that police car? – it’s the only police car in town and if you get caught the policeman is likely to know your parents so you’d better be a good boy;)
I arrived to Leksand – a small holiday town near the lake of Siljan without any cash, with a locked debit card having spent 4 hours on the phone fighting with my bank’s Indian call centre. What this taught me is how dependant we are on the Banking industry. You don’t think about it much, watch the news and see Switzerland block some dodgy Russian oligarch’s bank account, flick the channel to see Cannes lions advertising festival instead but what you don’t realise is just how effective the measures that the banking system can impose on you are.
I am writing these lines form a cafe with no access to cash and I feel lucky because I can still use my credit card… and because they know what a credit card is in Sweden, my story would be completely different if I were somewhere in Germany, away from larger cities – there live the people who still think it’s 1937 and all is ruled by cash… and maybe gold ingots!
What I also thought about is just how lazy we are, how much we rely on having money available in our bank accounts. You go to an office, stay there for 10 hours a day and what you get in return in not money as such – it is the “trouble-free life”.
There is little doubt that this incident will change the way I see my financial independence, I used to thing of risks being yobs in the streets but the world is way more complex than that. The institution that created you and gave you means to live a trouble-free life may in a flick of a switch turn against you.
Leksand is a lovely little town, they are among the places people go for a mid-summer celebration in Sweden so I went to the region to check it out.
The most interesting thing about Leksand is that it has a Christian community.Come to the place if you wanna see the poser of religion. Religion is not just people’s connection to God – it is a powerful and wealthy club. In Leksand you see if for real.
Go down a city street and see tidy Scandinavian houses:
All is nice and neat just as you’d expect it but cross the road and enter the religious part of the town and you will see things change:
Back is the red timber! Back are detached building with beautiful balconies facing the setting sun! Hey, tell me now that being religious does not pay social dividends;)
Ah, and they do have a volleyball pitch and you don’t;)
That made me think a great deal about the importance of religion as a social entity. I am not talking about faith here, I am only saying that it may be that being part of a religious group may make you financially and emotionally better off. The question of why is it that the state can not do the same for all of its citizens and why is it that social coherence seems to be of crucial importance for local prosperity is something you may wanna think about next time you’re choosing a golf club to join.
The day ended in a drunken haze at a bar with the guys you see play volleyball on the photo above who were not member of the Christian community but they were not in the habit of asking for a permission to “come and play” either;)
They immersed me into the life of a real citizen. The life without a detached house, without a balcony facing sunset but they were lovely people, people that yet again make me think that money is not a silver bullet for being a good man.
I was invited to spend an evening in Rättvik which despite being a less famous and posh town compared to Leksand was very “alive” and full of young people. But the highlight of the night was the trip from Leksand to Rättvik.
Kalle, a local sea-man, iconically drunk and courageous took me through a cluster of local villages and it would not be so nice if not for the sunset. I seem to be chasing sunsets on this trip:)
I also saw what in Russia they call a “house on chicken feet” 🙂 Here it’s called Härbre and is used to store… stuff:)
There are so many unique things about Sweden. I have been told about the red paint and that it comes from copper mines and that you can on;y use this paint if you want a red-timber house!
The Gravel Road to Mora
The next day I went to Mora which reminded me of a mid-sized English seaside town. On the way there I took the country roads and that was a much better idea than seeing Mora itself:)
I raced my car along the gravel roads surrounding the Siljan lake, the child of Germany was helpless with all it’s horse power and 4WD… the “Allroad” badge and a hefty price tag does not mean you can overtake a Swede in his 1992 ford Scorpio:) This world truly belongs to brave boys racing their battered cars with massive Hella lights bolted in front! And when they row up… well, cars may change but the boys don’t;)
These gravel roads made me think of a completely different ideology of a Swede as a driver. It’s not the Autobahns where Swedes see themselves liberated, it’s these unregulated forest roads with no road signs, no police and no nanny telling you how dangerous life can be.
And you’d wonder why these seem to exist forever without a single hole… yeah, sure, that’s because guys like this one come with a mother of all grader trucks and make it this way:)
In the end the road brought me to a holiday boat rental place which was not open yet and it’s there where I enjoyed this excellent office view!
In your face, Investment Banks! Tell me again about your canteen and free water for tea and coffee – I have the whole lake free to myself here! maybe that’s why you blocked my card…
This night I closed my eyes thinking I could go to the village and ask if I could chop wood for some cash…
(Jun 21-22 2016)