I grew up with people who usually behaved in the same way no matter what the circumstances. People in my homeland would drink much and often, but still the majority of them did not lose their common sense. Those who behaved badly would risk being seen as immature and be mocked. In a country where alcohol is cheap and in abundance/plentiful, one is expected to behave responsibly. My father and I made our own plum brandy called Slivovitz every year, and I saw my father drink many times with our friends and relatives though he never lost his composure. People in my country usually always eat something while drinking/always accompany their drinking with food; cheese, meat or sausages. When any of our relatives visited there was always plenty of food at the table and they would drink and discuss things for hours on end and at the end they would go to bed and sleep it off.
During those years not a single glass was broken, neither did one hear anyone shouting or quarrelling. Sometimes, they would sing old Bosnian songs about love and yearning. And that/and these scenes were repeated year after year until the war broke out and made us all refugees. Of course, there are madmen in my homeland who become violent when their blood is blended with alcohol, but such cases are rare and people immediately condemn/censure them. Even if you met people from my country abroad they behaved just as if they were in their homeland/just as they would if they were at home. Bosnians in the USA, Spain or India behave inmuch the same way as they would in their homeland.
No matter who they are; cleaners, plumbers or university professors, or wherever they may live, in front of them one can always see not only bottles but plates with food, at least some cheese. It is because they want to drink and not be drunk, but to enjoy the evening with their friends in a relaxed atmosphere. However, it was when I first came to Sweden that I understood that there are whole nations who use alcohol as a drug and which tolerate all kinds of stupidities when one is drunk.
I remember my first stroll through the streets of Stockholm one Saturday evening, with my fellow countrymen. I saw people vomiting on the streets, crying, shouting, some of them staggering about with their trousers spoilt by their own excrement and urine; others crawled on the ground talking gibberish. Young, beautiful Swedish girls, with long blonde wavy hair, were lying on the asphalt with a can of beer or a bottle of vodka in their hands; they did not give any sign of life/they gave no signs of life/appearing lifeless. Police cars shuttled/roamed/travelled the streets, their sirens pierced/piercing my ears. "My Lord," I said to myself, "I have left a hell of war to come to a hell of Sweden!"
Later, I met a Bosnian waitress who had worked here in Sweden for years and she told me that sometimes it happened that a Swedish woman left the pub in the company of a man, and the next day came back just to ask her if she remembered the man who had accompanied her because she was so drunk that she herself remembered nothing!
How interesting it is to observe people who usually do not show their feelings, transformed into strange creatures for a few hours, only to return to their "true" personality on Monday morning. On Friday or Saturday evening one can see for example a social worker or a civil servant dancing wildly, kissing passers-by, having sex in the public toilets or losing one of his shoes only to see him again on Monday working hard and silently, not uttering a single word.
Swedes seldom go out on a working day, will almost never drink wine with lunch and then suddenly on Friday evening they explode, trying to compensate for everything they have missed out on during the past five days. It happens that an immigrant will eat lunch with his Swedish colleagues and he orders a glass of wine. He would hardly sip it before everyone gazed at him in a shock. "How could a person drink wine on an ordinary working day?" they would ask themselves.
However the problem with the Swedes is that the majority of them do exactly what their government is demanding from them/demands of them. Their government never needs to use force or methods of coercion. The crowd do what they are ordered to do and they seldom complain, because the Swedes instead of complaining keep everything inside and save it for the psychologist who will recommend to them a new antidepressant which will made them feel happy again.
Maybe one of the reasons why the Swedes are a people who travel the most widely in the world is that many of them want to flee from the uniformity and greyness of their existence, where they have to keep a mask on for twenty four hours a day. Firstly, when they are abroad, the Swedes dare to behave like any other human being although, sometimes, they do go to extremes. Nevertheless, we must understand them, they are like children who have been locked away for months and did not get to play outside. Once they are free they are so overjoyed that they jump and shout as much as they can knowing that soon they will be locked up again.
So, if you should see a Swede abroad you have to know that you have seen only one side of his personality. You should follow him or her back to Sweden to see the other side. I have heard people from other countries telling stories about their Swedish partners. When they first met them in their homeland, the majority of the Swedes were very open and behaved as all others but when they decided to move to Sweden they could not recognise their own wives and husbands because the Swedes were back again in the uniformity from which they had originated and had turned into silent, shy and obedient subjects without their own will/without a will of their own.
My advice to anyone who marries a Swede is to stay in your own homeland; never move to Sweden, otherwise you risk seeing the personality of your loved one change irrevocably. Don't spoil your dreams!
- For Teachers