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    #1

    The Fiction of Reality, part eight

    Would you please correct my mistakes in the eight part of my text?

    From time to time, I take a stroll in middle-class suburbs. Their soporific atmosphere makes me calm and reminds me of my own home which I have lost. I walk at all times of day and evening, and the streets and gardens are usually empty. A car or a bicycle passes by, and the silence falls again broken only by the twitter and singing of birds. The houses are almost identical, one-or two-floored with a garage, a well-tended garden, and a small orchard with a few fruit trees. The strict law and rules discourage any variations. Anyone who would paint his facade in bright red, blue, or yellow would immediately come up against the town council, which would remind him of the rules and regulations. The cars parked on driveways and in the streets are mostly Volvo, BMW, VW, and Audi, usually of the latest models. Neighbours prefer to keep distance between each other and love their privacy. A casual chat now and then between neighbours could be seen as normal, but trying to strike up friendship could arouse suspicion. Therefore people prefer to stay quiet than risk disgrace.

    Weekends in Sweden are almost impossible to imagine without a large consumption of alcohol. Intellectuals, manual workers, pensioners, politicians, artists and students can be seen on Friday or Saturday carrying carrier bags with the bottles of sprit, which can only be bough in the state retail shops. And of course there are people who sell alcohol illegally and who cater for the youth and others who do not want to pay exorbitant prices in the state retail shops.
    It is like an obsession in Nordic countries to get drunk as fastest as possible. As if people want to escape the reality and enter another world, where their inhibitions evaporate and they can behave dissolutely and say all kinds of things to each other without the fear of consequences. On Sunday, they cure their hangovers, and they often order takeaway food, because they are exhausted or lazy to cook their own meals. They spend the rest of the day watching TV or playing games with their families, and on Monday, they hurry to work as millions of their compatriots do. Their lives are for the most part predictable, although now and then, a tragedy happens: a fatal traffic accident, incurable illness, drowning, suicide or divorce. Swedes have been told since childhood not to complain and respond to all kinds of predicaments with calmness. You will never see crying and wailing women beating themselves on the chest, tearing their hair or flailing their hands to express their sorrow.

    These people live in the same way their parents and grandparents lived, although their living standard is much higher. They are satisfied with their lives and they do not wish any significant changes. They travel on holiday at least ones or twice every year, but they return home glad they are back in Sweden, where everything functions so well.

    Let us now imagine that local council has decided to open a refugee camp in one of these leafy suburbs. For its inhabitants the news will be like an earthquake. Their well-protected world is suddenly under threat. “What are those strangers going to do in our street?” they ask one another. “We have small children and young daughters who will be petrified of going out. There will be robberies, burglaries, rapes...And we are so vulnerable and unprotected. We do not deserve to be treated in such a way.”
    They will engage the best lawyers, and they will spend large amounts of money delaying the opening of the camp. They will protest, shout and insult the local politicians who have come up with the idea of placing the refugees in their beautiful suburb. Suddenly, their polished facades will crumble revealing the ugly brickwork. Suddenly, the idea of multiculturalism is not appealing any more.
    If by chance, the refugees could hear these well-fed and well-dressed people complain and see their angry faces, they will probably do not want to move close to them. They will demand to be sent somewhere in the north, deep in the woods, where they will not disturb anyone and where they will not be seen as intruders or animals.

    As I was walking one morning, breathing in the scents of flowers wafting from the gardens lining the street, I heard the sound of the clicking of the shears. A short man in blue overalls stood by the hedge putting the finishing touches to it.
    “God morning,” he said and pointed the shears towards the azure sky. “Such a lovely day.”
    I stopped because I saw that the man wanted to talk with me. He put the shears on the grass, took off his gloves and stepped to the fence. We shook hands and he asked me where did I come from, and when I told him, he said, “When I saw you, I knew you are from the Balkans. We are neighbours. I am from Hungary.” He was a man in his sixties with a grey hair, but his face was lean and his blue eyes sparkled as if he were a young boy.
    “I played football for Hungary in the 70s’, Lajos said. “We played against Yugoslavia on a few occasions. I know all your players by name.” I was impressed because he reeled off the list of at least 11 of Yugoslavian players, many of whom I also remembered. “Tough players, great skills. I liked to play against them.”

    Lajos was a refugee just as I was, although he had run from the Communist dictatorship in the 80’s and I had escaped from the war. A veteran and injury-ravaged football player had no use of his skill in Sweden, so he became a gardener instead. Before we parted he said, “I will never understand Swedes. They spend so much money on their gardens, and then they seldom use them.”
    I bumped into a cat lying on the stone column of the entrance gate of one of the houses down the street. I tried to stroke it and whispered, “Puss, puss,” but the cat gave me an anxious glance and jumped down with a hiss. It hid behind the flowerpot on the porch and stared angrily at me. I had an impression it felt with its cat intuition that I did not like Sweden. And as a typical Swedish cat it, did not like me either.
    THE END
    Last edited by Bassim; 26-Apr-2016 at 13:54.

  1. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part eight

    Think of a cat as a woman. If want its affection you have to go slow. Don't rush things.

    (Once when I was coming back to my apartment I saw two cats sitting next to each other. One of them ran away. The other chose to stay. I am sure neither changed its opinion of how to react to an approaching person.)

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    #3

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part eight

    Tarheel,
    Actually, cats like me because I mostly ignore them. There was a cat which sat for years on a wooden plank outside my patio. But we only looked at each other. Its owner took it with her many times, but it returned to that plank all the time. What I describe in my text did not happen in reality. I am just trying to create an atmosphere of a country where people hold the mask all the time and hide their real feelings.

  2. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part eight

    First paragraph. First and second sentences. Try:

    From time to time, I take a stroll in a middle class neighborhood. It calms me and....

  3. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part eight

    Perhaps:

    I walk any time of the day, and the streets and gardens are usually empty. The silence is only interrupted by an occasional passing car or bicycle and the singing of birds.

  4. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part eight

    Say;

    The houses are almost identical -- one or two storeys....

  5. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part eight

    Try:

    The strict zoning laws discourage any variations.

  6. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part eight

    Say:

    The cars parked in driveways and in the streets are mostly Volvos, BMWs, VWs, and Audis.

    What about Saabs?

  7. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part eight

    Say:

    Neighbours prefer to keep their distance between each other, and they love their privacy.

  8. Tarheel's Avatar
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    #10

    Re: The Fiction of Reality, part eight

    Say:

    strike up a friendship....

    Second paragraph. Say:

    bottles of alcoholic beverages

    OR

    bottles of beer, wine, and liquor

    I know that "spirits" is used for hard liquor, but I don't "bottles of" is used with either "spirit" or "spirits".
    Last edited by Tarheel; 27-Apr-2016 at 16:14. Reason: Add something

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