I commute to my work in Stockholm, almost every day I take the train, which takes about 40 minutes in each direction. I have a lot of books to read, so that is not a big problem at the moment. Actually I go directly to the city library a few times a week, just to sit down for an hour or two, to continue to read when I’m back in Uppsala. Some books is more interesting than others, some of them are that interesting so I take an earlier subway train (I have to go by subway to get to the Stockholm Central Train Station) to have more time to read.
Today was such a day. The Stockholm-Uppsala commuter train arrives to each station about 20 minutes before departure, I came there about 10 minutes before departure. I was quite eager to start read my book, I go through the carriage and take a seat at the last table. In front of me sat a man that had spread his things a bit around and has to take care of them in order to not bother me (at least according to general Swedish customs, actually I don’t really care). I put up my book, its about Chinese philosophy, from Confucius to Mao Zedong, written in 1953. Even though I have read about Confucius several times before, I haven’t really studied Confucius before. After a few minutes with the book tight in front of my face I put it down and took a look around.
Suddenly I realized that the man in front of me was Peter Englund, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy (you know the guys that decides about who will be the Nobel laureate in literature). How do I look? Is my hair OK? WHAT AM I READING??
And just as quick as I realized that Peter Englund was sitting in front of me, I realize that I am reading a book about Chinese philosophy. I WAS SITTING IN FRONT OF THE PERMANENT SECRETARY OF THE SWEDISH ACADEMY, READING A BOOK ABOUT CHINESE PHILOSOPHY!
At least I felt for a few minutes that I have passed some kind of test. And I felt quite cultivated.