adventurer, traveler, and designer at heart, jay roop is on a mission to experience the most that earth has to offer and bring others on board for the time of their lives. currently residing in seoul, korea where he runs operations for his design studio, and previously living in gothenburg, sweden and san francisco, california, he is ready to share documentation of his life and work with all those who are interested.
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continued from part 1
my foray into the city began with a walk through the city center. a rather uneventful couple of moments, i passed the time by taking photos of sculptures of strange beasts which appeared to be part 4-legged creature and part flying creature. i would be more specific, but to be quite honest, i couldn’t tell you for the life of me what they were supposed to be.
while making my way across a large square, i laughed to myself as i watched two other obvious foreigners playing around. a man was photographing another man who was quite tipsy and jumping to be photographed in mid-air.
one thing that there appears to be no shortage of in any city are trendy bars with uninspiring music. not wishing to be overly cynical, i moseyed past the drunken water holes and sauntered into a small park nestled between two large streets. unfortunately, there wasn’t much to be seen other than a giant fountain and a couple sitting on a bench. my adventure to gävle was starting to seem a bit bland, not exactly what i had in mind.
eventually i made my way to the river that runs by the city. to my surprise i found the quaint image of two people fishing by the side of the river. standing less than 30m apart, they couldn’t have been more oblivious to each other and seemed to be having no luck with their sport.
by this time i was starting to get hungry. because i was late getting out from the apartment before leaving, i wasn’t able to make a proper food run to the grocery store – only picking up a couple sandwiches at pressbyrån (the convenience store) before jumping on the train where i promptly scared both of them down. one of the things that you seem to only be able to find in sweden are vegetarian options at almost every single hot dog stand (korv kiosk), making finding one my next goal for the evening.
in sweden i have gotten used to being basically ignored by people, or at least payed very little attention to, as soon as i start speaking english. but as i ordered my burger i was surprised to be engaged in conversation by the same two very men who i had seen jumping and taking photos in the square earlier.
it turned out that they were brothers from india working as engineers for ericsson on a yearly training trip to gävle. it also turned out that one of the brothers was quite drunk and interested in asking me if i “must have 5 girlfriends back in america” and preaching about the negative energy one acquires if not having sex. ah yes, and let me not forget his less than subtle comment about swedish girls and certain qualities of their physique located on the upper part of their torso. to say the least, it was quite awkward if not entirely amusing to watch the other brother attempt to quite his slurring sibling down. his failures ultimately led to a quick and expedient exit and i was again on my way.
my original sleeping plan was to stay in the train station overnight, however, this was quickly thwarted as the gentleman from securitas (the security company) closed the main station almost immediately after my arrival. fortunately, there was a ‘night waiting’ area just adjacent and i figured i would make myself at home there. what i didn’t know was that by ‘night’ the swedes mean until midnight, at which point i was once again removed from the station and told that it would be closed until the morning.
enter plan b. or actually, plan c. i wanted to find a place that was isolated and out of the way, but also decently safe – i did have quite a fat wad of cash hiding in my pocket. to me, the ultimate sleeping spot would be at the end of the center train platform with a pole that i could lock my bags to and put my sleeping bag down in front of. despite the slight chill, mosquitos, passing trains, and fluorescent lights above i somehow managed to pass in and out of consciousness until just after 2am when i was woken by the unmistakable sounds of a couple having sex in the building across the street from the station. i tried to sleep through it, but to no avail. about 45 minutes later, just before 3am, i finally got some peace and quiet as the sun began to rise.
as i started to doze off, i heard a car door close and briefly saw a couple figures out of the corner of my eye. i ignored them, shut my eyes and started to relax just as i felt my feet shoot straight up in the air to the simultaneous greeting of “hej, tjena!” (or, “hey there!”). startled, i opened my eyes to see a pair of police officers standing above me. the funny thing is that i think they were as surprised to see a young asian guy emerge from the sleeping bag as i was to be disturbed from my sleep.
a short discussion ensued with them enquiring about my nationality, what i was doing in gävle, and why i was sleeping outside at the train station. to say the least, they were incredibly kind and understanding and the resulting ride in the back of a swedish police car was not due to me being in any trouble, in fact, they brought me to the station so i could have a warm, safe, mosquito free place to crash. it was actually probably the best thing that could have happened to me, as i was able to catch 4 or so hours of sleep on the chairs in the waiting room before walking out into the morning sun on my way back to the station just 5 minutes down the road.
an hour later i was back on the train home, contemplating the completely bizarre set of events that i had just experienced. from having delivered my guitar across sweden, to meeting two random indian guys with opposite personalities, being kicked out of the train station twice, sleeping outside like a bum and subsequently awakened by the police who turned out to be my saviors, it seemed my hunch that embarking on this wacky trip would result in some type of adventure was certainly a massive understatement.
in the end i realized, the more you roll the dice, the higher the chances you’ll end up with something spectacular. it also increases the likely hood that you’ll fail completely, which was certainly an alternative that was on the table more than once in my 24 hour whirl-wind tour across sweden. but when you hang yourself out there and find it in you to wait until the very last second before you panic, freak out, or generally start to curse yourself for not being smarter, things can and usually do happen. call me stupid, but i’d do it again.