In the first week of June, I returned to my childhood hometown of Malmo, for the first time in 11 years. This was the place I called home between the ages of four and eight. On the first day, I visited Folkets Park, evoking a rush of happy memories. I remember being at the playground when I was five years old while my mother filmed me with her camera and asked, “What brings you happiness?” to which I firmly replied, “My toys.”
Now older, I felt nostalgia for my past, reminiscing about climbing the triangle in the children’s playground, and experiencing a sense of joy as I observed how much the park had expanded. Returning in 2023 felt profoundly different; being a young adult meant my interests had changed, and I was drawn to the new aspects of the park, such as its immaculate restaurant and bar, Boulebar Folkets Park, and Far I Hatten.
Folkets Park was also where I learned to ride a bicycle when I was six years old. I fondly recall the moments of going up and down the park with my training wheels and then, eventually, without them, accomplishing one of the primary goals of every child. It was intriguing to discover that the same road has been transformed into a live music venue, and during my visit, I was delighted to witness a Swedish band performing in the park.
Now older, I felt nostalgia for my past
My early memories of Sweden include the neighbouring Danish metropolis of Copenhagen, which was fresh in my mind when I visited Christiania (Copenhagen’s Freetown) with my friend Theo. During my visit, I explored the area’s Green Light district, which was an interesting experience due to the prohibition of taking photos, as many people were involved in the illegal marijuana trade. It reminded me of the time I visited Christiana with my cousin in 2010, when I was seven years old and oblivious to the illicit activities that surrounded me.
Back in Malmo, I immediately noticed something that brought joy to my eyes: the increase in the immigrant population. According to a statistic conducted by the local municipality, Malmo’s residents now hail from 186 different countries. However, there is a social tension that comes with diversity. My friend Sandra remarked, “Malmo is a multicultural city, and we are very welcoming from the beginning. However, the problem is that the social security pays the families for a house.” Yet, when I was growing up in Sweden, my best friend was my Palestinian neighbour, named Nebras, and we spent hours and hours playing with toys and watching superhero cartoons. In my Year 1 class, out of the fifteen other students, only five were Swedish, which helped me as a young Portuguese boy, acclimate easily into the new Swedish culture.
Malmo…is the place where I made the decision to become a vegetarian
Another important aspect of Malmo that will always be significant for me is that it was the place where I made the decision to become a vegetarian at the age of eight. I was inspired by a boy named, Padran, a Pakistani friend from my school, who was also a vegetarian. His mother was Muslim and did not speak much Swedish, as she had recently emigrated from Denmark to escape an abusive marriage. One day, she invited me to her house and prepared a vegetarian curry. That meal was so delicious that I decided to stop eating meat, a choice I have maintained ever since.
the Danish transportation also stirred up memories. While I was living in Sweden, my father used to work for the Danish bank, Saxo Bank, and would commute there every day for business. Now coming back as an adult, it led a friend and me to an unforgettable night out at the Danish techno club, Culture Box.
If you are considering a short vacation to Scandinavia, I highly recommend visiting Malmo and Copenhagen. The culture is fantastic, flights are affordable, and the wide range of tourist attractions ensure a memorable stay!