Born in: Sweden
Countries lived in: Australia(Sydney): 1988-89; USA (New York and LA): 1996-2010; Vietnam (Saigon): 2010-present
Cyberspace coordinates: DAKA Advisory (business)
What made you leave your homeland in the first place?
My parents decided to travel around the world in 1988-89 and took me along for the ride. We left a snowy Sweden in December and arrived at our first destination, Los Angeles, in 72 degrees and sunshine, staying in the Hyatt on Sunset (now the Andaz West Hollywood). We explored the city’s many attractions including Disneyland and Universal Studios. I was sold and ever since, have considered LA to be the greatest city in the world. At the same time, my curiosity was piqued and I was sold on the idea of leaving something you know well for something different. I have never looked back.
Is anyone else in your immediate family a “displaced” person?
My California-born wife is now displaced as we are living in Saigon. By the way, we first met at a Swedish restaurant in Chinatown in New York City — call it displacement in microcosm.
Describe the moment when you felt the most displaced over the course of your various travels.
I’ve been fortunate to live in the kinds of cities where it’s relatively easy to blend in. But I’ve certainly experienced some memorable cultural contrasts. Soccer (what we Europeans call “football”) is a good example. During the World Cup in 2002 I was in an Irish pub on New York City’s Upper East Side at 4 a.m. watching the match between Sweden and Argentina. I believe I was the only one there watching the game. That was a really strange feeling. By contrast, during the 2009 qualifying match, the time difference was better and there were thousands of of us Swedes watching the games at a bar near Times Square in the middle of the day. This time, I thought I was in Sweden, which was also strange, in its way.
Describe the moment when you felt least displaced.
It’s a curious thing, but it’s when I leave my adopted homeland(s) that I feel especially at home in them. If you ask me my nationality in Vietnam, I’ll always say I’m Swedish. But if you ask me when I’ve just left Vietnam, I’ll say I’m Saigonese (a resident of Saigon). I was in Bangkok recently and couldn’t stop talking about how much I preferred life in Saigon. Likewise, when I lived in the U.S. and went home to Europe, I would feel more American than European during my visit.
You may bring one curiosity you’ve collected from your travels into the Displaced Nation. What’s in your suitcase?
From Australia, a boomerang, for the symbolism of always coming back. From America, a basketball because I enjoy the game and would like to continue playing it. And from Vietnam, a business suit — you can get world-class tailoring here at a very good price.
You’re invited to prepare one meal based on your travels for other Displaced Nation members. What’s on your menu?
Without a doubt, as a Swede, I am known for my guacamole. No, really. I guess because I lived in LA for so long, I came to love Mexican food. I would prepare it for you according to a classic recipe, something like:
1 tablespoon red onion
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 tablespoon jalapeno
2 tablespoons diced tomato
1 pinch of salt
You may add one word or expression from each of the countries you’ve lived in to The Displaced Nation argot. What words do you loan us?
From Australia: “G’day mate” — for its friendliness.
From the USA: “Awesome” — it reminds me of how globalized LA jargon has become, courtesy of Hollywood.
From Vietnam: “Ba” — and if you repeat it three times, you get a beer (333)!
img: Kim Andreasson on his way to Bến Thành Market, in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) — that’s if he can navigate the intersection of Le Loi, Ham Nghi, Tran Hung Dao Avenues and Le Lai Street.
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Kim — for describing the phenomenon of being more at home in a country when you’re not actually there (how well I understand what you mean!) you earn your ticket to The Displaced Nation. And although tonight’s menu in my house was originally lasagne, I feel quesadillas and your guacamole might make their way onto the dining table instead — so for your persuasive culinary powers, I’m upgrading your ticket to business class.
Kim, for me, your feat of living in Europe, America and Asia–even in this well-traveled era, not many of us can claim all three–gives you an automatic right of entry to The Displaced Nation. I’m not sure about your wife, though. Technically, you must drag her back to Sweden and make her suffer through a few of those dark winters before she can be permitted into our esteemed ranks.
That said, if she’s going to help with the guacamole (being a true-bred Californian!), I suppose I can make an exception.
Welcome to you both!
Hang on, there’s a Swedish restuaurant in Chinatown? Really?!
The Swedish place unfortunately closed, but the same owner (Swedish) has opened a new place on the Lower East Side. I think it’s called White Slab.
Kim, it’s called White Slab Palace, and gets a pretty good write-up from Metromix NY:
To be honest, my favorite Scandinavian in the area is the cafeteria at the Ikea in NJ: good meatballs, and amazing value! No cocktails, tho…