a trip to sweden

In times of Corona, when traveling is off the table but still the urge to visit Sweden is great, what do you do? Visit the shining magical Christmas splendor of the Swedish Embassy of course. Though that sounds a bit more romantic than it was. And the reason we went there was not because of home sickness but in order to apply for a passport for our son.

In these strange times, even such a happy thing as to visit the Embassy is attached to anxiety, so huddled behind masks and scarfs we ventured through Tokyo practicing social distancing on an half empty train (I tried to see the glass being half full) and arrived in Roppongi in time for our appointment. Well inside, we had the Embassy to ourselves and our little darling was happily smiling looking straight into the camera, and with the paperwork already prepared we were done in ten minutes. We managed to catch a glimpse of the Christmas tree inside, so our son got a least a little bit of Swedish Christmas, even if the lights were not turned on.

Being far from home already, we felt it was better to use the afternoon to go to the driver’s license place to renew my Japanese driver’s license. The process was to queue for a registration form (practicing social distancing), queue for payment (practicing social distancing), queue for having the old driver’s license canceled and to receive a new application form (practicing social distancing), then queue for having an eye check and handing in the application form (practicing social distancing), before finally being assigned a room where to listen to a two hour lecture about safe driving, new rules and evacuation procedures.

While I was trying to practice social distancing (which was difficult in a room full of people having just had there old driver’s license shredded, needing to sit there in order to recieve a new one) while trying to understand what was explained to me (which was difficult when a lot of strange Japanese words was being used by a man behind two pieces of mouth protection), my wife and son did not have to practice and distancing at all in the nursery room where they were alone. Anyway, two hours later I had learned among other things that I should drive safely (surprise), that I should stop at pedestrian crossings, that if there comes a ball bouncing onto the road chances are there will be a child following, and so on and so on. I got a stamp on a piece of paper that I handed in (after queuing practicing social distancing) and received my new driver’s licnence.

My old driver’s license had my old Swedish name, which being very long was cut in half and then the rest was printed on the back. There on the back was also my new name printed, so now I looked forward to getting a driver’s license that had all of my name on the front. But no such luck – my new name was written in alphabet alright, but my name written in Japanese did not fit so the last character was written on the back. But being a day when I was looking at the world form the glass half full perspective, I kind if thought it was a little bit charming. Actually I still do.

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