Thinking about the landscape and its borders

I remember as a child regularly sitting on a bus driving through the countryside, on my way from home, south of Stockholm and close to the Baltic Sea, to school in a Stockholm suburb. I think those daily bus trips to school and back had a great impact on me.

I was always watching the surrounding landscape as it pass by, often wondering how that landscape of forests, fields, lakes and small settlements would look when drawn on a map. I imagined precisely what shape the lake I could see through the bus window would have, and how the borders between forest and fields, between rural areas and suburbs, would look when simplified onto a map.

Also, as I grew older, I asked myself what was located beyond that landscape, across the state of Sweden, across the sea.

In 1991 I was 13 years old. My interest in the wider world was broadening, and one eventful day on that routine trip to school, I heard on the radio that the Soviet Union was dissolving. A few months later I for the first time saw a ship carrying the new Russian flag in the Baltic Sea bay close to where I lived. Seeing that flag, representative as it was of a state that had now opened its borders, was quite exotic, thrilling even. That was probably the decisive moment that years later was eventually to lead me to going across the Baltic to St Petersburg to learn some Russian, and then to study and work in Riga, Latvia.

In the same respect, thinking about the landscape and its borders and, as a child, watching it pass by was something that I carried with me beyond my school years encouraging me to undertake even longer daily journeys, past Stockholm city centre, to the Department of Human Geography at Stockholm University, where I found the Political Geography courses most interesting. After some time, I changed my daily travel means of transportation from bus to bicycle, and in August 2000 I left Stockholm and ended up in Lahore, Pakistan, after an eight month bicycle trip from Sweden. Although that trip took me far from Sweden, I found myself carrying the same interest for the surrounding landscape that I had developed as a child. University studies, though, had opened my eyes to a more theoretical view of geography and map making, something which I still enjoy exploring. Nowadays, however, I travel much less, and in my spare time I mainly enjoy the landscape by cultivating my garden.