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Safer than Stockholm.
Rinkeby used to be safe. Statistically safer than the city of Stockholm. Yes, it was almost all immigrants, and most Swedes would feel like they'd entered another world there, but it was safe.
Almost every balcony - thousands of them - had a satellite dish. Not a few - almost all. And Rinkeby Centrum - with the entrance to the subway - was safe too.
Right outside the entrance, there was a shack used as a restaurant and run by a Turk. An amiable chap. His father had come into money, and he got to drive a used Merc around. But he ran a tight ship, with staff from all countries of the earth.
His girlfriend was Swedish, and she was so beautiful you could hardly believe. And she used to come around and chat with staff, just to give that personal touch.
Some of the Rinkeby people made it good, so the story went, and they thought they could step up in the world, and so tried moving to traditional all-Swedish stuffed-shirt areas - and hated it. And inevitably came back.
The butcher in the ICA food store couldn't understand the way a Swede would make a roast. His way was light on the spices and magic tricks, just let the thing roast. A long long time. One would pick up a pack of Scan meatballs for the walk home, poke a hole in the plastic, and pluck them out one by one. So yummy.
SSSB - Stiftelsen Stockholms Studentbostäder - had begun gentrifying. Roomy flats available at reasonable rates, off near the motorway separating the area from Kista. There was no tvättstuga in the cellar as is the custom, but in a separate redwood building across the street. All Swedish washing machines run with amazing reliability and conformity, 80°, 60°, and 40° all finish in an hour, and dryers taking not quite that long. Bundle up the laundry, take it across the street at your reserved time, load your two machines, add Via or Ariel, rotate the dial and push the button. Come back in an hour, use one of their many trolleys to move your laundry to a dryer, return in another hour and it's all done.
This particular part of Rinkeby, on the outskirts, was for graduate students, wasn't lavish, but wasn't shabby either. It took five minutes to walk a bit downhill to get to the mall, with lots of cool shops. A bus stop with the excellent SL service right outside the door, over in the next block. And an excellent pizzeria right there too, in case you wanted to skip cooking of an evening.
And it was quiet. And peaceful. Again: Swedes new to the area might have found it depressing, like a visit to Wedding in Berlin, but it was safe. And quiet. It wasn't quite Sweden, but it was mostly tolerable.
One wintry night, when the sun had of course long ago set, and when the big food store had long ago closed, we trekked down to the Centrum's convenience store. There was no fear. Fear was simply not part of the picture. We stood in the queue with our armfuls of items.
Suddenly a short tubby girl in a blue windbreaker started pushing her way through the queue to position herself in front of the cashier, her meaty fists holding sweets. The cashier looked glumly at her, not knowing quite how to react. No one reacted.
We peered back through the queue and spotted her mother looking worryingly at her. Then:
'Hey there! Don't you think you should wait your turn?'
The girl ignored us, paid the cashier, and walked out the store.
We were next, paid for our supplies, chose the plastkasse over the papperskasse, loaded everything in the bag, and walked out into the night.
We'd made it past the archway, almost parallel with the Turk's restaurant, when a force slammed into us, and we both found ourselves propelled to the ground, our groceries spilling all over the place. We looked at each other and probably muttered 'WTF' with our lips. Then we looked behind us. There was a gang of five immigrant men/boys, ages probably from 18-30. We got up and yelled at them.
'What the FUCK are you doing?'
'You touched my daughter!' said the one.
'We did WHAT?'
'You touched my daughter!'
'What the fuck are you talking about? We didn't touch anyone! Who's your daughter anyway?'
'The girl in the blue windbreaker. My wife just told me.'
'Told you what?'
'Your jacket touched hers when she pushed past you.'
'Yeah - and so what?'
'YOU KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF MY DAUGHTER!'
We yelled at them a bit, and they wandered off. But we were shook. We gathered up our groceries, made it home, and rang the police. Right as rain, they were there in five minutes. A husky handsome male policeman, and your typical drop-dead gorgeous blonde Swedish female policewoman. We welcomed them into our lounge and all sat down and relaxed.
'You were lucky', they told us.
'Most of them are packing.'
'Here? In Sweden?'
'You can buy anything in Sweden these days. Get down to Sergels torg...'
The coppers couldn't do a lot. Take a few notes. But they had a calming effect.
Our Turk friend with the restaurant nodded in recognition a few days later when we told him the story.
'Those were Afghanis', he told us, 'and they're scary. You can't touch their women. You literally cannot touch them. Or let them touch you. When they come in here for lunch, the guys all sit down at a table, and they let the women buy the food. And when they pay and hold out their hands for their change, you GOTTA put the change down on the counter. You're not allowed to touch them. You place the change in their hands, and the bastards will see it and get right up here and mess with you.'
'I gotta caution all my staff about them', he added.
We left Rinkeby a short time later. Save for our bizarre encounter, still one of the statistically safest places in a country already famous for being safe.
We were in the RTP in North Carolina when we saw the news. There'd been a murder. Right at the entrance to the subway. Right beside the ICA food store in Rinkeby.
Rinkeby was changing, and Sweden was changing with it.
Bloatbusters Hall of Bloat
SvD: Rinkebybor trötta på våldet