Although Stieg Larsson enthusiasts may know Sweden as the country where multilayered mysteries are commonplace, downtown Stockholm is more suited to starry-eyed dreamers than Blomkvist-esque detectives.  In Sweden, a person’s romantic fate can be determined in the time it takes to cross the street, as legend has it that the manhole covers in this Scandinavian country can control one’s dating destiny. 

The covers are marked with either a “k” which technically stands for kallvatten (fresh water), or an “a” for avlopp (sewage).  But the superstitious read these letters differently, believing that the “k” represents kärlek (love) and the “a” signifies avbruten (broken love, aka, the sewer).  Because of this, hopeless romantics and the perpetually single are often seen ducking and weaving throughout the streets, incorporating all of the “k” manholes into their routes while adamantly avoiding those labeled “a”

If a momentary distraction leads to a misstep, there is a solution.  The consequences of
treading on an unlucky manhole can be remedied if the unfortunate pedestrian receives three pats on the back.  The catch- the pats have to be unsolicited. Busybody bystanders much appreciated.

-Catherine Donovan
February 2013