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A shipful of Swedish culture

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IN FULL SAIL: A picture of the new Gotheborg.
IN FULL SAIL: A picture of the new Gotheborg.

Kannal Achuthan

CHENNAI: A Swedish ship, built on the lines of an 18th century vessel, will visit Chennai in early February 2007, to bring Chennaiites a slice of Swedish culture, cuisine and business partnership opportunities.

A team from Sweden met the Mayor, M. Subramanian, on Thursday to discuss plans for the 10 days that the ship would be anchored here.

Ulf Landin from Goteborg, a business hotspot in Sweden, described the ship's journey as a "historical voyage for friendship and trade." The ship has already visited Spain, Brazil, South Africa, Indonesia and China. After a trip to Hong Kong and Singapore it will touch Chennai shores.

The story behind the voyage is interesting. The original East Indiaman Gotheborg was built in 1738 in Stockholm. Traders made three lucrative voyages to China, but the ship sank on the third return journey.

Nearly 270 years later, a replica of the famous ship was built using traditional methods and raw materials such as oak and pine. Since October 2005, the new Gotheborg is following the sea route taken by the original. It is believed that sailors had anchored at Surat, India, during one of the ship's ancient journeys.

Anders Sjoberg, Counsellor at the Embassy of Sweden in New Delhi, said the new Gotheborg could bring investment opportunities for Chennai. About 50 volunteers, 20 crew and 10 guests will be on board. A display of Swedish products and a Swedish film festival is also being planned. Schoolchildren and the public can visit the ship on `Open Days'.

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