Wednesday, July 26, 2006

My native land, good-night

Going tomorrow.

This is the city I was born in. My two childhood homes and one "own" home - my haven from the divorce, shared only by my children -, the locations of my first memories, my school, the place where a boy first kissed me, the park where my sons used to play in, are all within half an hour's walk.

My husband and my new home are on the other side of the globe.

It sucks.

One can learn a lot by living abroad. One can "broaden one's mind", cliché though it is. One can have fabulous experiences. But if you want to minimise your inevitable pain quotient in life, do not spread your life in several countries. It hurts.

This city is more layered, for me, than any other city can ever be, and for all its shortcomings, quirks, its depressingly long winters (November! April!) I love it. It is mine.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

One more thing on the matter of the speaking hole

You may recall my recent episode with a sound installation in a drainage hole (see post entitled "This you will not believe"). Yesterday, I showed it to my friends Joel the Younger and Rebecca. We created our own artsy installation with plane tickets and paper aeroplanes, Joel took this picture of it with his camera phone, and text messaged it to the number provided for feedback by the artist himself, Markku "Sika" (The Pig) Puustinen. In an hour or so, we had a reply from the man: Sikahyvää matkaa Sika toivottaapi, which loosely translates as "Have a swinishly good trip, from The Pig". We were tickled pink.

The end is nigh, soon

I shall be returning to Hawai'i on Thursday. In these internationally dangerous and hideous times, please keep your fingers crossed for our flights not being bombed and for the immigration officers being civil...

I am currently uploading my tourist snapshots of Helsinki onto my flickr account. Please take a look.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The Sibelius Monument

is in my neighbourhood. My childhood: stick your head in any one of the pipes you can reach (and preferably not get stuck in). Shout "woooooh". Enjoy the echo effect and appreciate Sibelius.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Knowing I'm on the street where I live... four in the morning. Mannerheimintie.

This you will not believe

Not just any old drainage hole, this. After a party in Kurvi (see previous post for general look), our host wanted to show us something very special. This hole is linked (he claims) to the Helsinki Airport, so you can hear the announcements echoing in the cavity underground. I tend to think it is actually a recording, but it was tremendously effective. We were there at two in the morning, and beneath us, a disembodied voice told us "Lähtö Finnairin vuorolla AY 844 Amsterdamiin, portti 15..." ("Finnair flight AY 844 to Amsterdam, gate 15...") over and over again. No, I wasn't hallucinating, or schizophrenic. Or fallen into Being John Malkovich. I think.
The plaque proves it is not my imagination: MUTTA MINÄ LÄHDEN... (BUT I SHALL LEAVE...), by Markku "Sika" ("The Pig") Puustinen. There is also a mobile phone number for text message feedback. Unhappily, I can't quite tell apart the 5s, 6s, and 8s.And finally us, the appreciative crowd: Hessu, Ivor, me, Mark our host, and Joel the Elder. Picture taken by a wonderful Colombian lady, Paola. Thank you all, what a night it was.

Kurvi By Night

Kurvi, "The Bend", a part of the city with a rougher reputation, by night. I'd love to claim those were Northern Lights, but no, they were only clouds...


Right dear hearts, I have been gone a while due to unexpected computer problems (My dad uses Windows, need I say more) but am back with a vengeance. Meet Spårakoff, the Helsinki round-tour pub tram. Isn't she lovely? She goes round the city and serves pints of beer. The name is a play on words, spåra being Helsinki slang for a tram (roots in the Swedish for tram, spårvagn. The a with a funny circle above it is the Swedish o) and Sinebrychoff being Finland's eldest brewery (at least one still functioning, methinks...?), whose beer is called Koff. English speakers found it hilarious, for some reason, to place an order for "4 Koff" at pubs...

Monday, July 03, 2006

Poplar snow and The Magic Lantern

In July, the seeds of poplar trees in the parks snow down upon Helsinki. My younger son says he and his friends make poplar balls and play snowball wars with them (poppelipallosota, poplar ball war). They (the seeds, not my son and his friends) twirl in the air stirred by passing cars: snowing in July, it is magic.

My friend Rebecca, an English girl who discovered her spiritual home is Finland, introduced me to another fabulous Helsinki cafe today: Kahvila Taikalamppu, Café Magic Lantern. See the sewing machine on the table? The proprietress sits there and sews the wall hangings, except while we were there, she decided to sit outside in the sun and read a book instead. Rebecca is a wonderfully gifted singer-songwriter, she played me some of her songs . When we left the cafe, we passed a window with a white cat sitting inside it. Her eyes were one green, one blue.

Sunday, July 02, 2006


During the summer months in Helsinki, you can enjoy incredibly high quality classical music just walking down the street. Russia and the Baltic States are close: conservatory students as well as professional musicians from National Orchestras and the like come over during their summer breaks. Often, they earn more busking in Helsinki than they do employed in the cultural instances at home. This string quintet was superb. The girl on the left sold their cds for 15 euros, but I was too skint and stingy to buy one. I did give them what my mum&myself had in the way of change, though.