Sunday, May 31, 2009

Put-put and plenty of bubbly

Yesterday I decided to wholly embrace my inner Finn (because am normally poster-girl for decorum and moderation). I was called up by a good friend and we decided that we needed to get out some. Get out and mingle with actual Finnish people, and find out how really happening this city of Tampere can be. Needless to say neither of us have lived here for quite some time. We took the hubby along for the ride, as well as to ensure that no purses, sunglasses, or cranial chunks would be left behind in the night.

Since it was only 1PM when we headed out, we decided to do the sophisticated thing.

You guessed it.


I learned something
  1. Even if you can put on an actual green with a decent rate of success it will not stop you from sucking at mini golf by hitting that same (and very wrong) spot over and over again with much too much force making the ball roll back to where you started, if not further away, every single time.
  2. Finnish kiosks are not licensed to sell wine. Not even if you cry.
After completely failing at mini golf we proceeded to laugh maniacally at the guy in the speedos tanning himself a little ways off from the course. Really, there should be some sort of regulation about the ratio of white skin in relation to the size of your speedo you are allowed to display. In May. In Finland. In the vicinity of unsuspecting mini-golfers. Snow blindness. I might have grounds for a lawsuit.

(I would insert a picture here if not for the danger of permanent cornea-damage. That's how much I like my readers.)

After the (luckily only) temporary blindness had subsided we headed out to dinner. To our amazement (I personally think it was a sign from Zeus or possibly Odin himself) the restaurant was running a special - two bottles of sparkling wine for the price of one. You all can guess what we did. One does not pass up on an offer like this. Not accepting this 'gift' would be like spitting in Karma's face, and I would hate to piss her off any more. Also, the sun was shining, we were seated right next to the big bosses from the green party who would also like to see MJ legalized (another sign?), and the bubbly was cold and dry. Who could ask for more?

This is actually hubby and friend in the park breaking out the third bottle of bubbly.  

Yes, since yesterday was one of the big party-nights in Finland - the end of the school year - we decided to join the fun and go mingle with the proud youth of this here proud nation. It turns out that the rumors are true: the nation and the youth like to party drink.

These hats mean that you just graduated from high school and are ready for life university. The dresses mean that since everyone has freakishly white legs, they are sort of socially accepted in May.

This hat means something completely different. Possibly that your backpack is filled with beer cans, and at some point in the night this hat will be the only thing you'll be wearing.

This is where the young people like to congregate. The water has a calming effect and pee runs downhill.

And when I say congregate, I mean CONGREGATE.

Apart from drinking pussikalja (only Finns would have a specific word to denote beers bought at the grocery store for the purpose of finding a green patch on which to drink them), watching the water flow by and the occasional burst of spontaneous 'entertainment', there really isn't much to do.

Although it looks like this guy is anticipating a dip in the stream. He has probably heard all about the unfortunately quite common way of accidentally dying during the summertime in Finland - standing up on a rowboat in order to pee, and being too drunk to keep the balance. There are no row boats in sight, but at least he is taking some sort of precautions.

On the subject of pee: Guess what he's doing?

The police officers are keeping a close eye on the illegal public drinking. Or was that closing their eyes?

Well, I don't really know what the police was doing. I was too busy taking pictures of feet, and discussing my work as an anthropologist-journalist-photographer with a bunch of 20 year old guys. Yes, I was that intoxicated.

I love Funland.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Mah hood in FI, TMP, 13k from Nokia.


These images are in honor of julochka and her tradition of taking pictures of herself with her Nikon something something. Now, hubby's mine is a Canon instead and this place whose window I'm appropriating I think is a depot for weed. But still,  pretty cool, eh?

Mah street. Badass, right?

This here place is one of mah neighbors now, and held me for three straight years.

This thing just held me for about a year (and holds no longer because they now charge over €4 EUROS, which is a huge amount of $$ for a fokken bus ride to get anywhere).

This here girl with the golden slippers is another of  my lovely neighbors. She is a doll and looks up at me, literally,  every single day. She does have a lot of golden things though. Envy?

These guys (girls?) are mah other neighbors. They're all about the peace and quiet. Yes, tombstones.

And mah last neighbors. Howzit, folks? Sorry for the ones with the horrible infliction of toadaphobia, they are indeed toads squirting water (and an old lady smoking - different post).

In mah hood, motorists stop to read the map.

And weirdos are weirdos.

Much like these two.

I love Finland.

How to market all things African in Finland.

Make Africa about wild animals, preferably something very recognizable like a zebra, a giraffe, an elephant, or a lion, and never forget to convey something tribal or to do with tribes. If at all possible allude to tribesmen with spears, or at least portray a spear in the packaging. Make everything as exotic in as many contradicting ways as possible. Also, make sure that even though what you are selling is South African that you never mention the South-part, but simply refer to Africa as if it was one country.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I feel violated.

There is no personal savior for me, unless we are talking about the guy who told me my skirt was in my pantyhose at a fancy club in Copenhagen. There is no salvation other than finding a Starbucks when I least expect it. There is no holy trinity for me other than Snickers, Mars, and Twix.

I was just thinking about writing a post on religion, partly because of some Pope related comments I made on julochka's blog: moments of perfect clarity, that might or might not have caused her to lose a follower, only to check up on Marathoner to find out about a  gruesome discovery she had made. You can get all of the details on her blog: Life is a Marathon. Thanks M so much for the big heads up!

The point of the matter is that some religious site, based in St Petersburg, Florida is one inconsequential 's' away from the address of my blog (from blogspot to blogpot), and this to me is very, very creepy. And wrong. I don't like it one bit, and might just be getting to that point where my well-documented complaint-letter self will spring to surface - the I'm-this-close-to-snapping Extranjera. You might remember her from some flights I've been on recently, and she has also featured on several occasions when our house in SA was the theme. She is not at all nice, not even when she drinks.

I (as well as all of the other Exts) am an atheist and while I have nothing against people who aren't, I would hate for anyone wanting to read my scribbles, ungodly or not, to end up thinking I'm a religious fanatic. I'm not. I am no fanatic, unless the hermit, or watching corn grow movements count, or wine, or coffee. Now, those are issues I feel really passionately about.

Still, I'm a loud, proud atheist by an informed choice as well. I don't believe in a higher force, but in people taking responsibility for their own actions and for our world. This lifetime is what I have, I'll make the best of it and then help fertilize some weeds, or possibly an old tree. That's it. What I do feel towards religious fanatics is pity.

In case you didn't already know.

I saw Star Trek instead of going to sauna.

I hadn't been to the movies since I and the hubby struggled through the entire length of the epic Australia, which was very, very trying on the posterior, and the intellect, but rather pleasing to the esthetic eye. Still, it was just way too long and the lengths of time that passed between shiny things on screen (oooh, shiny!) were too lenghty to keep my full attention. Also, there were far too many close ups of Wolverine that were highly confusing, because I used to like his hair (my grandpa shares the style), but it was all flat in the film. Confusing and disappointing. There was also a lot of stomping done by that prissy woman who was (luckily) quite shiny and wrinkle free, but the stomping felt just a little slapsticky-ish.

Whenever I'm in Finland, however, for some reason, seeing as I'm in a country where they like to charge exorbitant amounts of money for a movie ticket (€9 EURO or $12 USD), I end up going to the movies a lot. Beats drinking tomato wine I bet, and allows for my brothers to be in the same room with me and spend time with me without actually having to talk to me. They are Finnish wooden men after all. Or as one of my English professors once told me: "the Ents in the Lord of the Rings were inspired by Finns." Doesn't really surprise me that much.

Yesterday's movie entertainment has me doubting my sanity though. We went to see Star Trek, I had not been drinking (like at all, not even a drop), and I actually quite enjoyed the experience and I'm looking forward to the sequel.

What? What did I just write?

Did I really like a remake of a classic that should be left well alone, and to its own devices as a cult show?

Yes. I did. And I'm not ashamed to say it. (Yes I am, but I'm saying it anyway.)

The only things that really bothered me about this movie were Spock's pants that had a very hard time staying close enough to his non-existent behind, and Captain Kirk's pores that were all too evident and visible, but that could have just as well been the high definition technology disappointing me once again.

I liked Star Trek.

Somewhere, down there Hitler might just be waking up to a beautiful snow fall.

Have a good one, and the ones in hell: enjoy the frost for a change.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

What's new, Finland?

First of all, either Finland is somehow sucking all of the inspiration out of me (and possibly channeling it into drinking very, very, very bad tomato wine - yes, an actual tomato wine that someone made on purpose and my mother doesn't want all of you to know about, because it's "bad publicity for Finland" and she would like for all of you to love Finland as much as she does), or I've just been busy drinking coffee at my parents (they have a Moccamaster) and reading a whole years supply of old 'women's' magazines and the compulsory gardening crap my mother never seems to understand is one of my all time hates. I do love Me Naiset though (Us Women brings feelings into the net. What is there not to love?). It always takes me back to the 80s, whether it tries to or not.

Thus, I have been rather analog and IMless. Sorry about that.

It turns out that Finnish children are the fifth happiest in the world. I can see this in my brother who just got his driver's license and is finally enjoying life to the full. He is yet to have to put gas in the car though. That might just affect his overall happiness a smidgen, and his wallet a lot. Finland is still an expensive country and I have been very subtly, on several occasions, informed of the joy it would bring for my brother if there was more gas in the tank. I'm not budging, even though he is teaching me how to golf.

Due to my father's dishonest ways (but in the purpose of good) I and the hubby will be playing golf here.  My father managed to transform our three lessons at the driving range that we managed in South Africa into handicaps good enough to be allowed to play on the nearby course. yesterday I was learning all about a swing, getting out of the bunker, chipping, and something else that involved the tiny ball, lots of metal and odd stares at my Birkenstocks and clinking bracelets. At the driving range I managed to hit a power wire and a bell and feel pretty good about my achievement. Hubby hit a fence twice.

I think we're ready to take on the course. Why not?

Regardless of needing a cleaning lady to come sort out the bachelorette pad we took over upon our arrival (read: mysterious and quite ominous looking things under the bed, perma-grime on the stove top, unmentionable issues with the bathroom, and such other pleasantries) and me wanting not to deal with the cleaning lady, on account of being on vacation from them and the poor lady therefore being left to deal with my mother, I'm quickly remembering why I return to this country every year, but also why I leave again.

I love summer Finland.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thoughts from amongst filth

We finally made it to Finland. Albeit via a little detour to Stockholm, Sweden, since our direct flight was cancelled.

Who would have guessed. Really.

I must have amassed an incredible amount of other good karma to balance out my bad plane karma for years to come. I'm looking hard for the silver lining. I really am.

There was also a girls choir on the plane.

Sometimes music is best left to loud iPods. Then at least I can hear myself think.

And no hymns are good hymns.

Sadly, Finnish coffee is not as good as I remembered, but on the plus side my father has finally mastered coffee making to such an extent that I no longer feel the gag reflex coming on when I indulge in a cup of his tar-black concoction.

Yes, coffee making is a science. A more prestigious one even than folding t-shirts or deciding which way the toilet paper roll should face.

He is trying to learn and make the kind of coffee I like.

Gravlax on traditional rye bread, however, is much better than I remembered and might surpass the current staple of my diet - sugar free chocolate.

This is what I have so far.



I need to go clean now. Who could have guessed that grime in the bathroom and dust under the bed annoys me?

Not me.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Till death do them part and maybe longer, if she has any say in the matter

There was the beautiful bride.

And the handsome groom.

There was love and affection (and too many speeches and the always dubious 'entertainment organized by the guests').

There was the freezing beachfront ceremony (and a little flatter place than the anticipated Møns Klint, which ended up being 13 kilometers away).

And the maternity dress covered by a luckily rather windproof spur-of-the-moment-purchase coat.

There were drinks.

And food.

And two wrong cakes. (They were supposed to be pink and round.)

There was the accommodation (i.e. the reason for driving back into Copenhagen at 2AM).

There was rural atmosphere.

And some more rural atmosphere.

And s little more rural atmosphere.

After being perceived as the weird picture-happy South African Finnish girl (?) there was something more to drink.

There was a Danish tradition to do with cutting some socks up.

There was some general standing around.

And lots of sitting down.

That went on until the small hours.

As all good weddings should.
I love Denmark.

The drive.

Discussing ways to utilize farts in relation to wedgies on our way to the wedding (i.e. introducing the family):

"That's always been my problem - not enough matter with it."

You make your own conclusions.


Me: "Oh, I know where we are now! There's gonna be a weird coffee shop on the right soon."

Hubby: ????

Me: "Oh, sorry no. I'm thinking of Mexico."

Because Denmark and Mexico are practically the same.


Enjoy your Sunday. I'm off to cavort with my Danish pals and to drink some Danish lattes.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Why Copenhagen rocks

Some Copenhageners are odd. And I think that's just lovely.

These guys are playing empty Carlsberg beer bottles. Rather beautifully.

Danes are one of the happiest people on earth. And I think that is just awesome.

This girl is giving out free hugs.

When the sun is shining it's beautiful. And I think that is worth a glass of wine at lunch.

When it rains it's beautiful. And I think that is worth of a glass of wine at dinner.

Everyone loves to bike. And I think that is just environmental.

Don't you just wish this one was yours:

Also, the new Simpsons episodes are on.

I love Denmark.