Thursday, 21 February 2013

Bench Pressing Fest

Last week's highlight was not Valentine's, but celebration at schools throughout the country on Valentine's Day. It was the last day of school for the secondary school graduates after a continuous 12 years long stint at the class rooms. To be precise, the school is not over quite yet, but teaching is. They study now at home for six weeks before the matriculation exams.

The celebration is called "bench pressing fest" for some unknown reason. The fest includes dressing up in costumes, visiting juniors' class rooms, giving mock classes and singing parody songs to teachers. In the afternoon the final year six formers leave the school on a lorry. The lorries are  decorated with sheets with funny and slightly insulting slogans on their school or references to current affairs. The lorries from different schools organise in a parade and drive across the town. The parade always attracts crowds and the students throw candy on on-lookers. The candy throwing symbolises respect the school leavers request. When people pend down to collect the candy, it looks as the are bowing in front of students. Bench Pressing Fest is a funny carnival like tradition, which always brings memories of my day on the lorry and the time of life, when I was full of blind excitement of the future.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Digital Time Turn

This cold country of mine never stops surprising me. A week ago I had one of those moments on my visit to the Police Station to renew my passport. As always before, I got the pictures taken earlier in the week in a photo shop. To speed up the process, I headed to the Police Station early in the morning before the largest crowds. Once there, I could not find the good old queue number dispenser by the door nor the usual bustle of people in the waiting room. Instead I found a notice saying that people seeking to obtain or renew passports, driving licences or permits to bear fire arms are received by appointment only and the appointments are to be made in the internet. Yeah right, when did the Finnish police learnt to read, write and use the interweb, may I ask. There was a computer installed for the appointment booking purpose at the station, but I was a bit shaken by surprise and decided to use this excuse to break one of my new year's resolutions once again and do it in a cafe while having a nice cup of coffee with a sweet little pastry.

A treat later I surfed to the appointment page and saw that the first possible appointment was on 1 March. I could not believe it. I had to wait for three weeks to submit my passport renewal application, three little black and white photos together with my finger prints. Back in olden times I would have easily done that ten minute procedure with 20 minutes waiting. With help of modern technology, the government institution has managed to turn the waiting time clock back by two hundred years to the times when one had to travel 611 kilometres from Oulu to Helsinki by a horse cart to get a new passport. Well done - or maybe not.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Travelling Again

I went to Helsinki and came back. It was lovely and exciting trip. I did so many things there. I attended three parties, met friends and possible new business partners. I got a new contract and lost it in four days time. Though, it might be delayed only. They will let me know in a week. I dressed up nicely and fell on an icy street. I got a giant bruise in my leg and ripped my new pretty tights. How lucky I was, as this happened in front of a department store. I could just pop in to buy a replacement pair and I did not need to wear the holey pair to a gala. I also drank Dom Perignon for the first time in my life.

I travelled by train. To fight boredom during the good six hour journey, I armed myself with a book, computer, needles and yarn. According to the label, the yarn has jojoba oil and aloe vera in it. The socks are supposed to treat the delicate skin of my feet. Only Germans know how to make such sock wool magic to happen and I fell for the sweet idea of it.

I also brought a camera along and took pictures of Ostrobothnia through the trains window. Therefore, the overly blue tone. Ostrobothnia is flat as most of Finland.

I pictured some railway stations. They are typically build out of wood ware. Here is Kokkola or Karleby as they say it in Swedish.

Then Pännäinen or Bennäs in Swedish. Most place names have Finnish and Swedish names, as we are a bilingual country. 

Back to Oulu or Uleåborg I arrived a week later, again by train, feeling happy and exhausted.