Wednesday, December 12, 2007


I am supposed to be going through my withdrawal phase. The initial euphoria of a new experience when over is supposed to lead to the feeling of disappointment and irritation, you can see more wrong than right and generally feel low. It is also the dark, dreary, grey time of the year – long nights, dark mornings, a greyish light (if you must call it that) for a few hours in the middle of the day. That compounded with the fact that I grew up in a place where there is bright sunshine for 10-12 hours a day, so a dark 9 am is really shocking for me. I can really wallow in self pity right now…psychology (or something like that) allows me to!

But I am not. I am not sad or low or disappointed. I am more amazed by the day. The more I know about Finland, the more I grow to like & respect the place. I am happy to be here and learn from an amazingly egalitarian people.

The harsh climate could have been an excuse to be selfish and crabby. It’s not. They say the hard conditions teach them to value one another & help those in need. I find the Finns more accepting, helpful, polite and genuine than any other set I have met so far.

The efficiency is to be seen to be believed. It’s a splash of ice cold water on the faces (my ex face probably included) who think that just the hours given to work are measures of commitment & effectiveness. When the Finns agree to some work, then genuinely ‘agree’ and put in their best without excuses or cribs.

All services actually work. Bank cards reach you in a day; taxis accept credit cards and provide warm noise free service (at a price ofcourse); store workers are polite & attentive… I could just go on and on.

It probably takes a long, long time to go from a customary ‘Moi’ if eye contact is made to a point where there is real conversation & friendship with a Finn. But it is also really uncommon for Finns to backbite or sharp elbow someone. This appeals to me far more than a culture where you are friends the day you meet but you also think it is okay to hurt or harm that friend.

The default mode is to trust. Saves so much time & energy it's unbelievable.

Egalitarian, equal, humble, fair, honest. I value my new home enough to feel an affinity to that blue & white flag when I travel outside this idealistic world.

Genuine. That is the word. Genuine in work and friendship. Genuine in the initial shyness, genuine when they become your friends. Genuine no’s, genuine yeses. That is what I genuinely respect. So my self named friend, I finally found the right place to knock my chest and say ‘Rezpekt!’

I get closer to knowing a country I never thought I will know. The honeymoon maybe over, but the love affair continues….


Artemis Fowl III said...

very genuine feelings bhavna i must say :-)

isnt it very strange, people like another country a little to easily...? i mean, the parameters for evaluating / judging own country is always a wee-bit harsher

i went to malaysia (an islamic country)... there i noticed that there is so much freedom at work... muslim women manning the gambling counter in genting, even though gambling is haraam in islam... but still indians are discriminated against!

if i look at india, maybe the systems dont work... but social structure is very strong... neighbours do care... i am allowed to argue... if i am above average here, i can be an excellent performer in any other country!

sometimes we should let a nation emerge before we make final conclusions about it... some countries like US and some european nations have reached a statis... asian countries are changing... it takes time... is it fair to judge it while it is yet to mature???

but yeah, all this is logic... if you are in love, you are right!!!

Bhavna said...

:) yes i guess in a way you can say i am in love... but it would be fairer to say i am in respect...

i have written before and i believe fervently, that there are so so many things abt india which are positive... and not for once am i any less proud of those things.. india has made me who i am and it is home - how can i not be?

this is not really about comparing against india... infact if anything, what led me to write this blog was my recent visits to spain & the US.. just re-awoke me to the things i appreciate abt finland...

there is a lot to learn from everyone, and finland is a great place to begin :)

Kartikeya said...

Hmmm...Respect!! A very interesting topic to talk abt..but a very important one too..

Vikram Mall said...

Hi Bhavna

You are smack on. When you have experienced a nation for nearly 23 years with a brain and perception like yours, you are right in coming to first impression conclusions. They will stand you in good stead about the nation and its peoples in the days to come.

In small compact nations which are or are not historically young, tied up by a language or two, the dialects are not too many, environmental conditions are the same, the hardships that people in the country have undergone are the same...the peoples are united by pain and then trust, respect for each other, a sense of dignity in the nation...,

It is the same for smaller nations that have historically undergone the same hardships...Japan, Korea, in the east.Finland, unfortunately, remained a very unknown nation until Nokia happened.For an outsider to any of these countries the experience is as yours.

Especially for large nations like China, India(not including US here as they are very young as a nation to have a defined culture as yet..the reason you hear a lot of their politicians talking about American is to assure each other that they have a culture)where the history of civilisation is as old as humankind, the cultures are the oldest, the ethinicty is multiple and now mixed, where the languages are more than 20 and dialects so many that it would be a nightmare for a linguist than a delight, where historically the foreigner has been welcomed with open a trusted human being...only to later realise that it was about robbing and misusing the country...(India the mughals, british, portuguese, dutch...China, the british nearly killed their nation with opium trading)

Trust does not come easy to these kind of nations DNA very easily. Now coupled with the economic boom it makes it a little harder.

However, for all the people who are reading your site and including you and I...nothing stops us from trusting people, from respecting each other and encouraging each other that faith and trust have value when you respect the notion and intention. Adding our drop to the ocean.

Hope, Hugs and Humour!


Bhavna said...

Thanks Vikram... That makes a lot of sense... Sometimes we forget how much history matters... how huge yesterday is as an input for today & tomorrow... and how nearly everything is a result of something else....

It's like our dum cooking... the effect is slow but sure... and the taste is so much more deep than a quick flame...

My real dilemma sometimes is that my natural element is more attuned & accepting of the Finnish way... i want to tell the truth, and i want to hear it... i want genuine friends but i dont care about a long list thats empty in actuality... i want to work well, think deep, stay fit... the things that i realised when I was growing up, that the world cannot be because they are too ideal... are the things that are reality here.... I am surprised & pleased that it can exist, but now I also know what I don’t have back home… can't help but feel a bit wistful & torn… should I be where I grew up & where there is everything & everyone I love or should I be where I am most comfortable being me… Where is it that I actually belong? Is the answer as simple as it was 6 months ago? Why has such little time brought about so much of a change?

Sometimes I guess it is just wise to go with the flow… too much engineering & thought are wasted, if not counter productive…

Well that itself is a fatalistic, karma oriented, que sera sera statement…. Who knows, maybe I am really more 'Indian' than I realise!

Artemis Fowl III said...

people love the place where they work, but want to come back home... how many people make the place of work their home? you may scold an elder in office because he holds lesser responsibilities... can you do the same at home? still you love home right?

realize that it finland is a culture where you are allowed to be yourself... india is not like that... but as vikram said, you can do the same in india... its risky... take the risk of having an empty friend list... if you can, you'll be happy... and if you do that in india, trust my experience that you will have more friends than anywhere else!!!