Friday, August 31, 2007

Helsinki, With Love

Helsinki train station two weeks ago. A friend of ours, especially Miss Funnybunny's, OC heading back to Moscow. And from there to Nizhny Novgorod.

Dear Friends in Nizhny, I hope you are fine. Or better, at least.

For you and for all the friends who miss Helsinki, please welcome my best regards in a video format.

Even if this amazing work of art is (more than) a bit hysterical, its hilarious and generous attitude is somewhat touching.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Anna Politkovskaya's birthday. The police chasing activists and media.

Anna Stepanovna at the airport in 2003.

Today Anna Politkovskaya would have had her 49th anniversary.

And what is going on in Russia at this very moment? The police is raiding the office of Novaya Gazeta in Nizhny Novgorod. The editor-in-chief, Zahar Prilepin, is in agony. Their computers are being confiscated. (Prilepin visited us last July, at the Civic Forum 2007 conference, hence the link.)

Yesterday the same kind of demonstration of police forces was carried out at the office of the Nizhny Novgorod Foundation to Promote Tolerance, the successor to the Russian-Chechen Friendship Society (RCFS). They lost their computers, too. I wonder what kinds of accusations the diligent prosecutor's office will come up with.

This new wave of threats and confrontation, orchestrated by the over-active police and probably FSB, too, is a disgrace. Ugly. Pathetic.


You thought Russia is partly in Europe? No, it's vice versa. Now I understand what the Kremlin has been getting at.


EDIT: The office of the Nizhny Novgorod Human Rights Alliance is being raided now. According to the locals, the police want to "check out the administrative, financial, entrepreneurial and business activities" of the non-governmental organisation.

В настоящее время в офисе Нижегородского правозащитного союза (руководитель Сергей Шимоволос) ГУВД проводит проверку лицензионного оборудования на основании постановления о проведении финансовой, предпринимательской, хозяйственной и торговой деятельности по типу уже проведенных в офисах Фонда в поддержку толерантности и Новой газеты. Сотрудники организации предоставили документы, свидетельствующие, что на балансе организации нет компьютеров. Однако, сотрудники ГУВД угрожают все равно изъять компьютеры на основании нового постановления. Сотрудники НКО сообщают, что это уже четвертая проверка организации за неделю.

Congrats, LIKE! 20th Anniversary.

EDIT: Two of these pictures had been somehow damaged (NOT removed!), and not all the browsers could read them. I have re-uploaded them now, and I hope everybody can see them! IStori


"We are the wise men, not old". Like a founder of Like Publishing Ltd put it. So true.

Mika Siltala and Mr HP.

The highest commander of Like Army (in the middle, of course) saw everything was in order.

For some – probably very good – reason somebody had brought this wig. Boy did we have fun fun fun with it.

Looks fantastic, Aino!

Fun fun fun!

...and even more fun, can you imagine.

The band made our little family wild!

Aino, Mr HP and IStori. Laaasten meehuuheeetkii päättyyii ikäääväässti.

Sedis has already reported about the party.

Thanks, everybody!

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Sampo Feodor Lindfors, where are you?

It was a sunny day on July, in 2006. Sampo Feodor Lindfors, 29 years, 190 cm, did not go swimming like the others. They were at their summer cottage in Houtskari, Korppoo, the southwestern Finnish archipelago. "He has left for Turku, to the DBTL rock festival," his family thought. As he did not come home in the evening.

But did he go to Turku? No-one knows.

No sign of Sampo, ever since. His bank account has not been touched.

Sampo lived in Helsinki. He did not seem to have come home, not even for a short visit.

But Sampo's mother has thought he wanted to disappear, for a reason unclear to everyone but Sampo. (According to Sampo's family, he did not use drugs and was not in debt.)

See the blog (in Finnish) about missing Sampo.

And if you have any information about this case in particular, Houtskari, anything that could possibly be helpful, please contact Sampo's mother (by commenting the blog, for example,

You can also contact the family of Sampo Lindfors by first contacting me, if you want. Sampo's mum is my friend. Spreading the word about Sampo and his disappearance is her wish.

And Sampo, should you see this, please contact! You are loved and missed by your mother and daughter, and by many others.


Ote Sampo Wanted -blogista.

Katoamiseen liittyviä yksityiskohtia

* Sampolta jäi kesken Tove Janssonin kirja "Viesti". Siitä oli viimeksi luettu novelli nimeltä "Sarjakuvapiirtäjä". Se kertoo miehestä, joka tekee katoamistempun.
* Sampon katoamispäivänä alkaa TV2:lta sarja "Kadonneet". Ohjelman trailereita on näytetty tv:ssä koko viikon ajan, myös lehdissä on käsitelty katoamistapauksia.
* Katoamista edeltävänä iltana Sampo pyytää pesemään pitkät housunsa. Aamulla hän pukee ylleen kaksi paitaa, vaikka on helle.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Women from... allovertheworld.

The women writers' convention last week was a success. It was organised by the Finnish PEN.

Thank you so much for visiting us! It was lovely to hear your thoughts, see the films and have fun in Helsinki.

I'd like to send you my greetings with the words of one of the greatest female writers ever, Marina Tsvetaeva.

My Poems...

My poems, written early, when I doubted
that I could ever play the poet's part,
erupting, as though water from a fountain
or sparks from a petard,

and rushing as though little demons, senseless,
into a sanctuary, where incense spreads,
my poems about death and adolescence,
--that still remain unread! --

collecting dust in bookstores all this time,
where no one comes to carry them away,
my poems, like exquisite, precious wines,
will have their day!

Marina Tsvetaeva, 1913
Translated by Andrey Kneller

But dear guests from all over the world: your poems (and articles, novel and films) are not dusty at all!

Please see more photos in Kristiina Koivunen's blog. In the first photo there is a little Uyghur girl, Miss Funnybunny's "kompis" (friend).

Attention. The King has left the lake.

"Poor guy. I'm so sorry for him. Poor, poor guy. You can see he is the king. And now we are going to eat him. We eat him, we who already have so much..."

Mr HP. felt so bad. He was a beautiful fish. HP and TN caugh him in their net. Päijänne fish, the absolute best there can be. From clear, clean waters, Central Finland.

(I must add Mr HP is more than a little buddhist. Constantly afraid of bad karma. But aren't we all?)

Perch is beautiful. And delicious.

Fishermen's pleasures.

And then they tried to get some more!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

You should see how I clean the house.

Enough of Steely Dan? No way, man! Just got these photos from AB. Thanks!

Donald Fagen being interviewed at the press conference, backstage, Pori Jazz 2007.

No rain. After a stormy night we are having another hot and beautiful day in Helsinki. I'm editing a book on Moscow. Getting ready for the next weekends PEN club meeting on Central Asia. And trying to find more information on Podcasting. IStori on air, think about that! And this evening the annual Publishers' Crayfish Party is taking place at Klippan restaurant.

I remember how it was last year... Get-togethers, parties, and a lot of work in between. Missing Miss Funnybunny.

Last weekend, when we were having dinner with grandparents, my rebellious but big girl, proudly three-year-old Miss Funnybunny suddenly wanted to tell my mother how splendid a mummy I am: "This mummy of mine is so good," she said, gazing at me with tender, loving eyes and happy, smiling face. "You should see how she cleans our house," she continued. "She is so good at cleaning, my mom. Every day she cleans our house, every day. You should see my mom, how she cleans...".

Then she had to stop; my mom and Mr HP nearly fell on the floor, laughing in tears.

Babylon Sisters, shake it!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

From Päijänne to Kirgisia

Now it is raining. Very strange. Even though it has been so dreadful in Western Europe, we have had quite nice weather here in Helsinki. And in Estonia, too.

The shortest update:

1) Congrats, LH! Though we have already celebrated you and the other two Lion friends in Graniittilinna. Wonderful food. I recommend "Kotaporo", reindeer.

2) And, AB, million thanks for the Steely Dan photos! Some of them will end up in this blog, too.

You thought I am finished with Steely Dan? No way. I love Fagen's stuff more than ever.

3) Last weekend we were in an island in the middle of Lake Päijänne. Mr HP got a huge fish, ahven, perch. (Thanks, Vaiheinen!) You will get to see a photo later, once I have been able to download them, but

4) my memory card is not working, and I can't download my 200 Päijänne photos.

5) We swam a lot, and Miss Funnybunny caught a cold. (Like her mother did, every summer.) But when Miss Funnybunny was put to bed – which was NOT easy, believe me – I swan even more. From sauna, I swam about half a kilometer in Asikkalanselkä. And the water there, it is clean, bright and fresh.

6) Now I am also organising a Women Writers' Conference in Helsinki (or helping organising it), with the Women's committee of the Finnish PEN. It is to take place next weekend in Caisa (Fennia block, Mikonkatu). Welcome, everybody. Most of our guests will come from Central Asia. Quite a number of then from Kirgisia, hence the photo below. It is from this cool Mannerheim's Way website.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Saaremaa, the Land of Hobbits. Lovely Estonia.

IStori participated a Floral Tour around Saaremaa, Estonia. Besides gardening, many of the 36 participants are also interested in culture and political history (as IStori), so it was only natural that at times the amazing flora were only sidekicks by the path of Estonia's hair-rising history.

Saaremaa is an island which used to be the most western part of the Soviet Union. Therefore the control there was pretty tight. People were not allowed to go to the beaches after dark "so they could not communicate with and try to jump into the one meter long Swedish submarines", explained my dear friend EN. She is a journalist. She should know.

The weather was lovely: either sunny or slightly cloudy, but very warm all the time.

I missed Miss Funnybunny and Mr HP. They both should have joined, they were about to, but Miss F got a little sick only two days before kickoff. She was quite fine when I left, but we thought it'd be wiser to leave her home. With her dad Mr HP, of course.

Before you start with my photo report I recommend you read the Estonia jokes I have posted here earlier. The famous Lake Kaali was visited by us, too. Most well-known because of the Rüütel-Meri anecdote (at the link), not just because of the meteorite.


Modern windmills just before the ferry to the island of Muhu.
(See? The Estonians are wiser than Finns, again.) We saw quite a bunch of historical windmills, too.

Always walk on the bright side of life.
The toughest Finnish gang claiming the merciless streets of Kuressaari, capital of Saaremaa.


The Bishop's Castle in Kuressaari. Did you know that the Russians tried to destroy this by exploding it, but the brutal idea went down the drain. The castle survived: the drowsy soldiers were more interested in the local beer and eventually were unable to proceed with the destructive plan.

We followed the Russian example by having a lot of beer and not exploding anything.


Konstantin Päts, the president of Estonia from the early Soviet regime welcoming us. He was guarding the exhibition of Soviet era in the castle.


We, the restless garden enthusiasts, went to have a look at a private garden in Kuressaari. A lot of pears will these guys be having soon.

I should have asked if they could send me some in a month when they are ripe.


A most beautiful and peaceful graveyard near Kuressaari. Our guide told us an interesting detail: The best and surest way she – who spoke Swedish like all of us (Did you notice? ALL of us!!!) – she can spot the difference between the real Swedish guys (riksvenskar) and Swedish speaking Finns (finlandssvenskar) is that she will ask the group if they would like to visit a graveyard.

Finns always do, the Swedes never.

I though the reason for the Swedish reluctance towards graveyards is that the Swedes need to have a psychologist with them every time they are to face the fact that we all are going to die, some day... And we Finns never skip a possibility for a little melancholy and angst.


Wanna shoot a film here? Any genre in mind?


At the Good Kaarma ecological soap farm (yep. A soap farm. see the link) there was a hotel for insects. And a cozy bar from human beings.


The Tagaranna fishers' village used to host a fishing kolhos until 1967, when the fish factory was moved to Pappissaari. In the kolhos only there were 200 women working. The good side (NOT that there necessarily is any bad side in 200 women being employed, though) was that there were dances every evening. Probably when the fishermen retourned.

Tagaranna is the only older village by the sea, as during the Soviet era beach life was forbidden and under strict control.


The Castle witnessing
our dignified Swimming Alliance of good and spirited six people taking an early morning swim at 7:30. I am now a proud member of the Youth Section of the Swimming Alliance. (Me, a crumpy, outdated relic?) I wonder how it will be next year when Miss Funnybunny is with. Can the both of us be in the Youth Section?

Or maybe I'll just leave her behind at the hotel when we swim, she might not want to wake up that early anyway.


The museum village on the island of Muhu. The ideal place for the Hobbits: houses with roofs made of straw, lots of places where little people could hide, cosy atmosphere, and cute, tiny beds. According to the guide in Muhu (= the only Finnish speaking person I happened to meet during the tour) the ancient Estonians did not heat their houses but slept tightly together.

No wonder there have always been so many little Estonians.

Tack för Blomsterresenärer! Det var roligt och interessant. Hela gruppen var fantastisk. Solbränd och (lite) utvilad har jag kommit tillbaka på jobbet, men lyckligtvis har jag alla mina 100 foton och anteckningar...

Vi ses!