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10 Helsinginkatu: Chapter 16 10 Helsinginkatu: Chapter 16
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-03-14 08:26:48
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16. Names, Mandy and other details

“Pieteri! That’s his name!” Leena said laughingly when I asked the name of my neighbour who was trying to learn French! “Oh, it’s a long story but when he was young a car hit him somewhere near the supermarket, yes the supermarket on the other side of the metro station, well there was no metro then.” The man had just gone with a big smile on his face, he had told me the well-practised ‘bonjour’ and I had answered ‘good morning’ with an equal big smile making sure that he felt that I really meant it even though I was not sure if he understood what I said and that I had return to English with him. “You really made his day now,” Leena said giggling and that definitely made my day.

It was early, just after eight o’clock in the morning and the temperature had stuck to minus five degrees, still dark and I was back on my patio smoking my morning cigarette and Leena had just taken her cat for her morning walk. People were coming in a hurry out of the houses and apartments around rushing for the metro and their works all of them looking cold and regretful that they had to leave their warm beds. Leena continued her walk and I was there alone watching the people going past.

The years I lived in this neighbourhood I didn’t really notice the people around and I think it was the coincidence of Leena and Pieteri talking to me the same time that triggered my interest in the neighbourhood. I suppose I’m too used of living in big cities where most often you have no idea who lives next door despite the fact that you might lived there for years. It is somehow weird how your curiosity about your surroundings increases when you come aware of them. The woman who was standing in the middle of the playground that is just in front of my house cross the small community road, watching her kid playing in the swing suddenly became visible just like the man who was coming out of the house in the other side of the playground.

Pieteri obviously lived here far long before I even thought of moving to Finland and he definitely knew the area how it was and how it has become far better than I will never know it, still I never thought of him for over the two years I lived here without seen him, in my little world he was invisible and suddenly the thought that for long I lived in a world of invisible people or better with me blind made me really sad.

Leena was in her second round around the playground with her cat always leading and her following slowly on her wheel chair. Passing by she smiled and then she concentrated again on her cat that obviously familiar with her morning walk she checking around, the cat made me wonder who was really taking the other for a walk and I had the sense that it was the cat taking Leena for a walk than the other way around. Perhaps the cat could sense that Leena should not stay all day inside and she was helping her by taking her for a walk a few times a day. The woman in the playground was looking at me and she suddenly smiled. I felt that I had to find out who she was.

Stepping inside I had to deal with another telephone call from Mandy. Mandy is not his name, it is how Marc and I call him and I suppose everybody who knows us and heard or seen him, you see Mandy is very unique in his very own way and even though you don’t want to see him often or he somehow makes you nervous when you see him or hear his voice on the phone but the same time meeting him really enriches your life with anecdotes and stories. You pray that he will never hear the stories and the anecdotes he has become the centre because you have the feeling that he will …kill you! I’m joking of course but I know if he could heard some of the stories Marc and I say about him it will really upset him because in his very unique way he considers us his closest friends which can mean that he hasn’t got many friends. I suppose our common roots and language helps him to feel this boning.

Anyway, my usual attitude when I speak with Mandy in the phone, I keep it away and I just say every so often …yes, of course and I have no idea what he’s talking about. I said that I will see him for coffee the next day if I have nothing else scheduled and decided to get ready for a walk around the neighbourhood. My last health adventure has forced me to do small walks something really strange. When you are not forced to do something you might do it again and again but when they force you …you find all short of excuses to hate it and I hate walking around because some doctor told me! Actually every doctor I met the last two years told me exactly the same thing and apparently they call it exercise.

So here I am doing the same thing I always, walk past the metro station, left to the petrol station then follow the road to the local supermarket and down the seaside; walk through the camping area and the outside sauna and back to the metro station from the other side. I hate this place! I have the sense that there is just me and my …must walk only around.


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