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This is Finland
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-12-15 09:37:59
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Living in Finland is often a surreal state of mind and you must have a lot of humour to cope and understand the schizophrenic of the Finnish society and especially politics. Actually living in this northern country I found out many times that I had to reconsider everything I took for fact or credit, I found that my knowledge regarding politics and sociology was tested and that many times I had to accept what Finns often say …this is Finland! But is better if I try to explain what I mean with some examples from these last few days only.

Finland has an obsession with nuclear power – abuse in my opinion but what do I know - and while they are building one nuclear plan with a lot of questions raised especially from Greenpeace regarding safety and cost they are planning a couple more for the next few years. The planning and funding has been already voted from the parliament finding the Finnish Greens absolutely agreeing – reconsidering political facts I was saying before – and participating with two ministries in the government that praises the use of nuclear power. Of course there are people in this country that show their opposition in many ways including demonstration. Well the biggest demonstration I saw had something like three hundred people and it was considered a big one and I insure you it took a lot of organization to persuade those people to leave their television screen and their sofas and march in the centre of Helsinki.

But it took only a Facebook page for hundreds of Finns to declare that they are going to participate in a demonstration in the Senate square on coming Friday for the return of Conan O’Brien’s night show in Finnish television! An American late talk show with American celebrities and fast food humour! But Conan O’Brien has special ties with Finland, he has really put the country really on the map sometimes with provocative jokes and having made a special – the only one he has ever made - a few years ago when he came with a joke that he looks like …Tarja Halonen, the Finnish president.

I suppose this ‘putting Finland in the map’ is pretty important for the Finns and since we are talking about Tarja Halonen, here another example. After the suicide bomb in Stockholm most of the countries reacted in shock and horror and leaders from all around the world expressed their disgust and support to the Swedish government. Halonen said that “terror strike in Finland is only a matter of time!” Wow! Sounds like a wish. For more comments I leave it to you. But I suppose fame demands sacrifices and most likely – at least I hope so - that was a slip of the tongue!

But the slip in the street to Helsinki all this week was definitely not a random accident. The last weeks all the Finns laugh at the rest of the Europeans that look so disorganized in front of the bad weather and the early snow. In a pub the other night some of them thought that it was ridiculous that in Britain schools had to close with just some inches of snow. And then snow came to Helsinki and it wasn’t inches but centimetres – I suppose that makes the difference - and the whole city got numb for hours and days after they still try to clean the streets leaving transportation and people in the mercy of the weather.

The good news is that Christmas is coming and it is definitely going to be white Christmas and we can all enjoy our Christmas dinner at …Christmas eve! In a case you forgot …this is Finland!!!

P.S. Don’t worry I’m planning to make a habit of this “this is Finland” now I started it!

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Eva2010-12-15 09:47:40
I thought exactly the same when I read what Halonen had said! As if "soon Finland will be as cool as Sweden", yeah... But Swedish media wasn't much better when they reported about the bombing - headlines all over the place were referring to "Sweden's first suicide bomber". FIRST??? So they are hoping for more?

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