When I did fall for a young lady in Finland

 

First, please notice that the language in Finland is very strange. Those of you in Canada may have some idea about the Inuit language. Hindi is very much closer than Finnish to English or Norwegian. Actually, Engslih is verty difficult for many Finns, so they have these stories about a nineteenfifties foreign minister, who is reported to have greeted his American colleague at the airport like this: "Who are you?" It made as much sense to him as "How do you do."

To this comes the famous Finnish Depression, only relieved by tango and vodka. They may look very unfriendly, and not even Ertha Kitt could make them smile or move to music (she probably didn't try tango), but at heart they are really friendly and hospitable and nice. Mostly, anyway. And they come in two + two types: The tall, strong blonde, and the a little sturdier, short dark haired ones. (The +2 are the Sami people (Laplanders) and very well integrated Gypsies.)

Once I went there to give a lecture at a European congress in remedial education. And do they know how to make someone like me feel important! I was first invited to a government reception, after having been assigned the responsibility of a not very tall, but very strong and dark haired guy at my age. The only English he could say was "More peer?" They don't hear the difference between p and b, you see. We were Wined (actually more Spritied) but not Dined at some old Russian Imperial Palace-like house from back when they were part of Russia; beautiful crystal chandeliers, gold and things like that. I didn't know that that would happen, so I had to buy a decent shirt, but had no coat. When I came, there was this soldier at the door, asking for my coat. I tried to tell him I had none, but he would not give in. Some diplomatic thing, perhaps? So I had to give him my jacket, where I had my cigarettes. (I still did smoke, back then.)

Anyway. At the end of the conference there was the conference dinner. Sadly they put all Norwegians at one table and so on, so I met no new people. And there was this Finnish speech therapist that should be our host. He greeted us nicely, sat down, ate a little and drank a lot. He did not say a word, and just fell forward into his desert, sleeping very loudly until we started to leave. Then he straightened up, got to his feet like a soldier, presented a deep bow, and said in bad Swedish: "This has been a very enjoyable evening."

Then we get out into the bright Nordic night. The conference was held at the Technical and Sports University of Helsinki, a little outside the city. There were a lot of taxis, mostly small Russian Lada's. We lined up just fine, and then at last I was number three in the line when the last taxi was to leave. I wanted to ask if more taxis were ordered, and leaned forward to the driver, trying in Swedish and English. He did understand neither, and just went away.

Suddenly a girl in her mid twenties came at me, and hit me in the stomach. Real hard; I fell to my knees and was very close to vomiting. She was dead drunk, and just wanted to go on hitting me, but two of her male friends took her away with force while we waited for the next taxi. The rest of them told she believed I was trying to jump in the line, to get into a taxi before my turn.

When the next taxi arrived, thankfully, the folks first in the line pushed the angry girl and her party into the taxi to avoid more trouble. And then they told me she was one of Finland's best athletes in some sport or other. I had just been hit to the ground by an Olympic medal winner. This side of the age of five I think it's the only time a girl have actually hit me.

 The Buddhist content? Weeeeell, er, be patient? And don't get drunk.

 

The pictures are all from Helsinki. From the top:

Two examples of old Finnish architecture.

A modern bank

Icebreakers, resting in anticipation of nest winter.