Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tervetuloa Suomi

After an extended exodus from blogging, caused mainly due to the demanding planning and execution and my academic career, I am back. Not too long ago, I was sitting in my cubicle with gmail and facebook windows minimized(goes without saying, but still) getting news of the BITS convocation, friends' MS and travelling experiences and the schoolboy in me tugged at my consciousness. Apart from the money, work-life didn't have much to offer.

Today, after more than a year of writing essays and e-mails, posting documents and loads of waiting, I am writing from 12E-67, Servin Maijan Tie, Espoo, Finland, having satisfied that over-enthusiastic and impatient schoolboy. Here at Aalto University pursuing my Masters in Radio Communications, I type with a bubbling enthusiasm in anticipation for what awaits me.

Each of us has wondered what it would be like to study and live in a new country, with a different culture, values and way of life. I cannot speak from bucketfulls (or is it buckets-full) of experience, but the differences between Finnish and Indian are much more pronounced than the 5000-odd km in between.

If the internet could be modelled as a person, his privates would surely be here. Internet speeds are so high that even before I turned on my laptop new 'stuff' was already on my desktop.

There are very few people here and far less running and noise and chaos per head and they manage it some pretty amazing automation. Everything is online, you even book laundry slots over the internet. Entire offices manage with 5 to 6 persons.

Driving here is pretty boring. There are no cattle running from pillar to post, cyclists and pedestrians have just about half of every road to themselves. All the driver gets to do is watch while the car does everything.

Finland is rules-based as opposed to negotiations-based. So words like 'please sir/madam', 'bas thoda sa kaam hai', 'jaanta hai mera baap kaun hai' and their equivalents would be met by uncomprehending stares. So much so, that if a bus driver sees a man running to catch the bus and it's time for him to leave, he WILL leave and sleep peacefully that night too.

Recycling is the buzzword here. The garbage bins have sections for paper waste, bio-waste, electronic, energy and I-don't-have-time-to-sort-garbage-sorry. They have a wonderful method to realize reuse. Once a student is leaving he leaves the stuff and anyone can simply pick it up. This goes for furniture, beds, microwaves just about anything.

The society is trust-based. Back in India we wouldn't trust people with our garbage. But here, if you like a piece of unclaimed furniture, just stick a paper on it with the word RESERVED. You can come back a week later and pick it up.

In the kingdom of countries, if the American God is ambitious, big brotherly, spendthrift and stupid, the Indian being noisy chaotic, multi-coloured and corrupt, the Finish God would surely be a nature lover, who runs and cycles. This place is heaven for nature lovers, tree huggers, trail runners, lonely lake starers(plenty of Finnish fall into this one) and enthusiastic cyclists.

I love the water system. You get both hot and cold tap water, both potable. The bath water is the perfect temperature. Back home I waste gallons of shower water tweaking the blue and red nozzles for the right feel, but here somehow the bath water is just spot on!

Everything not free, is really expensive. Transport, stationary, groceries. 200 rupees a kilo tomatoes anyone?

The food is bland and milk-products are abundant. I don't face much of a problem, but as those who know me will tell you, my taste buds cannot be trusted.

It's pretty quiet all the time, everywhere. Finnish don't socialize in public. So you won't hear the Finnish equivalent of "Oye yaar, kaisa hai. Bahut time ho gaya" with hugging and back patting.

I had better finish the gun-gaoing soon. The weather is going to start to suck pretty soon. And boy is it going to suck. It will be a black hole of sucking. More on this once the suction begins.

I would also like to tell you guys about the flexibility on offer here. I am not fully aware of how things work in US and other places, but the system in Finland deserves a separate post. Wait for it.... Dary :D

About Me

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I am Arjun P. Kamath, and I am a nice guy to know.