In the days before blog, an email:
Forgive the nature of a group email, but as I am using GPRS this is my easiest way to let you know I am alive and amuse / bore you with the trivial details of life in a foreign country.
My little place is very sweet in an Ikea storage dream kind of way and needs just the right amount of DIY so that I feel I have personally contributed to it, but not meaning I can't live in it straight away - even if the toilet seat is the ugliest thing known to man.
The whole place is unfurnished, which meant an urgent trip to Ikea upon landing because Finnish decor (wooden flooring and no curtains) doesn't make for a great first night sleep... I have to say it took a lot of strength and a little bottle of wine in the Ikea restaurant to move from the desire to flee the country ("this weird place is my new home?!") to the desire to obtain soft furnishings...
Anyway the house is now a home.
But some observations of Finnish life already:
* It's bloody bright up here - the sun shines very brightly at 7.30 in the morning, bounces off the snow and straight into my headache without even a glance at my blackout style reflective very heavy new curtains...
* To use the washing machine, I need to fill out a bank transaction form for 1 euro each wash...
* I can't buy wine in the supermarket. Don't even contemplate what I have to do to get gin.
* My real estate agent has to write to the landlord of my appartment to officially have my name put on the door. Once this happens, I become a real person and get all sorts of exciting social benefits. Like junk mail. At present I am a member of the previous Babai family and await the new lettering with excitement.
* The post man has the keys to the front of my flat so he can personally deliver each person's mail. Apparently this is for the benefit of little old ladies who don't want to walk downstairs to get their mail, and lazy people who want the daily paper over breakfast but are not going down in their pyjamas for it. The State here is very caring.
Some things I am yet to find (and a hint for anyone contemplating care parcels!)
- bin liners (Finns have to buy plastic bags at the supermarkets and use the old ones for their rubbish that isn't automatically sorted into biodegradable food stuffs, paper, glass, plastic, metals, old spectacles and prosthetics, fabrics, etc.
- carton or tinned soup.They just add water (yuck) or make their own (what to do when feeling sick?) I am making a new rule, anyone coming to Helsinki or Tallin must bring Heinz tomato or pumpkin soup.
- Turkish delight chocolate. This is even beyond translation. All mail to Finland must now be accompanied by 2 bars (one for me and one for the postman who will personally ensure I receive only mail bearing Turkish delight)
Love to you all and thanks for those sending well wishes, emails, texts, cards already - you have no idea how much they all mean.
I'm off to translate the communal sauna roster for the flats and sort my garbage.