I am sitting in a Chinese restaurant in Helsinki, Finland. The choppy, somewhat Russian sounds of the Finnish conversations drifting around me inspire a surreal daze, especially over the backdrop of serene Asian flutes and strings.
Today has been a day off. I’ve wandered and snapped photographs, went to a market or two, and searched in vain for some medicine for the sniffle I’ve picked up. Grocery stores don’t even carry aspirin, and the pharmacies are closed for the 4 day Easter weekend.
Last night the Fins let loose at the bar across the street from the hotel. I witnessed several loud, drunken fights. Very different behavior than I’m used to. For the most part I’ve found the Fins quiet, reserved, and oh so serious. The only public displays of affection I’ve witnessed have been between women — they travel in groups of two and four, and if it’s two, more often than not they’re holding hands.
I don’t know if that signifies anything, or not.
The cold climate and perpetual frowns seem to age these people. I’ve seen frown lines on 8 year old children. The climate shapes the architecture as well. Buildings are uniformly imposing, made to defend against the elements, many built with outer glass shells, windows layered upon windows, and heated roofs which melt the snow.