Findian is a word that our good friends, Ari and Gaya, had brainstormed a few years ago. That's even before they and we had extended our families by times 2. While I always knew that Tino, Tanya, Miro and Mia weren't the only Findians in the world, I was a little skeptical that I would ever meet more. That's until the Indian chap in the cabin next to ours during the train journey to Kemi, offered a hand with the Seth travelling circus. We got chatting and once we had discussed Tendulkar's retirement, the topic of our own stories came up. It turns out that he lives in Tornia (the Indian equivalent of....well...can't think of one that small right now) and has Findian kids of his own. He's even got fellow Indian buddies who have settled here and started families. It's funny how a 15 minute conversation with a complete stranger can give you a sense of community. I foresee a dhabba at santa's village selling reindeer parathas and salmon raita in the near future. So what can I tell you about Tervola? you can hear yourself think here or in my case, nothing at all. The Finns are buying ear plugs that shoot off daylight into your head. I couldn't expose myself to such a device and risk the Mrs seeing the light edition from my other ear. Time stands still here. Everything is frozen in time. Atleast it feels that way and just to confirm it hadn't, I counted the second hand on the clock tick away. I can't even remember the last time I did or heard that. That's how peaceful and quiet it is out here. The few orange bellied birds that I saw, fed on pork which my father in law has generously served them. They weren't the angry kind but angry birds have indeed taken over this country. Quite a few of Tino's presents were of that particular brand. Once again he threw a curveball at me when he asked 'why are angry birds angry?'
For someone who is used to having an alcoholic beverage only when it's dark, I found it hard not to reach for one at 3pm. -25 degrees is very very cold. I could feel my nose hair (which i seem to be getting more and more of lately) freezing. I did see the sun rise at 11am and it was a strangely fulfilling experience. I was in the car on christmas day when the horizon turned a brilliant orange while everything in the distance was covered in powerdry snow. It was like the sun was playing pikaboo, smiling, wishing the world Merry Christmas. It was happiness extreme and I felt quite emotional. Most of the time though, the sky is grayish during daylight. I use the term 'daylight' very loosely here. As someone told me recently, you don't intentionally need to take black and white pictures here. I still think that Finland during the winter is like a mood stimulant. It exaggerates what you may be feeling at that time. If you let the walking dead creep into your mind, then it all looks a bit eerie and grim. I can see why a depressed soul like that bloke who recently jumped infront of a train here, would consider suicide as an option. But if you're happy, then it does enhance that particular feeling as well.
My father in law is like the Finnish version of that lead actor from the sitcom 'Home Improvement'. With a loud voice and exponentially bigger laugh. Surpassed only by his belly. One that Santa would be well envious of. For some reason he thinks I'm well versed with tools and on every trip proudly shows off his garage. I'm not the most handy guy around and for someone who did mechanical engineering, I'm ashamed to admit that it was only recently I located the lever for hammer drill action on my black & decker. Mikael did not judge me for it...I think. So my half an hour chat with Mikko felt like eternity. I now have several ways of nodding and they range from approval to amazement. They are my 'goto' body gestures in Finland. I never leave home without them along with my 'sorry, I still don't understand a word you're saying' smile. I used the latter sparingly when Santa came to visit. The boys were incredibly excited but not as excited as I was when Tino opened his remote controlled BMW convertible. It's the best present a boy and his father can ask for. I may not be able to drive an actual vehicle but I can certainly make one skid 180 degrees. It's now ranked as one of my greatest achievements in life. I impressed all the family members but Heidi wasn't fooling me with her nod of approval. Being a creator of many, I instantly knew she was faking it.
I've almost finished my bottle of Tobasco.