Saturday, July 31, 2010

Kaunim linn Eestis

I guess I'm lucky that Tartu is not so well known a place with my Estonia travelling compatriots. The crawling distance from Tallinn harbour to the Old Town is thankfully good enough for most. (You don't actually need to leave the harbour nowadays at all for your cheap booze and grub, very practical.) But the hectic rough and tumble of Tallinn is nothing compared with the friendly cerebral Tartu - the first place in Estonia I ever visited, and the best. Estonia is such a lovely country for a Scandinavian traveller. Ideologically I absolutely prefer my native Nordic society with its idiosyncratic Finno-Ugric variations to the very hard and tough, often ice cold Estonian structures, but culturally Estonia feels much more cosmopolitan, both more connected to Central Europe and Russia than our culturally isolated, perennially towards Stockholm turned Finland. You can see this in shops, restaurants and cafés whose quality and variety far exceed our monotonous Scandinavian style industrialized fare. To lazily spend time in summery Tartu is such a luxurious experience, much missed, as these days chances for that don't come very often. Such a lovely place.

Thursday, July 08, 2010

On hearing about a 2,5 year old boy's disappearance

Seeing this news made me almost physically sick - whereas before it would have merited only a glance and just abstract sympathy. Such hostages to fortune in this random world. I suspect that children dying is the fundamental reason why we still employ gods, as little of use as they appear to be. God is the only abstraction that can deal with this issue. No science, no reason, nothing human is able to correct such an unspeakable thing, only God can, should he/she/it only exist. Which isn't very likely, so in practice we can only close our eyes and trust our luck and pretend that every man is an island, that no such loss is a common loss. What else is there to be done?

Quite an uninvited "et in Arcadia ego" moment into this high Nordic summer of brilliant blue skies and warm and light nights. There is not much to compare to this schizophrenic subarctic nature, from dark and grim November to this sudden explosion of life and light. And that's how it goes here: we remain perpetually poised, for our brief moment here, between great beauty and certain loss. There is also hope and proportion in this sentiment as grim as it may sound. We give hostages to fortune should we be so lucky, and I have been very lucky in my life, every moment a gift.