Sunday, January 16, 2011

No Friendliness Allowed

Yesterday marked the official start of Turku’s year as European Capital of Culture. This means that for the entire year people from all over the world will flock to my city in search of some grade A Finnish culture. They will be expecting art, music, theatre, beauty and friendly locals. Allow me to roll around on the floor in a very undignified manner and laugh my ass off. I’ve filed this little conversation under “Shit M Says.” It’s an IM conversation between M and myself. M was on his way to San Francisco at the time and was at the airport in Helsinki, apparently spying on Americans.

M says (12:51):
Freaky americans. They’re here at the gate, talking to complete strangers… ;P

Ziva says (12:51):
Yeah, they do that.

M says (12:51):
Shouldn’t it be prohibited somehow?

Ziva says (12:52):
Like with a sign that says "no friendliness allowed?”

M says (12:52):
That might work. They should at least have some sort of control over it when people are flying to Finland.

M says (12:53):
They could be standing at check-in and ask all sorts of tricky questions and make sure that people know that it’s strictly forbidden to talk to strangers while you’re in Finland.

Ziva says (12:53):
Well we definitely need it. It’s not like we could let a bunch of people into Finland that actually have some social skills. Everything our society is built upon would be ruined.

M says (12:53):

That said, if you don’t mind unfriendly locals, 2011 is definitely the time to come visit me here in Turku. Yesterday’s opening ceremony was very artsy, and I’m sure we’ll be able to conjure up some perfectly decent culture for you if you come. Take my brother, for example, he’s 14 and for Christmas he got his first guitar. In three weeks, he’s not only managed to teach himself how to play the thing, now he’s also composing original songs.

How’s that for culture.

Still not convinced Turku is the place to be in 2011? No problem. Just wait until 2012 and attend my wedding instead, I hear it’s going to be quite the party. *


  1. Fine. If I ever visit Turku, I'll make it a point to not even talk to you.

    In the meantime, can you post a pic of your ring already?? Inquiring minds and all, ya know.

    Your brother's good! But, of course, I shouldn't be saying that because that would be too sociable. Do you guys even smile in Norway??

  2. No fn way! 3 weeks! He's doing great! Ohhh crap in the spirit of unfriendliness he sucks royally!

  3. 00dozo: Here in Whatever Land we hardly ever smile. ;) But I'm ridicuously proud of my little brother. I could almost smile if I weren't so Finnish.

    I already posted a pic of the ring, a couple posts down. See, in Finland we do it backwards; when we get engaged both the man and the woman get engagement bands, no rock. And then when we get married, the woman gets a nice little diamond ring to complement the engagement band. M and I have white gold bands. Also, over here it's not really about the size of the diamond, you'll be hard pressed to find someone with a huge rock on their finger, people are very modest and prefer subtle jewelry. I find it all very strange.

    Madge: I know right? In all honesty, the kid already knows how to play the piano, bass and drums, so I should have known he'd rock the guitar as well. Goddamn child genius, stealing all my glory.

  4. Oh that makes sense, my husband has been self taught playing for about 5 years. I never thought he would get past kumbaya. He lesrns everything from YouTube now.

  5. Madge: That must be why I never was a very good piano player - I didn't have Youtube to teach me stuff.

  6. Your brother is really very good. And here I was on my way to the airport to try and pick up M and drive him down to his hotel and you tell me I'm not even supposed to talk to him. Okay, M. Take the shuttle. See if I care.

  7. So those were actually your rings?? Cool! I learn something new every day. Good thing, too, you know, to "brand" the soon-to-be-husband so the friendly female Westerners don't try to pick him up at a bar or anything. Then again, sometimes rings don't mean a thing ... just ask Linda.

    (Oops! Did I say that out loud??)

    Heh, heh.

    Damn right you should be proud of your brother! He's good! But maybe you can get him to smile - just a little? (He's hawt, ya know - yeah, I'm a dirty ol' lady).


  8. I'm a talker but I'll try my best not to talk to you at your wedding.


  9. What? He's only 14 and he's learned how to play that well after only three weeks?! Wow. That's pretty amazing.

    *said the overly friendly American*

  10. Ok, since I'm Canadian, I can talk to Finns, right? Don't worry, also because I'm Canadian, I'll start every sentence with an apology.

  11. I'm one of those Americans who talks to complete strangers all the time, except when I don't want complete strangers to talk to me. This is especially true for Europeans, who fascinate me, as long as they leave me alone when I dont' want to be bothered. Then they just irritate me.

    Anyway, I'm coming over. Thanks for the invite. Would I be intruding if I stay with you and M and sit around naked in your sauna all the time eating cookies and chatting you up about Finland?

    Oh, since you're obligated to tell people about your culture, you might want to steer them to the nearest chocolatier. I here you make some very good chocolate over there.

  12. Congratulation on your engagement.
    Your brother plays nice.Thx for sharing.
    About Truku...I googled it and I found some greate photos.Is a beautiful town.I remember that Sibiu(Ro.) was the capital of culture two or three years ago. I should visit Turku.In spring(May) I will be in Loimaa and I found that is 60 km far from Turku.

  13. Linda: I think M might be okay with you talking to him. Just don’t make any sudden moves. And I know he’d appreciate the ride, he definitely didn’t enjoy driving in San Francisco last time he was there.

    00dozo: Yep, those were our actual rings. I love M’s ring, it fits him perfectly. Mine is smaller, in order to accommodate a huge diamond ring once we get married, of course. My brother is 14, and like most teenagers he’s way too cool to smile. Sometimes I tickle him just to hear him laugh.

    Reffie: Heh, if you’re at the wedding, you’re not only allowed to talk, it’s actually encouraged. Drinking lots of wine is also a good idea, it helps you overcome the language barrier with all of our relatives.

    Meleah, a.k.a. the overly friendly American: I have no idea where he gets it from. I’m just pissed I didn’t get those genes.

    Nicky: Yes, Canadians are okay. Especially if you apologize first.

    MikeWJ: I’ve been waiting for you to come ring our doorbell for ages already. I expected you to be here by now, drinking our wine, eating our chocolate, using our sauna and generally being very American. You’ll have to sleep on the couch, though. But don’t worry, it’s plenty big for Kerry as well.

    Rares: Thank you! Loimaa isn’t very far from here at all, what are you going to do there? You’ll definitely have to visit Turku, it’s no more than an hour by car, at the most.

  14. I like how you quickly move me to the couch. As if I expected to sleep with M.

  15. Im jealous of his skills / genes too!

  16. @Ziva. I'm going for an experience exchange with the highschool from Loimaa.I wrote somethig here few weeks ago :

  17. Have you been to NYC lately? You won't be disappointed. You'll most likely be ignored. I, on the other hand, will talk to anyone and anyone will talk to me. The elderly approach me at supermarkets unless I'm colliding into them because they stop in the center of aisles and cause cart bottlenecks.

    Your brother's progress is impressive. By 2012, he'll be a rock star and your wedding will be as widely publicized as Prince William's.

  18. By the way, as a former guitarist who took lessons for years, it's insane for your brother to be that good in just three weeks.

    Also, how many of you are there in the Ziva Clan? Everytime I turn around, a new one's popping up.

  19. Double O better mind her "p's" and "q's". Where is this sniping coming from?

  20. MikeWJ: I was worried you'd want to sleep in the sauna and I just wanted to make it clear that you will in fact be allowed to sleep on the couch. You're also welcome to sleep between us in our bed, but M snores.

    Rares: That's great! I really hope the snow will be gone by then...

    Lauren: I went to NYC a year ago, and they really did a fantastic job of ignoring me. The rest of America needs to take after NYC. Prince William's getting married? I had no idea!

    MikeWJ, again: There are three of us. I'm the firstborn, Muschu is the beautiful one and Little Brother is the gifted one.

  21. I snore, too. Perhaps you and Kerry should share the bed to get some sleep, and M and I should stay up all night, every night, drinking.

  22. Linda: My bad ... I was just recalling your post about your one 'traveling companion' where he said he wasn't married (but he was) and where you said you were married (but you weren't). I wasn't judging. My apologies for any offense taken (I am Canadian, after all).

  23. Dear Z,

    Are the Fins known for vodka? I feel I remember this being the case. If so, please advise. Am looking to restock the liquor cabinet.

    love, Rena

  24. Rena: Finnish vodka is good. Vodka is good. Any vodka is good. Lots of vodka is better. A huge bottle of Finlandia Vodka should be found in every girl's purse.



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