Kaja, who knew two words in Finnish (terve and guudbai), ended up as a visiting lecturer at the University of Jyväskylä on the invitation of one of their professors. Things snowballed from there, though. The land of a thousand lakes had captured Kaja, and six months turned into X years.
“We have all these fixed stereotypes of our neighbors in our heads, but how much do we really know about what Finland and the Finnish people living there are like?” Kaja asks. In this book, she shares her experiences and impressions of Estonia’s northern neighbors: their temperamental nature, their backwards humor, their frugal way of thinking, and their big hearts.
I stopped for coffee at the Neste gas station cafe, a little outside of Tampere, heading toward Jyväskylä. It’s a nice place with great views clean, and with friendly service. I also started to feel considerably better after drinking a bit of coffee. I got back on the road and it was all good until I got home. In Jyväskylä, I had to just drop by the university and pick something up before heading home. And that’s when I discovered the horrendous fact that all of my earthly belongings had disappeared – my purse, phone, and keys.
I sat there in the school parking lot and tried to remain calm andthink clearly. Losing all of my money like this had already happened once before in my life. At a conference in the US, I was robbed so totally blind that I didn’t even have two dollars left to get to the airport from the city and since that memory is still fresh in my mind, I feel especially vulnerable in situations when I sometimes can’t remember where my wallet or other things of the kind are.
I figured out that my things were most likely at the Neste gas station. I probably misplaced them while having coffee or maybe I just left them there. At the Tourula campus across the street there is another Neste station, so I drove there and told them about my worries:
“Listen, I have this problem – on the way from Tampere to Jyväskylä I stopped at a Neste station for coffee, but I don’t remember what the place was called. I think I forgot all of my earthly, portable, and strategically important belongings there. The way things are now, I can’t get in to work or to my house, I have no phone and no money either.”
Upon hearing this, the small, very pleasant young woman behind the counter got very sympathetic.
“Oh, how terrible! We have a few gas stations there. Do you remember at all where it was?”
And I replied: “No, not at all.”
“Was it before or after Himo?” she investigated further.
“Oh, heavens, I don’t remember. I was tired and I’m a bit shocked now because it’s all gone and that has pretty much wiped all sense out of my head. But it was kind of on a hilltop, I remember that. And there was a lake right there, nearby.”
I’m sure that at that moment, standing in front of that counter, I must have really come off as a loopy old woman.
- ISBN 978–9985–9931–9–4