I certainly don't expect people to know much, if anything, but it's exciting to hear for instance where people place Finland in their mental Atlases. When queuing for a Disneyland ride the man behind asked me where I was from and when I told him he said: "Cool, I've been to Amsterdam!" And speaking of Amsterdam, I was watching the Asian Cup semifinal between Japan and South Korea this week, sitting at the bar next to two Japanese businessmen. When the other one heard I was from Finland his eyes lit up: "Jari Litmanen!" We ended up having a great discussion about football. He also knew Jussi Jääskeläinen and wondered why Finland never qualifies for any big tournaments with such good players. I told him half of Finland is wondering the same thing.
Before we met my Hong Kong friend Margot was sure that coming from up north I'd be a tall blonde. Of course that wasn't the case. We've laughed about it later that Hong Kong is one of the few cities where short ladies like us can actually reach the subway trains' upper handlebars. She has travelled a lot and knows this too. No chance of that in, say, Berlin. And actually today I was at a shopping mall where I could reach a ceiling panel! And I did - just because I could. The first time I've ever touched a sprinkler.
|The Disney line handles.|
Coming from a nordic country also gives you a reputation close to Gore-Tex: made for all weathers. But unfortunately being Finnish doesn't make you weather-durable. Cold still feels cold even if you'd experience it most of the year. And the concept of what's cold can change by location. Minus three degrees in Berlin felt more freezing than -15°C in Helsinki and I have worn my winter jacket here in Hong Kong when it's been +10°C. My inner thermometer is fucked up.
And finally here's something I heard this weekend: "Finland, eh? They're all a bunch of drunks there." This was said to me by an Irishman.