esmaspäev, veebruar 05, 2007

Veel Vatlused Eestist

So it's six degrees out and snowing on and off. Some people hate this kind of weather, but I love it. When I was a child I went on many ski vacations and so, forever, I associate snow with joy. I've been walking a lot and thinking about things and observing things and here are some more observations about tavaline eesti elu (regular Estonian life).

1. Animals are Gods in Estonia

Most people have last names that are related to animals, hence you meet people named Reet Rebane (fox) or Olavi Orav (squirrel). Animal totems also adorn food products. Ice cream, meats, it doesn't matter. If it has a squirrel on it, it is suddenly more attractive. So many cultures favor patronymic naming systems. But when Estonians took family names, I guess they decided that they felt they had more in common with the local fox, than dear old dad.

2. Estonians like to listen to their own music, all the time.

Remember, there's only about 1.3 million Estonians in the world. Period. But from those 1.3 million many synthesizer-infused pop songs can be made. It seems almost every place I go, from the pood to the takso, out of the takso, into a new pood, wherever I am, I hear Eesti music.

3. Estonian Russians are Estonians that speak Russian at home.

Their grandmothers may be *real* Russians with fur hats, but the twentysomething Estonian Russians I meet are often as discreet as those Estonians whose ancestors have lived here since the days of the pharoahs. What's more, many of them speak fluent and unaccented Estonian. I used to take the A train in New York with Russian ladies who were loud, those who you could hear all the way across the train with their "da"s and "privet"s, but here, the trams and buses are often as silent as Trondheim in wintertime, whether those transported say "da" or "jah" at home.

4. The parliamentary elections are all about the Rohelised.

Just what we all need, right? A parliamentary election pitting Edgar Savisaar against Andrus Ansip and Mart Laar and whoever those guys are in SDE and ERL. I can sense the malaise everywhere. Having come fresh from the US, where the 2006 elections felt exciting, like, gosh, democracy could work again, I am already getting sick here of Savisaar promising me a larger palk. C'mon Edgar, you can do better than that. Throw in a free kohuke! And Ansip and his pronksmees love affair aren't stirring me either. So the only guy I am keeping my eye on is Strandberg, not because I want him especially to win, but because I like that there's at least a new party in the race to keep it slightly ... yawn ... interesting. If only a party would choose an animal as their symbol. They'd be sure to win.

5. Estonian girls like to part their hair on the side.

I am not sure if its retro or new, or a mix, but the Estonian teenage girls all dress the same. See them congregating like flamingos, hair parted and layered with bangs in front, mobile on their ear, jeans tucked into boots, and you'll know what I mean. It's funny too, because when I was in Soome, I was sure that the Finns took the top prize for most homogenous teenage dress code here Up North. But now, I'm not so sure.

25 kommentaari:

Andres Sehr ütles ...

If only a party would choose an animal as their symbol.

Reform's symbol is a squirrel. :)

Anonüümne ütles ...

Totally(well until you post something I don't love obviously)love your blog. As a second generation (on my mom's side) valiseestlane, former estonian highschool english teacher and current New Yorker, there is so much I can relate too. References to Newark, the A train and Tartu together are not something you find every day.
You have a really clear take on important issues, like the whole what happened during the second world war opera (and maybe someone should write an opera, like Kivirahk, though I saw Romeo and Juliet when I was in Eesti a while ago and it is was like WTF?).

Keep up the good work.

Giustino ütles ...

Reform's symbol is a squirrel.

Perhaps some unintended irony. Anyway, don't mind me. I'm the one that thought that the Õismäe apartment block was modeled after an eye until someone pointed out that it was supposed to look like a flower.

As they once said, "Like, no duh."

Sleeping Beauty ütles ...

Haha. I have been wondering about number 5. every time I go back to Estonia. it kind of depresses me that everybody looks the same, acts the same,( teenage part) and there are few who look apart from "hallist massist" and they are being critisized for being "Fun"....

Anonüümne ütles ...

One could speculate that the reason the green party has risen so quickly in popularity is due to the 'protest' vote. Much to the demise of IRL, they are (at leas the Res Publica part) getting a taste of it's own medicine. Many previous Isamaaliit supporters are jumping ship due to the merger with Res Publica.
However, should Strandberg run his party like everything else he has done, the party will last only long enough for him to get elected into parliment and back into the ministry of environment where he has been longing to be since the last time he was kicked out.

Franz ütles ...

"Most people have last names that are related to animals"
Actually most people in Estonia have last names, which are related to trees and forest (Tamm, Kask, Mänd, Vaher, Pärn, Saar, Kuusk, Lepp, Lepik, Mets, Salu etc.)

Jüri Saar ütles ...

Most Estonians didn't have official family names but instead had locations (usually of the family farm) which were tacked on to the name e.g. if you lived near a bridge and your name was John others would refer to you as John of the bridge...or something like that.

People got family names because of the German landlords in the 19th century, who just assembled a bunch of locals and started handing out names. They had their reasons, but I can't remember what they were. Anyway, some used the locations in use by the locals, others gave names according to professions and the third bunch enjoyed the process a bit too much.

The most memorable family name I've come across so far: Verilaskja aka bloodleter (from "to let the blood flow"...probably the decendant of a butcher).

plasma-jack ütles ...

They had their reasons, but I can't remember what they were

The reason was that the peasants were no longer serfs, so the free men needed family names. Czar Aleksander I was the good guy we have to thank for this.

http://www.erm.ee/?node=118

lounamaa ütles ...

There is supposed to have been a landlord who actually named his (former) serfs after US states. So as a result of his peculiar sense of humor you could once have bumped into Jüri Connecticut or Madis Pennsylvania in a certain part of Estonia. Alas, the campaign for the "Estonianization" of names conducted during the Päts era probably took care of the last of those surnames.

Katriin ütles ...

I would recommend Otepää and Kääriku for weekends (ski and swim), it´s very Estonian and you are so near. It´s fun and people tend to act in a more relaxed and easygoing way (you know, the resort thing). It would give you a wonderful opportunity to write about complicated Finnish/Soviet Estonian/Russian relations during the cold war (inspired by the Kekkonen route). Have fun!

Aivar ütles ...

Absolutely love your blog! So has Abercrombie & Fitch styled cookiecutter teenage angst and wannabism finally reached the cold corners of Eesti?

Ouch!

You are onto something else here too. Or at least you got me thinking - Estonia as such, is a small herd, but a herd it is nevertheless. If we cannot find security in numbers, then the least we can do is to find it in all looking the same. Perhaps this instinctic campiness is what has kept us alive through thick and thin? So our young just follow the tried and true.

Next time you hear our homespun 'vaibakloppimise muusika' think how well it immunizes us from all kinds of evils and influences of the larger world out there. :)

Giustino ütles ...

So has Abercrombie & Fitch styled cookiecutter teenage angst and wannabism finally reached the cold corners of Eesti?

It's definitely not angsty, and I don't see any A&F. I mean, they do look good, they just dress similarly. Nothing wrong with that, I guess.

aivar ütles ...

So it was not the communist dictatorship after all that suppressed freedom and kept us all dress and look pretty much the same not long ago. Turns out that it's just like the zebras prefer that their stripes all line up. ;-)

notsu ütles ...

Actually, if you start to move around in university buildings/surroundings and around Kunstikool and SPECIALLY in the university library, rather than around Kaubamaja, you'll find people who look different. Not actually teenagers (well, some of them are in their teens yet, but in rather late teens), but then again, has Tartu ever been about teenagers?
Actually, even young teenagers you can spot in TÜ library look different from their age group "standards" - think rather Pippi Longstocking than Vanilla Ninja.

notsu ütles ...

Actually, if you start to move around in university buildings/surroundings and around Kunstikool and SPECIALLY in the university library, rather than around Kaubamaja, you'll find people who look different. Not actually teenagers (well, some of them are in their teens yet, but in rather late teens), but then again, has Tartu ever been about teenagers?
Actually, even young teenagers you can spot in TÜ library look different from their age group "standards" - think rather Pippi Longstocking than Vanilla Ninja.

Martasmimi ütles ...

Giustino said...
So has Abercrombie & Fitch styled cookiecutter teenage angst and wannabism finally reached the cold corners of Eesti?

Martasmimi ütles ...

I attended a private Catholic
School outside of New York City It was run by German nuns in the 1950's. ..(a very long story)

It was required that we wear uniforms, blue plaid skirts with white blouses. Navy pants with white shirts and ties for boys.I eargerly awaited the day when I could wear "civilan" clothes to school.
When that day arrived, in 9th grade I found myself torn between the new uniforms being offered by the two different groups
or "cliques" in my new school
These were the cool styles of that day.
The all black (beatnick) look, my personal choice or the plaid skirted preppy look, which I wore on occasion.
When my son Giustino was in school there were many trends as well. One of my favorites was the winter hats with ear flaps and long braided ties....
Long baggy tan shorts were worn everyday in the warm weather.

If you were to stand outside of this school of 1900+ students you would rightly assume that the allof these students wore manditory uniforms.

notsu ütles ...

Sorry for my double post, can you remove it, Giustino?

Anonüümne ütles ...


lounamaa said...
There is supposed to have been a landlord who actually named his (former) serfs after US states. So as a result of his peculiar sense of humor you could once have bumped into Jüri Connecticut or Madis Pennsylvania in a certain part of Estonia. Alas, the campaign for the "Estonianization" of names conducted during the Päts era probably took care of the last of those surnames.

There is a story that some peasants were named either Eitea, Eiühtid or Pannas when their landlord asked them what name they wanted. :)

Flasher T ütles ...

Perhaps some unintended irony.

The irony is intended, I think. The bankers' party, good at squirreling away money...

Flasher T ütles ...

So has Abercrombie & Fitch styled cookiecutter teenage angst and wannabism finally reached the cold corners of Eesti?

Wtf man, have you seen the amount of sunlight we get in the winter here? Goth and emo *originated* in this part of the world, man. Just look at Finnish music. ;)

notsu ütles ...

There is a British actress called Kate Isitt. I wonder what is the origin of Isitt name... reminds me of those Eitea ("Dunno") etc names.

plasma-jack ütles ...

you don't say, I also wonder where all those French Perse's and English Munn's are coming from

http://www.hickoksports.com/images/munn_biggie.jpg

Anonüümne ütles ...

Come on. I meant Isitt in English, not in twisted Estonian... I am a decent person ;)

notsu ütles ...

Come on. I meant Isitt in English, not in twisted Estonian... I am a decent person ;)