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.