neljapäev, juuli 05, 2007

Welcome to Estonia: We Are Not Outrageous

The trip to Estonia takes some time. If you fly Finnair you might get a seamless connection out of Helsinki, but most often you need to change flights, in my case at the Prague Airport.

The last time I was in the Prague Airport, prior to this trip, was in 2004 when we first moved to the United States. I recalled that they had the most excellent salami sandwiches in the cafeteria, and, sure enough, this time they were still there (fresh ones, don't worry) costing whatever amount of Czech money they did. I ate two.

I have been to Prague before and I found it a romantic city. It lies in a hazy valley along a river in the plains of central Europe. Czech women, or rather, Czech women, Polish women, Slovak women -- they all know how to draw attention to themselves. One word comes to mind: outrageous, in the way that Dan Ackroyd and Steve Martin would say it in their famous "We Are Two Wild and Crazy Guys" Saturday Night Live sketch.

I feel like Prague is an outrageous kind of town: the kind of place where you take in the outrageous sights, dinner with outrageous women with outrageously (dyed) blonde hair named Milla or Lenka. You dine on outrageously greasy Slavic food, top it off with some outrageously cheap Staropramen, and then to bed for love-making to outrageously cheesy saxophone solos. And they have good salami sandwiches.

But Estonia is not outrageous. Looking out the window it looks like the rest of Europe (and that means you too Finland). It's green with rolling hills, rednecky farms, winding roads, with pockets of broccoli-like forests in between. If you are lucky, your roof is orangey-brown, tiled, and dates back to the age of Hansa. If you are unlucky, it's drab and gray and Soviet and dates back to the 1950s.

What has always hit me when I enter Tallinn is the immediate coolness of everybody and everything. It's like taking an aspirin, and I can only compare it to getting off the bus in Oslo or Stockholm at 5 am in October. There is this silent chill, even though it is sunny and warm out.

I think the first actor that induces the decline in emotional temperature is the architecture. Everything is a) in order and b) cute. Each sign is both threateningly sterile and childish at the same time. It's like the symbol for the children's playroom at Kaubamaja. It's just a little monkey, but his expression makes us wonder if he is hiding something.

Another factor that contributes to Nordic climate control is the advertising. I would have to say that if there is one overlooked medium for expressing Estonian identity today it is its local advertising field. Every large company, from Hansapank to Estonian Air to EMT to Elion indulges the locals in calm, northern tones of light blue and gray, along with a spike of catatonic yellow or orange to spice things up.

Fluffy white clouds drift through a peaceful sky, coronating a sensitively yellow flower, and framing a blonde lady with a smile that communicates a feeling of tranquility, as opposed to outrageous happiness, holding a mobile telephone. Need I say more? Less inspired Estonian advertisers are content to just put a nice photo of a tree up with their slogan and company name. It has the same placid effect.

The actual slogans are, again, cute and sterile at the same time. In fact, the Estonian language also falls into this category. Take the word "kuuüür". It looks cute with all of its little diacritical 'ü's. But really, it just means 'monthly rent'. Usually, though, it is to the point. The ad for a trip to Oslo is a picture of a Viking ship bathed in a red bloody sunset. What does it say below? "Come to Oslo for an outrageously wild and crazy time!"? No. It says "Tallinn-Oslo". How perfect.

Some Estonian women try to dress as Czech women. In this regard they fail miserably. You might see them walking half naked down the street on the way to the bus station. But talk to them, and you'll be met with the same expression of the monkey at the mängutuba in Kaubamaja. This is a nation where you can watch a whole episode of Benny Hill and just sort of digest it, emitting a few chuckles, most likely towards the end in the vein of, "that Benny Hill, why is he riding a bike all the time? Silly person."

Though Estonia is productive its citizens -- and 115,000 stateless people -- operate in some kind of twilight between just being asleep and awake. It as if they are all sleepwalking through their jobs. They do them well, but with little fanfare. You are sent by the zesty Czech stewardesses to passport control where they treat you with all the pizzazz of rinsing the sink out after brushing their teeth. I once smiled at a Finnish passport control officer, who in turn bared his teeth at me in a painful attempt to copy my gesture. The Estonian ones wouldn't even bother reciprocating.

The changeover to Estonian temperature will continue throughout your day. You may meet a silent bus driver named Rein who listens to Estonian standards of the 1930s on his trek to Tartu and back. Or there is the train conductor Aime, who will exchange money with you while averting any direct eye contact. These are all characters in this entirely not outrageous country, where the most fiery politician looks up while he talks and plays with his hands, summoning the wisdom of Milton Friedman. They act with the same love of communication as the concierge at a hotel in Nuuk. That is not to say that they aren't polite, gregarious, and borderline warm in their dealings with you, especially if those dealings involve alcohol or, to a lesser extent, caffeine.

Some people are turned off by the "wall of ice" they meet when they come to places like Eestimaa. When I told people I was studying in Copenhagen, I was told that I was crazy and I should head to someplace like Rio. The only difference is that in Rio, the other dudes carry weapons and might beat you up for looking at their sister the wrong way. In Tallinn, as in Copenhagen, they stare at their beer and mutter to themselves. There is an atmosphere of restraint and appreciation of silence. For a New Yorker like myself who has suffered through the ups and downs of the East Village on a Saturday night, living here takes on monastic dimensions.

45 kommentaari:

Wahur ütles ...

Hey Giustino!
One day you describe us Estonians like hobbits. Next day - its more like ents :D
Couldn't you make up your mind?

plasma-jack ütles ...

You may meet a silent bus driver named Rein who listens to Estonian standards of the 1930s on his trek to Tartu and back. Or there is the train conductor Aime, who will exchange money with you while averting any direct eye contact.

It's kind of different in Hiiumaa, probably also in other smaller places.

Flasher T ütles ...

I think it's some sort of union requirement that the radios in all forms of public transport be tuned to Raadio Elmar...

Juan Manuel ütles ...

That was hilarious, Justin!

You might see them walking half naked down the street on the way to the bus station. But talk to them, and you'll be met with the same expression of the monkey at the mängutuba in Kaubamaja.

So you have tried to talk to them? I have still a deep psychological trauma from the time when I gathered the best of my grammar knowledge to say "Eesti tudrukudel on ilusad silmad" to be met with a cool "Foreigners can only say that", after which I seriously thought I should dedicate myself to team sports rather than to Estonian language.

By the way, I do think Estonians are hotter than Czechs (Estonian girls I mean).

Giustino ütles ...

By the way, I do think Estonians are hotter than Czechs (Estonian girls I mean).

Every country boasts attractive women, even Spain. As for the northern blondes I think that they are probably more interested in text messaging than anything you have to say.

I have had quite a few conversations with my wife, although she's a tad more Lydia Koidula than Anu Saagim. ;)

Doris ütles ...

true about the trees, most of our songs are about the trees, the land, love, the sea/lakes/rivers and sometimes the sky. Even the really really patriotic ones, for example "Ilus maa" - the scariest part in there is about protecting (our) children. or "Ta lendab mesipuu poole" also mentions war and death but in the sense of passing through them to get back home... and, after all, the main character of that one is a bee:P or, from the recent big event Laulupidu, "Palve" goes something like "Creator, protect the grove trees because they've been bent down"

so. yes. trees are important. and I'm upset about the stupid person who sold the forest behind my house to build houses on top of there. it's all been cut down now... makes me sad enough to cry sometimes

Giustino ütles ...

Epp basically looked like this in 1992, although much cuter, I might add.

Hulden ütles ...

I have been following your blog on and off for about a year now.

I have understood that you have lived up in the Northern Europe for years.

Still, it seems to me that the level of your intercultural perceptions is somewhere between one-week and a two-week holiday.

Could you try to dig a little deeper with your comparisons and factual philosophy on Northern nationalities, nations and states?

Juan Manuel ütles ...

I have had quite a few conversations with my wife

Haha, actually I also had an Estonian girlfriend and yes, we did talk (mostly in Spanish though because my Estonian repertoire comprised no more than 200 sentences).

As for the picture of Epp in the 19th century, actually that picture always reminded me of another friend of mine who (sadly for me, happily for her) just get married.

By the way, Russians actually complain than they cannot tell one Estonian girl from another.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

hulden, what do you mean with digging deeper? I am just curious. Hvor kommer du fra?

Blogaddict ütles ...

Another great post that I can recommend to my friends.

For me it is always fun to confuse Estonians, especially those in small towns with a cheery "Tere!" and a friendly smile.

You can enjoy their confusion as they are racking their brains whether they know you and don't recognize you while sizing you up on how many drinks you might have had already so early in the morning.

I suspect that when they manage to smile back at you they walk away from the unusual encounter feeling somewhat disturbed inside. Most likely embarrassed. One hopes they feel good about themselves rather than despising you for making them come out of their emotional clamshells.

Blogaddict ütles ...

Oh, how about outrageous? Straight from today's headlines - please somebody explain this to me.

http://www.delfi.ee/news/paevauudised/eesti/article.php?id=16356412

All I can say, considering the general atmosphere right now, that it does not look very funny. At least not from far away.

How am I to ridicule nashists now?

Juan Manuel ütles ...

You can enjoy their confusion as they are racking their brains whether they know you and don't recognize you while sizing you up on how many drinks you might have had already so early in the morning.

I had the opposite experience in the United States. On my first day there I thought that the guy who picked me up at Buffalo airport knew everyone from the woman working at the parking lot to the one who served us in the restaurant.

Only on the next day when somebody asked me cheerfully at the suppermarket "hey, how are you doing today?" I realized that americans over-react a little bit.

Kristopher ütles ...

I used to show Estonian banknotes to people, because I thought Koidula was hot for a 19th century chick and that said a lot about us a nation. I stopped doing this when a guy asked me in response, why do you have the lead singer for Tears For Fears on your 100 kroon note?

Ing. ütles ...

2 years living in Italy and I´ve changed. I sat in a cosy cafeteria today alone and felt a sudden urge to sit in with two women and begin chatting. I only stopped because I remembered that 2 years ago being a regular Estonian I would have felt very awkward and would have left the first moment possible if such an event would have happenend. Ha, and I chatted away with Italian older gentelman on the flight to Tallinn and was constantly stared at by an Estonian guy who probably thought I was nuts for speaking to my neighbour for more than a few seconds.
I+ve been here for 5 days and I miss Italy so much, the smiles the ciao!s, the warmth you feel every step. And yes, if you see a blond girl walking around Tallinn (until 24th of July) constantly smiling and looking people in the eyes, it`s probably me :) :P

Giustino ütles ...

Hulden, what would you like to know?

Frank ütles ...

For everybody who wants to convince her- or himself that Estonians are as passionate as the rest or even more, have a look here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBNAITxz4vU

Anybody who dares a guess this could also happen in Sweden?

Long live the Ents!

And the almighty Lord may shield Estonia in all dealings with their eastern neighbours!

Frank ütles ...

Could anyone kindly come up with a more or less fitting translation of
"Isamaa Ilu Hoieldes"?

My Estonian is still eriti natuke Eesti keel (compliments to Giustino) and google does not help in this case ...

Juan Manuel ütles ...

Ehm, is it just me or was there a long post here that is not anymore? I should stop drinking.

Just a few ideas about the Estonian economy and its poor welfare system.

- The economy may be overheated. Too much investment in the wrong places, too many bad loans (like sms loans)
- Inflation is too high and they need a lower inflation to meet the Maastricht criteria and join the euro (which is very important)
- Loans are still very low and they are beginning to have a problem of scarcity of work force. Youngsters move elsewhere to do well paid jobs, and there are not enough immigrants to do the worst jobs.
- Estonia may no longer have a comparative advantage in cheap workforce. Even companies in Estonia consider moving to China.
- If they want to keep inflation down they could encourage salary moderation, but hey, people are going abroad already because of low salaries.
- The government must raise taxes and reduce spending, but the first option may encourage panic and reduce consumption while the second option would harm the poor.

The government is talking about a controlled landing of the economy, that is, not taking the necessary steps because they fear they may trigger a crisis, and hoping that everything will be ok in the end.

karLos ütles ...

... and there are not enough immigrants to do the worst jobs.

as someone who doesn't live in estonia (but would like to visit and maybe stay for a while) this kind of attitude worries me. are immigrants or even visitors so unwelcome that they are expected to scrape poop out of the darkest places? because i have no eesti keel, would i be shunned, and live in a box, with my daily scrapings?

Juan Manuel ütles ...

Hey hey, no, I am actually Spanish myself and I have nothing against immigration. I am just saying that there is a shortage of workforce in both qualified jobs and unqualified jobs. It is a matter of fact that supermarket chains like Maxims find it hard to find people to work for them. So they country need immigrants to do those jobs.

Estonia is trying now to ease its immigration policy to allow more people in, which is something that makes economic sense but raises some cultural issues - where do you think those immigrants will be coming from? And what language will they speak? Certainly not Estonian and neither komi or mari keel.

karLos ütles ...

a few folk have suggested those ngo "estonia house" places around the world, that might offer estonian language classes. if there was one here i'd go and get me some keel, or at least try (apparently it's hard).

perhaps marketing estonia via such a method might make it easier, and being selective as to where these "houses" are established might help the "cool kids only" policy, which is expected in this day and age at any department of immigration.

Giustino ütles ...

The government is talking about a controlled landing of the economy, that is, not taking the necessary steps because they fear they may trigger a crisis, and hoping that everything will be ok in the end.

I had written something but it was too long winded. But the government *appears* to have its head up its rear. If I were them I would keep telling everyone that things will be ok, too.

But little has been done to create social empathy, this notion of "we are all in it together." Instead you get the IRL mantra of "everyman for himself". Estonia right now is in the odd twilight between a developing country and a northern european economy.

But if you take a long, hard look in the mirror, large scale manufacturing isn't a sustainable industry for a country of 1.3 million, no matter how many Hungarians you bring in.

The state needs to cool things down and make sure that more people land on their feet. Otherwise they face the threat of Prime Ministe Savisaar in 2011.

Puu ütles ...

One of the hardest things for me was that estonian don't talk when eating. I live to talk when eating.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder. I don't think it is a bad thing that there are no columbian men in estonia that will yell aie mamachita I like the way you look in those jeans. Estonian hecklers are just like " Plikka tahad olut". So much more direct.

Wahur ütles ...

Frank: 'Isamaa ilu hoieldes' would mean something like 'holding/keeping/guarding the beauty of fatherland'
And continuing another theme - remember the book, ents could get very passionate if (un)properly handled. It just took more (lots of) time :)

Agu-Enrik Ubailves ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
gaborien ütles ...

Tere Giustino,

I also have the same feeling about life in Estonia. Since I moved here 2 years ago I feel sometimes like living in slow motion and in an emotions-censored environment. However I don't complain anymore about this and I started to feel all this like normaalne...

But I think there are 2 factors that influence your perception:

- coming from NYC to Estimaa makes a huge difference in scale and lifestyle as americans (I think) also like to live outrageously.
- If you would be on your early 20's you'd "hang out" with almost-post-soviet poissid who are a bit more communicative and friendly than older people who inherited a reppresion feeling from previous times. Although I also met youngsters from countryside who are as warm and outgoing as Rein or Aime in the busses and trams.

Doris ütles ...

on the Estonian reaction to compliments... Estonian girls are brought up to only rely on themselves. If there's a guy who happens to want to help, great, if not, they'll handle things themselves. (look up the place in the Henrick's Chronicle where the men are ready to accpet christianity and then the women come with sticks and make the men go home). So, when an Estonian female hears an extremely sweet compliment something like this goes through her head while maintaining a cool smile and a noncommital expression: "yes, of course I'm fabulous but I don't need YOU to tell me this. If I reply to you now, you'll get even more sweet and soon I'll be forced to consider whether to sleep with you or not, because this IS what you're thinking right now, and I really don't think I'd want to because, let's face it, you're really not God's Gift to all Women like you seem to think. Besides, so what if we do hit it off? you'll just leave in a couple of years anyway and I'll be left alone with a babe or two, and even though the babies might look pretty given that we both do, I 'm not sure I want to inflict your intelligence on them. Plus, who wants to get hurt, I know I don't." Now, this is the point the Estonian girl's eyes get this steely flint and they curtly reply "thanks" and turn away

karLos ütles ...

... Now, this is the point the Estonian girl's eyes get this steely flint and they curtly reply "thanks" and turn away

so.... lithuania it is then? lol... kidding

Mait ütles ...

Nice poiter towards Henrik's Chronicle. There are hints that 'old' estonians practiced matriarchy. The very part you're mentioning describes a common misunderstanding with the christian invaders - they talked to the men (of course) and baptized them, but afterwards the women beat them up and forced them to wash the water off their heads.

If not full matriarchy, as least there was an uncommon level of equality - female burials often include weapons, and there's not much distinction between jewellery in male & female burials.

Blogaddict ütles ...

Matriarchy in ancient Estonia!? Then that may also explain the absence of gender in the grammar.

Do you foreigners, married to esto women, do you have to fight a lot or do you take it quietly?

Just wondering. :-)

in upstate NY ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
googlebot ütles ...

Good take by Doris on how an average Estonian girl reacts to a foreign guy trying to bust a move on her. On the other hand, the widespread English competency of the female populace, the relatively lower level of sexual competition in Estonia compared to say, New York or London, the easy going Nordic/Soviet-influenced sexual norms, and the favorable male-female ratio still makes things pretty damn easy for a single guy. Let's face it. It's why 95% of single foreign men in Estonia came here in the first place.

Of course, just because you can shag 10 club sluts from Hollywood or Club Illusion, doesn't mean you'll easily find a truly nice *girlfriend/wife material* type. For that, you need to fish in cleaner ponds.

The average Estonian guy on the other hand had it much better before the invasion of foreign men on the prowl for Estonian lovin'. They could burp, scratch their crotch, grunt a few jokes while drunk off vodka, and still have a barbie-like female on her back with a smile on her face more often than not. In general, most Estonian guys would rather all foreign men disappear from Estonia altogether. What group of men actually wants more sexual competitors? This may also be one of the reasons why non-white foreigners bear the brunt of their frustrations occasionally:

https://www.osac.gov/Reports/report.cfm?contentID=69569

in upstate NY ütles ...

Working in a foreign country without knowing the language would be hard, I imagine. Even here in the US, it would be tough to get by without English.

In my experience, however, people were very responsive to my broken Estonian when I was there in 1993. This was Estonian learned (not very well) in childhood. However, plenty of people spoke English, including my cousin, with whom I was staying.

My parents tell me that during the inter-war years, all school children were required to learn a second language so that Estonia could do business internationally. No one expected others to learn Estonian to do business.

As Estonia is part of the EU, I expect it (the EU) to resemble India linguistically in the long run. English would become the language of government, schools and inter state/provincial trade, while local languages would prevail at home and among friends.

Wahur ütles ...

Googlebot, your opinion of Estonian guys seems to be, hmmm..., not very high :)
Well, being an Estonian guy I've got at least one argument for hitting back. One important factor where we burping, crotch-scratching, vodka-drinking male ents still beat the rest of Europe :D
http://www.postimees.ee/191103/esileht/arvamus/119481_foto.php#33

googlebot ütles ...

Actually it's not true.

My opinion of most foreign guys in Estonia is far worse.

Profiles of common expats in the Baltics/Estonia:

1. The aging pseudo whoremonger: The pseudo whoremonger is a close cousin of a species usually found in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, and other hot spots for prostitution and easy sex around the world. They tend be pasty, overweight white males in their 40s and 50s, and are generally found scratching their beer bellys with a trashy, paid-for shantytown ho sitting by their side on the beaches of Pattaya or Copacabana. The Baltic version usually discovered the region in the early to mid 90s when they realized that young, attractive women could be had by speaking native English and flaunting their Western "God status." Most of them have either sunk into an alcohol-driven depression or moved onto greener (poorer) pastures, after realizing that even in developing countries, women really don't want to spread their legs for losers.

2. The sportfuckers: The sportfucker is usually an Italian, British, or American male in his 20s and 30s who often have some mental or physical defect. They're either short, pudgy, balding, or lack normal social skills. However, they quickly realize that all those handicaps which cripple their sex lives in their home countries are overlooked in the Baltics, where they can pretend to be the ladies men they wish they could be back home. Thus, they arrive into the Baltics for short-periods of time (since they lack what the pseudo whoremongers often have, namely, disposable income) and engage in sport fucking, trying to shag anything with tits that doesn't have obvious signs of being a herpes-ridden slut.


3. The liberal arts journalist/writer beta monkey: These are usually passive-aggressive anglo beta males in their 20s and 30s who have no marketable skills aside from a worthless liberal arts education in history, political science, literature, marketing or some other similar flaky subject. They try to learn the local lingo, study the culture, and ultimately settle down with a native girlfriend, but really just stayed because they get treated "special" by the locals. They disdain other expats, feel territorial about their secret little watering hole being invaded by people...just like them, puff up their bird chests in pride at having "local friends" and knowing all the "locals' hangouts," but get sad and despondent when they think about their measly incomes.

4. The Magical Negro: The magical negro is a black male from the US, UK, Carribbean or Africa who soon realized that he can piggyback on the coat tails of 50 cent, Snoop Dawg, Michael Jordan, and Will Smith to get some white pussy. The magical negro miraculously transforms himself upon landing at Tallinn airport into a dreadlock sportin', bling laden, ghetto fabulous caricature that allows him to occasionally woo a trashy, naive Club Hollywood teenie bopper into his bedroom. A few linger on for lack of other real-world options, but most leave because they get tired of the local men glaring at them like a KKK lynch mob from Alabama.

Giustino ütles ...

I am obviously #3. I was shocked when I met some of my new York brethren who were tourists on a "Baltics tour' (Who really wants to go from Tallinn to Vilnius? What are they thinking?)

Upon greeting these gents, a whole package of rubbers fell out of their pockets. Sportfuckers indeed.

Wahur ütles ...

I must say all those nice cultural differences are soo funny an lovely. I had a week full of pure fun interpreting for bunch of (mostly British origin) nutrition scientists about feeding habits of Estonian elderly men.
What a sadistic joy to describe to a gentle vegetarian British girl the secrets of preparing true Estonian mash potato with lard greaves (she nearly fainted)...
And yes, thinking of my behaviour post factum, I believe she would easily buy into Giustinos description of Estonian national character. Hmmm... maybe there is a grain of truth in all this?

Frank ütles ...

@Wahur, Eitäh! I knew about the meaning of the opening line, I was just wondering if someone could help with the complete lyrics ...?

plasma-jack ütles ...

Hmm, there's no wonder if it's hard to understand these words, many of them are archaic or little used. The Estonian lyrics are here:
http://www.hot.ee/mego/laulud/isamaa/laul13.htm

My translation is by no means poetry, but..

[i]guarding the beauty of fatherland
fighting against the foe
take heed!

if thou believe in thyself
in the beliefs of the wise
in the scruffs of the strong
in the might of the elders
in the nimbleness of the young men
in the sisters, in the brothers
foremost in thyself
then thou will have a better lifehood

if thou believe the tales of a wolf
if thou fear the yelping dogs
if thou heed to curses of the noblemen [saks would mean a German baron]
pleads of the henchmen
bitter words of the spoilsmen
sermons of the shallow
chidings of the foolish
then thou will have nothing

if thou go down to lies
upside down to dreams
on all fours under the bidding
on your belly under the rouble
then thou will have fleas in your groin
the itch in you heart
your head harnessed, bones in your stomach;
then thou will go to hell

if thou believe in thyself
then thou believe in the people
in the wisdom of the farms
in the teachings, in the justice
in the familiar birchwood
in the swallow under the cloud
then thou will have a mighty spirit
then thou will have a better lifehood[/i]

margus ütles ...

aww poetry!

Frank ütles ...

@Plasma Jack - Suur Eitäh!

How old is that song - or poem?

Fine lyrics ... With a balti saksa family background, though, the bit about "kuulad sakste sajatusi" is food for thought.

First guess: an Estonian has got to do what an Estonian has got to do and being cursed for it by a saks should never influence his course of action ...

I hope the writing of the song dates back to the days when it made sense.

If somebody cares for that sort of knowledge: Mu isamaa at least was also sung by the balti-saksa community, and Isamaa ilu hoieldes certainly has its own appeal, to sing it wholeheartedly I would only have to replace the saks by a contemporary or rather timeless aequivalent ...

plasma-jack ütles ...

How old is that song - or poem?

It's written during the Singing Revolution, although both the lyrics and the melody are strongly influenced by folk songs. We gave up hating Germans in the 20th century, but the word "saks" remains in use. It also has positive meanings as the word "noble" should.

Wahur ütles ...

Frank, while plasma was right, saying that the song was written during the singing revolution, it is actually heavily based on another song written during the previous "national awakening" in the end of 19th century. New reworked version has added traditional regivärss to the text (that would have been considered simply uncouth in 19th century), wheter the text of this is original or "old", I do not know. Anyway, its like onion, you can ust keep peeling it, so lets just stop here for now :D

oliriel ütles ...

Being an estonian woman myself, I can attest to Doris being absolutely right about what an estonian girl thinks when receiving a compliment from a foreigner. And thinking of why many men come here (sportfuckers), it is absolutely justified. At the first glance we already understand, we shouldn't invest too much time or energy into a relationship that unprobable to be lasting.

But about coolness of character in all the Estonians: vaga vesi, sügav põhi (~ still water is deep). If you really get to know some cool estonian, you find there deep thoughts, and deep feelings.