reede, august 01, 2008

tüüpiline päev

My readjustment to Estonian life after over a month on North American soil happened around 7.30 pm yesterday when I went to pick up our delayed baggage from the CargoBus depot behind the MacDonald's in Tartu.

I walked right in, and in my wide-mouthed Long Islandese began to ask something in English before I remembered that, oh shit, I was back in Estonia, where people speak Estonian. So, I switched gears, and slowly became comfortable again with using Estonian as a public language.

It's always fun to hear Estonians say my last name, pronouncing every letter to the fullest. I think they even like saying it; it's a respite from saying Tamm and Orav {and Dvinjaninov}. The clerk said it aloud three times. "Yeah, that's me," I thought, chuffed at the thought that Sylvester Stallone would be known in Estland as "Stallon-EH."

Today was more of a typical day in Eestimaa. I did some interviews in the morning {with a guy from Karksi-Nuia, Epp's hometown}, then drove through town to meet up with my better half at the home of my sister-in-law. Sometimes explaining things to my in-laws is a bitch, because I can never keep it simple, and what I try to say gets lost in translation as I mangle verb endings and use awkwardly constructed sentences. That's just how it is, I guess.

My niece came outside and proclaimed that today there would be a päikesevarjutus. I understood the word päike (sun) and vari (shadow) and figured out she was talking about, as Seymour Krelborn would say, a total eclipse of the sun. She confirmed this by telling me it was a "solar eclipse" in English. She's only 10.

We all piled into the automobile and headed for the turg -- the outdoor market between the bus station and the river where we like to stock up on plums and potatoes and mushrooms, but never, ever, meat products. The turg is supposedly a artifact from simpler times, before the sleek nordic shopping centers and their off-kilter color schemes moved in and took over. I like the turg, though, because I like to watch people, and not only shapely female people.

Forget Olde Hansa, the turg people are positively medieval. The deeply lined faces, the unfashionable, round-headed haircuts, the bad teeth -- it's all there. The turg is also quite multicultural. It is one of the epicenters of Russian-speaking Tartu residents in this city. The truth is that most sellers are bilingual, so the concept of being Russian-speaking or Estonian-speaking seems a bit half-baked at the market. There are also Germans and Italians and Americans -- it's surprising how international a little market in a place like Tartu can be.

We wound up hauling several large bags of produce back to our car, whose parking fee was conveniently paid for with my mobile phone. I really like that you can pay by phone here. I hate searching around for spare change just so I can go buy some potatoes. Bless you, E-stonia.

Later, we went to our friends' place in Karlova, where they are selling everything they own to pay for a relocation to Miami. While mu kallis naine sized up their furniture, I took to conversing with the two girls present, both about 6 or 7 years old, Hanna and Janne. They both sat beside each other with an open book singing songs about animals and other wholesome things. I envied them. I wish I still had some naivety and could sit around and serenade the squirrels without a hint of self consciousness.

"Do you know that Janne is actually a boy's name in Finland?" I said to the girls. They squealed with laughter. "Can you imagine," one said to the other. "A boy named ... Janne!" They squealed some more. Later, after playing on the swings in the yard, they came inside and begged Hanna's mother for ice cream. She took two out of the freezer, and noticed that this was not brand X ice cream, this was Vanilla Ninja ice cream, the real friggin' deal.

Vanilla Ninja are a popular "girl band", and Estlandish law strictly mandates that all pre-pubescent females must own their CDs, decorate their walls with posters of the trio (sometimes a quartet), and praise them whenever mentioned. And eat their Vanilla Ninja-themed food products.

"That's Vanilla Ninja ice cream," I said to Janne. "I know," she responded. "It's the best ice cream. And they are my favorite band." The Estonian word for favorite is lemmik, and when someone uses it, you know that they really, really like it a lot.

9 kommentaari:

Rainer ütles ...

It's spelled "tüüpiline"...

Giustino ütles ...

That's another huge problem. Imagine writing in a language that you only speak.

Kristopher ütles ...

Rule 4 of Estonian: every loan word is either pronounced or spelled differently from what you thought.

I remember in Tartu in 1991 our host played classic rock records and kept on saying he also liked "Chess" and I wondered how someone could have such a love for improvisational 1960s rock -- and also like one particular Broadway musical. Luckily I figured it out before asking him if he liked A Chorus Line or Cats, too.

Rainer ütles ...

He meant Jazz music?

Andres ütles ...

Probably, "džäss" could be mistaken for "chess" in some accent.

Kristopher ütles ...

Right, I figured it would be transliterated džääs, the way it sounds, not džäss.

But then you have the Jazzkaar festival, which is usually pronounced "yachts car" (with some palatalization).

My hat off to anyone who learns.

Rainer ütles ...

By the way, the Finns actually do pronounce it yutz

Tom ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Tom ütles ...

Very Nice Read. TF3