neljapäev, oktoober 04, 2012

hot cakes

In a small town, even pastries are political.

Sven knows I buy bread at Selver. How Sven found out, I do not know, but he's given me hell for it a few times now. "You keep eating that shit," he says, "and you'll be dead in, like, three weeks!"

Sven takes an interest in where I buy my bread in Viljandi because he is a baker, and would prefer that I buy only bread from him. I often do, but sometimes I can't help but bring home a doughy loaf of rosinasai from the archenemy of all independent food stores across Estonia.

Sven the baker keeps an eye on the market. He knows where each man gets his daily bread. When a cafe opened up nearby he wasted no time in tearing apart the competitor's wares. "And did you see those cakes? So puny and dry. Let me tell you, anyone who eats that stuff will be dead in, like ..."

I did go into the rival's bakery once just to see what was on offer. I made sure to look over my shoulder when I stepped through the doorway, scanned the windows on the opposite building, hoping that no one in the town would report back to Sven that I was seen entering the "other" cafe.  And, sure enough, the cakes inside were small and dry. As many Estonian bakers suffer from severe myopia, they only see dry and small cakes and pastries on the shelves of other bakeries, and assume that these are the only kinds of cakes that exist the world over.

That keeps me going back to Sven's cafe for baked goods, with the occasional guilty trek to Selver, but now I hear a high-end cafe is opening up just around the corner, a place where a stale roll graced with a dead fish isn't the resident baker's idea of fine cuisine. Sven and I haven't discussed the new cafe, but we both know "it" exists. Needless to say, if I do go there, it will be early in the morning, or just before closing time. I'll have to wear a trench coat and a false mustache. Such is life in a small town.

21 kommentaari:

Marko ütles ...

Yes, Estonians are a lot like the British, in that sense. Pastries are holy, and people who bake them are even holier. Bakers take pride in what they are baking, and people take pride in their local bakery. And Estonians are loyal customers. Fiddle with that, and youre in the deep end... Lol. Mind you, I used to love the one on Kivi Street, is it still there?

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Speaking of details somebody wanted to know ...

OK. I try ...

Surely most of the time the place is quaint and wrapped in a delightful smell of fresh coffee and bagels. Children playing and laughing, their parents
engaged in poetry reading on park benches, enjoying the sun and casual conversations about art and music.

They do not let themselves be distracted by the sounds of the strenous physical exercises coming from down the street. They smugly nod with approval knowing that the health of the local citizenry is in great shape, enhanced by the very same upscale grocery stores and the choice of premium bread available there.

How can anyone blame citizens being overly enthusiastic about sports, such as these fellows? ...

http://www.delfi.ee/news/paevauudised/110_112/viljandis-politseinikke-peksnud-retsid-said-kogu-maakonda-valvanud-neljast-korrakaitsjast-jagu-nelja-minutiga.d?id=65058540

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Marko,

You asked me to tell you this and that ...

It is like in this song ...

"Meil aiaäärnetänavas, kui armas oli see! Kus kasteheinas põlvini me lapsed jooksime! Kus ehani ma mängisin küll lille, rohuga, kust vanataat käe kõrval mind tõi tuppa magama. Küll üle aia tahtsin siis ta kombel vaadata. "Laps oota", kostis ta, "see aeg on kiir küll tulema!" Aeg tuli. Maa ja mere pääl silm mõnda seletas: ei poolt nii armas olnud sääl kui küla tänavas!"


So it simply breaks my heart to read this about my aiaäärnetänavas ... and there is my answer to your questions ...

What else can I tell you?

http://www.maaleht.ee/news/uudised/eestiuudised/veritasu-toi-valja-turi-linna-musta-poole.d?id=64923196

Marko ütles ...

Yes, but these things happen everywhere. These are criminals, and you cant judge all country based on the deeds of these people. Some of the stuff I witnessed in England, is a whole new level, compared to these acts. Ive met some truly evil people in my life, none Estonian.In Estonia I havent heard that somebody was killed because they were foreigner or gay or you name it. In Britain, it happens every single day.

Thats why I said, it depends whats your backround and whereabout you live. Do you for example know why so many Brits emigrate? Ignorance and smallmindedness, combined with economic difficulties caused by a nasty class system. Some also say they do not like how country is run and that you can easily take the 'good old' out of England. Sounds familiar?

It just is that sometimes we have to move away to get a different perspective, a new way of looking at things. Some of us return, some find new beginnings elswhere. But I agree, that process is not painless.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Hot cakes! Did you guys actually sleep through this last year? Viljandi is a small place, one would hear echoes of it from the other end of town, escpecially at night.

Here's the transcript of what happened:

http://eestielu.delfi.ee/eesti/viljandimaa/viljandi/elu/loe-kuidas-hullunud-seltskond-viljandis-paanikat-tekitas.d?id=65101716

The question I have is: has the society hit the bottom, or is the worse still yet to come?

Let's ask somebody who knows.

Like Mr. Parts who is touring here this week and boasting about austerity and cutbacks, balance budget and innovation.

I wonder if he'd sing his song so proudly if he personally got smacked around during Viljandi Bronze Night? Remnants of the police running for their lives ... afraid of using firearms for fear of prosecution ... Pff.

Hea elu pätiriigis kui ise pätt oled.

There is no "r" in the word politsei, so he should not be afraid to talk about it.

So, Mr. Pavts, how about that good life in Estonia?

Marko ütles ...

LPR, that was a drunken feud that went out of hand. Alcoholism being common denominator here. Can I ask you something? Did you live in Estonia in the 90s? Its a flashback of those Wild East days. It was a handful of common criminals confronting some poorly trained police force. Minister of Internal Affairs must be made accountable. Period. But most important lesson we should take away from this is that community must stand united. Neighbourhood watch must be extended and rowdy neighbours must be reported and dealt with given upmost priority. Whats the problem? Cant handle couple of lowlives? Please.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

No. I have not really seen the 90s in Estonia. Other than getting my cheek bone fractured in a random bar fight in a small town bar during brief visit in 1994, I've been largely spared of all sorts of confrontation and violence. Hence my low tolerance for such bs.

Marko ütles ...

Oh dear. Well, it was pretty close to anarchy. As I grew up during that time, I can appreciate how much things have really changed. Country folk has always been a bit behind, if you know what I mean. When you visit Estonia next time just ask somebody which pubs are nice and which are not. Just vote with your wallet on that one, and over time the bad establishments will have to get their record straight too.

Its very similar in Britain aswell. You just dont walk into any odd pub, because if you do, you might end up loosing your teeth in the process. For whatever reason. Or as country people in Estonia say, if there arent one, we will find one.

Its just life, LPR, just life. You have to take it as it is, and try not to put yourself in to voulnerable position where more sinister characters can take the piss out of your good nature. Just avoid certain places, people and situations.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

All I can say that I've put in respectable number of hours spent at bars, but nowhere has anybody picked a fight with me when I am completely minding my own business, but in Estonia. I know now that you better be ready two kick some serious ass in a moments notice when partying in (rural) Estonia.



Marko ütles ...

It also depends on how you conduct yourself. I remember back in the day, I must have been in my late teens then, I once had a 'close encounter'. I had couple of Russian friends with me and we were in a pub somewhere in central Estonia. Obviously I was very drunk, and I was explaining to my Russian friends what a word 'maakas' means. And I wasn't holding myself back :). I explained exactly, what I tought, where they stand in wider Estonian society and was very graphic while doing so. Add also all the T and V words to spice up the speach, as you do as teenager, and it was a disaster waiting to happen.

As we were about to leave all hell broke loose. They were running after us and the sky turned green all the sudden - there must have been tens of empty champagne bottles in the air at the same time flying to our direction. We were lucky, I suppose, as we managed to drive away and apart from the car, noone was injured. But in places like that you must behive in a certain way.

It was only later in life I realised, that I would have maybe acted the same way if those guys would have come to the city or to the gay bar for example and started to discuss what they believe P word stands for, lol.

Live and let live, thats how I see it. Sometimes we just learn through excperience.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

To be frank, I was a bit obnoxious too that night and got reminded that when in Rome, do as Romans do. That is I knew very well that having a smile on on your face and an easy going friendly demeanor about you is offensive to the sullen and drunk locals celebrating their buddy's release from the can.

Obnoxious part from me was that, hey, fuck, I am not gonna be like them and completely ignored them until I found myself in hand to hand combat. As I was absorbing incoming and launching outgoing punches, tasting my own blood, I found myself still grinning in the middle of the rumble, because I found it hilarious that it was actually happening. I am really glad we were pulled away from each other because I was so ready to end that fellows earthly journey at that point. Adrenaline rush is just amazing. It is better than or at least comparable to sex actually. So I have fond memories of that time and place. No regrets.

Marko ütles ...

The way I see it, country people havent had it easy. Not that I in any way excuse their violent and savage behaviour, but they have always had it hard. They have been looked down to, socially often rejected. And they have managed to create their own little bubble. They themselves call those country drinking holes, nests. And in more civil places in the wild countryside, people have sometimes told it to me straight - this is our little nest, please let us keep it that way. And I have no problem doing that, in fact I can respect that as I wouldnt like a lot of those guys trolling round upmarket gay bars either.

In Estonia, everybody should have their little coner, or nest, where they can let their hair down just as they wish. Its perfectly natural.

Temesta ütles ...

In Tartu and Tallinn there are also a lot of people who can be described as 'maakas', if I correctly understand the connotation of that word. Anyway, you can find them in every country, so that's no reason to dislike Estonia.
Maybe there are proportionally more of them, due to the rapid socio-economic transformations of the last twenty years. I spend a lot of time in smaller places in Southern Estonia (Valgamaa) and there's a lot of grittiness and poverty there, but I haven't ran into bad encounters (yet).

Marko ütles ...

British equivalent to maakas would be a chav. It used to be a really bad term to use to describe a working class person. In modern times many chavs take pride in their backround and it has evolved in to a sub culture. They dress like poor African Americans and speak slang based street talk. In Britain chavs can also claim the social ladder. Best example of that would be Victoria Becham. She has ditched most traits of where she comes from but the upper middle class can always tell what shes about. In Estonia not every person who lives in the countryside can be called maakas, some townies can also be described by the word. Maakas is an insult to a person if by calling them that you want to tell them that in your opinion they have bad manners, ill fashiin sense and absolute disregard to other peoples feelings. In a way its an opposite of gentelman.

Valgamaa used to be bad. But the natural selection of the 1990s has cleared a lot of that. You are pretty safe there. Just keep away from heavy drinkers and drug abusers.

Temesta ütles ...

"Valgamaa used to be bad. But the natural selection of the 1990s has cleared a lot of that. You are pretty safe there. Just keep away from heavy drinkers and drug abusers."

I was thinking it's becoming worse. Not in terms of safety (I do feel safe there, actually a lot safer than in my hometown in Belgium.), but certainly the social composition. The population shrinks and people who leave are mostly the more intelligent and educated. There are just very little opportunities for them. So the 'underclass' becomes bigger as a proportion of the population.

Marko ütles ...

EDIT. Sorry, I meant Katie Price, not Victoria Becham. I always got those two mixed up. Sorry. But you see how dangerous it can be by labelling people like that? Best to avoid.

Marko ütles ...

Yes, you are pretty much spot on. The brain drain comes obviously apparent in those rural areas and it is spooky. It requires serious government level intervention. Very difficult to put right, mind you. Any ideas on the matter?

Temesta ütles ...

Extremely complicated...
The Soviet system, although I do not support it of course, kept the place alive because they created an economic system and workplaces there. Now market forces play and the market is not very interested it appears. The workforce is small and less educated than in the big cities, so attracting big private investors is difficult. I think the only way could be more government intervention but how to organize this? Many European countries with regions with a low population density have this problem of rural flight. How do Sweden or Finland deal with it? They also have many small places that are not economically viable, I guess.

Temesta ütles ...

It also clear, in my opinion, that these regions are not a priority for the governing parties. The Reform Party especially, receives support mainly from voters in Urban areas, as this map shows:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Estonia2007_by_municipality.png

Another important factor is that the brain drain and migration from 'backward' rural areas (and small cities) is quite good for the urban areas that are doing quite well economically and can use a growing workforce. So why try to slow down rural flight?

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

... "rapid socio-economic transformations of the last twenty years"...

It is so true. I can see class system forming very rapidly. Even inside my own family fo rcrying out loud. Coming from slighty "chav" background myself I've been left wondering what is it what defines someone's "class"?

I think the answer is that it is defined by one's cognitive abilities. Ability to absorb, retain and analyze information. Ability to swiftly react to the changing conditions around you and always having a larger purpose or goal in mind. People who did not or could not do any of that, got left behind. Since the process continues, then increasingly so.


I am from a small town and I could give you tons of examples of social darwinism in action.

The early 90s "businessmen" are hitting the outer limits of capabilities and falling out of the elite because they never belonged the in the first place (think Rein Kilk). Cognitive elite is what it is. One cannot muscle or intimidate his way into it. These times are over.

Estonia's brain drain will continue ... until it is done.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Nice ...

http://www.reporter.ee/2012/10/17/otepaa-meestele-aitab-patte-hakatakse-ise-lintsima/