esmaspäev, mai 27, 2013

von trapp

"All the people from this country should be removed and replaced with Brazilians." This was my Latin American friend's response to the question, "So how are you getting along in Estonia?"

Sometimes it feels that way. As much as we care about Estonia and it's people, they can get annoying. We are equally as annoying for them, or at least amusing. Example. I am a father, and yet am not an Estonian father. I yell at my naughty children in shops, WHAT THE HECK DO YOU THINK YOU'RE DOING? They tend to ignore my spontaneous outbursts. An Estonian father though is austere and firm. All he has to do is mutter a few lines under his breath, and his children fall back in line. Good Estonian fathers are like The Sound of Music's Captain von Trapp before he started sleeping with Fraulein Maria.

That severity in character, respect for discipline, order, silence ... it can drive a non-Estonian to the edge. It builds up over time. My little daughter Maria, aged 20 months, greeted every passerby in Haapsalu over the weekend with, "Tere!" I would estimate that 20 percent of those greeted bothered to look at her or respond. The others winced and scurried by, as if they felt as if they had been found out by the friendly toddler. Why so reticent? I wondered. Did they think they were invisible?

39 kommentaari:

Marta T ütles ...

Yes of course we´re invisible :). The truth is very simple in fact - because we allow us to be like that and in these personal moments don´t give a s...t what others think about that. Natural (and important - individual) equalizer to estonian who is next to this most of the time worried what others think of us as nation.

Marko ütles ...

As a general rule kids in Estonia are told to not to talk to strangers. That also includes the initiation of conversation by greeting strangers. Some parents go even way further. I remember my mum was very strict with my friends from school, too. I was not allowed to bring anyone over unless I've got their parents phone number first, and she would then ring them and even then she would decline most times. Only now, I can see why. Estonian society is very fractured. Different families can have very different values etc. "We are not that kind of people" must have been the most used phrase during my childhood, lol.

And also grown-ups who speak to kids they don't actually know, are frowned upon. I can understand why - all these pedos and weirdos around. But there's something sad about it too, not sure if in a healthy society things should work like this. Then again situation is very similar in Britain, so I suppose other countries experience same thing.

So, the other day when one of the kids said Tere on the street near where I stay, I just turned my head awawy and kept walking. God knows what their parents are like and it's best not to get involved.

Temesta ütles ...

I once said ´Tere!´ to the neighbors children who were playing on the street. I was advised not to do this.

stockholm slender ütles ...

In my eyes the Estonians still have very strong and rather old fashioned gender roles. The manly mans and the feminine women - which, to be honest, can be slightly boring. Especially the men with their one syllable grunts about cars or sports. People are by nature quite variable but there might be a certain uniformity and narrowness of scope in Estonian behaviour...

Marko ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Martasmimi ütles ...

Don't worry Maria people will smile and say hello back to you here.
What does this teach my sweet little granddaughter.
It just makes me crazy.

Martasmimi ütles ...

No wonder when Estonians visit here with me they say that people are so nice here.

Martasmimi ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

The cracks are starting to show?

Not laughing.

It is a hard country.

No shit.

Keep it tough.

Marta T ütles ...

One more (subjective) nuance to this post and comments- the truth is in watcher´s eyes as most of us know, but tend to forget when assessing others (aka we all know that others assess us wrong, but do we know that also we assess others wrong :)?- mostly we just don´t acknowledge that). So what does that tell really about people who assess others or just "good-heartedly" don´t understand or like someone´s manners and suggest them to "update" to level which is more to their like? Time to look in the mirror.
Life´s all about accepting people (all over the world of course) just as they are or otherwise you´re looking for trouble- you can not tell to people how they should answer to your truth, you can just tell to yourself how to take them without being disturbed. If you don´t bother, you have of course right to be stressed over millions of things and frankly put allow others to dictate your mood- only in reality you´re the conductor who´s leading this chorus.

bloop ütles ...

I appreciate this a lot. Thanks - just started your first book, too - it's very sincere. :-)

Martasmimi ütles ...

* Marta T
Life´s all about accepting people (all over the world of course) just as they are or otherwise you´re looking for trouble- you can not tell to people how they should answer to your truth, you can just tell to yourself how to take them without being disturbed.

..... Sorry if they can't even make eye contact with me in a shop (forget a smile) or even say Tere to my sweet happy (obviously not so very Estonian, yet) grandbaby, then I frankly don't give a damn about their "truth" or any of this philosophical blah, blah .

Marko ütles ...

Martasmimi, its not about your grandchild but about their parents and not even them in particular. If I say hello to a strangers kid on a street, then my chances are 50/50 that within next half an hour I'll be picking my teeth up on the same street. As I said there's lots of overprotective paranoid parents out there and they are not often most reasonable. They can be violent thugs and I've fitnessed innocent people being verbally abused on the street because of it. So, if I don't say hi back to your grandchild, im actually covering my own back - because theres no way of saying what their parents are like! It can get even worse, if grownup approachingan Estonian child happens to be foreign. I would seriously advise to avoid these situations.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

There's goodness and beauty everywhere. In some places there is just less of it and it is better hidden.

Which makes it more precious, I guess.

Consider all the cruelty and the godlessness that has washed over and gripped that place, and it is amzing that there are ANY smiles left there. Anything at all.

Human spirit is amazing.

So keep on smiling, like a flower in the field of ice. It is all worth it.

Martasmimi ütles ...

Marko:

Yes, I understand this completely. My husband says the same thing. As the grandparent of 6 he is often on a flight with a small child and wants to say hi or smile but is worried that the child's parents will think he is some pedo. for smiling at their child.
But if you are with your child who is sitting in a cart at the Supermarket on a line and saying hello (Tere) and smiling at mothers and grandmothers and fathers, is saying hello or just smiling so problematic?
Perhaps it is that during my many trips there I see very unanimated children who don't smile so much ...and then they grow up to be adults who are stonefaced.... and I don't want my granddaughters to be like them.

Martasmimi ütles ...

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja

*So keep on smiling, like a flower in the field of ice. It is all worth it.

Thank you... my thoughts exactly.

Marko ütles ...

Very true, LPR. I just don't understand how Martasmimi doesn't get it. I mean there's probably a grandmother right here in Viljandi who's grandchild was nicked during the Wild East era, in early 90's by a "all smiling American uncle" to work in finest brothels in the "land of the free". And to call that grandmother "philosophical" about the issue, well, that's just beyond me.

I actually had a conversation relating to this subject with my mother the other day. And she told me that she was really concerned over those extreme American churches that appeared in great numbers shortly after the fall of the Wall. One of those, might have been Jehovas Witnesses or something, actually lured me in, at tender age of 13. And I remember there wad some sott of gathering, and there must havr been hundreds of people there, and she just marched in and grabbed me and walked me out, all by herself, and she's only about 5 foot 5.

So people around here do have their reasons to act in a certain way, although some of them go a bit too far. But we have a working system here. Why tear it down?

Marko ütles ...

I see. I would just like to make this point that at least in Estonia you can still see kids playing and wondering out and about. In Britain, for example, this is an bygone era. People will ring social services if thry see an unsupervised kid.

About smiling and talking to strangers, I'm not sure. I suppose I'm not best qualified either, not having any kids myself. But it sure would make me a bit nervous seeing my 5 year old niece hanging around unknown strangers. Who knows. Acutally Giuostino can find out for us from his Brazilian friend, if kids have better childhoods in Brazil where it is socially more appropriate for people of all ages to mingle? But then again you would have to consider the historical background too. 1990s are still pretty recent history for many in this country.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Marko,

I recommend a book by Anatoli Nekrassov: "Elavad motted"

It's been translated from Russian, unfortunately one cannot find it in English. I think you'd enjoy it.

My brother sent it to me. I am enjoying it immensely. It covers the topic that we discuss here, human relationships and well ... disease.

That stonefaced angry attitude is in fact a disease. A sign of hurt, fear and imbalance. Sickness.

This is really a bumper sticker way to say it, but if you read the book, you'll get it. It will give you a certain new way of looking at things.

It did that for me.

The guy is also on youtube a lot. Very interesting thoughts.

P.S. Feminists may not agree with him ... :-)

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Speaking of smiling ... I just bought myself a cabriolet last week.

It is impossible to drive this thing around with the top down and not have a permanent grin on your face.

So they Harley has to wait ... for now.

Mele ütles ...

Well, here is an opinion from a 'Brazilianized Estonian' who has spent big chunks of her life in all 3 discussed cultures: mostly Estonia, few years in Brazil and US. I feel really divided about your problem, Giustino. Sometimes, quite often actually, I also feel the strong urge to re-populate a gang of sunnier people to Estonia. Then again...

sorry for frankness, but -- I remember having dinner with your family in a Chinese restaurant in Viljandi and I did feel bad for the people in neighbouring tables as they clearly could not enjoy their evening out as there was a 2-hour-long intense show of flying rice chunks and loud shouting from our table -- I can totally identify with those getting annoyed.

Now - about US. My host there told me a heroic story about how he once in his life, on a freezing winter day picked up a hitch-hiker "and put the life of his family in his car into danger with that act". I did not dare tell him my numerous hitching in Estonia, my sisters hitching trips to Spain, my parents constantly picking up hitchers... Lets not start debate about the dangers -- i know they exist and hitch-hiking is dying out around here too, but this is just to mention that being paranoid about other people is not an Estonian specialty. I could come up with about 20 examples with no pause for thinking from US.

And finally, Brazil... yes, people definitely smile and talk to kids there. But hey -- this 'what kinda people the parents are' argument hits much-much stronger around there than in Estonia. The society is much more stratified than Estonian and if you are from the wrong class, forget about speaking to richer kids on the street...

So -- to my own surprise, I did get a bit defensive about the Estonian somber way of being, didnt I? :) I did not mean it strongly, just to balance this commentarium a bit. Maria, please keep on smiling and greeting grumpy grown-ups! At least with my own newborn I can constantly see everybody lightening up and initiating talk -- and all that in Estonia!

Mele ütles ...

Well, here is an opinion from a 'Brazilianized Estonian' who has spent big chunks of her life in all 3 discussed cultures: mostly Estonia, few years in Brazil and US. I feel really divided about your problem, Giustino. Sometimes, quite often actually, I also feel the strong urge to re-populate a gang of sunnier people to Estonia. Then again...

sorry for frankness, but -- I remember having dinner with your family in a Chinese restaurant in Viljandi and I did feel bad for the people in neighbouring tables as they clearly could not enjoy their evening out as there was a 2-hour-long intense show of flying rice chunks and loud shouting from our table -- I can totally identify with those getting annoyed.

Now - about US. My host there told me a heroic story about how he once in his life, on a freezing winter day picked up a hitch-hiker "and put the life of his family in his car into danger with that act". I did not dare tell him my numerous hitching in Estonia, my sisters hitching trips to Spain, my parents constantly picking up hitchers... Lets not start debate about the dangers -- i know they exist and hitch-hiking is dying out around here too, but this is just to mention that being paranoid about other people is not an Estonian specialty. I could come up with about 20 examples with no pause for thinking from US.

And finally, Brazil... yes, people definitely smile and talk to kids there. But hey -- this 'what kinda people the parents are' argument hits much-much stronger around there than in Estonia. The society is much more stratified than Estonian and if you are from the wrong class, forget about speaking to richer kids on the street...

So -- to my own surprise, I did get a bit defensive about the Estonian somber way of being, didnt I? :) I did not mean it strongly, just to balance this commentarium a bit. Maria, please keep on smiling and greeting grumpy grown-ups! At least with my own newborn I can constantly see everybody lightening up and initiating talk -- and all that in Estonia!

Marta T ütles ...

That was not nice thing to say to me, Martasmimi - I took it as "go f...k yourself with your philosophy" because of the way you wrote it (which is my assessment of course, but it still does not complitely neutralize your attitude laid down here, does it :))
You described with your reaction pretty much the exact thing what´s fundamentally wrong with current world - everyone is setting terms to others what they must follow to be "in good terms" with them- just because you know so well that you just want "good" for them, but they poor things do not understand that. They go on being grumpy and you feel detached from their world, perhaps even offended by it. Well, I repeat my philosophical (actually psychological) lecturing - it´s Your choice to take them this way and to overcome this, one should just accept other people how they are. It´s a perfect circle in fact-when someone misbehaves, he-she should accept that others might respond to it in certain way and same time when accepting to change your point of view towards others and yourself (aka finding spiritual peace), you transform your life complitely into something wonderful and such conflicts never take place again.

Martasmimi ütles ...

Marta T

My intention was not to tell you to go f^@+ yourself ... if it were I would have just said that and be done with it.
Perhaps I am just over the live and let live phase of my life and have become proudly intolerant. Mostly because I am frankly done with peoples reasons for their rude and inexcusable behavior no matter what their country or culture or religious affiliation.
It would seem that the lack of eye contact or a smile is far less of an offense then the treatment of woman in many countries throughout this world.
Having said that as I get older I have begun to understand why older people become "grumpy". For me it's because I have been there seen much and have a difficult time being patient with the wrongs in this world. Perhaps if I was looking at another 60 or 70 years of future life I might be more willing to be more "spiritual" and willing to live and let live.

Marko
I am equally intolerant and outraged over American missionaries coming to save "Estonians". They shouldn't have allowed them in.
We have "no solicitations" laws here in our part of the Island. That should apply in every country . I don't care about your religion, go away.
If I want a religion I will go and find it.

I think I am beginning to sound much like a female version of Clint Eastwood's character in Grand Torino.




Martasmimi ütles ...

Marta T

My intention was not to tell you to go f^@+ yourself ... if it were I would have just said that and be done with it.
Perhaps I am just over the live and let live phase of my life and have become proudly intolerant. Mostly because I am frankly done with peoples reasons for their rude and inexcusable behavior no matter what their country or culture or religious affiliation.
It would seem that the lack of eye contact or a smile is far less of an offense then the treatment of woman in many countries throughout this world.
Having said that as I get older I have begun to understand why older people become "grumpy". For me it's because I have been there seen much and have a difficult time being patient with the wrongs in this world. Perhaps if I was looking at another 60 or 70 years of future life I might be more willing to be more "spiritual" and willing to live and let live.

Marko
I am equally intolerant and outraged over American missionaries coming to save "Estonians". They shouldn't have allowed them in.
We have "no solicitations" laws here in our part of the Island. That should apply in every country . I don't care about your religion, go away.
If I want a religion I will go and find it.

I think I am beginning to sound much like a female version of Clint Eastwood's character in Grand Torino.




Marko ütles ...

I'm very tolerant towards different religions and respect peoples right to worship. I just think Estonian society was not quite "ripe" for aggressive "battle over minds and souls". It was too much, too suddenly. Nowadays, of course, nobody gives a shit and no laws to restrict these organizations are not necessary.

As for getting grumpy, well, you actually sound a lot q like an average Estonian elderly woman. They moan non stop about exactly the same things.

Martasmimi ütles ...

Marko

"Elderly" yikes , now that "made my day."
I have no idea the reason for my Clint Eastwoodism's today,
I don't even like him.

Estonian women "moan" because other Estonian women snub their grandchildren, really ?

Nuff said here.

Martasmimi ütles ...

Marko

Our laws only prevent people from coming to your door or on to your property for the purposes of selling you anything including religion.

Marko ütles ...

We don't even need laws for that, common sense is more than enough. I was actually approached today by one lady with her leaflets, "not interested" was all I had to say and the matter was settled. I'd hate to live in a society where she would actually be legislated against. Live and let live, that's the way it should be. But kids are vulnerable, that's why this system of "don't talk to strangers" works.

I didn't really mean "eldery" :), sorry. I didn't mean a "continental krone" kind of elderly. Couldn't really say middle aged either, as nowadays that can be anything between 35-80...Mature, I think is the right word. :)

Troels-Peter ütles ...

Martasmimi, I haven't really wanted to participate in this discussion, but isn't the implication of your 12.27 post that an Estonian woman has "snubbed your grandchildren"?

Maybe this isn't the right forum. I don't know.

Meelis ütles ...

"Sorry if they can't even make eye contact with me in a shop (forget a smile." "It would seem that the lack of eye contact or a smile is far less of an offense."

Eye contact and smiling are culturally relative phenomena. There are not universal norms of eye contacts and smile. In different cultures norms are different.

Martasmimi ütles ...

Everyone...

I am happy that we have laws that prevent people from coming to our door to ask for money, or to give me a "talk" about their religion with pamphlets included.

I realize that eye contact is not a part of everyone's culture. Asians do not make eye contact although that is changing. I simply refuse to renege on this last point ... call it my big New York attitude but a good morning with a smile just might significantly change someone's day. Or a simple "thank you" and a smile.
This is the only blog that I would find myself defending good manners, smiling and mostly smiling at babies.
I wonder why....

Martasmimi ütles ...

Everyone...

I am happy that we have laws that prevent people from coming to our door to ask for money, or to give me a "talk" about their religion with pamphlets included.

I realize that eye contact is not a part of everyone's culture. Asians do not make eye contact although that is changing. I simply refuse to renege on this last point ... call it my big New York attitude but a good morning with a smile just might significantly change someone's day. Or a simple "thank you" and a smile.
This is the only blog that I would find myself defending good manners, smiling and mostly smiling at babies.
I wonder why....

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

I am so with you on this, Martasmimi ...

Being friendly and smiling does not make anybody a "traitor to their nationality" ...

I don't get why my fellow estos dug in their heels on this so hard ...

Some lopsided "national pride" thing? ...

Like "we've suffered so long, don't expect us to be friendly" type of reasoning?

I don't get it and I don't want to get it.

Being a typical esto myself, I keep smiling at people and if they have a problem with it, I say F U.

And keep on smiling. An act of defiant kindness, if you will.

:-)

Marko ütles ...

Please, Estonian attitudes are pretty European. You don't make eye contact in London or Glasgow either. It's considered rude and people can consider it intrusive and patronizing. However, there are different ways of having the contact with a stranger. But that's a different topic altogether.

Estonians are very well mannered. I've toured Scandinavia and especially in Finland my British friends tend to point out how miserable and rude they can be, as Estonians are pretty close to the Brits, manners wise. I don't know why things are the way they are, but here you are. America is in the league of its own, and I can't really comment on that.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

I find it funny how being the only customer in a store the sales girl in Copenhagen airport's duty free shop kept not acknowledging my presence. I found it odd, as if she is not interested to make a sale.

Then I remembered ... wait, you are in Europe now! This is how it is here. It's perfectly normal. She is not angry at you or at her boss.

Or maybe she is. Or amybe she is suffering through some deep Dostoyevskian inner monologue that I better not interrupt with my silly shallow cheeriness.

Which I did not. I just left. Like a polite european that I still claim to be. Had a question about the watch I saw, but then who cares ... I can live without it, and so can she ...

So our ways happily (gloomily?) departed. In a true european style. :-)

Marko ütles ...

I suppose we can conclude this little post with - why is the grass always greener in America? because you are all over here walking on ours. Cheerio! ;)

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

Not true. A colleague of mine just griped this morning that in Denver where he lives he has hard time keeping his lawn green. It's a mile above the sea level, constant sunshine with no cloud cover and it gets quite arid this time of year.

Grass is all brown.

Liivimaa parim ratsutaja ütles ...

That and the occasional movie theater shootings. So you better off where you at. :-)