laupäev, august 30, 2008

dialoog velloga

The other day I sat with a reclusive Estonian writer named Vello at the Cafe Plus 7, formerly the Nurgakohvik, in what could be described as 'midtown' Tartu.

Just back from a job moonlighting as an international man of mystery in Moscow, I thought Vello could enlighten me about the gigantic land to our east which stretches across seven timezones.

The Plus 7 was the perfect spot to talk about Russian relations because it appears to be Estonian-Russian owned. The menu featured the "Sochi 2014 Special," and Vello ordered the "Druzhba snitzel" from his Russian-language menu. I had the "Sõpruse šnitsel" from my Estonian-language menu instead.

"Why do the Russians dislike the Estonians so much?" I began.

"Well, for starters, they think the Estonians are arrogant," he said. "I hear this in St. Petersburg all the time. 'Those Estonians think they're better than us.'"

On the wall, a large flat-screen television played a series of music videos, that could have been American, save for the fact that they were in the Russian language, and all the extras in the videos were white.

Vello and I continued our discussion.

"Another thing about the Estonians," he said, "is that they fight like peasants."

"How so?" I asked.

"The Estonians' idea of getting even is, 'Let's wait until the master is asleep, and then we'll kill him,' or 'Let's get the master really drunk and stab him when he's not looking.'"

The music videos continued to play on the Plus 7 's TV. There was a pop diva, then some kind of hip hop group riding around on the metro. At some point, a woman who looked a bit like Anne Veski came on and began singing a disco-infused tune, the chorus to which was "pussy, pussy, pussy."

"You know," I said to Vello. "Estonians are sort of like that kid at the front of the class who sticks his foot out when the class bully goes to do an exercise on the blackboard."

An image of Juhan Parts taking the Estonian-Russian border treaty, blowing his nose in it, and handing it back to his Russian colleague saying "sign this," flashed in my head.

"Exactly," he said. We were then joined by our female counterparts, Liina and Epp.

"So what have you been talking about?" asked Epp.

"We've been talking about how Estonians are arrogant and think they are better than everyone else," I said.

"That's true," she laughed.

"And what about you, Liina," I said. "Do you think that Estonians are like the kid at the front of the class that always makes sure to trip up the Russians?"

"Of course," she said. "And they deserve it."

21 kommentaari:

Rainer ütles ...

This post makes an unpleasent read. I find that kind of "national self irony" From Vello Vikerkaar's part unsavoury.
To claim that Estonians are arrogant and THAT is the reason why the Russian dislike us is somewhat misguided. For the Russians Estonias are nazis, period. Culturally and linguistically alien. Didn't Vello tell you that your average Russian person, even in sophisticated Piiter, thinks Estonians are a breed of Germans?
My message to Vello Vikerkaar and to any old Anonüümne Kommentaator is: let go of the orjarahvas-mentality. Otherwise you'll be damaged goods forever.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Estonian-bashing. I like it! Go Giustino go!

Anonüümne ütles ...

I'm confused. To Rainer. That was not Vello writing, this seems to be Giustino's blog.

Anonüümne ütles ...

In agreement with Rainer re unpleasntness. This leaves a bad taste in the mouth. I'm sorry your girlfriend died, or whatever it is that is eating you. Why the meanness, why the tendency to insult Estonians in recent days?

What precisely is meant by "Estonians trying to get even"?

Secondly - what substantial body of evidence do you have that Estonians fight like sissies or sniveling rats when they engage in a fight? For example, when the country gets invaded, as it has been many times?
We certainly haven't invaded others.

Read up a little bit on ancient history in Estonia. Estonians didn't fight poorly at all, man against man, for example, when the Crusaders came 8 centuries ago.

The Estonian War of Independence in 1918 was a successfuly prosecuted war, one where not one, but two opponents were defeated. Estonians as far as fighting abilities are concerned, don't really deserve the rap you are trying to give them. There aren't quite enough of us numerically to punch beyond featherweight, but that is another story. In an area where a number of local peoples have simply gone extinct, we're here, we have several times won our country back, we're plugging along.

If you are getting into fiction and parody, on the other hand, I can't see why you would cast aspersions on the Estonian fighting man or woman, when there is no significant body of evidence to indicate that the Estonians don't fight fair or that sucker-punching is the national characteristic when faced by adversity.

Do some role reversal. Would Americans take to it kindly if anyone blogged to the effect that all they do is fight not just dirty, but in a cowardly way? That Americans don't have the taste for taking others on in a fair fight? Why do here what would be frowned upon, to put it lightly in the States? Try to say the stuff you're saying in a bar in Montana or somewhere in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey and substitute "American" for Estonian.

Ethnic profiling is not nice.

You can write what you want, it's your blog, but if you are being unfair or spewing whatever comes first to mind, ha-ha, then maybe you ought to go in your basement and pour it out on your punching bag, not dump a bucket of manure on us folks. What terrible personal thing have we Estonians done to you?

If you're cranky and irritable, take a couple of aspirin and call me in the morning.

Unknown ütles ...

Some serious b0rkage of people's irony-meters. Lighten up guys, it's not like someone insulted your mother or smth. And even in that case do it like Villu advises ("Võta asju naerulsui, ära kohe solvu, kui keegi väidab, et nikkus sinu ema.") :D

mõttetu mees ütles ...

I don't get these guys before me.
Is this the good ol' Estonian (counter-)sarcasm (might be a tad too much) or are they just plain stupid...

Anonüümne ütles ...

I'd like to think of the Estonians as Boxers...and the Russians Punchers. One is strategic, the other is brute force.

Both are suited to their relative size, overall ability, and of course intelligence.

LPR ütles ...

The main difference between Estonians (and the whole western world) and the Russians is that we strive to be LIKED (to be constantly better and keep up with the Jones's) then Russians are only happy when they are FEARED.

Analyze Russians through this lense and and you'll bare their so called "mystery wrapped in enigma" oh-so complicated soul in an instant.

Puhvis Kukk ütles ...

You have to wait till the master is asleep to kill him. It would be insanity from our part to try to fight Russians man-to-man. They outnumber us. we're too smart for suicide missions.
Agree w markoskar as well

Giustino ütles ...

I might come across as cranky or irritable because I have a cold.

But you should step back, gentlemen, and realize that I didn't say that Estonians fight like peasants. Vello said it. I just recently visited Kuperjanov's grave, and was somewhat awed. I'll write about that soon, but I didn't want to write about the holiest figure in Estonian mthology without making sure all my facts were right.

I was presenting a snippet of a conversation with Vello, which I found kind of funny, considering how much I care for this country.

It's funny to imagine this large Russia scared out of its wits to turn its glare because it's not sure when those uppity peasants will stick it when it's not looking.

Vello also said that in Russia, his friend was wearing a Finnish flag on his hat and told that it was a "fascist symbol."

"It's not a fascist symbol, you moron," the friend said. "It's the fucking flag of Finland!."

Anonüümne ütles ...

Something doesn't jibe here, dude, which may mean it is jive.

Mr. Rainbow (Vikerkaar is rainbow in Estonian) is a gentleman from Toronto, presumably from the refugee community. So he says on his blog. He writes English too well to be a recent emigrant from Estonia.

Something is fishy, something does not compute. I cannot imagine two guys sitting together in Naples - one is American and the other is Canadian-Italian, and the Canadian Italian guy is telling the American guy that Italian Italians are pussies and cowards who sneak up behind you with an iron pipe.

The chance that a Canadian-Italian would be dis-ing his fellow Italians like that just does not very high at all.

Vello, do you hear us? Did you say the Estonian Estonians can't fight for beans except when they cheat?

PS: Shakashvili tried "frontal" in South Ossetia. Spiegel magazine in Esnglish says there were 42 or was it 48 Russian soldiers to every Georgian soldier. Agree with puhvis kukk. There is a difference between bravery and imprudence

Giustino ütles ...

The Estonians I know are always ripping each other apart, though. One Estonian-Estonian recently told me that Andrus Ansip is "God's revenge on the Estonian nation."

Revenge for what, I am not so sure. You'd think that God has punished the Estonians enough over the past thousand years.

kristi ütles ...

my,my what's going on?

I am Estonian too and when I read that entry I laughed. I think some people are a bit touchy here.

It's just an entry and it's not like G said it...Vello said those words, but I still don't get what's the fuss about.

Thanks G (I hope I can call you G) for this post and many posts before that.
I truly enjoy your blog even though I''m kind of new comer :P

Anyway people calm down...and take a chill pill or something

Kristopher ütles ...

Yeah, but the self-irony is really only allowed if you're Andrus Kivirähk.

But with regard to waiting until the master is asleep, that's good. The classic way is to invite the master to a sauna and lock him in and really stoke it. Masters can't take more than 15 minutes.

LPR ütles ...

That's in case your masters are germans or americans. Russian masters in that very proverbial sauna of your will ask Mats for more "leili."

Basically, if dying by being "stoked" in sauna or "banya" sounds like a horrible way to die to you, then you have a lot to learn before you can call yourself well adjusted to the life at these latitudes.

martintg ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
martintg ütles ...

The way I read it was that Vello mentioned Estonians "fight like peasants", and Guistino's subsequent remarks of school boys tripping bullies, were in context of his original question "Why do the Russians dislike the Estonians so much?", i.e. they were discussing Russian perceptions of Estonians as peasant fighters and front row bully boy trippers.

Certainly the Russian line is that Estonia wants revenge and they seem to believe that Estonia will somehow sabotage EU-Russian relations behind their backs. To what degree it is genuine Russian paranoia or a deliberate attempt to split the EU by playing up the new-Europe/old-Europe divisions is an open question.

Doris ütles ...

not about Estonians, but it is relevant:

back during the Imperial days, there were a relatively large number of Baltic German officers in the Russian army (there were actually quotas for how many were ALLOWED in, and while those were kept, the percentage of Baltic Germans in the higher ranks of officers was rather stunning). So, anyways, the Russian officers (and regulars) absolutely hated the Baltic Germans. Why? Because the Balts didn't want to drink insane amounts of vodka like everyone else and even if they did drink indane amounts of vodka, they were still ramrod straight, with boots gleaming and mustaches waxed the next morning, ready for service. And expected everyone else to be, too.

I tend to agree with the front-row buly-tripping image of Estonians. The bully gets what it deserves, and because the teacher's pet is just that - the teacher's pet, he's safe from the bully (for the time being) and everyone laughs at the bully but secretly they really don't like the teacher's pet either. Too perfect *euckh*.

and how is the school-tripping story different fromt he Kaval-Ants and Vanapagan stories other than being a bit more contemporary?

Anonüümne ütles ...

The Kaval Ants stories are about outsmarting someone who is bigger than you, denser than you, and in a position of power over you. They are about shrewdness - about quickness of mind - not about being the sneaky person that everyone else loves to hate. Kaval Ants is admired, hence his name - Clever Ants.

It is possible or likely that the teacher's pet is disliked considerably more than the bully, even if the bully is the one who should be despised the most - in an ideal world.

Sounds flaky. To discuss at length the supposed sayings of unidentified St. Petersburg Russians about the fighting ability of Estonians? Maybe it was Vlad Putin's dad saying this stuff. He really liked his Estonian sojourn during the war.

Rein Batuut ütles ...

Native Estonians have exactly the same attitude towards emigrant-Estonians as Vello claims Russians have against Estonians. Liina and Epp or whatev don't echo my understanding of the issue either. Estonians are morally and emotionally segregated, everyone has their opinion.

Unknown ütles ...

Hm. Estonians might look arrogant, because they don't talk much, especially with strangers, and don't open up to strangers. We don't like to have strangers at our homes, we prefer to invite only closest friends and family. Maybe because the home has always been also the castle, literally. It's not a sign of beeing arrogant, just cautious.

It really IS funny that a nation and a country that is thousands of times bigger then our tiny one, is so afraid of us, so-so afraid of us.. and has such a complex... I mean, to think that Estonians think they're the best and are humiliating Russians - to get an idea like that means one has to have a huge problem with self-esteem...

Funny, I've just spend a week in Spain with Norwegians, Germans, Irish, English, American, Mexican, Spainish, French, Dutch and Danish people - no one seemed to think of me as I was or should have been arrogant... But they all agreed that Russians seem to have a "thing" with everybody. And all I said about Estonian-Russian "thing" was, that we don't have anything against Russians or Russia, they seem to have something against us... what could be a better future then to have a strong democratic and stabile neighbour, ah?! It's just not the case. Many of Russians still put an equality sign between "strong" and "feared", and between "honoured" and "feared". And for so many democracy is just a sign for weakness (I actually know some Estonians like that, too - in Russia the share of them may just be somewhat bigger). Sad.