Sunday, February 26, 2006

Finnish nationality

Traditional Finnish berry cake

Every Finnish event must have a
traditional berry and cream cake

I do not know why Annikki or I were invited to "the do" of yesterday evening.

Annikki was recovering from a fever, so I attended, alone.

The reception was for foreigners who had obtained Finnish nationality.

I have not obtained Finnish nationality.

When I needed it, way back in 1994, I applied for it.

But the Department of Foreign Affairs in Helsinki sat on the application for several years. Out of the blue many years later, I had a call from the Department to submit a new language certificate as they could not trace the old one or the one I had submitted was in some way not appropriate.

However, by that time I had no need for Finnish nationality as Finland was already a member of the European Union, and I could travel freely without a visa to any country in the EU, except England and Ireland, based on my Finnish residence permit. As two of our kids are British and live in the UK, there would be no need to take Finnish nationality for a single visa!

So I informed the Department that I did not need Finnish nationality.

Not a peep from them for several years.

Then, again, I was asked the same question.

I gave the same reply. No need for Finnish nationality.

After a few more years I was asked by the Oulu Police to pick up the decision about my application for Finnish nationality - 10 years after the original application.

I informed the Police that I did not need the decision!!

So I did not get my Finnish nationality.

Many think that getting Finnish nationality is like getting a gift from the Almighty. I had no such feelings as I am a world citizen and owe no loyality to any one nation. The Passport is only a travel document to enable me to live and move freely and whether it is a permanent residence visa or a nationality it is, in my mind, no different.

Imagine this fabulous efficiency of the Foreign Affairs Department. 10 years to process an application!

Maybe it has improved now!!

That said, Shahnaz Mikonen of the Oulu International Centre, Toppelius, thought that as a long-standing member of the foreign community in Oulu, I should be invited, as I usually invite her for all the events we organise.

There were about 55 people who attended. Represented were 12 countries. Considering that there are over 2000 foreigners from 99 countries in Oulu, this low turnout is symptomatic of a message not getting through to the international community.

Albania, China, Finland, Ghana, Germany, India, Iran, Morocco, Poland, Russia, South Africa, Sudan, Vietnam.

Many of the bureaucrats and politcians who work with foreigners were present. I recognised several of them, although I have not seen them for many many years. Marja-Leena from the Oulu Foreigners Department of the Oulu Police and Kylliki from the Oulu Social Office dealing with Foreigners were among those present.

Some foreigners were dressed in their national costumes, such as this beautifully adorned couple, Mr. & Mrs. Pasawaly Edward from Sudan.

Sudanese couple, Mr. & Mrs. Pasawaly Edward, in their national dress.

Shahnaz (from Iran) and her husband, Yrjö, were dressed in some fine Chinese Brocade.

Master of ceromonies was Patrick Dickson and the Chief Guest was the Assistant City Manager, Päivi Laajala.

Flute played by Annaleena Puhto and guitar played by Illkka Virta

There were a few Mozart renditions with flute played by Annaleena Puhto and guitar played by Illkka Virta.

A couple of Spanish Flamenco dances by Kaija Moilanen and Heidi Porali were also part of the programme.

The speeches by the two participants, Susanna, who had just received her Finnish citizenship this year and Gizella Taurianen, one of the long-established citizens of Oulu, were both touching and added some cultural value to the event.

I am still wondering why I was invited. Anyway, thank you, Shahnaz, for having me at the wonderful evening!

Friday, February 24, 2006

Vamsi gets a great camera deal

I had a call from Vamsi Krishna from India, who is doing research in the Microelectronics Laboratory at the University of Oulu. He wanted to buy a digital camera in the price range of Euro 200-250 and of the same quality as that bought by Paneer.

I looked around and narrowed to three - a HP R717 of 6.2 megapixels (Euro 229), the HP R817, a later model with 5.1 megapixels resolution (Euro 249) and a Samsung A7 with a resolution of 7.2 megapixels (Euro 199). The last was marked down from Euro 399 and seemed to be the best buy if one could acccept the use of rechargeable NiMH batteries instead of the Li ion batteries.
Brand: Samsung Digimax A7

Resolution: 7.20 Mpixel
Maximum resolution: 3072 x 2304
Minimum resolution: 640 x 480
Sensor size: 1/1.8-inch; Sensor type: CCD
Optical zoom: Yes - Zoom wide (mm): 38mm, Zoom tele (mm): 114mm; Digital zoom: Yes
Auto focus: Yes; Manual focus: No; Macro focus range (cm): 4
Flash modes: anti red-eye, auto, fill in, off, slow flash
Storage types: MultiMedia, Secure Digital
ISO ratings: auto
Aperture priority: Yes; Shutter priority: Yes
Built-in flash: Yes External flash: Yes
Metering: Multi-pattern, spot
Exposure compensation: -2EV - +2EV with 1/3EV steps
White balance: auto, daylight, fluorescent, incandescent
Video function: Yes Video sound: Yes
Maximum video resolution: 640x480; Minimum video resolution: 160x120
Frames per second (fps): 30; Voice recording: Yes
Optical viewfinder: Yes; Electronic viewfinder: No
LCD display: Yes; LCD size: 2-inch
Self-timer: Yes
USB: USB 1.1; Video out: No; Firewire: Yes; Bluetooth: No
File format: JPEG
Energy: 1x CR-V3, 2x AA, Li-Ion

Vamsi chose the Samsung with the above specifications.

Then I took him to my friend's battery store (they only deal in batteries) and Vamsi got a great deal for four rechargeable batteries and an intelligent recharger - giving him a good digital camera to capture his time in Finland. 7.2 megapixels for Euro 199 was certainly a bargain!

May I remind you that the local newspaper, Kaleva, is offering a prize of Euro 10 to anyone who emails them telling them of best buys which they publish every week on Saturday. No flea market prices will be accepted!

Besides sending your suggestion by email to, the signature should include your full name, your address, your personal number and your bank account number.

You can also send the info as a text message, but that would cost you Euro 0.70 for each submission.

Annikki and I are in this - so may the best people WIN!!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Meeting on 26th February

This week the meeting has no fixed agenda - we will just meet to enjoy each others company and have some good food.

We will have Kannan telling us the exciting things happening at Rauma at the Nuclear Power Plant site, Tingting will brief us on how things are going on in China.

Location: Pailin Restaurant, Kenttätie 9, Kasarmin area
Tim: 13:00 hours
Date: Sunday 26th February 2006

Hopefully we will have some good music by some great stars.

See you then.

Monday, February 20, 2006

CHAFF meeting on Sunday

With the weather becoming more skiing-type, with the sun peeping out in normal hours again, and the temperature slowly creeping up to the -5 C mark, many of our regular participants were out enjoying the new freedom. Others were travelling around Finland and the world.

Bill (China) went skiing with his Chinese friends. Ildikó (Hungary) and Ilari (Finland) were in Helsinki. Pentti (Finland) was in Masala in South Finland visiting his daughter, Isaac (India/USA) is still in the US. Tingting (China) was on a business trip in China, Kaija (Finland) was enjoying her much earned holiday. Anais (France) was enjoying a day of rest. Kamu's (Zambia) son, Matti was unwell.

David (Kenya) and I spent our time usefully concentrated on discussing the major topic - what we should add to the letter framed by Ata Bos (The Netherlands) as to how to help foreigners in Oulu.

I felt we should not just think of foreigners, as the problems that lie ahead of us foreigners also afflict many Finns. It also spreads across the entire age spectrum.

For instance, a big problem facing all age groups is the one regarding money, employment, apprenticeships, and as summer approaches, summer jobs.

14 year old Soda (Thailand), who was sitting in on this week's meeting, wants a summer job to earn a little money, which is his money.

I explained that things have changed over the years.

When our son, Mika, was a small boy (11-13 years) in Oulu he used to do the paper round. He also did shoe-shining in the central park in Oulu. These jobs, as summer jobs for children have vanished. Shoe-shining is now not even considered as being worth doing, even though in those days it was not meant as a summer job but something to help a charitable organisation. But it instilled the important trait of the dignity of labour, however menial it may have appeared.

Paper delivery has developed into a full time job for many immigrants unable to find any other type of fixed employment.

The contracts for ice cream kiosks that spring up around Oulu in summer are appropriated by various local clubs and associations who then give the responsibility to a few of their members. Daughter Joanna did it one year. Another year she worked as a helper in the Beach Cafe in Nallikari.

A whole new system has to develop so as to create summer jobs as well as jobs for Finns and foreigners.

I suggested that this is what we should put forward as our constructive suggestion from CHAFF to the City of Oulu via the letter being drafted by all the immigrant, refugees and ethnic group organisations who are co-operating to look at the problems faced by foreigners in Oulu.

The second issue about the CHAFF Help Fund to help people in distress has been considered novel and important by several CHAFF participants. Some have started pledging support from as low as Euro 30 to as much as Euro 1000.

We have to walk before we run.

I am glad that the idea has taken root. The next step should be to formalise CHAFF into a body, set up the articles of the organisation to ensure that it can engage in such an activity as running a HELP FUND and set up checks and balances to ensure that this is monitored in a manner which ensures there can be no hint of any financial impropriety. Only then should CHAFF go about accepting deposits and the more important task of helping people in distress. Kamu (Zambia) had strong views about the methodologies to be adopted.

Thank you to the many who have given a vote of confidence in this idea. As I replied to one person who said that she could only offer Euro 30, even Euro 1 could be a large sum of money to a person in dire distress.

I must say that even the time we give one another can be more valuable than money in many instances. A loving word to a person under mental stress can work wonders. And that is what CHAFF is about!

I will inform you about the time and place for our next meeting. Suffice to say I had a call from Kannan (India) who will be travelling in from Rauma to attend the meeting!

Tingting has been out shopping in a large department store in China and will join us next week. Hopefully a Thai lady married to a Finn, a good friend of Tingting, will also be joining us next week. A young German microbiologist, new to Oulu, may also be joining us next week.

I also have to report that due to Chinese censorship, our CHAFF blog is not readable in China. Chilli (China), who returned there last week, emailed me that she was unable to access it! She sends her very best wishes to all CHAFF participants.

See you all soon - and do not forget to look at the problem about the area-changing triangles on Jacob's Blog.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

KALEVA follows us 12 years on..

(Cross-posted on Jacob's Blog)

Last weekend there appeared a little box item in our local newspaper, KALEVA, where they have started a reader forum which will award a prize of Euro 10 to any reader who identifies a best buy item available in the local market.

The book that Annikki and I wrote "Handbook for Survival in Finland" (out of print) way back in 1994 after 10 years of research was based around a game we played where we went about locating the daily best buys in Oulu.

"The question to which this book gives an answer is "How do ordinary Finns survive?" We present a method used unconciously by cost-conscious Finns of how to beat the Finnish system, live a decent life and even save some money."

Although much has changed since we wrote this book, especially since Finland joined the European Union, the game that we played, and continue to play, has been the lifeblood of our survival in Finland. We continued to beat inflation year in and year out using this system.

Now KALEVA is trying to use this system to attract its readers to a new column.

A few suggestions which may appear here, although helping a few readers, can never address the entire problem, which is exploitation of Finns by their cartels that run the Finnish retail trade.

Is it time to republish an updated version of our book?

You know which is the best buy you can make:

A copy of "Handbook for Survival in Finland" although we do not know where you can buy a copy for the love of all the money in the world!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sweet Chilli returning to China

(Cross posted on my personal blog)

Chilli is one of the Chinese group of software engineers brought from China to work in Oulu for the American owned electronics manufacturing services (EMS) provider headquartered in Singapore.

Chilli took part in one of our Chaff meetings and all of us were endeared to her. She had already lived in Finland prior to this visit, having studied IT at Mikkeli.

Chilli, JM and Bill
Chilli, me and Bill

We were sorry to here that she is returning, prematurely, to China. Knowing her and her knowledge of Finnish Business Systems, I am reasonably sure she will be back.

As her farewell, the Chinese group who work at Flextronics Oulu had a dinner at the Pailin Restaurant.

Chinese group at Oulu Flextronics dined at the Pailin Thai Restaurant
Chinese group at Oulu Flextronics dined at the Pailin Thai Restaurant

Chilli, Pailin and Bill
Chilli, Pailin and Bill

Goodbye Sweet Chilli, and do come back to Oulu. You will always be welcome at our CHAFF meetings. And we hope you can start a branch of the spirit of CHAFF in China.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Culture Shock - Finland

Cross-posted at our personal blog.

A Friendship Day Special Blog Entry

Last Saturday, Ildikó and Ilari were early visitors to Kampitie to pick up our trailer. They were moving to their new home in Tuira, just north of the Oulu River.

They brought for us a copy of their book "Culture Shock - Finland" which has been published in German.

Culture Shock, Authors, Inscription, Cover
Culture Shock, Authors, Inscription, Cover

My spoken German is rusty, not having used it for several years, but my ablity to read German has not deteriorated too much. I did find several words that are new to the language, but I was able to derive the meanings.

The book was a good quick read. It contained all the salient points to introduce both a tourist and someone who is planning to be in Finland for some time to the intricacies of life in Finland.

It is not in the more confrontational style adopted by Annikki and me in our book "Hanbook for Survival in Finland". Like us, the authors provide a degree of balance as Ildikó is from Hungary and Ilari from Finland. There is a balance the views of Finns and Foreigners in what they have seen and experienced in Finland. The index is not too long, so it is easy to quickly find essential references in the book. I did a series of quick checks and I was able to get answers to many common questions that face foreigners when they arrive in Finland.

Both the authors are well travelled and they bring out their observation powers in their commentary about this lovely country.

I would have preferred the beautiful pictures included in the book to have been in colour, as Finland is such a colourful country, from the radiancy of the weathered old wooden houses, to the green of the forests, the blue of the lakes, and the fashion scene. However, being pricesd at just Euro 14.90 (in Germany) I think the publishers had to curtail the costs and stuck to black and white!

Chaff participants, Gisela Tauriainen, Kamu Tembo and me, do get a mention in the acknowledgements. I must confess I do not know why I got mentioned!! As far as I know I just enjoyed the conversations I had with two vibrant people who are so full of life and represent the youth of today.

Thank you, Ildikó and Ilari, for such a wonderful book.

P.S.: Believe it or not, I received a young German girl from Oulu Airport on Monday afternoon, Kerstin, who has arrived in Finland to do research in Microbiology at Oulu University, and she was carrying a copy of this great book!

Monday, February 13, 2006


The CHAFF blog is intended not only to tell of our fun activities. It is a place where I hope we can learn from the wisdom of others.

An interesting article was just sent to me by a close friend who was Technical Director of a very large multinational company for many many years till he retired at the age of 70! He remained with the same company for all his working life till his retirement and made steady progress to be the most powerful and respected person in that company.

The article which he sent me, which I give below, is called


It was written by the man who now heads the holding company of India's oldest, largest and most respected business conglomerates. The Group's businesses are spread over seven business sectors. It comprises 93 companies and operates in six continents. It employs over 220,000 people and the sharehlder base is over 2 million. The TATA Empire is known and respected worldwide.

The message conveyed is an important one that all you young people who take part in CHAFF activities should learn.

Many of you have heard me say at several meetings

"The grass looks greener on the other side".

Here is someone much more knowledgeable than me saying it in a more important context.

Rest assured, the message that this article conveys will affect you at some stage of your career. Ignore it at your peril!


by Dr. R. Gopalakrishnan Dr. R. Gopalakrishnan, Chairman, Tata Sons

Dr. Gopalakrishnan succeeded Mr. Ratan Tata as Chairman of Tata Sons Ltd., the holding company for many of the Tata blue chips like Tata Steel, Tata Motors, Tata Power, Tata Chemicals, Voltas etc. Following is an interesting article by Dr. Gopalakrishnan:

The grass isn't always greener on the other side!!

Move from one job to another, but only for the right reasons.

It's yet another day at office. As I logged on to the marketing and advertising sites for the latest updates, as usual, I found the headlines dominated by 'who's' moving from one company to another after a short stint', and I wondered, why are so many people leaving one job for another? Is it passé now to work with just one company for a sufficiently long period?

Whenever I ask this question to people who leave a company, the answers I get are:
"Oh, I am getting a 200% hike in salary"
"Well I am jumping three levels in my designation"
"Well they are going to send me abroad in six months".

Then, I look around at all the people who are considered successful today and who have reached the top - be it a media agency, an advertising agency or a company. I find that most of these people are the ones who stuck to the company, ground their heels and worked their way to the top. And, as I look around for people who change their jobs constantly, I find they have stagnated at some level, in obscurity.

In this absolute ruthless, dynamic and competitive environment, there are still no - short cuts to success or to making money. The only thing that continues to pay, as earlier is loyalty and hard work.

Yes, it pays! Sometimes, immediately, sometimes after a lot of time.

But, it does pay.

Does this mean that one should stick to an organization and wait for the golden moment? Of course not. After, a long stint, there always comes a time for moving in most organizations, but it is important to move for the right reasons, rather than the superficial ones, like money, designation or overseas trip.

Remember, no company recruits for charity. More often than not, when you are offered an unseemly hike in salary or designation that is disproportionate to what the company offers it current employees, there is always an unseemly bait attached.

The result?

You will, in the long term have reached the same level or may be lower levels than what you would have in your current company.

A lot of people leave their organizations because they are 'unhappy'. What is this so called unhappiness? I have been working for donkey years and there has never been a day when I am not unhappy about something in my work environment - boss, rude colleagues, fussy clients etc.

Unhappiness in a work place, to a large extent, is transient. If you look hard enough, there is always something to be unhappy about. But, more importantly, do I come to work to be "happy" in the truest sense?

If I think hard, the answer is "No".

Happiness is something you find with family, friends, may be a close circle of colleagues who have become friends. What you come to work for is to earn, build a reputation, satisfy your ambitions, be appreciated for your work ethics, face challenges and get the job done.

So, the next time you are tempered to move on, as yourself why are you moving and what are you moving into?

Some questions are:
* Am I ready and capable of handling the new responsibility? If yes, what could be the possible reasons my current company has not offered me the same responsibility?

* Who are the people who currently handle this responsibility in the current and new company? Am I good as the best among them?

* As the new job offer has a different profile, why have I not given the current company the option to offer me this profile?

* Why is the new company offering the new job? Do they want me for my skills, or is that ulterior motive?

An honest answer to these will eventually decide where you go in your career - to the top of the pile in the long term (or to become another average employee who gets lost with the time in wilderness?


Hope you found this interesting.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Tingting teaches Pornpailin

Another interesting day.

Ilari and Ildi came in the morning to collect the trailer so that they could move home. We had to dig out the trailer from under snow.

Unnop rang to say that their car was not starting. My ever failthful jallopy went on another mercy mission to help them start their car.

Tingting made arrangements with Pornpailin to teach her Chinese cooking, so I helped them get started.

After that I did some shopping.

After a visit home to see everything was OK, I visited Walda and gave Ilmi and Mousa Annikki's calendars. I showed Ilmi the book and the photograph from the book. Ilmi was thrilled as he said it was better to see them now rather than 5 years ago!

I also introduced Ilmi to the CHAFF and my personal blog site.

He has promised to attend one of our CHAFF meetings in the near future.

Finally, we got the first take away Chinese food prepared at the Pailin Restaurant.

As usual a lot of squabbling, as Unnop and Pornpailin think they are running a charity center rather than a for-profit restaurant!

Thanks Tingting, Unnop and Pornpailin for a great dinner!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Ilmi and Mousa: KOSOVOK Soul & Rock Music Group!

Yesterday evening I visited Walda, the main centre for young people in the city of Oulu.

I tried my hand at Table Tennis against Soda, but my age was telling as I was gasping for breath after a few shots. I must obviously wait till summer to regain a level of fitness to play a game against my younger friends.

I was pleasantly surprised to meet two of the young people who take care of the Walda Centre along with our Chaff friend, Anais Guimard from France. I remember them from many years ago.

A group, in which Mousa and Ilmi played, KOSOVOK, gave a music performance of soul and rock for the first football match Janne Helttunen and I organised between the Djati Sports Club (Albanian Youth Football Team) and the Tervarit side, on Friendship Day in 1999.

I had promised to put up their picture on the web, which I did. But the site was closed in 2001 when I stopped working for the City of Oulu in 2000.

However, their performance is preserved for posterity in the book I published in 1999 called: "Sports as an Effective Tool for Integration of Ethnic Minorities in Oulu".

Sports as an Effective Tool for Integration of Ethnic Minorities in Oulu

Sports as an Effective Tool for Integration
Minorities in Oulu. Book written by me in 1999 recording the
achievements of the Alakko nää mua? (Will You Play With me?) Project.

This is Plate 4 from the book:

Plate 4 from the book.
Plate 4 from the book

In this picture, in the bottom right is a picture of Mousa (right) and Ilmi (left) playing to the appreciative crowd at the Oulu Sports Dome.

I always try to keep my promises! :-)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

First ad on CHAFF

As a thanks to the wonderful couple who have hosted our CHAFF Sunday Club meetings and given us some great Thai food and who have been as much a part of the meetings as all of us, while quietly working their fingers to the bone, I decided to give them a space on our CHAFF blog page as our way of saying thanks.

Thanks, Pornpailin and Unnop, and also their two beautiful children, Soda and Sodium. You have understood the spirit of CHAFF.

Monday, February 06, 2006

4 new countries represented at Chaff meeting

It is truly remarkable how new people are turning up at our Chaff meetings.

This week we welcomed several new participants.

Chilli, a delightful lady software engineer from China working at Flextronics, Jeevan, an engineer from Malaysia working at Nokia, Thiery, a student of International Business from Rwanda and Josephine, a visitor from Zambia who is studying Finnish culture.

Click on images to see larger photographs.

Old timers present were Isaac (India/USA), Tingting (China), Pentti (Finland), Kamu (Zambia), Kiran (India), David (Kenya), Ilari (Finland), Ildiko (Hungary) and myself (World Citizen), plus our wonderful host and hostess, Pailin and Unnop with their younger son, Sodium, all from Thailand.

The food was delicious. As I had not expected such a large crowd today, I had told Pailin not to make her popular buffet. My apologies to all. My bad.

I would be grateful if people did ring me and tell me if they are ABLE to come, so that I can tell Pailin how many to cater for.

No complaints, however, about the food, which was consumed with great relish and an even more dash of humour.

We discussed especially about the internship jobs that foreign students do not seem to obtain from local companies.

Isaac advised me to contact the Human Resources Departments of all the major companies so as to alert them as to the problems being faced by foreign students, especially as many have been led to Finland with the bait and hook of "free education".

We also discussed the purchasing of houses in Finland as a way to save on taxes.

We all felt the lack of the presence of both Kannan and Paneer. We were all happy to hear from David that the University of Oulu have confirmed the offer to Kannan to his Doctor of Technology in Industrial Engineering and Management. We will see Kannan regularly in Oulu when he comes to take part in his monthly seminars.

He spoke to me on Saturday and is settling down in his new job.

Chilli, a very talented engineer from China, will be here in Oulu for a month. She has done her studies from Mikkeli, but now works in China.

Josephine is studying at the Institute of Home Science but hopes to transfer to the Polytechnic to do further studies.

Jeevan has been at Nokia for several years but does a lot of travelling.

Thiery is studying at the local Polytechnic.

This was a truly interesting crowd from avriety of backgrounds and hopefully we will see more new faces at subsequent meetings.

Chaff is continuing to grow, thanks to the support of all those who have found something constructive to do on a Sunday afternoon.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Meeting at Walda

Kaija Välimaa hosted a meeting at the Walda premises in Oulu this afternoon to try and draw up an integrated programme to help foreigners in Oulu to handle day to day issues and problems. There are many organisations doing work, all of them individually, and Kaija's ambition is to focus the work to make it more effective. A noble cause,

It was interesting that our new informal organisation CHAFF was actually the best represented. Amongst the 11 people taking part, besides Kaija, who has been taking part in our Sunday Club meetings, Ildiko, Anais, Pentti, David and myself are regular CHAFF participants - more than 50% of those present. For an unknown unheard of group - we certainly dominated this meeting by sheer presence!

The discussions were interesting. It is obvious that the free form of meetings that we follow in CHAFF is far more effective than the structured and official organisations who are limited in their flexibility because of the very fact that they are finance dependent.

It was decided that an approach should be made to the City of Oulu to try to make them aware of the issues facing foreigners in Oulu, if the City of Oulu was truly intent on being developed as a multicultural international city. All present were certain that it certainly was not one presently!

Ata Bos, who works within the Business Centre of Oulu City, was given the task of preparing a short but pertinent letter about what could be done to make this vision a reality. Each of the participants could submit a paragraph. Ata would make this into a diplomatically worded document to try and get a face to face meeting with the power hierarchy of the City of Oulu.

It is obvious that our CHAFF meetings continue to be the most exciting of all the active groups.

As we are having fun, I propose that we continue our path and while giving support to others, we keep doing what we are doing till we become large enough to garner the support from all sections of society in Oulu.

See you on Sunday.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

A bit annoying...

(Cross-posted from

I must thank an Indian, Abhay Bulsari from South West Finland, living in the city of Turku, who runs a company called AB Nonlinear Solutions Oy, for pointing out this news item from BBC World 'lukewarm to India's role'.

This is a study of how different countries view other countries.

What drew Abhay's attention was the views of Finns about India. Only 27% of Finns view India positively and 44% view the country negatively.

Luckily, the business community in Finalnd today does not hold this view as there is rapid expansion now of Finnish companies starting to use Indian expertiese and also use it as an outsourcing point. Two recruitment centres are expected to be opened in India to bring competent Indian scientific and engineering staff to Finland.

14 years ago this would have been unthinkable. When I first pointed out in the first issue of Findians Briefings, way back in 1992, that Texas Instruments had opened a centre in Bangalore with a direct satellite link to Houstan, Texas, in 1984, not many Finns thought this was a good idea!

But the history of this bad image goes back much further. In 1975, I had identified Finnish technologies ideally suited for India. I approached a company and also explained to them, as engineering costs in Finland were high, maybe they could work with one of the larger and well established Indian Engineering Consulting companies, to capture the huge Indian market.

I was laughed out of the room - competent Indian Engineering skill?

India got the same technology from a French company.

Another example was when I asked the largest Finnish Sauna manufacturer to quote for the large volume of saunas required by the expanding 5-star hotels opening all over India. I got a negative reponse. I alerted a Swedish company. For the next 10 years almost every sauna sold in India was from a Swedish manufacturer.

A short while after this happened the Finnish company came running after me as to whether it would be possible to reopen the opportunity as their Brazilian market had suddenly dried up.

Prof. Ajeet Mathur, in his treatise "Finland - India Economic Relations - A Twinning Study of Trade and Investment Potential" published in 1998, pointed out the enormous potential. But again, the Finns have been slow to act and have missed most of the action, thereby not getting much of the deal as other countries capitalised on.

With Amma, Deepak Chopra and a few other leading Indians making waves in Finland, a few films and songs getting shown on Finnish television, the huge advertising campaign of "Incredible India" of BBC World, some inroads of a better perception of India is very slowly taking root amongst the general public.

But the business community realised that they have been losing out. They are desperately trying to expand opportunities in India, as otherwise their international shareholders may start asking uncomfortable questions.

Abhay was of the view that we should alert the Indian Embassy about this.

In my opinion, Finns are the losers if they do not wake up.

So let us not rock the boat.

Friday, February 03, 2006

News about Oulu Rotary Team from India

The Rotary Team from the Oulu District met up with a cousin of mine when they were hosted by the Rotary Club of Kottayam.

Here are some great pictures sent to me by my cousin, Satish. Satish is the one standing on the left in the first picture.

Satish Abraham, Heino Holappa, Katja Kalamäki, Sini Peltokorpi, Ville Suomi and Kaisu Lehtomaa

Satish Abraham, Heino Holappa, Katja Kalamäki,
Sini Peltokorpi, Ville Suomi and Kaisu Lehtomaa being hosted
by the Rotary Club of Kottayam at the Sailing Club on the
banks of the Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom

His family owns one of the largest producers of Rubber Latex in India which is used to make thousands of things from rubber balloons, to condoms, footwear, gloves, mattresses, etc. Their company, which carries his family name, Padinjarekara, is a household name all over India.

His late grandmother, Annammakochamma, a wonderful dear lady, was the youngest sister of my grandfather. I loved her dearly. Everytime we arrived in our hometown, Kottayam, for a holiday, she would be over in a jiffy to greet all of us. She would invite us over to have a great spread at her home during our stay.

Boating on the Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom
The Oulu Rotary Team boating on the
Vembanad Lake, Kumarakom

Satish has been close with our family for many years. He used to visit our home in Madras when we lived there. His wife, Vimla, is a perfect lady. They make a wonderful couple.

It is wonderful that Vimla's cousin's wife, Smitha, will be coming to Oulu as part of the return visit team. I am sure we at CHAFF would love to have them spend a Sunday with us!

CHAFF Meeting 5th February 2006

As we are still negotiating for a central place to hold our Sunday Club CHAFF meeting, we will continue to hold the meetings at the Pailin Thai Restaurant at Kenttätie 9, Kasarmin Area in Oulu.

The meeting this week will look into some issues of family matters and their impact on all members of a family. We hope some experts on this subject will be able to join us to try to see what stand we can take to help some cases that have come to our notice.

We will also look at some banking and legal issues as they play out in Finland - so that all of you can be well prepared should you ever need to unravel a mess!

Date: Sunday 5th February 2006
Location: pailin Thai Rstarant, Kenttätie 9, Kasarmin Area
Time: 13:00 hours
Pick up: One car will be available this week to pick up from the University area and Toppila. Contact Jacob at 041 7067788.

And a final reminder of the Walda Meeting at 13:00 hours on Friday 3rd February 2006. see Announcements for details.