Friday, March 31, 2006

Midi and Mini - Not skirt lengths!

(Cross-posted on my Jacob's Blog.)

I am not talking about skirt lengths!

The Thai Pailin Restaurant (Kenttätie 9, Kasarmi Area) have tested two new products on Annikki and me yesterday - the Midi Flap and the Mini Flap.

It is rather nice to be food tasting test pigs for a good restaurant!

The Midi Pizza FlapMidi Flap

The Mini Pizza Flap
Mini Flap

After the success of their full size Pizza Flap, they have come up with these two products for the not so hungry and the fast-food Pizza addicts with not so much money in their pockets.

And, it is not an unhealthy fast food!

Fast food giant, Macdonald's could take some lessons from this enterprising small restaurant.

It is possible to choose the fillings in these Flaps to your personal taste.

The Mini Flap is ideal for parties. Keep them warm in a hot case and serve them up with an accompanying salad bowl.

Great work - Unnop and Pailin.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Busy day this Saturday....Rugby, CHAFF, Party....

I had an email from the Rugby group organiser in Oulu Jarmo, who also runs the Oulu Snow Rugby group.


Me and my friend checked you website.

Also my friends said that story of our book cafeteria is well done (This litle info is missing. It maybe interesting to some of your web visitors: It is quite cheap to order foreign books through our store. It cost only € 4.50 / order. It does not matter if you order one or ten books).

And also we did not find that Snow Rugby story. Is it comming soon?

(Ed: It went to the site which has many Rugby fans at Seventh Heaven.

The Snow Rugby Tournament will be held in Saariselkä (the most northerly rugby tournament in the world) between the 21-22 of April 2006.

If we get new players to join, we can take them with us.

This tournament is held mostly for fun. It is not so serious as the Rugby we play during the summer time. So we can take newcomers with us (we are the most northerly rugby club in the world).

We now have New Zealander and a Spanish guy (you already met him).

Soon we shall have also one player from South Afrika, Australia and Morocco.

We have special Rugby Day this Saturday in Ouluhalli. (Ed: The Oulu Sports Dome.)

Place: Ouluhalli
Time 10.00-14.30.
New comers are welcome.
(They should bring food and drink, as it will be a long day.)

Jarmo Stoor
Nispero Kirjakahvila

I think this is a great opportunity to meet and play Rugby with some great fun guys. They play hard, as I witnessed at this Snow Rugby session.

It is a great and tough sport - but it is also great fun.

Remember on Saturday evening (see earlier entry for the invitation) we have our CHAFF Meeting at Ilari and Ildi's place - and they will have the House Warming after the meeting. It is going to be real hot there!

Summer Job Applications

I got a huge response to my restricted circulation email about the summer jobs - many thanking me for drawing attention to the fact that it was the last date. Some had not even heard of this scheme!

i did have one interesting reply from a person in the loop which read as follows - (I do not identify the person as it is not the official viewpoint of the organisation that she represents):

About the summer jobs:

We advertised those jobs when the application time started.

I agree, that Oulu should really put effort and value to many different groups living here. My great personal concern is that the jobs offered below are only for a month at a time, and the pay is related to the duties - 800 e / month. Also the duties are very simple and as that offer good work experience for school girls and boys, but the students of the University or Polytechnic can't really seem to get much benefit out of these. Also the work effort gained by the City of Oulu is to be questioned, for they have to teach a person to do the job monthly.

Still there is a huge amount of applicants to these jobs. I wish that in the future years we will see three month period traineeships, which actually include real duties that both the student and the City of Oulu can get the benefits for the future.

Also, when the duties get heavier, the pay should be related to it (thinking about 1200 e / month).

These kinds of traineeships would also suit better the foreign degree seeking students. The work experience value would be significantly greater, the identity of the trainee would rise, the city would get real work effort and so everybody would gain.

This is just my personal opinion, not official of the "Organisation" ;)

I certainly appreciate the sentiments expressed.

However, I would like to point out that many University and Polytechnic students (including the ethnic minorities) are wanting these jobs just to "survive".

A strategy has to be worked out which really looks at the number of job seekers and the places created as there is no use in having a "huge amount of applicants" for a pitiful number of openings.

It is hardly a strategy.

I also had a comment from another person in the loop who confessed that they had not realised that this information had not been put out in the English (or other foreign language) on the City website, promising that in future years it would be done.

I am waiting to see how many of the ethnic minorities happen to get an opportunity in this - even for the so called "month".

That will be the real test of what the City is doing!

Monday, March 27, 2006

Chaff meeting expands exponentially...

Today's CHAFF meeting was a packed and exciting affair. As usual our Thai hosts, Pailin and Unnop, served up some great food.

We had many new participants including the Nigerian professional footballers, Stanley and younger brother, Chijoke. We had the good fortune for the attendance of Shahnaz (Iran) and Yrjo (Finland) Mikkonen and their youngest daughter, also for the first time at the CHAFF meeting.

Shahnaz is in charge of Topelius House, the meeting place in Oulu for foreigners.

Isaac (India) was back from the USA. Kiran and Nageshwari (India) were in attendance today as also Ildiko and Ilari. David (Kenya) and Kamu (Zambia) were also present.

Stanley played for one of the greatest football clubs in India, Mohammedan Sporting Club of Kolkata (Calcutta).

Stanley first landed in Bombay 2002 in search of greener pastures as a professional player. Things did not work then as he was to play with Bengal Mumbai F.C in Bombay, (as he did not get permission from the Nigerian Football Association). He was going to play alongside the great Nigerian, Chima Okorie, in the attack.

Stanley tried to join Vasco, one of the top clubs in Goa and then he went to ITI (Indian Telephone Industries) in Banglore. Stanley thought my home town as a very beautiful city.

Finally he got the break with Indian Bank R.C in Chennai.

He moved to Maldives and played for Victory Sports Club and then went to Dhaka, Bangladesh, and then back again to India to join Mohammeden Sporting.

From there he has moved to Finland.

As a professional, he has to attend practice 10 times x 2 hours sessions every week plus he has to play the club games.

His intention is to develop his game more and more as he is a completely dedicated professional.

Presently both he and his brother have to survive in Finland on a very low salary. But they accepted this offer so they get s stepping stone into European football.

If they are good, they will certainly make it big. Some of us at CHAFF wish them both the best and intend to help them achieve their ambitions in whatever way we can.

As Stanley says, it is earning a living from football that he loves so much, as he enjoys this challenge

We, at Chaff, have to work out how we can help these very talented professional footballers who give everything for the game they love.

Today, they shared their love for the game with young Soda, the young Thai boy who is also a very talented player.

Soda, at the age of 14, is facing a very delicate time of his life. He is being pulled in many directions.

As he talked with these two professionals, it became obvious that to be a professional footballer, one has to give up everything for sake of the game - no girlfriends, no dancing around, no playing truant from practice sessions, and besides spending time in team training, a professional has to spend his own time training, training and training, and keeping fit.

Stanley had to leave early as he had to play a game. Chijoke stayed, as he is recovering from an injury, and talked at length to the young Soda.

Soda and Chijoke having an intense discussion
about football, training and other related subjects.

Pentti (Finland forgot to change his clock (as we c hanged from winter time to summertime last night) - so he arrived an hour late - but the meeting was still in full swing.

After the meeting I went to see Soda play for his Tervarit Musta side. As Soda is recovering from an injury, and did not take part in the Friday practice, he only played the last 16 minutes of the game. he only got to touch the ball 3 times, one of which was a 30 metre left foot kick for the goal. There was not power enough in the kick to give the goalkeeper much trouble.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Vamsi puts his Best Buy camera to test

(Cross-posted in the Best Buy and Jacob's Blogs.)

Many of you will remember how Vamsi got a real bargain of a 7.2 megapixel camera for jut Euro 199.

This one beat the one we got for Paneer, but as Paneer was time-bound, he got the Best Buy of that day!

Vamsi has been kind enough to share some of the absolutely great photographs he got when he went to Iso-Syöte, the downhill ski centre an hour and a half from Oulu, with his colleagues from the Technical Faculty at Oulu University.

I share below some of the great photography of a master photographer in the making.

I was looking fortward to the action photo taken while Vamsi was skiing down the slope with the camera strapped to his chest! :-)

Vamsi photo Iso-syote 24.12.2006

Majestic view from the top of the hill
with the top of a pair of ski's in the foreground.
Great composition.

This snow formation is truly a masterpiece.

This just that you techies know the problems faced
in Finland for transmission of signals!

Anyone like to hazard a guess how they clean up the masts and the dishes?

Keep those photos coming, Vamsi, AND Paneer.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

No, it isn't an April Fool's Trick

This week's CHAFF meeting will be at the Thai Pailin Restaurant, 9 kenttätie, Kasarmi Area, as usual, at 13:00 hours. All are welcome.

However, please note the very important change for next week's meeting.

I had an email from Ildikó Hámos today with this invitation for a house warming party and CHAFF afternoon meeting!

The date, I quickly noted, was Saturday 1st April 2006, and the location their new home in Tuira at 17.00 hours.

I asked her whether this was a sinister plot and an April Fool's Trick on CHAFF participants!

Ildikó smirked! :-)

Location: Kuivastie 17 A 36, Tuira.
Date: Saturday 1st April 2006
Time: 17:00 hours
Event: CHAFF Afternoon Meeting and House Warming party

Ildikó assured me that it was not a joke or a trick.

She especially asked me to put the invitation on the CHAFF Blog and extend the invitation to all of you participants who have made our CHAFF meetings so much fun.

In order that Ilari and Ildikó have some idea of the number of people attending, do email them to inform them whether you can make it.

Knowing that both of them are great hosts, I am sure it will be a great get-together.

Ildikó has asked for the CHAFF mailing list which I will let her have. You may also get a direct invite from her - but rest assured, as a CHAFF participant, you are being invited through the blog.

I do not know traditions of house warming in Hungary or Finland.

In my part of India, we take a small gift for the home and something sweet and something salty. We then boil some milk and allow it to boil over.

Maybe all of you will follow the traditions of your own country in what you do when attending a house warming so that we wish them both a happy life in their new home!

That will give me a nice blog entry as to the number of traditions that were followed - anything which is not destructive will be allowed!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Please visit our NEW BEST BUY BLOG

(Cross-posted in our JACOB's BLOG.)

Please visit our new Blog - BEST BUYS in OULU which presents you BEST BUYS in Food, Toietries, Cameras, Radios, TVs, Computers, and anything else we find.

Annikki & Jacob

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Oulu Amnesty International, English

I have just been informed that a division of Amnesty International (in tHe English Language) has started operating in Oulu run by Niina Kuokkanen as the leadeR. (Nina's husband is British and they have a lovely little daughter, Helmi.)

Here is the announcement that JUST reached me:

Amnesty International is an impartial human rights organisation. Its aims and actions are based on the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights. The Finnish section of Amnesty International has several local groups. Some of us at the Oulu Amnesty Group are setting up an international English-speaking Amnesty Group in Oulu

It gives an opportunity for foreigners and anyone else interested in human rights issues to join action. Finns also welcome!

It functions as a study and discussion group (human rights and related issues) and works with the existing Amnesty Oulu group (this includes e.g., participating in various events, planning actions, organising film nights, etc. etc.)

It can have its own activities, too. All the group members' ideas and contributions count.

"When you join Amnesty International, you become part of a worldwide movement. As an individual member, or as part of a local group or a specialist network, your individual voice will join with countless others to build pressure for change." - AI Website


Our very first meeting will take place on Wednesday May 10th at 6 pm.

The location of the meeting will be confirmed later.

You can find THE LOCATION by the end of April on the Amnesty Oulu website.

For more information about meetings and plans of action, see the website

Amnesty Oulu Info

or email us at

Amnesty Oulu.

P.S. If you want to know more about Amnesty International in general, do check out their website:

Amnesty International.

The Finnish section's website is

Amnesty International Finland

All of you CHAFF participants who want to do something to help people around the world - please take some time to be invlved with Amnesty International.

Your voice will add to the millions of others across the world and it will be HEARD.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Freedom of Speech - Further decline in Finland?

On Thursday evening, I joined the group at the Oulu Opisto in the Pohjankartano to discuss the subject of Freedom of Speech. I asked the Convenor, Yrjö Mikkonen, to send me a short summary of the meeting of yesterday, which was well attended.

"Religions, values & our time"

Discussion group convened on
16 March evening at Oulu Opisto.

Fourteen persons representing Bangladeshi, Finnish, Indian. Iranian, and German backgrounds and Bahaí, various denominational Christians (Lutheran, Orthodox), Humanist, Muslim and Mormon viewpoints participated a lively discussion on the topic of freedom of speech and its relationship with sacred and important values.

Some highlights.

It became evident that presently the real freedom of speech is largely exercise by the agency that has the playground, tool and rules for it, i.e. media. Small groups in Finland, like Muslims, Mormons or Indians have great difficulties to defend their culture and values when ridiculed on biased grounds.

It was stressed that even if religion is not given its due value the binding laws of UN Human Rights as well as EU and American conventions should be respected.

It was pointed out we should not give in in front of the cynical world. Sacred values are the only moral skeleton that can keep "the scattering body of mankind" in its sounder shape. Despite different religious backgrounds and history the shared spiritual values and shared understanding of the our same spiritual source, the All-Mighty God helps us in the painful journey towards the unification of the mankind.

The participants were extremely well-meaning and the level of discussion was healthy and excellent.

However, my own observation is that, in Finland, this sort of disregard of the respect for other ethnic minorities by the media, bureaucracy, law enforcement officials, judiciary and politicians, is not something that started yesterday, but has been prevelant, based on my personal experiences for over 20 years, and possibly much much longer, from a Finnish historical perspective.

Helsingin Sanomat 01.10.1988
Helsingin Sanomat 01.10.1988

This distasteful and religously abusive drawing, and an equally abusive text, was published in Helsinki's and Finland's leading newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, way back in 1988.

This national paper did not even permit a right of reply.

The ignorant, self-serving author and cartoonist, both of whom were supported by an editorial policy of a newspaper which thrived on hate mongering, totally maligned the culture, the civilisation and a religion and faced no reprimand whatsoever from any branch of Finnish society..

To be able to solve this aspect of "Freedom of Speech", it is necessary to talk in terms of starting "real education" in Finland.

From the Finnish perspective, with the even more stringent educational norms to be imposed on the public, as the rights for individual ethnic minority groups to start their own education agenda now being firmly taken off the table by the Finnish Government, it means that the level of "education" amongst Finns will sharply decline even further than presently in the coming years.

But on the other side I must comment on the level of discussion that is taking place in Finland about the cartoons published in Denmark and then by other western countries. The cartoons were certainly distasteful. But there is no law which condemns such cartooning - it is only the conscience.

Some people have been saying that it is forbidden to depict the Prophet in drawings. This may be a rule which can be applied to His followers by those that administer the religion, but it is not an universal rule applicable to all people. There have been thousands of pictorial depictions of the Prophet and his family.

I give below the cover page of a "comic strip" (A sequence of drawings in a newspaper, magazine, etc., relating to a comic OR ADVENTUROUS situation) magazine, which was published way back in 1988 in the US. In it there are several pictoriasl depictions of the Prophet and many members of His family.

Out of respect for my fellow travellers in the world I have blacked out the picture of the Prophet on the cover, but let me assure you that this cover page can be found on the internet.

A letter, yesterday, from an Oulu artist, to a fellow Muslim in Oulu who had claimed that it was not permitted to depict the Prophet pictorially, was one which can be greatly commended. The artist captured the fact that no laws have ever existed in the northern countries which restricts any such depiction of any personality. Although he is strictly true, there have been instances where the Finnish Press followed self-censorship about comical cartoons about some of their "respected" politicians!

New owners, new location, Thai Sweet Chilli ....

(Cross-posted in the CHAFF Blog.)

The Thai Sweet Chili Grocery Store which started in the Oulu City Market about 4 years ago, moved to Rautatienkatu about 3 years ago and then moved to Torikatu, opposite the Labour Unemployment Centre, has now changed hands and moved to a new location on Asemakatu.

Location of Thai sweet Chili Grocerry Store

New location of Thai Sweet Chili Grocery Store

The store is situated inside a popular flea market and antique shop called Pikku Liinu run by Paula Kangas, which has been around for quite a few years.

Pikku Liinu
Flea market and antique store,
Pikku Liinu owned by Paula Kangas

Before that it was the location of one of the most popular computer hardware stores in Oulu called Kommentokeskus.

My former partner in business Jari Kaitera, now the Managing Director in a major RFID company in Helsnki, started his career in that shop, so it has many good memories for me.

The Thai Sweet Chili Grocery Store is owned by a couple, Markku Miettinen (a Finn) and his wife, Pat (a Thai). They will live part of the year in Oulu and part of the year in Thailand. I have known Markku for several years, probably about 4 and was associated with him some time ago before he left for Thailand.

Thai Sweet Chilli Grocery Store

I wish this new enterprise of Markku and Pat all the very best and hope we can now get some of the good Thai grocery products at reasonable prices rather than having to depend on Stockman.

Friday, March 17, 2006

A new Oulu concept from Henna and Jarmo...

(Cross-posted in Jacob's Blog.)

A few weeks ago, our local newspaper wrote about a small bookstore in Oulu which also had a few tables where you could enjoy a hot refreshment with a "pulla" (Finnish sweet bread or pastry) and also spend some time browsing a few books from their selection.

I took a trip to the Coffee Shop, today, at the corner of Pakkahuonekatu and Aleksantarinkatu and met with the delightful owners Hanna and Jarmo Stoor.

Jarmo is an author and has published three books. Both are friendly and like to talk to their customers.

Hanna and Jarmo Stoor of Nispero Kirjakahvila

Hanna and Jarmo Stoor of Nispero Kirjakahvila

Known as Nispero Kirjakahvila (The Nispero Book Coffee Shop), it is located in quite a strategic place and will have a good number of visitors as spring, summer and autumn appear on the horizon.

Location - Nispero Kuirjakahvila
Nispero Kirjakahvila location in Oulu

In winter, the warmth of the owners will not need the books to draw their customers. As as they speak English, foreigners will not have much problem blending in with the locals.

Thanks for introducing such a good idea to Oulu.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Disgust at Kaleva's "Hintavahti" column

A few weeks ago the Oulu newspaper, Kaleva, announced that it would give Euro 10 to anyone who gave "Best Buy" suggestions which were published by them in a Saturday column called "Hintavahti".

We have watched the column for three weeks and we find it is a fraud on the public.

Kaleva has no publicly published rules for deciding which is a "best buy" . It fails to even acknowledge any suggestions sent to them. There appears to be no basis for their deciding which is a "best buy" other than the "whims" of the Editor responsible.

We submitted what we knew were really best buys from our experience of over 22 years of playing the game we designed and published in 1994 in the book "Handbook for Survival in Finland".

Kaleva did not even an acknowledge our suggestions.

Kaleva appears to be ripping off unsuspecting readers who have to pay Euro 0.70 for submitting an entry.

The first winners of "hintavahti" should be those who are cost conscious and submit their entries to Kaleva using email, for which there is a ZERO cost - something which obviously does not please the "Kaleva" Editors very much!

It is our intention to start our own "Best Buy" section of the Chaff Blog. You can submit your entry, free of cost, by email to us and we will check your suggestion and publish the best buys submitted giving acknowledgement to all those who submit the valid suggestions.

We will also publish other suggestions for our readers to comment.

Further, we will take you back in history to the prices as they prevailed in 1994, as published in our book, to see what has been the impact on joining Europe and of having changed over to the Euro.

Can we offer a prize for the best suggestions?

We would very much like to so as to motivate you to do some research for other readers of the CHAFF Blog.

If anyone is willing to sponsor this - we would certainly like to offer a reward.

If you are in a position to make a sponsorship offer, do contact us by return.


The first suggestion is one which is a favourite among many of our friends as they all use a lot of FRENCH FRIES.

Euroshopper Logo
Euroshopper Logo

The best price for French Fries is the Euroshopper 2.5 kg packet which is available in Citymarkets at Euro 1.95 per packet. This works out at Euro 0.78 per kg.

At Cassa OU in Haukipudas you can buy a Euroshopper 1 kg pack of French Fries at 0.79 per kg. A 2.5 kg packet of French Fries at Cassa OU in Haukipudas ia Euro 1.99 per packet, which Euro 0.796 per kg. If you buy 3 packets of the Euroshopper French Fries at Cassa OU, because of the rounding off of Euro 0.02 (Euro 5.97 to Euro 5.95), you will pay 0.79333 per kg. (Brilliant Finnish maths - where larger packing sizes cost more than smaller ones - economy of scale in reverse!)

Do remember that you can buy various Euroshopper products at many shops. What we have indicated above does not mean that the product is being offered at the same price in all the shops.

Also, just because it has the Euroshopper Logo does not mean that it is the Best Buy!

In our opinion, the Citymarket price for 2.5 kg packs of FRENCH FRIES is a "BEST BUY".

Do let us have your submissions!

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

MONIKA Head is Ildikó

The local newspaper, Kaleva, had a news item today that the Chairman of a new organisation to help women of ethnic minorities in Oulu will be none other than Chaff participant, Ildikó Hámos.

Ildikó learning vegetable carving on a TURNIP
at the last CHAFF Meeting

Ildikó produced this carved TURNIP with a little bit of help from the Master Vegetable Carver: Unnop!

Ildikó had emailed me about 2 weeks ago:
What concerns immigrant women and problems with violence in Oulu, I have something new to say. Last week I was elected spokesperson of the newly founded Oulun Monika Naiset ry, which is a voluntary organization fighting for the rights of foreign women in the region.

Right now there is no funding available, but one of the most important tasks - and one of the reasons why the organization was created - is to apply for money in order to be able to sustain an emergency phone line for immigrant women with violent family members.

At the moment Anna Vasilieva is working for the organization with the help of the labour market service, they are paying some työllistämistuki to her and she keeps a phone line open where she gives advice to Russian women with such problems.

In the future the aim is to have more languages and to arrange trainings for immigrant women so that they can be support persons for other women.

Monika Oulu is an daughter organization of Monika-Naiset Liitto in Helsinki.

At this moment the active and professional support of victims is unfortunately impossible without resources, but at least what we can do is to help the women in orientation and linking them up with proper professional help.

I think it is a good idea to make the existence of such an organization public in immigrants´ circles, so that immigrants supporting immigrants is made visible also when trying to get funding from different state/local organizations.

I do hope all of you in CHAFF will be able to find it in your heart to extend support to our Oulu Monika organisation. Annikki and I have on several occasions had to extend our personal support to women in distress - so three cheers for Oulu MONIKA.

You think you are safe...

(Cross-posted on Jacob's Blog.)

Kamutaza Tembo, my good graphic artist friend from Zambia, is an exceptionally safe driver. He waits patiently at crossroads to make sure everything is clear. I used to get mad with him as a normal journey by car which I would do in 10 minutes, he would take 20!

At about 08:30 this morning I got a panic call from him. He declared that his car was smashed. He reassured me that he was OK. He asked me to inform his employers that he would not be in to work in the morning.

I rushed to the scene, but he was not there. The Police Van was still there and one wrecked brand new car.

I called Kamu on his cell phone, and he asked me to meet him at our friend's garage. He was checking in at his work place to inform them that they needed to make alternate arrangements.

He managed to reach the garage with the car under its own power.

Kamu's SAAB Front

Kamu's SAAB Back

Reijo took one look at the car and told him the car was a write off. No way of putting it right.

The front had been smashed in on the right hand side and the back a little to the left. the whole body was askew and the doors, etc. could only be opened by forcing them.

What had happened was that Kamu was in the correct slow lane on a main road in Oulu. The car in front of him was intending to turn right, but as there were pedestrians on a crossing, he waited for them to go through.

Kamu, just behind him, stopped behind this car, waiting to go straight on.

The car behind him also stopped, but the driver was apparently impatient. After a very short wait behind Kamu, he decided to pull out into the next lane so as to overtake Kamu and the other car.

A bus, at quite a high speed, coming in the same lane as Kamu, obviously saw the line of pedestrians which was holding up the traffic in the slow lane, and hence, not noticing the intention of the car to pull out, also pulled out of the slow lane, and at a high speed.

The bus hit the car on the tail, which sent that car smashing into the back of Kamu's car at an angle. The force propelled Kamu's car into the back of the other stationary car.

Kamu had watched the whole episode unfolding in his rear view mirror. There was nothing he could do, so he just grabbed the steering wheel tight and hung on. The back of his seat was thrown backwards out of its hinges, but as Kamu was hanging tight to the steering wheel and he had his safety belt on, he was not thrown either fowards or backwards.

The bus driver took more than 50 mteres to come to a stop. He immediately phoned the Police, who were there in a few minutes. The bus driver was trying to pin the blame on the driver who was pulling out from behind Kamu.

When Kamu asked the Police who was going to pay to have his car towed and fixed, the Police sort of indicated that it would have to be the car driver on whom the bus driver was trying to pin the blame.

Kamu put the record straight by clearly giving evidence against the bus driver.

After inspecting the car, I drove Kamu to the Insurance Office. The lady asked Kamu to phone through the details on a hotline, but as it appeared to be overloaded, she helped Kamu fill out the form which she kindly faxed to the Claims Department.

Hopefully Kamu will get a replacement car in a few days.

Thankfully, Kamu was not hurt - and for that we can thank his presence of mind to hang tight to his steering wheel as the impact took place.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

CHAFF meeting on 12th March

I have located a few manuscript copies of the book "Handbook for Survival in Finland" that Annikki and I wrote in 1994.

The book is much out of date and needs a lot of revision. However, there are a few passages which are very relevant and quite interesting - such as how easy or difficult the Finnish language is, why you should not die in Finland :-) etc.

Ildikó and Ilari will be making it to this week's meeting. We can ask them to read a few of the more important passages from their book - "Culture Shock -Finland".

The time and place is the same as usual:

Time 13:00 - 14:00 hours
Location: Pailin Thai Restaurant, Kenttätie 9, Kasarmi Area


Thursday, March 09, 2006

No Smoking Day

Cross-posted in Jacob's BLOG

This is a part of my history I tell whenever people tell me that it is difficult to give up smoking.

No, it isn't.

I took up smoking when I was just 13 years old.

After Choir practice at the St. Thomas Cathedral, on the way home, late evening (about 7:30 pm - that was late those days), as I waited for the bus at Flora Fountain in the heart of the great metropolis, Bombay, I would drag on a cigarette and follow that up with a peppermint, before I got home.

I was hooked. For the next 30 years I smoked like a chimney reaching 80 cigarettes per day - and that to the roasted ultra strong variety - CHARMINARs, the most popular brand in India.

Smoking Kills

Along with cigarettes, I also became a coffee addict as well as a heavy drinker, killing a bottle of rum and several bottles of lager beer, every day. I was never drunk and could even drive the car as alcohol apparently had no effect on my brain.

Or so I thought.

I had been blessed with a super duper memory where I could recall the date, time, place and exact details of any incident that had taken place in my life.

One day, I walked into my office in Bangalore and, for the life of me, I could not recall where I had placed a very important paper.

I sat down and thought long and hard. I was travelling to Hyderabad the same night.

I found the paper, eventually, and caught the bus.

All through that journey this incident haunted me. Why did it happen?

Then it suddenly dawned on me - I had been destroying my brain with the heavy intake of alcohol.

As I got off the bus at Hyderabad, I vowed never to touch the stuff again.

I had done that several times, but this time I knew I had to keep to this promise.

Just as I got off the bus I knew I had to have a cigarette and then a cup of coffee.

As I was about to light up the "Charm", it dawned on me that the cigarette was also connected to my alcohol intake, as a cigarette always resulted in me wanting to drink a cup of coffee or have a glass of beer, which later in the evening became a reason to have a glass of rum!

I put the cigarette away and drank only a glass of water.

I knew this break had to be absolutely clean.

Could I do it?

Now it is over 23 years since this and I have not touched a cigarette, had about a dozen cups of coffee at very very rare occasions and indulged in some very very rare intake of alcohol, after about 10 years since I gave up.

At the most I have the alcohol that Annikki may add to one of her cakes or I may partake in a glass of non-alcoholic beer if I really feel I have to join someone in a drink.

By running my web sites and my blogs, I have slowly but surely recreated much of the brain damage that was done due to my alcohol abuse. I would say that about 90% has been restored, but my fast recollection ability has been lost forever.

Did I like the cigarettes, coffee and alcohol - YES, I DID.

Do I regret having had to give them up - NO!

So, as today is NO SMOKING DAY, all I can tell you is that if I could give up these habits, so can you. You will be better for it.

Here are three great pieces of art made by my dear friend from Zambia, Kamutaza Tembo, about the danger of cigarettes as also the danger of drinking and driving.

What I suggest is that you DON'T DRINK!

Kamu campaigns

I am not intending to moralise here, but it is better to give up these habits before some lasting damage takes place in your brain, your lungs or your mouth, etc.

If you think not, well enjoy your habit while you can!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Culture at Chaff this week

This week's meeting was especially interesting, not only for the range of cultures represented but also the edible art from Thailand.

Chaff meeting on 5th March 2006

Chaff meeting on 5th March 2006

Present were Ville Suomi, Pentti Paakki and Matti Moisa from Finland, Anais Grimaud from France, David Okele from Kenya, Michaela Tomasovska from Slovakia, Pailin, Unnop and Soda from Thailand, Nadir Mohammed (Tampere) from The Netherlands, Kamu Tembo and Christine from Zambia, and yours truly from India.

The attempt by Ildikó to start a discussion about Tolerance was of particular interest as this is one major problem facing foreigners in Finland. Ville wanted to discuss more about Ildikó's plans on the subject of Tolerance.

Ilari and Ildikó unfortunately could not make it to the meeting. I talked to Ildikó over the telephone. She wanted to hold an extra meeting of Chaff this Friday at their new home in Tuira, but as this is Skiing Holiday week, it was felt that many would not be here to participate. It was decided to postpone it to a more appropriate date.

Pailin and Unnop are experts in the art of carving vegetables. They not only demonstrated this to all of us, but also taught those interested.

Truly a creative couple!

Many subjects were discussed in brief. The book by Ildikó and Ilari was of great interest, although the Finns present could not find much of the "Culture Shock" part in the brief look through the pages.

The plan to start a HELP FUND is also receiving attention. I have promises of contribution from several Chaff participants and others, but I do not want anything to start till we are sure that it will be something that can be a lasting programme.

We will have to start to look at this more closely. We should decide on a younger Finn to take charge of this and work with a group of others at CHAFF who would be willing to take on this rather delicate responsibility.

The supposedly 1 hour meeting lasted for over 3 hours as so many intersting things took place, and as usual, the food was excellent. Unfortunately, I was talking to so many people that I hardly got a chance to eat the food! And the platter was licked clean, so all I got was some rice and soup to take home!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Rulla Kebab - Goreme Style

(Cross posted in the Jacob's Blog)

I was introduced to Hashim and Kasim and their Goreme Restaurant by a food connoisseur and outstanding sportsman, my colleague Janne Helttunen. Janne introduced me to their Sultana and the garlic butter.

Since then I have been hookwed on Goreme. Both Hashim and Kasim have become like my sons.

Asha, hashim & samuel

Hashim with grandchildren Asha and Samuel

Both Kasim and Hashim are great sports enthusiasts and also fine sportsmen. Hashim's favourite sport is handball, something he has not been able to play in Oulu. Kasim is a wonderful football player, as you can see from this action shot which appeared in 2000 in our local newspaper, Kaleva. They were playing in a tournament organised under my supervision, and the Goreme Team came second to the local Hercules side. It was a great performance with a thrilling last match which clinched them the second place. Other teams who played besides Hercules and the Turkish Goreme, were the sides Africa Oulu, Albania Oulu, H...PS, Slovakia Oulu, Team Finland and Vietnamese Youngsters.

Kasim in action on the football field
Kasim in action on the football field

Hashim has been on at me that I have not posted a picture of the Rulla Kebab which is served at his Goreme Restaurant. He was also taking it as a challenge, as I had told him that the Rulla Kebab made by his younger brother, Mehmet, in the Goreme Restaurant in Oulu City Centre, was better than the one made in the Ranta Kastelli Restaurant.

Aku, master rullakebab maker
Aku, Master Rulla Kebab Maker

Today, Hashim got me to the Ranta Kastelli Goreme and called his ace Rulla Kebab Maker, Aku, to make me what was, in the opinion of all, the very very best Rulla Kebab.

Here are some shots of the Rullal Kebab, as it was served to me.

Let me assure you that it is no small talk to say that the Goreme Pizzeria is the most outstanding one in Finland. The soft bread around the salad and the kebab are really delicious. The sauce, which was their own special blend is unique. Each bite was absolutely uniform in both texture as well as taste, with the right amount of spice for MY taste.

They know their customer!

The Rulla Kebab from Goreme is truly outstanding.

I know that all those who work with Hashim, not just Aku, are masters of the art.

But for the moment, Aku stands out to me as the Master of Rulla Kebabs!

May I also add that Aku is a very talented musician and a cellist. I am waiting for the day he will give me a private concert!

Friday, March 03, 2006

Meeting information from Yrjö

I had an email from Yrjö Mikkonen, husband of Shahnaz, who is charge of the International Meet5ing Place at Toppelius House (Torikatu) in the Centre of Oulu. Yrjö is also a tireless worker for the rights and benefits for all foreigners and Finns in Oulu.

I hope that Shahnaz and Yrjö will join us one day at our CHAFF meeting as they are a lovely couple, committed to the welfare of foreigners.

Dear Colleagues!

Please, find attached the poster of our next meeting with the theme. The date is 16 March. Please, also consider placing the poster in an appropriate place to invite people to participate the meeting.

Thanking you for your cooperation, see you at the meeting,

on behelf of the organizing group,

Yrjö Mikkonen

Hyvät kollegat!

Ohessa seuraavan kokouksemme, 16.3. juliste, josta näkyy teema. Olisi hyvä, jos voitte panna se johonkin näkyvälle paikalle ja jo svoisitte kutsua asiasta kiinnostuneista keskustelemaan.

Yhteistyöterveisin, nähdään kokouksessa,

työryhmän puolesta

Yrjö Mikkonen

And here is the poster. Sorry, but it was only sent to me in Finnish.

Poster from Yrjö

Hope some of you will find the time to attend this meeting.

Meeting on 26th February 2006

It was a small but interesting meeting last Sunday.

Pauline, Kerstin and Anail

Two new participants Pauline (France),
Kerstin (Germany) with Anais (France)

Kerstin Schewe, from Germany, who is Microbiologist doing a research programme for her company in Germany within the walls of the University of Oulu was present. Also, we had a guest from Lahti, a French girl by the name of Pauling Fabert, a friend of Anais Grimaud, who is also a Social Volunter worker.

Kannan was here from Rauma, and we had great fun deciding who would choose a wife for this young eligible man.

Pailin decided she had just the right Thai girl for him.

Bill, Tingting and David were also present.

The food, which was a special Thai and Chinese buffet was simply superb. Tingting has been a very good teacher and has taught Pailin some really delicious Chinese dishes.

We have a guest from Tampere for our next meeting. Nadir Mohammed, originates from Pakistan, is a Dutch citizen, but is a brilliant Physicist. he has been battling against the Finnish system for many years. He will come in to Oulu on Saturday to spend an evening with me, and leave back for Tampere on Sunday afternoon after the CHAFF meeting.

Details of our next meeting are as follows:

Location: Thai Pailin Restaurant, Kenttätie 9, Kasarmi Area
Time: 13:00 - 14:00 hours
Pick up from North and South Oulu.

Let me know your plans.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Mainline: Geostrategy Feeds America's Oil Addiction

Cross-posted on all my main blogs -

Jacob's Blog;
Jacob's Politics;
Seventh Heaven for Mumbai Cathedralites;
Kooler Talk for Delhi Stephanians;
Move The UN.

My topical article "Geostrategy Feeds America's Oil Addiction", which relates to the visit of Bush to India, has appeared in a major North American online journal Raise the Hammer in their fortnightly issue dated 1st March 2006.

Editor Ryan McGreal has really tidied up the article. Thanks.

What is original in this submission?

It is my long term speculations about:
1. The rationale for the attack on and occupation of Afghanistan relating to the Enron history.
2. Who most likely perpetrated the fraud of the Iranian election.
3. Why the Indian Industrial Community desperately want Bush and his malAdministration to stay in office for another 3 years!
4. Why the nuclear attack on Iran is imminent.

Many may wrinkle their foreheads in disbelief. But that is what political analysis is all about. I theorise and later people fit the facts to my theories.

Hope you enjoy it and would love to have your feedback - even if it is abusive!!

I love getting abusive email. I thrive on it as it drives me on harder to more fantasy! :-)

Important message from Ildikó

As requested by our CHAFF participant, Ildikó Hámos, who also happens to be the Planner of the SINNI Resource and Empowerment Centre, I reproduce below her message, which she would like wide circulation, and would particularly like universal participation (not just by women).

Maybe one suggestion that I could make is that this should not be just addressed to IMMIGRANTS, but should be to all foreigners, students, guest workers and their other halves, refugees, as well as all ethnic minorities in northern Finland.

The intolerant attitude by a cross-section of the local population, and especially by the administration and bureaucratic machinery, is fired by a large extent by an IMMATURE MEDIA which is the primary cause for intolerance. This is furthered by a largely ethnically biased law enforcenent and judiciary system.

I hope all of you will participate to make life better for yourselves!

Subject: Regional policy plan / Maakuntasuunnitelma

(In English)

Hi everybody who is interested in changing the situation of immigrants for the better!

The Council of Oulu Region is preparing its policy plan for the region for the next three years. A new dimension in the next policy plan is the word "TOLERANCE". The council wishes to receive ideas and have an active influence on the future of the region, from activists and specialists, and, of course, one big challenge of today is the future of immigrants and foreigners in the region. So now we all have a realistic chance to make an influence on the flow of policy in the region! For this reason I am happy to invite you, on behalf of SINNI, to a Womens´ Forum, starting at the beginning of April, where we will decide which teams we can create to debate and to develop our ideas to put forward at the council. In my opinion, an "Immigration"-team is important and needed and through it we can express wishes and demands and start doing, what we really want! Womens´ forum doesn´t mean that we only talk about issues concerning women. It´s more like a forum to tackle problems of today. I will let you know the date, time and place soonn. Let me know asap, whether you are interested in joining us! Please forward this message to all immigrant-activists and as many immigrants as you know!

See you soon, regards


Ildikó Hámos
planner (communication, training)
SINNI resource and empowerment centre
Isokatu 30, 302
FIN-90100 Oulu
tel. +358 40 728 87 77

SINNI women empowerment centre - northern women´s power under one roof

(In Finnish)

Hei, te kaikki, jotka haluatte parannusta maahanmuuttajien asemassa!

Pohjois-Pohjanmaan Liitto on valmistelemassa maakuntasuunnitelman seuraavan kolmen vuoden ajaksi. Uusi näkökulma tulevassa suunnitelmassa on sana "suvaitsevaisuus". Pohjois-Pohjanmaan Liitossa toivotaan asiantuntijoiden ja toimijoiden kannanottoa ja vaikuttamista maakunnan tulevaisuuteen, jonka yksi ajankohtainen ja suuri haaste on maahanmuuttajien tulevaisuus. Nyt on siis meillä kaikilla ainutlaatuinen mahdollisuus vaikuttaa! Siksi kutsun teitä kaikkia SINNI voimavarakeskuksen tiimoilta huhtikuun alussa alkaavan naisfoorumiin, jossa päätetään, minkälaisia työryhmiä voidaan perustaa. Mielestäni "maahanmuutto"-työryhmä on tärkeä ja tarpeellista ja sen kautta voidaan esittä toivomuksia ja vaatimuksia, eli alkaa toteuttaa sen, mistä olemme jo aina haavelleet! Naisfoorumi ei tarkoita, että perustettavissa työryhmissä puhutaan pelkästään naisasiaa, vaan tartutaan tärkeihin ajankohtaisiin kysymyksiin. Tarkan ajankohdan ja paikan ilmoitan myöhemmin. Ilmoitelkaa minulle mahd. nopeasti, kuka haluaa olla mukana! Laittakaa viesti eteenpäin maahanmuuttaja-toimijoille ja mahd. paljon maahanmuuttajille!

Nähdään! Terveisin

Ildikó Hámos
sunnittelija (tiedotus, koulutus)
SINNI voimavarakeskus
Isokatu 30, 302
90100 Oulu

puh. 040-728 87 77

SINNI naisten resurssikeskus - pohjoista naisvoimaa yhden katon alla

Hope you can provide feedback to Ildikó and also take part in the deliberations in the interest of "TOLERANCE" which should not be just a BUZZWORD, but a word for ACTION.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Thai Pailin Restaurant launches another great HIT

(Cross-posted in the Jacob's Blog)

The Pailin Restaurant owners in the Kasarmi Area in Oulu are true food innovators.

Yesterday they launched a great new product.

Annikki and I were privleged to get the first public sampling. It was just great.

Annikki thought of a name - and she called it the "Pizza Flap". In Finnish it would be "Pizza Flappi".

The more traditional name for this type of product is "Calzone", but the Flap, is truly an original product from Pailin.

Pailin Pizza Flap

"Pailin Piza Flap" - "Pailin Pizza Flappi"

Another shot of the Pizza Flap

You can have any Pizza filling of your choice in the Flap. It is easy to carry and eat without the large Pizza Box. being wrapped in Aluminium Foil, it keeps the heat for a long time.

This product beautifully complements their other new hot product, the Pailin Thai Sweet Chill Kebab Wrap, which we wrote about a few weeks ago.

The Flap product developed out of an internet chat conversation between Pailin in Oulu and her good friend in Thailand.

The base mix is soft and very tasty. The normal three (or more) fillings of your choice can be put inside the Flap. You can eat it conveniently, even in the car as no messy droppings or crumbs fall out all over the car.

Here is the picture of the first Pizza Flap to leave Pailin. In the centre picture you see a very irritated Annikki's hands waiting for me to stop photographing so that she could get to eat the Flap.

Pailin Pizza Flap

Annikki's verdict - Outstanding product.

I also took a couple of Pizza Flaps to Kamutaza Tembo, who is true connoisseur of Pizza's, and he declared this to be an absolutely great product!