Monday, August 21, 2006

Sunday 20th CHAFF Meeting

Today was our CHAFF Founder's Day meeting as Bill, Kamu and I thought back on one year of CHAFF.

We were happy to welcome attendance of one of our newest CHAFF participants, Esa Hartikainen.

Esa is trying out the blogging. I think he wll be a great blogger as he has the knack for writing and also has some great pictures to share with us.

Do have a look at his new blog.

Do give him a few words of encouragement as it is a well done blog!!

Our kids Pailin and Unnop, Photo Copyright Esa Hartikainen.

I thank Esa for sending me this lovely picture of our two kids, Pailin and Unnop, from today's CHAFF meeting.

Pailin dished up some great fried rice for the hungry souls.

Look forward to an exciting meeting next week as many of of CHAFF group will be back from their holidays. Tingting, Andi, Kerstin, are definitely back. Ilari and Ildi will still be away, but expect many more to attend next week.

Same place, same time - Kenttätie 9, Kasarmi area at 1300 hours on 27th August 2006.

See you then.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Thai culture in Oulu

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

The sleepy town of Oulu has never seen such rich culture from the Orient as it did yesterday, and I was proud to be a part of it.

The Thai people who live in Oulu who have been busy building a tradition of Thai food, brought much of the heritage in the form of food, music and dance, as well as their reverance to their religion (Buddhism) and their Monarchy to Oulu yesterday.

Special thanks to the two dynamic people who organised this event - Unnop and Pailin. Unnop is the owner of the Pailin Restaurant located in the Kasarmi area in the shadow of Intiö.

The event was held to celebrate the birthday of the Thai Queen. This has been made synonymous to Mother's Day in Thailand.

The present Thai Monarchy is the longest surviving one in the world. They are loved and respected by the people of Thailand as they stand for love and affection of the people of that great country. Thailand is a democracy, but even the most radical of politicians accept the will of the Monarch as they know he uses wisdom and not political greed when he makes a suggestion.

Finnmatkat, who are one of Finland's leading travel agencies were present to inform about the new direct Oulu to Thailand flights that are being introduced this December.

Artist Rakchanok Pöllänen (née Phunsawat) from Kanchanaburi, wife of Petri Pöllanen, showed the art of vegetable and soap carving with many examples of her work on display. The master carver, Unnop, held the audience spellbound as he carved a watermelon.

There was an exqiuisite performance of Thai dancing by a bevy of beautiful Thai ladies.

And Omena, a Thai beauty, showed the audience how lithe she was as she swayed to the great music played by three young Thai musicians, Khim Surasit Munkmeesri (base guitar, right), Soda (Thai guitar) and Chanyut Nongbua (not seen in this picture).

And the audience of Thais, Finns and other nationalities joined in the dancing to the haunting music.

The exhibition of the art and tradition associated with Thai boxing also was truly eye-stopping as the two teenage boys, Khim Surasit Munkmeesri and Chanyut Ningbua (son of June Bunchuen Koskela), went through the paces of a typical fight.

Hostess Pailin performed better than any professional crooner and the audience rose and cheered her rendition of many Thai favourites as Omena showed that you need not be dressed wth finery to perform a Thai dance!

Inside the restaurant the Thai Buddhist Monk gave darshan to the people and talked to the audience of unity and moral strength.

Several Chaff participants turned up as we had made this the CHAFF meeting for this week.

CHAFF founder Bill Zhang from China was present.

As also was co-founder Kamutaza Tembo from Zambia.

And several expressed their interest in coming to future CHAFF meetings like this beautiful and intelligent Chinese doll, Annie.

Gizela from Germany and Aruna from India.

Kaija from Finland and Usman from Africa.

Kannan came all the way from Rauma to attend.

A cross-section of the huge audience.

The audience represented the entire spectrum of the cosmopolitan life of Oulu from Finns of all ages to people from all corners of the globe bring both colour and a feeling of love and unity to the entire event.

Four local youngsters watched proceedings from afar as we went and asked them to join in!

Many people helped to make this event a grand success.

Rin flew in from Helsinki to help his longtime friend, Unnop, with the arrangements and the cooking.

Jarmo, who has lived in Thailand and learnt to be a Monk acted as the Master of Ceremonies and did yoeman service.

Esa who has just moved into the area near the restaurant not only helped in making the arrangements and cleaning the tables as early as 4.30 in the morning, but he also ran a sausage fry stall!

Rakchanok and Petri Pöllänen, seen relaxing here after the event, were the real stalwarts behind this event as they even brought the special T-Shirts from Thailand and also the traditional musical instruments that were used by the musicians.

The signing of the get-well message to the King of Thailand who is recuperating after an operation was a feature of the event. The book containing the signatures will leave for Thailand on the 27th of this month.

It is sad that some people who did nothing to organise or set up this festival tried to hi-jack the credit to themselves. Credit goes to the people named above and a few more who really dedicated themselves to the success of this event without any thought of making a profit of the proceedings. But others tried to use this event to make a bit of money out of it. That is sad, BUT LUCKILY THEY DID NOT SUCCEED IN THEIR EFFORTS.

As more pictures reach me I will post them on the blog. The pictures above are mainly courtesy of Kannan and also Unnop and Pailin who used Kannan's camera to take some of the shots.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

CHAFF meeting explodes

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

It looks as if Chaff has restarted with a bang after the summer recess.

Last Sunday was when we welcomed back many to the regular Sunday Chaff get togethers.

We had 7 cameras clicking and little Samu did a job with all except mine, which was unfortunately tucked away in my coat.

Here are pictures provided by Matti and Unnop.

We had 2 new Japanese, 3 new Findian, 3 new Finn, 2 new German and 4 visiting USA/Indian participants (14).

Our usual crowd was also great with 1 Findian, 5 Finns, 1 German, 1 Hungarian, 3 Indians, 1 Japanese, 1 Indian/USA, 4 Thais, 1 Venezulean and 1 Zambian (19).

3 Chinese, 4 Hungarians, 2 Finns, and 4 Indians who had promised to get to the meeting unfortunately could not get there.

Our young Findian participant, Daniel.

Our hostess Pailin.

Unnop, our host talks with young Kim (Thailand),
whose help to organise this event was truly great - Thanks Kim!

Unnop with our new Japanese participant who surprised us
with her knowledge of the Thai language!

Three of our beautiful visitors from the USA
with Kerstin (Germany), Andi (Venezuela) and our hostess Pailin.

Matti, Isaac and wife, Nalla.

Mervi chats with me.

Ildi (Hungary) and Fumi (Japan) with our new participants
from Japan and Germany listen to my short talk.

Ildi, Ville (Finland) and wife, Fumi,
with our new Japanese and German participants

Beautiful Sheeba from the USA.

Fumi looks good.

Tony and Isaac.

Kamu (Zambia) and Matti.

Beautiful Sareena.

Pennti Paakki.

Andreana (Venezuela) is in a deep and thoughtful mood!

Joanna at her first Chaff meeting.
Isaac in the background.

Ilari with Nalla, Kiran and Tony in the background.

Andi, Kerstin and our two new German participants.

Our next meeting will be on Sunday 6th August at the usual time of 13:00 hours.

The following week we will have our get together on Saturday August 12th as part of the Thai festival which is being held at the Pailin Restaurant starting at 12:00 hours. The Thai Buddhist Monk from Helsinki is especially attending this event which has the blessing of the Thai Royal Embassy, Helsinki, Finland and the Tourism Authority of Thailand located in Stockholm, Sweden.

There will be Thai danceing, Thai kick boxing, Thai music and singing, various displays of Thai art, demonstration of Thai cooking, a special discount offer for tickets to Thailand (thanks to Finn matkat who will have a stand at the festival), and much more.

Everyone is welcome - no entrance fee.