Tuesday, February 27, 2007


(Cross-posted on Jacob's Blog.)

It is evident that why, whenever there is a contest or competition, relatives of the organisers are not allowed to take part!

Even before I had put up the competition in my last blog entry "Using metaphors", my dear daughter, Susanna, whose genetic code must be similar to mine, had this added as a Comment to that blog entry:

Tears are NORMALLY warm, not cold like Finnish rivers - no matter how fast or pure they are! The Ganga is normally associated with warmth.

Daughter Susanna is third from the left,
while daughter Joanna is second from right.
Photo taken at the reunion of cousins,
with families, in Florida, last Christmas.

Even I could not have written the correct interpretation as Susanna did.

So I shout "SPOILSPORT".:-)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Using metaphors

(Cross-posted on Jacob's Blog.)

When we posted our last entry on the CHAFF Blog, we used a mataphor that the tears flowed like the River Ganges.

Several Finns and Indians resident in Finland were puzzled why we should use this metaphor, when there are lots of fast flowing rivers in Finland, with clear and pure water!

Valid question, but this metaphor was quite deliberate.

There will be an interesting prize for the first person who can guess why we used the River Ganges rather than our local river, Oulujoki! (Hint: No, it is nothing to do with pollution.)

Wake up and send us your thoughts on this.

Tears flow in plenty

The meeting on Sunday 25th February was as if the River Ganges had run wild!

The short speeches by myself, a thanks to Kasia for adding so much life to our CHAFF Group, and a very short reply by Kasia, had all of us in tears.

It is so sad to see one of our CHAFF participants leave.

We wept when Subramaniam Paneer Selvam, Anais Guimard, Michaela Tomasovska and Kerstin Schewe left to return to their homes so wide spun as Tamilnadu in India, France, Slovakia and Germany. Seeing Kasia leave us to return to Poland was equally heart-breaking.

The THAI buffet food served up by PAILIN was really wonderful. Our waistlines are showing this.

As CHAFF, we gave Kasia a beautiful carved soap by Thai-Finnish artist Ann, along with a signed hand-made card by the same artist. As usual, I gave a 1 cent and a 2 cent Finnish Euro series coins which she can preserve for her grandchildren as they are collectors items. Pentti gave Kasia a CD about GNLD and also a container of tablets for preserving general health.

The meeting was well attended. We had a new participant, Juha, who is a Finn who specialises in Japanese History at Oulu University.

Ildiko (Hungary), Benjamin (Australia), Tingting (China), Soda (Thailand), Unnop (Thailand) and Pailin (Thailand), Pentti (Finland), Juha (Finland), Kaija (from Kempele, Finland), Sylvan (Ivory Coast), Mona (Finland), Andi (Venezuela), Ashesh (India), Indu (India) and Karthik (India), and myself (Findia) attended this farewell meeting for Kasia (Poland).

Several sent their farewell messages through me as they were unable to attend.

The next meeting will be next Sunday at 13:00 hours at the Pailin Restaurant, Kenttätie 9, Kasarmi Area.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Building bridges, meeting friends and relatives!

(As more pictures come in, I will blog the nice ones - so please do send them to me. Those below were provided by Unnop and Pailin. For an entire web page of the event go to Indian Evening in Oulu 2007)

I must confess I have borrowed the term "Building Bridges" from the International School of Oulu which has a group of staff and students termed as Bridge Builders. They have the responsibility of making sure that the unison between all the ethnic groups is achieved.

The "Indian Evening", which was held this Saturday evening, was truly a historic occasion. We had to cut off registrations on Wednesday due to limitations of the number of people we could accommodate at the location, the dining hall of the Myllytulli School in the centre of Oulu.

It was sad to inform several CHAFF participants that registration had closed.

We took on a special responsibility this evening of linking people, especially new CHAFF participants needing some form of assistance to those who could help them. It was 100% successful, as both sides of the equation found the CHAFF event to be especially motivating to go out of their way to establish the important first step of a link - communication.

As the evening drew to a close and we were cleaning up, Annikki was talking to a young German student who has become a regular CHAFF participant. As they were talking in English, Annikki inquired her name. Finding she had a Finnish one (as she is half German and half Finnish), they dropped into talking in Finnish. Annikki took a shot in the dark when she queried Julia's Väisänen's ancestry and whether she knew a Väisänen who was linked to her own Reinikka family. When Julia checked with her aunt, whom she woke up late in the evening, she found that this half German, half Finnish person had family links to Annikki! Truly building a bridge!

Before I go on to describe a wonderful evening, I must especially thank a couple of people without whose help this evening would not have been possible, but yet, they could not attend.

Tero Raiskio had to go to Helsinki to take part in a television quiz programme. His selfless help in organising the projector from his school friend in Raahe, Lauri, was crucial to the success of the evening. He rang me from Helsinki as soon as he was free to check how the evening had gone. Although he was away, his heart and soul were with us here.

Unnop with his partner, Pailin,
who attended the India Evening
wearing the beautiful silk sari of my late mother.

The second person who could not attend, as he was busy manning his restaurant, was Unnop Khungrai. Unnop set up the entire system to make the music and computer presentations possible. Not only did he spend time before the event, but after everyone had gone home, he came to dismantle the entire system, clean up the premises and make sure that we left the premises as we had found it.

Thank you Tero and Unnop. Your absence was deeply felt.

The setting was the occasion was created by Kasia Mazur and Mona who along with Ildiko Hamos, Kannan Balaram, Padma Ojala and a few others. Kasia set up the room with an exhibition of Indian artifacts including modern and ancient and modern Indian coins, postcards and literature from around India, a large map of the country, a chess set made of sandalwood with the pieces hand carved people from the Ramayana, a snake and snake charmers flute batik and plenty of other Indian motif batiks and Indian art miniatures. The visitors were greeted by a couple of ancient hanging parrot lamps and a traditional temple lamp burning wicks doused with coconut oil.

The tone for the Indian Evening was set by a decision for each Indian lady attending to bring a couple of Indian saris so that the non-Indian ladies could try to wear this garb. This was absolutely a success. Not only did these ladies wear the unfamiliar dress with grace but they did normal tasks and also dancing to Bollywood and Bhangra music wearing six yards of fabric draped around them.

The food was brought by all those attending. As the theme was India, many of the non-Indians attempted to make Indian dishes. The fare was varied and scrumptious. Even some of the Indian boys attending, who normally do not even try their hand at cooking, put their efforts together and produced some sensational dishes. The chicken soup and the Chettianad curry were truly superb. Every single rendition was worth more than just the taste, as it gave a flavour of participation.

June and Pailin of the large Thai contingent
who attended the evening.

The Thai group headed by June Koskela, turned out a special Thai/Indian chicken and rice combination which also proved a great hit.

Hilmi Oral, a Turkish friend, who won this year's award for the best Man in Finland, along with his daughter, brought a delicious sweet, which was Turkish in-origin but was totally Indian in flavour.

The two bulk submissions were a Madras Curry from the soon to be opened Indian cuisine wing of the Royal Garden Restaurant and the Kashmiri Vegetarian Curry from the established Indian Restaurant in Oulu, The New Bombay. Our special thanks to the owners for helping us out on this evening.

It would be wrong to single out anyone, but the spirit of India was brought through this food not only by the Findian/Indian couples - Helena and Atul Mahajan, Aruna and Mahesh Somani, Aruna and Vamsi Paluguru, Pooja and Mani Kakkar-Bhowmik, and Lathalakshmi and Subramaniam Muragan, but also by the efforts of Ildiko (Hungary), Brent Cassidy (US), Benjamin Hayes (Australia), Kasia (Poland), Mona (Finland), Andreina Moreno (Venezuela), Hilmi (Turkey) and several others - too long a list to be named individually. Confidently, we can say that there was no shortage of food an drink, even delicious cool lassi and the almond flavoured milk that we in India so love.

Padma and Kannan with me.

Kannan and me.

The people attending came from far and wide. Kannan Balaram and Padma Ojala came from Rauma, 550 km south of Oulu. Ranjeet Singh came from Kajaani about 200 km East of Oulu. Pooja and Mani kakkar-Bhowmik with their 10 month old baby and Rita, Sauli and little 2 year old Veikka came from Raahe about 80 km west of Oulu. I had asked Rita to attend as I wanted them to meet this Indian couple living in the same town as them.

Veikka shares my lap with Kwan, a little Thai girl,
who has become my fast friend from the time I picked her up
with her parents from Oulu airport 2 months ago.

Veikka decided he wanted to sit in Joanna's father's lap when Rita told him that I was Joanna's dad. Rita and Joanna are childhood friends having been to school together from the time Joanna came to Finland in 1984.

Pailin wearing Annikki's sari with Annikki.
(The sari was given to Annikki by my late mother
many tens of years ago.)

We had a large contingent from AIESEC, an international student organisation which organises exchange of graduates to companies, joined us in making this event a broad based event as the Indian exchange trainee, Kanchan Gupta, gave a talk about India.

Kanchan Gupta,
the Indian trainee in Oulu, Finland, through AIESEC.

This was followed by a CD presentation that Kasia had made for her school students when she talked about India to them a few weeks ago.

Pailin with Pupe and Kwan,
who performed a special dance at the Evening.

Two young Thai girls, Pupe and Kwan, performed a dance for the audience. This was followed by a group of international girls trying to dance a traditional Indian dance with all the movements which they had been taught by the Indian ladies present. They performed flawlessly getting many of the head and finger movements perfectly. Many thanks to newcomer to Oulu, Aruna Paluguru, for this coaching.

After the meal, instead of the intended showing of Bollywood films, the lively Indian music started and the younger crowd thought that it was more fun dancing to the music - and boy oh boy, did they dance. Many of us did not´t know we have such great talent in our Indian residents here.

Then, the non-Indian ladies in Saris took over. As a symbol of their affection to Annikki and me, they wanted us to join them on the dance floor to bridge the generation gap. Annikki was not in the mood, so I ended up dancing with a bevy of beautiful girls from all around the world, such as Hungary, Poland, Venezuela, Finland! The bones did creak a bit!

The wonderful atmosphere created lasted till the very last moment when the people all joined together to clear up the premises and leave it exactly as we had found it 6 hours earlier. The general opinion was that a Bridge was built between the dormant but lively Indian community in Oulu and all the different nationalities (over 30) who have made CHAFF a household word in the community of Oulu.

Many try to pin this success on me. This, I solemnly deny, as without this group of young people so dedicated to the cause of building a beautiful bridge, such a success would never be possible.

We missed Isaac Sundarajan, Indian CEO of Finnish IT company, Codenomicon Oy, who sent us a message from San Francisco, expressing his deep regret of not being able to join us. We also missed Veli-Matti Jäskeläinen, CEO of the Indian owned Finnish wind energy company, WinWind OY, as he had, unfortunately, committed to a another engagement.

But Ashesh Kumar, the Indian represntative of the new owners of the Biotechnology facility in Medipolis, his charming wife, Indu and 3-year old live-wire son, Karthik, graced the occasion. It is important these industrial leaders recognise the existence of CHAFF and its work, as they could play a very important role in building the bridge in the most important gap today - unemployment of ethnic minorities in Oulu and the whole of Finland.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The opposite of BEST BUY

(Cross posted on our Jacob's Blog and the Oulu Best Buy Blog.)

It is not often that we get angry or are deeply disturbed by an experience which will radically cause us to publish a very negative entry in the Best Buy Blog. However, during the last few weeks two things have deeply disturbed us. We felt we should let you know and add these shops and companies to a Oulu Best Not Buy list.

If you have a similar experience, please let us know.

The incident reported here is our experience with a large and well known organisation known as Instrumentarium. It sells medical equipment and also many consumer products including spectacles. Annikki and I have been so-called preferred customers in the shop and also our son Mika and Annikki's mother, Hilja, has been given this status. It was not our choosing but when we bought our glasses from them many years ago the shop added us to this list.

Last week the frames of the spectacles of both Mika and Hilja broke, resulting in us having to order new spectacles for them. As both are invalids in my care, Jacob, who handles all the outside work for them, took the spectacles to Instrumentarium to get them repaired, or failing which, to get new glasses for them. The latter turned out to be true.

The pleasant lady who took the order took all the details, and Jacob found that out would take a few days before the glasses would be ready. So she gave him a note saying that the company would intimate him when they were ready.

As glasses are quite expensive and since the financial matters of Hilja are not controlled by us but a Public Guardian, Jacob thought it would be best to get the bill for the glasses and give them to the Guardian well before the glasses arrive, so that it could be paid directly by the Guardian. Jacob's life is so hectic, he likes to get things done well in advance so as not to be rushing around at the last minutes sorting out issues.

He visited the shop and gave a notification to the store clerk of the details of the Public Guardian asking them to send the bill for Hilja's glasses to the Guardian. The store clerk tried to ring through to the 3 phone numbers provided but she could not get through. So, Jacob asked the clerk to make out the Proforma Invoice for the glasses so that he could take it to the Guardian so that they could pay the amount before the glasses arrived.

Strangely, he was told that this was not possible. The computer could not produce a bill unless he was willing to pay 30% of the amount.

This was a stupid demand, as an invoice is not a binding document. All Jacob was asking was for a document so as to pay the dues before the glasses were even available or taken from the shop. They were due several days later.

Jacob was met with an absolute blanket statement that this was store policy. The refusal was so ridiculous and illogical and there was no way that it could be explained why it had to be.

We handle the purchasing of many items for Hilja and we deal with many shops. In most cases we just have to give the Public Guardian's name and address and show Hilja's Social Security card. The shops take all the steps to ensure that the bill is sent to the Public Guardian. In one case, for her sanitary supplies, we just order it by email and request the bill to be sent directly to the Public Guardian. It has never been a problem.

But this totally illogical, customer-repellent attitude of Instrumentarium suddenly set our memory cells working.

We recalled that almost 6 years ago when we went and ordered glasses for Hilja, we were told that we could not pay the bill through the bank, but had to pay by cash. We had to drag my half-invalid then 81 year old mother to the bank to draw cash from her account and then return to the shop with the cash to collect the glasses. (At that time Hilja did not have a Public Guardian.)

The store clerk refused to listen to reason as the policy seems to be universally applied in Finland by Instrumentarium.

I have told the store clerk that she tell her management that this story would be publicised broadly on the internet through our blogs, that we would put them on our NEW BEST NOT BUY list and also inform the top management of the company of this incident.

If Instrumentaroum does not tender a public apology, inform us that this policy has been rescinded and we are not compensated for the waste of our time and money in this matter, Instrumentarium stay firmly posted on this list!

Further, this will be the last purchase we will make from this company.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

We can all be proud of Isaac and his team

I just received information that the company where our CHAFF participant Isaac Sundarajan is CEO, Codenomicon Oy, has been awarded the IT Achievement Award for 2006. We can all be proud of this.

Codenomicon CEO, Isaac Sundarajan

Codenomicon awarded IT Achievement 2006 in Finland

February 13, 2007 - Finnish Codenomicon Ltd's Defensics test solutions have been awarded as IT Achievement 2006. Finnish Information Processing Association, (FIPA) assigned the yearly recognition for an IT company in security seminar held today. The yearly recognition has been given since 1986. The awarded candidates have been chosen by the board of FIPA based on the work done to develop the IT industry.

"We are very pleased to receive this recognition for our long term work in the security field. The way we have combined Finnish technology know-how and international business know-how makes Codenomicon operations very unique", tells Tuija Postari-Kivistö, Chief Operating Officer at Codenomicon.

"Codenomicon is a model example of a company, where research started at a university has been successfully commercialized and created international business activities. Codenomicon Defensics state-of-art software testing solutions enable the testing of different network elements from mobile devices to Internet Infrastructure devices and next generation networks. The test tools are based on long term top research in a co-operation with the University of Oulu", justifies the choice Robert Serén, Executive Director at FIPA.

Codenomicon Ltd. established 2001 develops, manufactures and markets the state-of-art software testing solutions for proactive elimination and prevention of security vulnerabilities in IP, wireless and digital media systems. Codenomicon's customer base includes several leading companies from international telecommunications and Internet fields. The Defensics test solutions are used for automating the testing of systems and software components for their tolerance of anomalous inputs, including the malicious attacks from network. Defensics can be used for software quality assurance, supporting the product evaluations, certification and acceptance testing.

For more information about Codenomicon and its products, visit the company's web site at www.codenomicon.com.

About Codenomicon Ltd.

Codenomicon develops and markets state-of-art software testing solutions for proactive elimination and prevention of security vulnerabilities for IP, wireless and digital media systems. The company serves industry-leading international telecom and internet companies. Codenomicon's DEFENSICS test solutions are available for a wide range of protocols and file formats. Codenomicon, the leader in security and robustness testing, is headquartered in Oulu, Finland, with offices in California and Hong Kong.

Unfortunately Isaac cannot be here for our Indian Evening but has sent his special greetings to us and offered to sponsor any event we want. I do not have to take him up on sponsorship just now, but will certainly do so when we have something important and worthwhile on our CHAFF agenda.

Friday, February 02, 2007



organised by
CHAFF participants
(based on an idea by Lena Viskari)


Annikki and Jacob at the first Indian Evening
organised by the English Club of Oulu in 1984.

I have been inundated by requests for more information about the CHAFF Indian Evening on

Saturday 17th February 2007, 20:00 - ??:?? hours.

To be able to finalise this event as well as the location, IF YOU PLAN TO ATTEND, kindly fill up the questionnaire below and send it back to ud by email at jmatthana@gmail.com :

1. Will you come with a friend / friends?
Yes / No (If yes: Number)

2. Will any children (older than 5 years) be also with you?
Yes / No. (If yes: Number)

3. Are you a vegetarian or vegan?
Yes / No

4a. What Indian dish would you like to bring with you?
Name (eg. Dosai, Samosa, Baji, Vada, Biryani, Bombay Mix, etc)


4b. What Indian drink would you like to bring with you?
Name (Sweet or Sour Lassi, Mango Phool, Nimbupani, Indian Beer, Indian Rum, etc.)

5. If you cannot bring an indian Dish or an Indian drink, would you like to contribute to a fund to bring in some special dish of Indian origin?
Yes / No (If yes: Maximum Contribution Euro 10 per head)

6. Will you be dressed in Indian attire ?
Yes / No ( If yes: Name: Sari, Dhoti, Jubba, Mundu, Salwar kameez, etc.)

7. Can you bring some Indian Music?
Yes / No (If yes: Classical, Carnatic, Bollywood Pop, Tape, CD, ?)

8. Can you bring an Indian Movie?
Yes / No (If yes: Bollywood, Art, Nature, Video, CD, ?)

9. Will you need transport to and from the Indian Evening?
Yes / No (If yes: From and to WHERE?)

Would you like to make any suggestions to make the evening a memorable event!

Best regards

Founders of the world-wide FINDIANS movement

Did you switch OFF?

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

How many of you switched off all your lights and power units between 19:55 and 20:00 hours on 1st February 2007. (As was pointed out to us by 59er Peter Miovic.)

We did and sat in darkness with our living room flooded by the light of a full moon just behind us.

We did it not only to focus on the Climate Change issue but also as a protest to the "Oil Wars" being carried out by the US in Iraq and being planned in Iran!

As we looked around our small colony of 27 houses, we noted that one young couple with two small children had also followed the instructions, but 25 other families had been either oblivious or insensitive to the situation.

Eiffel Tower at sunrise.

The local newspapers did not cover the issue. It was only the television channels, as BBC World, which covered it by showing the switching off of the lights on the Eiffel Tower.

Today, there was much greater TV coverage of the report released today on climate change which stresses that there is 90% certainty that human beings were "very likely" to have been responsible for this.

We wonder why they stopped at saying "very likely" when it is absolutely certain and every scientist in the world studying this has no doubt whatsoever?

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Hilmi Oral wins prize

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

This morning when I opened the newspaper, I read with great joy that Hilmi Oral had won the prize for his work in helping Men.

Hilmi teaching a class of kids.

Hilmi Oral is a Turk who has lived in Oulu for the last 15 odd years. He has contributed to the well-being of the lives of many the foreigners who have come to live in this town. His work has not been restricted to men alone. He is regarded as the "BEST" teacher of the Finnish language! Hilmi does not waste time teaching the language based on the complexity of the grammar. He concentrates on helping people to communicate from day 1, just as a small child learns language.

Hilmi is an accomplished singer. He presently works as a Cultural Mediator for the organisation which runs the Oulu Settlement’s Friendship House. He has been working to integrate foreigners into Oulu life. He is soft-spoken and is loved by all of us in Oulu.

There is no one more deserving to have received the prize for this work. Hilmi deserves more than just this prize as he toils some 15 to 16 hours a day for the cause of furthering the life of foreigners in Oulu.

Just last Friday I took four new foreigners to Oulu to his office where he had organised an evening for men. He was so welcoming and humble of his accomplishments.

I feel proud to know a person such as Hilmi who lives in the same city as me!