Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ildikó relaunches CHAFF new package

I was able to attend the CHAFF meeting organised by Ildikó Hámos at the Ravintola Marrakech, Oulu. We had attendees from every continent.

We had to limit attendance due to the restrictions in seating available. The meeting room was packed to the brim as Ilari, his aunt, uncle and myself, had to be content to sit out in the main restaurant area.

We had several new attendees, The Joels, Nisha, Sunil and their daughter, Hannah, Sagar Shinde, Janie, Gabor and their daughter, and many more. Several old timers were also present to show their support for the new format CHAFF. The Suomis, Fumi, Ville and little Mari were present, as also Pekka ansd Maritta Keränen and their son It was nice to see Lauri Gardner, Vamsi and Aruna Paluguru, Barbel Fink, Andi Moreno, Benjamin Hayes and friend, Sanna.

The new location for this meeting, Ravintola Marrakech, outdid themselves by serving up a great fare. On our table for four we had a serving of Couscous, a vegetarian curry, a lamb curry and chicken and lamb sishkebab sticks, Moroccan style. There was so much food that we had to struggle to finish it. But Ilari and I did it justice!

The vegetarians got a special fare which was well appreciated!

The restaurant certainly lived up to its name of the great Marrakech market, as the group were humming with excitement and enjoying the delicious fare and company.

Our hostess and host, Miriam and Said, and their staff were great. This was their first exposure to CHAFF.

The ball now rests in YOUR court as Ildikó has raised the question as to how you want the CHAFF social gatherings to continue - once a month, every fortnight or weekly, a full meal, a brunch, on the weekend or a weekday?

Ildikó took the step of asking each one present to make a short introduction as there were so many new faces. In my short introduction and summary talk I thanked Ildikó for accepting this awesome responsibility.

CHAFF is not just these social gatherings but the help we render, quietly, to those in need.

It is, therefore, important to let Ildikó know what form of help you can offer and in what circumstances - physical, knowledge base, or any other, as she can then direct any queries to you.

As you would have noted in an earlier blog entry, very simple help last year helped one CHAFF attendee to save € 1600 in his income tax. It is important to have a meeting devoted to help newcomers to Finland, especially Oulu, to understand the complex tax laws.

I had to rush off early as Annikki needed assistance at home with her mother. I apologise to many whom I could not stand and talk with.

But I greatly valued the resounding support you have shown to Ildikó and I hope you will help continue this tradition of CHAFF in the spirit that Bill Zhang (China), Kamutaza Tembo (Zambia), Saikou Marong ((Gambia) and myself (India) started this in a most humble manner over three years ago!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Events and Meetings in Week 39 and 40

Remember the Japanese Evening on Thursday 27th September at 18:00 hours at Friendship House in Tuira.

Ildikó, despite her own hectic schedule, is slowly but surely getting the CHAFF Movement up and running again. She has organised the restart meeting at the Ravintola Marrakech next Sunday, September 30th, at 13:00 hours.

Ravintola Marrakech is next to the Greek Restaurant on Kirkkokatu as you proceed from Rotuari to Heinäpää.

The food will cost € 8 per head.

If you have been reading my blog, recently Tony, Isaac and I had a wonderful meal there.

Please send an RSVP to Ildikó as this is the first time Said and Miriam are holding one of our CHAFF Meetings. They want to make sure everything is just right.

I will be bringing as my guests, 4 lovely young Indian newcomers to Oulu, a couple who have a lovely 4 year old and a young bachelor. All are from the beautiful state of Kerala!

I hope you will welcome them as they have been so without contact with the real world of Oulu during their time here.

See you there.

An Indian couple is looking for an apartment in the city, so if you have any clues, please do contact me.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

When -300 can equal +1300

Posted on my Jacob's Blog and the Oulu CHAFF Blog.

This is yet another mathematical puzzle which is solved very easily for your benefit.

Kannan and me.

When Kannan approached me with his tax return, there was a demand for tax to be paid of around € 300.

I had asked him to maintain detail personal accounts, as is specified in the book "Handbook for Survival in Finland" that Annikki and I had written and published in 1994. The logic of our advice was that only if you know your outflow, can you budget your life.

Kannan had kept meticulous accounts. Using the Google Docs facility, he sent me his accounts and also his tax return forms, from Rauma, over the internet.

I studied them carefully based on all the tax laws that I am still aware of. I am certainly not up-to-date, as for many years, maybe 10, Annikki and I have not had to fill in any tax returns.

Kannan was quite unbelieving that what I claimed for him would pass the scrutiny of the tax office. He was worried that he would be caught for some form of offence of over claiming (tax evasion) his legitimate tax deductible expenses (tax avoidance).

Yesterday evening, I had an excited call from Kannan. He had just received his final tax return statement. Even with his limited knowledge of Finnish, he could read a line at the end of the statement that said he was receiving € 1300 + as his tax return in December of this year!

A turn around of € 1600 +.

But I was not happy, as my target for Kannan at the beginning of last year had been € 5000 as pension savings and € 2700 as his tax return! A net of € 7700.

Well, hopefully he will follow my advice this year and generate that sort of savings this year.

Those at CHAFF will remember that I held a session on filing of tax returns at one of our meetings. I wonder how many of you followed the advice given and how many of you achieved this level of tax refunds?

Do let me know your successes as your stories can motivate others to a financial discipline which helps beat the horrendous inflation that is occurring here in Finland.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

CHAFF Meeting; Japanese Evening

There will be no CHAFF get together this weekend as we are still working out something which will be of interest to everyone. Do stay tuned here as we bring you glad tidings shortly.

The Oulu Setlementti is organising a Japanese Evening on Thursday 27th September at 6 pm at the Friendship House, Kaarretie 14 in Tuira. There will be a talk about Japan, a dance performance and Japanese food on offer.

The poster about the event in Finnish and Japanese is shown above.

All of you are welcome. The Host for the evening will be Chie Petrelius.

We must thank Hilmi Oral for informing us about this event.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Taste of Morocco in Oulu

Posted on my Jacob's Blog and the Oulu CHAFF Blog.

When Isaac Sundarajen, CEO of Codenomicon Oy, let me know he was over in Oulu for a very short trip, we agreed to meet over the weekend to have a meal together.

Tony demoing a computer game. Photo Copyeight: Jarmo Kontiainen, Kaleva, 8th September 2007.

I asked son-in-law, Tony, also to join us to get him away from his gruelling schedule of launching his new company, Ludocroft OY. (His new book on the approach to creating games, was also released last week.)

On Saturday evening Tony suggested we go to the Marrakech restaurant, the new Moroccan one opened by an old friend, Sayeed. Tony had been there with Joanna in the summer and he vouched for the food. I had visited the restaurant a couple of times before it was opened and had found the simple decor really appealing.

When we arrived, at just past 6 pm, we found the place packed to the brim. Luckily Sayeed was there when we arrived and he quickly cleared a table for us in the far corner, so that we could eat and talk in peace.

I was quite amazed that in a very short time the restaurant has become extremely popular. The decor is tasteful. There is a real feeling of a north African flavour. The waiters are dressed perfectly in Moroccan clothes. It was obvious that all the customers there were really enjoying their food.

We were each offered a very neatly done menu book (English and Finnish separately). Each of us ordered based on level of hunger.

The service was very friendly, the food arrived quickly and was piping hot and served on crockery suited to the cuisine. I had the choice of having either rice or freshly baked bread with chicken with olives and lemon. I chose rice, but the Chef sent me BOTH!

We were able to eat slowly, each of us enjoying well prepared food, talk at length about many many issues and finally enjoy a pot of piping mint tea served in a siler teapot, a slightly sweetish African version. We even got a refill - free!

We spent a good 3+ hours in this very comfortable atmosphere. When we were leaving, we noticed that Sayeed was still busy with a large group in an ante-room. As he saw us leave from the corner of the eye, he was outside in a flash to bid us goodbye.

From this first experience here, there is no doubt that this restaurant is going to be an outstanding success. It is no wonder that Ildikó would like to have our CHAFF meetings here. I have no hesitation in recommending this suggestion.

Please get a move on and tell Ildikó which day and time you would prefer so that we can get CHAFF meetings restarted!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Ilari and Ildikó wed in Hungary

Posted on the Oulu CHAFF Blog and my Jacob's Blog.

Ilari has been a family friend for over a decade. He first came into our life as a classmate of Joanna at Oulu University. Later he and our son, Jaakko, became friends. Ilari then became a close friend of Annikki and me, and when Ildikó entered his life, she also became a good friend of the two of us.

We had planned that at least one member of our family should be present at their wedding in Hungary. The first choice was Jaakko and his partner, Joy. But due to circumstances beyond their control, their attendance was not possible. So it fell on Annikki and me to try to attend.

Annikki has no passport as she has not travelled for over 7 years. And I needed a visa for Hungary. Both these proved a great hurdle as the time available to organise them was just not enough.

On top of that we had a call from Joanna that she was not well, and she had got permission from the University to sit her exams in Medical School in mid August, so she was returning to Finland from Newcastle with immediate effect. This was on the condition that Annikki and I would take charge of the two grandchildren, Samuel and daniel, so that she could study.

On top of this we had a visitor from India, who planned to reach here just at the time of the Hungarian wedding!

So the plans to proceed to Hungary were just not on.

However, we kept abreast of what went on at this double wedding of Ildikó and her brother.

I present here the report of a grand occasion which was well attended by many CHAFF Participants.

The photographs have been provided by Ilari and Ildikó and also by Benjamin, who was able to be there for the occasion.



Arpad and Ildikó arrive at church.

Juliska Hámos

Ilari and Ildikó

Heli and Jorma Sohlo.

Ildikó and Ilari.

Brides and grooms and their parents.

Guests at the wedding. See many CHAFF faces here?

Juliska and Arpad speak.

Mona and Kerstin with others.

Andy and Benjamin.

Mona, Andy, Kerstin and Mike.

Ildikó and Benjamin.

And some snaps from their honeymoon in Central America.

Ildikó in Livingstone.

Ilari in Livingstone.

Honeymoon climbers - Ildikó and Ilari.

Here is wishing Ildikó and Ilari a great wedded life from the Matthan family as well as all their CHAFF friends around the world.

2 YEARS - What has CHAFF done?

Posted on my Jacob's Blog and the Oulu CHAFF Blog.

Many of you have addressed me as to what exactly CHAFF (Chamber for assistance of Finns and Foreigners) Participants have been doing during the past two years. You may be in the dark as many of our participants have not asked for publicity. Also we have wished to not violate the privacy of those who have received some form of assistance from CHAFF Participants.

At this point of time it is important for me to tell you some of what we have done so that you know what has been happening over the last two years and also to understand how Ildikó Hámos-Sohlo and her team have their work cut out to help people and communities in different problematic situations.

Kasia Mazur was a trainee teacher from Poland who spent some time here in Oulu. When she needed help with her work of teaching children in a Finnish school, several CHAFF Participants stretched out their helping hands.

I had this very emotional COMMENT from our Kasia , who is now back in Poland after her short stint in Oulu, on the CHAFF Blog:

Dear Jacob,

It's Kasia.

I have just read about the last chaff sunday and although I'm not in Finland any more and I don't take part in the meetings, this is one of the saddest infos recently.

I can not imagine my stay in Finalnd without CHAFF, without help I received from all of the participants and great friends.

I kept on entering your blog site almost every week here in Poland because even if I'm not with you there, I still think about all the good times back in Finland.

Hopefully your great idea of connecting people and all the good things that came with it will be continued, and as far as I know Ildi, CHAFF is in good hands :)

So now again I want to say thank you to all my CHAFF friends and hopefully when I visit Oulu some day again, CHAFF will be still there.

With all my love,


Is this is what Kasia remembers of a very regular CHAFF meeting?

The photograph shows some of our younger CHAFF participants: Benjamin from Australia, Andy for Venezuela, Pailin from Thailand, Kasia from Poland, Ulf from Germany, Tingting from China and Kerstin from Germany.

Or was it this of the Indian Evening organised by CHAFF participants:

Here we have Kasia, Mona's Finnish friend from Helsinki, Mona from Finland, Benjamin, Andy, and Ildikó from Hungary dressed in Indian clothes brought to the evening by the Indian members of our community.

Dressing in national coustunes was great fun for the ladies as was when they dressed and danced with Thai costumes.

Here we see Kerstin and Kasia in Thai clothes with Pailin and Mona.

But CHAFF was not just about social events like these.

Kazutaza Temboa graphic designer from Zambia, one of the founding members of CHAFF, designed the award winning posters for the International Anti Racism Week in which CHAFF joined the Oulu Divisions of United Nations, Finnish Red Cross, Amnesty International and the Oulu International School as a major organiser of this event.

The main poster designed by Kamu was symbolic and was designed to show the importance of integration.

But CHAFF Participants were not just active on the sidelines in organising the events. Ildikó and Lauri Gardner, along with Anne Rännäli, International Affairs Manager of the City of Oulu, were part of the panel chaired by Markku Heikkinen, a senior editor of the local newspaper, Kaleva, which discussed the issues of racism faced by foreigners in Oulu.

Among the participants who attended CHAFF meetings were many people of note, some famous and some not so famous, from various parts of the world.

Here, one of our regular Finnish Participants, Pentti Paakki, bids farewell to Subramaniam Paneer, from Tamilnadu, India, who had worked tireless moving the dead bodies along the Tamil Coast after the devasting tsunami.

We had Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Arpad Hámos, attending our meeting. He said that many in the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Association) in Austria were regular readers of the CHAFF Blog.

Unnop Khungrai, Ilari Sohlo, Arpad Hámos, Ildikó Hámos-Sohlo, Julista Hámos and Pailin at our CHAFF meeting.

But the reach of CHAFF has stretched far beyond the Finnish shores.

When CHAFF Participant Kannan Balaram asked me to help a group of Rotarians who were visiting India, we extended our helping hand to them to meet our friends and relatives there and organise things which were outside of their normal programme.

Kannan Balaram with another CHAFF Founding Member, Saikou Marong from Gambia.

Here Ville Suomi (second from right) and fellow Rotarians from the Oulu Region with my cousin, Satish Abraham (far left), at the Sailing Club in Kottayam, India.

Our CHAFF population grew as, for example, Ville's Japanese wife, Fumi, a biochemist researcher in Oulu University, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, Mari. CHAFF participants were there to greet a new addition to our CHAFF Culture.

None of the work has been done for either profit, personal recognition or reward of any form. These have all been acts of self-giving. Some people have misunderstood that someone has been trying to gain publicity or monetary benefit in executing these tasks. Nothing could be further from the truth. All acts of assistance have had no ulterior motives.

I have to say to most of the 300 or more people who have been active in CHAFF, that some amazing things, some mundane things and some very responsible things, have been done by them.

As I do not wish to violate the privacy of many people who have been helped by CHAFF, I can only outline a FEW of the things done in the most general terms.

1. CHAFF Participants have been visiting foreigners and Finns in psychiatric institutions in Oulu to help them find themselves. This has included attending meetings with psychiatrists and the staff in rehabilitation centres.
2. CHAFF Participants have been rescuing helpless persons (especially foreigners) who have been violated by their partners and ensuring that they are guided to the appropriate shelters and, if necessary, legal help organised.
3. CHAFF Participants have been helping persons who have been stranded without a roof over their head and providing the temporary relief while they rebuild their status and lives.
4, CHAFF Participants have been helping persons who have been cheated by unscrupulous businessmen either in violation of contracts or in their inability to collect their legal dues.
5. CHAFF Participants have been helping those who have language difficulties during their settling period in Finland.
6. CHAFF Participants have been helping persons with accountancy and other business services.
7. CHAFF Participants have been helping those who have alcohol related problems.
8. CHAFF Participants have been helping those not to enter into job contracts where they could be exploited.
9. CHAFF Participants have been helping people move their business or residence premises.
10. CHAFF Participants have been helping people move their furniture between homes or to the rubbish dump.
11. CHAFF Participants have been helping people to start small businesses.
12. CHAFF Participants have been providing counselling to people with severe illnesses.
13. CHAFF Participants have been helping to organise cultural events.
14. CHAFF Participants have been helping to organise events related to removing discrimination.
15. CHAFF Participants have been providing short term financial help in emergency situations.
16. CHAFF Participants have been helping people with transport in difficult circumstances.
17. CHAFF Participants have been helping to organise cultural groups and associations.
18. CHAFF Participants have been introducing newcomers to Oulu to the life in this city.
19. CHAFF Participants have been sponsoring young sportsmen from ethnic minorities.
20. CHAFF Participants have been sponsoring young musicians and artists for ethnic minorities.

It was a proud moment for CHAFF Participants when a young sportsman sponsored by CHAFF, in his very first year in Finland won gold medals for both football and basketball. Here Soda proudly shows off one of his medals.

What I have shown above is nowhere near an exhaustive list of things we have done.

Some of the events were large public ones.

CHAFF helped the Oulu Divisions of the United Nations, Amnesty International and the Finnish Red Cross to organise the week long Anti Discrimination events in Oulu.
CHAFF has helped the Thai Association and Thai Community in Northern Finland to organise several exciting cultural events and also organise educational and cultural classes in Oulu. (eg., Thai Water Festival. Thai Mother's Day, Thai King's Birthday, International Festival featuring Thai culture, Thai dance Classes, Thai Cooking Classes, Thai Language Classes.)
CHAFF helped organise a wonderful Indian evening in Oulu.
CHAFF helped in organising the International Day for ethnic minorities organised by the Youth Centre in Oulu.

Bill Zhang, a brilliant Chinese Engineer was one of the Founding Members of CHAFF.

Me, another founding member, with two young CHAFF Participants, Kwan from Thailand and Veikka from Raahe, Finland.

The number of nationalities who have taken part in CHAFF activities is well over 40.

It started with just four people - Bill, a Chinese engineer, Saikou, a business man from Gambia, Kamu, a Zambian graphic designer and me, Jacob, a retired Indian living a life of leisure here in Oulu.

Some of the nationalities that I can remember, besides Finns, that passed through the portals of CHAFF during the last two years included Americans, Australians, Austrians, Bangladeshis, Canadians, Chinese, Dutch, English, French, Gambians, Germans, Ghanaians, Greeks, Hungarians, Indians, Iranians, Iraqis, Irish, Italians, Ivorians, Japanese, Kenyans, Liberians, Malaysians, Nicaraguans, Nigerians, Pakistanis, Poland, Peruvians, Portuguese, Russians, Sierra Leonians, Slovakians, South Africans, Spaniards, Sri Lankans, Sudanese, Thais, Turks, Vietnamese, Zambians. (Sorry if I have missed any nationalities!)

Isaac Sundarajan, CEO of Codenomicon OY with Tingting from China.

Indian researchers who were attendees of an International Conference on Microelectronics were happy to meet with CHAFF Participants.

We have had several notable personalities, besides the Nobel Prize winner, including several professors (eg., Fulbright lecturer, the professor from Washington D. C., Kenneth Kolson), and senior researchers from the US, India, Russia, etc., CEO's from small, medium and large Finnish and international companies, attending and taking part in the CHAFF Meetings.

But CHAFF is not about the rich and famous. It is for the humble, poor and weak, the lonely and disraught.

In this, may I ask you all to extend your hand of help to Ildikó to run CHAFF in a manner which we have done together for the last few years.

As I have said, time and time again, CHAFF is not ME or any particular individual, but it is YOU. It is not Ildikó, but it is YOU.

Without YOUR participation, CHAFF ceases to exist. It is your camaraderie and hand of friendship which is needed for CHAFF to continue in it glorious path helping especially those in desperate need.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Coincidence at Oulu Airport!

Posted on my Jacob's Blog, the Oulu Chaff Blog, the Mumbai Cathedral School Seventh Heaven Blog and the Delhi Stephanian Kooler Talk Blog.

Yesterday was Annikki's birthday. I had offered to take her to any restaurant of her choice in Oulu. We have an offering of several cuisines here: Algerian, Chinese, English, Finnish, French, Greek, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Moroccan, Thai, Turkish, Russian, US, Vietnamese, ...

But Annikki had other plans.

We started on a shopping expedition where she first went to he favourite Flea market and did some expensive shopping - maybe a couple of Euro!

Then we went to some small shops where she bought stuff for the house. Her next stops were two shops that were also celebrating their birthdays. We got free coffee/tea and cake for just visiting them.

Just then I had a call from Prof. Ajeet Mathur, a Cathedralite and Stephanian, like me, and also resident in south Finland. Ajeet said that he was on his way to Oulu and his plane should land around 6 pm. I told him I would pick him up from the airport.

Annikki told me rush back from the airport as her plan was to buy a pizza and go and sit on the beach and enjoy the sea breeze and the glorious sunset. She wanted a large open air restaurant and not be cooped up in a tiny one with no view in town!

I reached the airport at exactly 6 pm. There were a load of people coming off a plane. I noticed what looked like a foreigner waiting with a small placard identifying a conference, which I knew would be the one Ajeet would be headed for. I also noted a cameraman waiting to get a film of the arrival of Ajeet. Obviously, Ajeet was to be a distinguished speaker at the conference.

I positioned myself next to these two gentleman, who obviously had come for the same purpose - to receive Ajeet. I heard them conversing.

One said to the other that he was from Australia.

Always ready to break the ice, I asked him whether he knew our popular Australian CHAFF participant, Benjamin Hayes. The answer was in the negative, but with the formalities done away with, we struck up a conversation. He asked me where I came from. When I said Bangalore, India. Out of the blue, he said his parents were from Bangalore, India and they had left India at the time of Independence in 1947.

Then came a second shock as he said that his dad was from Bishop Cotton School, one of my alma maters.

I asked Alen his surname. Then came the even bigger surprise. His surname is Pembshaw.

Alen's dad used to come to Bangalore in the 70's very regularly. He would head straight to my dad's office as my dad was, at the time, the Chairperson of the Bishop Cotton Boys School Old Boys Association. My dad had passed out of school in 1926. Alen's dad was much junior to him.

I had met Alen's dad several times, as my office used to be in the same buolding!

As we were looking at the coincidence, the cameraman, whom I do not recall ever seeing in my life, turned to me and said that he knew my daughter, Joanna and also my wife. Apparently they go to the same church and his wife, a doctor, is a good friend of my daughter.

That was a string of coincidences which seemed outrageous to me!

Later, Annikki briefed me that Seppo Ahava is the husband of Maria, who is a doctor now and whom she has seen as a small girl in the church.

Ajeet arrived. As I am camera shy, I made myself scarce.

Usually Ajeet stays with me, but as the City of Oulu had organised this programme, he had been booked into a hotel. I took Ajeet to his hotel and organised that he spend the evening usefully.

I rushed home, picked up Annikki, picked up a pizza from a friends's pizzeria and headed to the beach. The sun was just setting and darkness was falling fast, but the glorious colours could still be seen.

It was extremely windy, so we sat in a shaded place and enjoyted our pizza.

There was no one around when we reached, as it was still drizzling, but before we finished our pizza, some kids and then some elderly people could be seen walking on the windy shores.

Before darkness finally set, we set off back for home, not accomplishing one part of Annikki's mission, to look for more stones to take home!

Coincidences and a windy pizza dinner on the beach were the mark of Annikki's birthday for this year. (Of course, there was cake when we got back home!)

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

CHAFF Meetings - Ildikó asks: When?

Posted on the CHAFF Blog and my Jacob's Blog

This is an email that Ildikó Hámos-Sohlo has just sent out to CHAFF participants. For those not yet familiar with CHAFF, it stands for


Your sincere reply to her would be greatly appreciated:

Dear CHAFF members!

First of all, let me introduce myself to all of you who do not know me yet:

I am Ildikó Hámos-Sohlo, a Hungarian with a Finnish husband, who has settled down in Oulu some two years ago. I have started working for the SINNI empowerment centre soon after my arrival and at this moment I am managing a project there. In my work, I am concentrating on internationalisation of the Finnish work life, but the joys and pitfalls of leading a life in another country are never far from my heart.

Since my arrival, Jacob Matthan has involved me on issues of immigration and expat life of Oulu. We all, who have been more or less following and attending the CHAFF-life, value his work very much. In this way, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation for Jacob, who always has the time to listen, the heart to understand and the hands to tackle problems.

Jacob has dedicated much of his time and energy to setup an amazing network that has helped a lot of people. Now, I am being asked to continue this work. The footsteps Jacob would like me to step into are several numbers too large for me. I think CHAFF has reached a point where we all are being asked  to take the lead. I can try to coordinate and function as some kind of focal point, but I already know that I won´t be able to be what Jacob was for CHAFF.

I challenge and ask you all to help build the life of CHAFF, because - as Jacob has said so often - not I, but YOU ALL are chaff.

Naturally, Jacob will not disappear. I hope that the CHAFF Blog will still be produced by him in the future as well and that he will attend the meetings.

As a first step, let me open the discussion about continuing to have CHAFF meetings. As Pailin and Unnop will sadly leave Oulu, I agreed with Miriam Attias that the meetings could be held at her and her husband Said Zahaf´s Restaurant Marrakech .

RavintolaMarrakech.jpg Ravintola Marrakech, Oulu image by jmatthan

Marrakech has a homely atmosphere, great food and very friendly staff. Also, it´s in the centre of Oulu. As soon as things are getting more concrete, the Zahaf-Attias family will kindly present a special deal for our meals in their restaurant.

Now the question at hand is: when we want to have these meetings? At the last CHAFF meeting we were discussing the possibility meeting on other weekdays. The advantage of having the meetings on Sundays is that complete newcomers will have a place to go and spend time on a lonely day.

Yes, Sundays can be very lonely and depressing in a new city, without friends of social nets. On the other hand, already settled-down internationals often feel that the Sunday is a bad meeting day, because it´s the only day of realxation and possibility to e.g. go for a trip somewhere. In accordance with Miriam I now propose three possibilities and ask you to think it through, make a decision and let me know, which of the three would suit you best.

Option A: Some weekday evening. Please indicate which weekday and time would suit you best.
Option B: Saturday around noon, please indicate what time suits you best.
Option C: Sunday at 13.00, the traditional CHAFF meeting time as it was so far.

The CHAFF meetings continue to be a platform for networking, making friends, sharing stories and asking for help and support. I cannot possibly tackle
all problems Jacob had done alone, I´ll need your help, dear CHAFF members!

Have a nice Monday evening!

Best regards


Thanks for all the nice things you have said about me, Ildiko.

But the truth is that I am a generation gone by and CHAFF is for the generation of today and tomorrow.

Let me make some suggestions for discussion.

The CHAFF Blog will continue and can be used for networking. (It is possible for me to add additional authors for the Blog.)
There is a CHAFF Group Site which already has 42 registered participants. This can be expanded.
I will continue to attend the meetings if it does not clash with the time that Annikki needs my physical help in looking after her mother.
As noted by Ildikó. Sunday was an excellent day for newcomers to Oulu. (This can be solved in several ways. CHAFF members can invite a newcomer to their homes and hearts. I know several who have been doing that for the last two years (not necessarily Sundays) and that can be expanded.)
Ilari's suggestion of Friday evening is excellent , but the time must be carefully thought out.
To make the meeting's more rewarding experience, a 20 minute talk by someone on something important to all of us will certainly help.
Responsibility for each week's meeting can be rotated so that no one person has to take all the responsibility on his/her shoulders.
The price of the meal/refreshments should be not too high to scare off the student/unemployed participants.

I hope all the CHAFF Blog readers will contact Ildikó as soon as possible. Your inputs will be most important in developing CHAFF to suit YOUR interest and NEEDS.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Philosophy behind my multiple entry blogging

Posted on Jacob's Blog, the Oulu Best Buy Blog, the Oulu CHAFF Blog, the Cathedralite Seventh Heaven Blog, the Stephanian Kooler Talk Blog, the Jacob's Politics Blog, the Move the UN Blog, and the Talk Show Ratings Blog.

Many diverse groups of people with multiple interests are reading my blogs.

Some of you are reading more than one of my blogs.

It is very annoying to see the same posting on more than one blog.

I apologise.

I have, therefore, to introduce a strategy till such time as I can get all or most of my 120 000+ readers to install a policy of being updated whenever there is a new blog entry on the blogs of their specific interest.

If they do this registration, then I need only post any entry to a single blog. The blog info service should inform you if that particular blog has been updated.

If you subscribe to getting this info for three blogs, then I need not post an entry to all three blogs!

Till the recording service is fully operational, at the top of each entry I will include a list of the other blogs that the entry will be found.

For instance, this entry will be found on ALL my blogs.

If any of you have a better solution, I am all ears.

Remember, I am a computer idiot and know nothing about the art of designing things for the computer. :-) That's because I use a Mac!