Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Furnished Flats - Latest situation

With the global financial crisis, the credit crunch and high bank interest rates, house purchases have dropped dramatically in Oulu. More and more Oulu residents are looking for Furnished Apartments.

I am, however, holding my Furnished Apartments for those of you who come from abroad.

The latest situation of my Furnished Flats availability in Oulu can be found at the web site:

The last update was today, Tuesday 7th October 2008.

There is nice flat falling vacant in Välivainio on 10th October 2008 , very close to India House.

There is also a very nice 2 bedroomed apartment falling vacant near the University (Tapiontie) on 15th October 2008.

The Guest Rooms in India House are full till 25th October 2008.

Please contact me with your requirements as soon as possible.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Reason for no updates

Annikki and I are immersed with the details of organising the funeral of her mother, Hilja, who passed away last Sunday.

Hilja's Orbituary announcement - Kaleva 07.09.2008.

The funeral will take place on at the Intiö Iso saali (Chapel in the cemetery) at 15:00 hours.

We have had two tragic losses of loved ones during the last 45 days.

Our dear cat, and friend for over 17 years, Iitu, passed away with cancer which affected her kidneys. She was part of our day to day life from morning to night and through the night. Neither Annikki nor myself have yet recovered from that loss.

Iitu as a kitten in 1991.

Iitu's first and last set of kittens in 1993.

The perfect mother.

Iitu wants a share of my birthday cake.

A daily routine as Iitu stops me reading the newspaper by lying on it!

Iitu enjoys her TV - Annikki's table top aquarium.

Iitu's coffin.

Iitu at her final resting place in Vesaisentie
- the home of Tony, Joanna and grandchildren Samuel, Daniel and Maria.

Hilja, whom Annikki has cared for the last 24 years and, intensively, for the last 7 years, since her father passed away, (and whom I helped care for during the last few years) was very much part of our daily life.

She was in excellent health when she left home at the beginning of August. She contracted the deadly Hospital Bacteria while she was in the Kielokoti Old People's Home. She was rushed to hospital and then moved to the ODL Hospital.

There, in her weakened state, she was hit by pneumonia.

The old lady fought valiantly for her life. Finally left for her personal paradise at 17:49 on Sunday 31st August 2008 holding Annikki's hand on one side and mine on the other.

But she had told us many many times over the last year that she was ready to go to her "Heavenly Father":

The beautiful Hilja at her wedding in 1942.

Hilja carries Jaakko, with Aino and Annikki
with Susanna in the foreground - Oulu 1969.

Matias, Hilja, Annikki and Tuomas -
Out for a walk in the summer of 2003.

Hilja enjoying her meal.

Hilja with her latest greatgrandchild, Maria, in 2008.

Hilja with daughter, Annikki, granddaughter, Joanna, and greatgranddaughter, Maria - 2008.

Annikki takes her mother out for the last time - August 1st 2008.

RIP Hilja - 31st August 2008 at ODL.

Her passing has left a huge void in our life as we will miss her wit and humour.

Even till the very last she would mimic my poor Finnish language pronunciation.

She was in her senses till the very last . She recognised my voice the day before she passed away. When I greeted her, while she lay in some pain in her hospital bed, she replied in her normal way to me - "Thank you, Nothing special to tell you!"

Annikki used to pray and sing with her after putting her to bed every night. I will miss those quiet peaceful hours they had together before she went to sleep.

It will take us awhile to settle into the new situation where two of the most important family members of our daily life of the last 17 years have moved on.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Happy 90th birthday, Nelson Mandela

Happy 90th birthday to the world's greatest politician, leader EVER - Nelson Mandela. May he have very many more.

Copyright: Photograph from Dismantling Apartheid

He has taught mankind through his sincerity to his cause - the people of Africa.

Thank you Nelson Mandela.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Name Wanted! New Flea Market in Oulu

Quite a few Flea Markets in Oulu have closed down, moved or become not so attractive as they have changed their policy of what they are showing. Many have shifted over to more expensive antique furniture, trying to increase value turnover to meet their overhead costs.

The foreign community of Oulu and cost-conscious Oulu residents are prime users of Flea Markets, second only to my better half, who has picked up literally hundreds of great items from her visits to her favourite Flea Markets. Annikki is the ultimate Flea Market expert.

I have put up several web pages in the past on the Oulu Best Buy Blog telling people where the main Flea Markets are located, and I have visited all the Flea Markets regularly to see which ones have good offers.

Väliväiniö Ahmatie 16

Flea Market at Ahmatie 16 Flat 3.

After much soul searching I decided to start my own Flea Market, where the prices are really Flea Market prices. A small refreshment bar will also operate in the Flea Market.

I have finalised the name for the Flea Market or the daily opening times, nor have I employed anyone as yet. Presently, it operate between 09:00 am and 11:00 am on all weekdays, except Wednesday (07:45 am till 09:45 am). Timings for Saturdays and Sundays have not yet been finalised.

But you can get me out there by calling 041 706 7788.

I have a policy that if you purchase stuff more than € 30 I will organise free delivery to the front door of your building. I do not have staff to help you take it to your apartment and my age and back problem does not permit me to help with the really heavy stuff.

Last Sunday, as a launch, advertised in the Kaleva newspaper, I held a Courtyard Flea Market, supposed to open at 12 noon. People turned up already at 11:00 am. Because of the rush I was unable to move a lot of stuff from my godowns to the Flea Market. The weather held up till 17:00 hours when we had to close as a drizzle started.

This Sunday we will continue to have a Courtyard Flea Market, but we are not weather sensitive as we will have the indoor Flea Market open simultaneously. So no one will go away disappointed.

Welcome and hope you get some good buys!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Ilari and Ildikó's House warming

A couple of weeks ago Ildikó and Ilari moved home to a bigger flat in Tuira.

Ildikó's parents, Julista and Arpad Hamós, have arrived from Hungary.

It was wonderful to renew contact with the Nobel Laureate and his gorgeous wife.

Guess what we talked about - How to get a bargain at a Flea market! he was thrilled to show me the bargain he had picked up at the flea market - a small cupboard for the due grandchild!

Ildikó says she is being treated like a "princess" as she awaits the arrival of their baby, first, around mid July.

Ilari is also enjoying having his in-laws look after Ildikó and consequentially, him!

They decided to have their house warming today as a sort of Open House for friends between 14:00 and 17:00 hours.

I had a pretty tight schedule, but I managed to drop in and say hi to everyone. It was nice to see so many of the new CHAFF group present.

Tomorrow, Sunday, between 16:00 and 18:00 hours a general tea / coffee session will be held in Cafe Sara (Kirkkokatu / Asemakatu corner.

An attempt to restart our regular Sunday face-to-face meetings? Hopefully so.

I guess I will be there.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

It is on a day like today....

Annikki and I have been back in Finland for the last 24 years. We have relatives and friends, and our lives are full of work, friendship and family. (Joanna and family have gone to a friend's summer cottage to celebrate the Midsummer, so we do not have our grandkids around us at this time.)

Yet, as I sat down at this computer wondering what to write, a feeling of loneliness, not mine, but of those in Oulu who have no relatives or friends, crept upon me. I thought about Subramaniam Paneer, the brave young man who was handling the bodies after the tsunami in Tamilnadu and what he told me about how a CHAFF meeting on a Sunday afternnon was an event he greatly looked forward to as it changed a long lonely sit in his room into a wonderful day to meet up with friendly people.

My mind flashed back to the wonderful people who have graced our CHAFF meetings over the years - a Nobel Prize recipient, a visiting US professor, many conference delegates, CEOs of several international companies, and many many simple ordinary folk looking for companionship and a place to talk to someone else on a cold and wet holiday.

It brought my mind back to my days as a Rotarian in the wonderful Madras South Rotary Club where just an hours meeting on a Friday evening meant so much in the life of several tens of us.

There was a call for cricket yesterday by the Indians of Oulu who have settled in so wonderfully in our city. They prayed to the Rain Gods to move the dark clouds on Friday afternoon. They transformed the quiet Ahmatie field into a hub of sporting activity while all the Finns headed out to their summer cottages to have a midsummer ball. They town was empty, but the Indians played and laughed and had fun.

As I sit and watch the rain on this Midsummer Saturday morning, I can hear all those Indians chanting their prayers that this Saturday afternoon the rain clouds will simply disappear and their cricket can continue again, making their fellowship with one another an important aspect of their mental survival!

I have not heard lately how other ethnic communities are celebrating this day, and that I would love to know.

As Annikki's mother, Hilja, is back at home, our heavy work schedule will start as soon as she wakes. I will forget all the lonely people in Oulu for a moment. But that forgetfulness, I assure you, is only for a moment, as my heart goes out to all of you, so far from home and loved ones, that I do wish that the new CHAFF would somehow get back on track to fill that void in the lives of strangers to this city of Oulu.

Talking of Hilja, we have a new chair for her.

She used to have two chairs, a regular wheelchair for transport outside the home and a special chair for her mobility at home (shown above). However, this second chair had very limited functions, especially that there was no reclining position which is important when she wants to rest, not necessarily in bed.

The new chair which we received combines these two chairs - the wheel chair and the standard chair, but it has several more functions such as support for the calves, a reclining position, a good head support, and better mobility in the home.

At present we have all three chairs while Hilja (and Annikki) get used to using the new chair.

In the meantime, Happy Midsummer's day to all of you.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Successful Summer Party

Kudos to Ildikó (and Ilari), Burcu, Jen, Gabor, Artem, Nina, and crowd for organising a great Summer Party. Well over 70 people turned up for the event.

It was well attended by quite a motley crowd.

I was so happy to renew contact with so many of the older CHAFF participants (Nina, Nina, and many more (not Nina's)...). Narendra Khatri and his wife (from Pakistan) took part for the first time in a CHAFF event, although he has been corresponding with Ildikó and me for quite a while. Narendra is a fund of knowledge about Oulu and has been helping out the O-Indians with useful information. (I am sorry for missing several names as I could not meet everyone in person and also because of dementia, including the very lovely person from China. Poor journalism... My bad and my sincere apologies.)

It was really wonderful to see Kaija Välimaa again. She has contributed so much to the success of CHAFF, especially Burcu! Seeing her reminded me of many old Chaff participants as Subramaniam Paneer from India, Anais Guimard from France and Michaela Tomasovska from Slovakia!

More importantly it was great to meet so many new faces. I met several new people as Omar a Peruvian with Palestinian roots and Juan Miguel Diaz Castro from Spain. (Juan is looking for a Base Guitar, which I learned has only 4 strings, unlike one of the other types of guitars which has 6 strings.)

There was plenty of food on the table. The really hot and sweet stuff vanished in a flash. Ilari made a fabulous chocolate sweet, which helped me lose another battle with daughter Joanna.

Tony did his job managing the grill where there was some fabulous chicken. Juan was a little surprised to see Annikki eating a sausage after she had just told him that she does not eat pork! It was a broiler sausage!

Grandkids Samuel and Daniel had a whale of a time. (Most of the photographs in this post are the doing of Samuel.)Better half Annikki had a job on her hands keeping track of the little fellow. Baby Maria, as usual, was smiling at everybody!

The Indian contingent, especially the engineers with their wives was strong. Lady engineers Swathi and Neena, Anil with wife and baby, Mandar, Suman, Roland, Ankit, Samba, Senthil, Surat and wife, Sreekant, wife and Dipankar, Sitaram and wife, Ram Prasad, and many more were present.

Unfortunately, as the Nokia Midsummer party coincided with this event at exactly the same time, more than 80% of the Indians were caught in a dilemma. Several called me to ask whether they could come later, but as I was not sure how long the Summer Party would last, I was not able to commit a time!

The Thai Association Secretary, Rachaya Ronkkainen, was ill and unfortunately could not get the word out to her members. When I spoke with her on Friday morning she was coughing constantly that I could hardly make out a word she said! But she tendered her apology as also President June Bunchen Koskela, who was also ill.

Arindam Mallick, a now regular CHAFF participant, arrived with his entire intensive Finnish language class (two and a half hours every day!!!!) including the teacher. Sadly, studying the Finnish language was their prime objective, so they came in quite late and missed all the great food.

The newcomers were from South Africa, Japan and Romania (a professional photographer who is setting up shop in Oulu) from that crowd.

Narendra from Pakistan with me.

Thank you all for a wonderful summer party. Annikki and I are looking forward (as a participants) to more CHAFF activities with renewed vigour!

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Be that drop that forms an ocean: Friday 13th June 2008

Some are calling it a "Relaunch". Others say it is a "Summer Party"......

To me, it is a chance for all those with the CHAFF Spirit to meet, renew old friendships, make new ones and show that the Spirit of CHAFF is alive and kicking.

Friday 13th June, (a highly auspicious day for many), starting at 17:00 hours at Syynimaa (Kandintie 3D, Club Room), not far from the University, many different nationalities will get together to show the Spirit of Harmony as we gather to get to know one another, think about what we should do to spread the message of CHAFF.

There is no entrance fee.

Bring whatever you want to share with others, a packet of crisps, a sausage, a tube of mustard, a drink, a national dish - spiced or sweet, and as has been the motto of CHAFF, "it is little drops that make an ocean".

Dress in jeans, in rags or in your finest National Robes, but we will all be equal as we make our promise to help our fellow men and women, especially those deserving our helping hand.

There will be fun and games for all ages, food and drink in plenty, and a charm that only OUR Oulu offers.

And you too can be one of those who offers a helping hand to the many in Oulu who are struggling to meet their problems head-on.

In short, Welcome to the New Young Re-energised CHAFF!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Never heard of the NOROVIRUS before Wednesday!

(Cross-posted on all my major blogs.)

I have been missing on the Blogosphere and in my Google Groups for a few weeks. It has been because of the sheer workload and also as I have found the Facebook experience quite fascinating. I found many relatives, even quite distant ones, many many friends, Cathedralites, Stephanians, CHAFF and many other groups, including my School House Group, SAVAGE, on Facebook, that I have been familarising myself to all what could be done by me on Facebook.

Although I am achieving quite a lot in creating my corner in Facebook, it is no match for the direct Blog or a Google group - and that is why I am back at blogging!

In my 24+ years in Finland I had never missed a days work or events because of any form of serious illness. I have been ill (including a bout of painful herpes inside the mouth), but it was always possible to get to work and work without having to take time off.

But this last week was different.

While at the funeral of a dear friend, Willie, Michelle's husband, I felt claustrophobic in the Small Chapel, which meant I had to go outside for some fresh air. Annikki and I went back inside to place the wreath from the whole MATTHAN Family on the coffin, but I continued to feel very weak.

Michelle (with Willie) owns the best Chinese / Indian Restaurant in town - the Royal Garden.

Michelle is from Calcutta and is a close friend of our daughter, Joanna, and consequently, a close family friend of ours. Any visitor to Oulu usually gets a treat at one of her restaurants. So Michelle is known by our family and friends around the world. (Cousins Chacko and Ammu, niece Nirupa, niece Preminda with husband Chris and Malayika, Cathedralites Sunil (and Kamal) Sahni, Sadhana Madhusadan (née Shah) Viney Sethi, Stephanians Ajay Verma, Prof. Ajeet Mathur, are just a few who have enjoyed the hospitality of Michelle and Willie.)

I suggested to Annikki that we go home and rest before attending the farewell reception for Willie at the Royal Garden Restaurant.

After getting home and resting for about half an hour I was violently ill and unable to lift my head. I did not know what had hit me. Annikki treated me all the best remedies that she has up her sleeve, Silica to line the stomach, magnesium tablets, and one pain-killer. I managed to retain a bit of everything to help me sleep off the next four to six hours, but the vomiting and diarrhoea did not abate. It was absolutely miserable.

Next morning Annikki read in the local newspaper about something known as the NOROVIRUS and the symptoms were exactly what I had been through.

A quick Google Search yielded all the important data and I was sure that absolute fasting with only liquids was the right answer.

By evening I was able to consume some of Annikki's great Fish Soup and it stayed in.

By the next morning the main symptoms had vanished, but at 5 am the Norovirus hit Annikki.

Despite her agony she took quick action to ensure that her mother, Hilja, who was supposed to be brought home that afternoon, was looked after while Annikki recovered from this virus. According to Jonana, who sent us a text message from Newcastle, it can be fatal for the elderly.

I had a good friend from Tampere, a town 500 km south of Oulu, coming to visit me on Friday evening / Saturday morning.

I did not want to disappoint Nadir or miss meeting him as his visits to Oulu are only once every two years. Rather than ask him to cancel, I booked Nadir in at a hotel across from the Railway Station, as the Norovirus is extremely contagious. I was clean but the house would have been disturbingly filled the virus.

We spent a few wonderful hours together and he was on his way on Saturday afternoon.

I would like to know which of my efforts you appreciate more - my blogs, my Facebook entries, my direct posts to you - or maybe I should just SHUT UP....

(OK Ubi, I know what you will say, but believe me you are not too old for Facebook. However, although it seems easy, it is quite complicated to work out all the ins and outs and it is not intuitive as it should be.)

Indifference or lack of the correct communication channels

I have started a new Facebook Photos page which documents my week in PHOTOGRAPHS - thanks to the wonderful camera so many of you CHAFF participants gave me for my 65th birthday. Take a look the page at it when you have time, and do add me as a friend in Facebook.

It was quite disturbing to read this email from Ildikó:

Hello again everybody,

I´m a bit disappointed since only two people answered my question about the party. I´m wondering whether it´s worthwhile organizing anything like that if there´s so little interest. Could you please give your opinion about this? Once more, I am asking if we should organize the new CHAFF kickoff party sometime in May or early July, I´d be willing to engage myself in organizing it and we can also invite other people, who are not on the list yet to try and widen our circle.

About the homepage I haven´t had any answers either, could Artem or Osku please let me know what´s going on or what is planned. I know that everybody is busy, it´s just that if we want to keep CHAFF alive in any way we must at least communicate via email now.

About the kid´s group. From Anu Holappa I heard there are many mothers with kids interested in an international group, and she has their contact info. I think that if we seriously consider to start something like this up, there should be first steps to contact these people. That way we can get a pool of interested persons and ask around for the best time to start the group. I believe now before summer it´s not the best time for this, but Jen and Burcu, you could start contacting these people via email and then if you want we could sit down and talk together about how we´d like to inform other people as well. We could make some flyers, posters etc. But I don´t think it´s enough to go through the CHAFF mailing list since there are not enough people with kids. Please let me know what you think. I also went to the International Women´s Club´s one meeting for moms and kids last week and we should certainly also involve them, Renata, the coordinator has already been asking me what will happen with our planned group.

Have a good weekend! Best regards


Why did Ildikó get only two replies?

To me the answer is that some of the real motivating factors behind the OLD CHAFF, the regular meetings which helped people know one another, understand issues in a direct manner, get direct answers about difficult problems from people with experience, and many other issues which were handled during the early years of CHAFF has evaporated in the NEW CHAFF. Instead of embracing the other spin-offs from CHAFF as the Oulu Thai Association or the O-India Group, slowly the distancing from each group is hardening.

In addition, when one receives an email, the SUBJECT LINE is most critical. It must drive the person to read what is written, not just glance through it. It must be all three factors that I describe below - that is why advertisement copy-writers are paid millions, so that they can get a reader interested to read past that bold headline, but first they must identify with that HEADLINE!

In any project there are three issues - Innovation, Motivation and Communication. The present CHAFF is loosing in all three areas. People associated me with CHAFF as I used all three methods continuously. It was never about ME, but using these powerful pillars to ensure that people felt directly embraced and they felt that they were one with a powerful group.

We lost a golden opportunity at the "Market of Possibilities Event" that took place yesterday. If we do not reach the newcomers to Oulu who, and when they, are searching for us, then how are we going to spread the powerful message of CHAFF.

Let us rethink CHAFF, not as a social club, but as a result oriented group going out there to look at issues and help people in their difficulties. If funding for this is necessary, there are really good experts who can help CHAFF get that funding.

With a great summer ahead, let us revitalise CHAFF wit or own "Market of Possibilities".

And Ildikó, if the CHAFF relaunch get-together is when Annikki's mother is in care, we will be there. BUT let us make it an all-embracing event WITH A PURPOSE so that CHAFF and its principles are shown to be alive!

Monday, May 12, 2008

I will cry this Wednesday

Only a few weeks ago we had a joint CHAFF / O-India / Oulu Thai Association meeting in the premises of the Royal Garden Chinese and Indian cusine restaurants.

Some important people were missing that day - the owners, our hosts Michelle and Willie.

The reason was not known to many.

Willie was slowly losing his battle against cancer. Michelle had decided to spend every last minute of Willie's life with him, suffering the same terrible pain that Willie was going through.

Last Wednesday, Michelle rang me to tell me that the end had come.

Michelle and Willie have been our dear friends for many years. They showed us great respect, always addressing us as Mr. and Mrs. Matthan.

One year they asked Annikki to make the birthday cake for their son, Kachun's birthday. Kachun was into Ninja turtles, so the turtle was the theme of the birthday cake.

Our daughter, Joanna, our ward, Fazila, and Michelle were great friends when Michelle started her restaurant. Over the years they have remained close to one another. So this loss of one of our family members has caused us much grief.

In Saturday's KALEVA newspaper, the obituary of Willie appeared.

The funeral will take place in the Small Chapel in the Intiö cemetery at 09:00 hours this Wednesday, 14th May 2008.

We will be there to say goodbye to a dear friend, Willie, and ensure that Michelle gets all the comfort and support she needs to carry on what the two started over a decade ago.

There will be tears in my eyes as I read our parting words. But it is not something I am ashamed of. It is better to be honest in one's expression, as it shows our love and regard for our loved one, and if tears say it best, then they are there in true sincerity.

Those of you who feel they should be there, please do come to say goodbye.

Oulu CHAFF Blog is now on VerveEarth

You will see a VerveEarth link on the right of the page.

This is the email we received from that new concept which will, in our opinion, be something outshining many new trends.

Your blog OULU CHAFF caught our attention.

I'm the founder of a recently launched startup for bloggers. We are searching the internet for the world's blogs by geography, and we found yours for Oulu. I would like to invite you to our site which plots the content of the internet on an interactive map of the world.

VerveEarth is an entirely new way to surf the net. It shows spatial and geographic connections that a blog search engine could never reveal.

The site is www.VerveEarth.com.

Once on board, you can easily claim your blog a place in the VerveEarth world. The site is free to use and a way to drive new traffic to your blog. If our vision resonates with you, please give us a mention or add our widget to your blog. Please see our FAQ for any questions, and we welcome your feedback.

The VerveEarth team will make a timely reply.


Kind Regards,


CEO | VerveEarth.com

We think the Oulu CHAFF Blog will stay ahead of all by this move.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

May 3rd 2008 - Oulu's Hyde Park Style Corner

Many of you may remember my last year's blog postings:

Freedom of Speech - Whose?
Oulu’s Hyde Park Corner

The same event appeared on the calendar this year.

I prepared better for the event. Last year, Annikki was shouting at me from the living room window as I took off on my scooter, armed with one of her wobbly creations to act as my soap box. This year she insisted I have a proper stand and equipped me with two packing pallets which she knew would carry my weight!

Annikki and her sister, Anneli, who was here from south Finland, were present at the event. These photographs were taken by Annikki.

Kaleva conveniently did not carry a picture of me although I spoke non-stop for over an hour on 25 or more issues. They gave pictorial space to those who spoke for a minute or two, some of them on totally inconsequential topics which do not need a Freedom of Speech Day to be aired!

I announced from the main stage that I was having my own soap box to speak from (in English), so I was able to draw my own audience. Also each of the speakers on the prepared stage held forth only for a couple of minutes, a few drunks also stopping to shout "Viva Finland".

My rant however went on for over an hour as I tackled major subjects about Oulu - Police, Judiciary, Media, Bureaucrats, and a whole host of subjects including corruption, racism, suicides, lack of democracy values and oppression of foreigners and the less fortunate in Finnish Society.

One lady, who obviously worked in the Oulu University Central Hospital, took objection to my criticising the emergency section where patients are made to wait for as long as 8 to 10 hours to get attention. Although she disagreed with me she then ran off saying that I did not understand how many things they had to do in the hospital.

Another young man chose to disagree with me about the corruption in the Finnish Police. Only when I showed him a report which I had from the local newspaper that he chose to concede the point.

That made my point that the people of Finland live and breathe only what their media chooses to tell them.

I told the story of when we felt the earthquake in Oulu in 1984, the media chose to tell the public that it was Swedish jets breaking the sound barrier many hundreds of kilometres away which was causing earth tremors!

One Finn thought that I was being too aggressive - but when I told him that 10 years of sweet talking had not moved the matter an inch, he agreed that some things may require an aggressive attitude to get attention.

The Kaleva, in today's newspaper, covered the fact that I had a separate platform to take up my issues. However, they made a comment which was quite out of place: They said the Finns speak when they have something to say, but foreigners speak because they enjoy speaking. They are totally wrong, as I abhor speaking about issues and only do so when there is no other alternative!

I was especially pleased that so many O-Indians and Findians came out to take part in this event and cheer me on. I was also actively supported by Annikki as she was there to give her point of view on many issues.

What disappointed me was that not a single person from CHAFF was present at the Freedom of Speech Day!

CHAFF may be changing direction with the younger crowd. But if CHAFF Participants choose to bury their heads in the sand with regard to important social issues that affect all levels of people in the City of Oulu, then that change in direction of CHAFF is, in my mind, not a welcome one.

This is not the first time that this has happened. When CHAFF Participant Benjamin Hayes gave a absolutely great talk about the Asia Pacific region, O-Indians and Findians were present. But not a single CHAFF Participant thought it important to come and hear their fellow participant.

With the end of face-to-face weekly meetings, and the lack of enthusiasm to cheer on fellow activists, the meaning of CHAFF today is something I do not quite understand!

Annikki, her sister and I had a really great Kerala meal, including the wonderful fish curry with Nisha and Sunil as we visited them to see Sunil's mother, Sarala, who is visiting Oulu. What was amazing was that little Hannah carried out a non-stop conversation with Annikki and her sister IN FINNISH - and perfectly good Finnish.

After that we went to the Nallikari Beach to enjoy a beautiful sunset while Annikki went about her life-long task of moving the beautiful stones from the beach to our residence. :-)

We will continue to enjoy a glorious summer, but watch out for a few cold days in between.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Au revoir, Isaac....

Today's Kaleva, the local newspaper in Oulu, had a wonderful report about Isaac Sundarajan, retiring CEO of Codenomicon Oy, who is going to devote the next year of his life to help his wife, Nalla, to get one of her life's ambitions, to help the depressed and abused women in India, to find a footing and become self-reliant.

Isaac's immense management and financial expertise will help Nalla to establish something lasting in that part of India that both Isaac and Nalla originally hail from, Tamilnadu. But their work will not end there.....

We older CHAFF Participants had the good fortune to hear about it directly from Isaac on Sunday evening as he joined us directly from the airport to share a few moments with us and he hosted a small dinner for those who have come to love him here in Oulu.

My special thanks to Hasim and Kasim of Goreme Pizzeria in Ranta-Kastelli for the great food they served us on this occasion!

Codenomicon Oy, under his stewardship, grew from a small Oulu centered company into an international entity winning several awards along the way. The centre of excellence for "network security" has become Oulu, thanks to the efforts of Isaac, supported by a wonderful bunch of researchers and experts in this small city.

The work culture that Isaac fostered was easy and relaxing, motivating his colleagues to give off their very best while yet enjoying their environment.

This was especially portrayed in the wonderful compilation which was given to him by the colleagues yesterday, a small booklet highlighting the personal relationship he had established with his team members.

Isaac is the embodiment of CHAFF even at this moment. His last act in Oulu yesterday was to ring me as he was walking back to his hotel to tell me that he had some wonderful warm coats to give to anyone who may need them. When I joined him at the hotel at around 10 pm, he was waiting with a bag of things which was his parting gift to the needy in Oulu!

Thank you, Isaac, for being part of CHAFF and O-India. You will remain in our hearts and minds as wonderful example of a human being with a heart.

Many of us will be there in spirit, prayer and person, to help you during this year of transition. Rest assured of that.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

I Wish You a Sandpiper

Posted on all my major blogs.

I received this in an email from Joan & Kevin Dean.

Thank you for sending this to me as I am blogging it exactly for the reasons outlined in this story.

I Wish You a Sandpiper

The . Sharp-tailed Sandpiper.

The Sandpiper by Robert Peterson

She was six years old when I first met her on the beach near where I live. I drive to this beach, a distance of three or four miles, whenever the world begins to close in on me. She was building a sand castle or something and looked up, her eyes as blue as the sea. "Hello," she said.

I answered with a nod, not really in the mood to bother with a small child. "I'm building," she said. "I see that. What is it?" I asked, not really caring. "Oh, I don't know, I just like the feel of sand." That sounds good, I thought, and slipped off my shoes. A sandpiper glided by. "That's a joy," the child said. "It's a what?" "It's a joy. My mama says sandpipers come to bring us joy." The bird went gliding down the beach. Good-bye joy, I muttered to myself, hello pain, and turned to walk on. I was depressed, my life seemed completely out of balance. "What's your name?" She wouldn't give up.

"Robert," I answered. "I'm Robert Peterson." "Mine's Wendy... I'm six." "Hi, Wendy." She giggled. "You're funny," she said. In spite of my gloom, I laughed too and walked on. Her musical giggle followed me. "Come again, Mr. P," she called. "We'll have another happy day." The next few days consisted of a group of unruly Boy Scouts, PTA meetings, and an ailing mother. The sun was shining one morning as I took my hands out of the dishwater. I need a sandpiper, I said to myself, gathering up my coat.

The ever-changing balm of the seashore awaited me. The breeze was chilly but I strode along, trying to recapture the serenity I needed. "Hello, Mr. P," she said. "Do you want to play?" "What did you have in mind?" I asked, with a twinge of annoyance. "I don't know. You say." "How about charades?" I asked sarcastically. The tinkling laughter burst forth again. "I don't know what that is." "Then let's just walk." Looking at her, I noticed the delicate fairness of her face. "Where do you live?" I asked. "Over there." She pointed toward a row of summer cottages. Strange, I thought, in winter. "Where do you go to school?" "I don't go to school. Mommy says we're on vacation."

She chattered little girl talk as we strolled up the beach, but my mind was on other things. When I left for home, Wendy said it had been a happy day. Feeling surprisingly better, I smiled at her and agreed. Three weeks later, I rushed to my beach in a state of near panic. I was in no mood to even greet Wendy. I thought I saw her mother on the porch and felt like demanding she keep her child at home. "Look, if you don't mind," I said crossly when Wendy caught up with me, "I'd rather be alone today." She seemed unusually pale and out of breath. "Why?" she asked. I turned to her and shouted, "Because my mother died!" and thought, My God, why was I saying this to a little child? "Oh," she said quietly, "then this is a bad day." "Yes," I said, "and yesterday and the day before and -- oh, go away!" "Did it hurt?" she inquired. "Did what hurt?" I was exasperated with her, with myself. "When she died?" "Of course it hurt!" I snapped, misunderstanding, wrapped up in myself. I strode off.

A month or so after that, when I next went to the beach, she wasn't there. Feeling guilty, ashamed, and admitting to myself I missed her, I went up to the cottage after my walk and knocked at the door. A drawn looking young woman with honey-colored hair opened the door. "Hello," I said, "I'm Robert Peterson. I missed your little girl today and wondered where she was." "Oh yes, Mr. Peterson, please come in. Wendy spoke of you so much. I'm afraid I allowed her to bother you. If she was a nuisance, please, accept my apologies." "Not at all -- she's a delightful child." I said, suddenly realizing that I meant what I had just said. "Wendy died last week, Mr. Peterson. She had leukemia. Maybe she didn't tell you." Struck dumb, I groped for a chair. I had to catch my breath.

"She loved this beach, so when she asked to come, we couldn't say no. She seemed so much better here and had a lot of what she called happy days. But! the last few weeks, she declined rapidly..." Her voice faltered, "She left something for you, if only I can find it. Could you wait a moment while I look?" I nodded stupidly, my mind racing for some thing to say to this lovely young woman. She handed me a smeared envelope with "MR. P" printed in bold childish letters. Inside was a drawing in bright crayon hues -- a yellow beach, a blue sea, and a brown bird. Underneath was carefully printed: !A SANDPIPER TO BRING YOU JOY.

Tears welled up in my eyes, and a heart that had almost forgotten to love opened wide. I took Wendy's mother in my arms. "I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry," I uttered over and over, and we wept together. The precious little picture is framed now and hangs in my study. Six words -- one for each year of her life -- that speak to me of harmony, courage, and undemanding love. A gift from a child with sea blue eyes and hair the color of sand -- who taught me the gift of love.


NOTE: This is a true story sent out by Robert Peterson. It happened over 20 years ago and the incident changed his life forever. It serves as a reminder to all of us that we need to take time to enjoy living and life and each other. The price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less. Life is so complicated, the hustle and bustle of everyday traumas can make us lose focus about what is truly important or what is only a momentary setback or crisis. This week, be sure to give your loved ones an extra hug, and by all means, take a moment... even if it is only ten seconds, to stop and smell the roses. This comes from someone's heart, an d is read with many and now I share it with you... May God Bless everyone who receives this! There are NO coincidences! Everything that happens to us happens for a reason. Never brush aside anyone as insignificant. Who knows what they can teach us?


SANDPIPERS Scolopacidae

Sandpipers are a highly diverse family which include the ground-dwelling snipes and woodcocks to the highly pelagic Red Phalarope Phalaropus fulicarius. Biochemically they seem to have arisen from a single ancestor but underwent an explosive evolution in the early Tertiary after a great wave of extinctions in the late Cretaceous period (Piersma 1996). Today, the wide variety of sandpipers, and the close relationships of many, present numerous identification challenges. The identification literature alone is impressive. Further, the beautiful patterns and colors on juvenal-plumaged birds are among the most striking in the world, while the striking breeding plumage feathers serve to camouflage adults on their breeding grounds on the arctic tundra. Many of these arctic breeders spend the non-breeding period well south of the Equator, brightening the lives of birders in the austral summer (our winter).

Friday, April 04, 2008

Knowing how it feels to be LOVED!

Yesterday was a strange day. Joanna rang me early morning to tell me that I should take Samu to school as he was going downhill skiing and would I look after Daniel at our home as she had to go to town?

She was over before noon to leave Daniel.

Daniel, Annikki an I did several things including taking Daniel to the City dump to get rid an old TV and to the Tropical Spa to make sure the arrangements for one of our Indian Groups in Oulu were OK for the company party. When I came out of the Spa I found I had a flat tyre. As usual, my good friend, Kamu, in the spirit of CHAFF rushed to help me as I was not carrying my silicone foam repair kit.

Joanna rang me to tell me that she was very tired and would I keep Daniel till we picked up Samuel from the school and then came over so that we could go out for dinner to celebrate my birthday.

I passed by her house at about half past five and I was surprised to see Ildikó and Ilari's car parked in the driveway, but thinking that they were off for a holiday, they may have dropped in to say goodbye, it did not register. When I dropped in at the International Centre (Ville Victor) I was puzzled when Shahnaz said she would see me in the evening! Again, that did not register!

Well, the email I sent out today below explains it all and the composite picture made out of photographs taken by grandson Samu show some of the the people who made it such a great day for me.

Dear Findians, O-Indians, Chaff Participants, 59er Cathedralites, Other Cathedralites, Stephanians and many other friends all around the world,

Yesterday, I was given a great lesson - knowing how it feels to be LOVED.

As I reached the turning point to my senior years, the outpouring of love from all corners of this globe gave me a lesson which made me feel that a new era of my life is opening.

Thank you to all of you, some on the groups, others directly, others by text message, who took the trouble to communicate with me on my 65th birthday.

Ashok, as I took early retirement to help her look after Annikki's mother, I have been enjoying all the benefits and now move from half to full pension. So, I was already enjoying all the free benefits of a social security system I was taxed into the earth for when I was working!

From our daughter's family in England, Susanna, Chris and Asha, Hasnain and Willie in Toronto, Bill Patel in ???, Barbara from Italy, Ellis in New York, Ashok, Percy, Ooky and Rivca, etc., etc, etc., in Mumbai, friends from Helsinki, Tampere, Turku, Chennai, Bangalore, Tokyo, London, New York, and of course Oulu, I received personal greetings. (Sorry I am not mentioning all of you as I still have not had the time to go through all the messages.)

It will take me some time to respond personally to all of you, but respond I will.

But the height of my birthday was a surprise party organised by my daughter and her husband in her home in Oulu. Neither Annikki nor I had a clue till we arrived at her home and found a string of cars parked outside. As I walked in, there was a steady stream of friends, a veritable United Nations, Australia, China, Finland, Hungary, India, Iran, Italy, Peru (in spirit), Turkey, Venezuela, trooping out to greet me.

Ilari gave a profoundly moving speech which had me in tears and Ildikó gave me the gift on behalf all the persons from so many organisations that I felt overwhelmed. I was in shock and was hit even harder by giving me a birthday present that I really love and need - a Canon Digital camera - so that the photographs on my blog and groups will improve! Burcu, Bala and Sameer gave me their own presents. Thank you all.

It was a bring your stuff party so we had some really great grub and the spread was enormous, so much so that Joanna forgot to take out the delicious chicken salad from the fridge!

Top Row: Joanna, Samu, Daniel;
Second Row: Ilari & Tony, Kiran & me, Andy;
Third Row: Shahnaz & Yrjö, Benjamin, Sreekanth, Ani with Maria;
Bottom Row: Elina & Ildiko; Burcu, Bill.
Missing: Annikki, Bala, Pooja, Mani and Anusha, Mathias, Sameer,
Vishu, Esa, Manuel, Osku

My sincere thanks to Joanna and Tony, Ildikó and Ilari, Pooja, Mani and Anusha (who drove down all the way from Raahe (80 km away), Shahnaz and Yrjo, Andy, Ani, Bala, Benjamin, Bill, Burcu, Elina, Esa, Kiran, Manuel, Osku, Sameer, Sreekanth, Vishu, nephew Mathias who just happened to be in Oulu, grandchildren Samuel, Daniel, Maria and above all my dearest of dearest, Annikki for making it such a wonderful birthday.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hopefully back on line

(Posted on all my major blogs)

Yesterday, after some 33 days of being without my internet connection, I was put back on line. Several errors were found at the connections outside our premises and also in the Gateway.

The first thing I did after getting back my connection was test my speed. I pay for a 8 M line, but I was shocked to find my upload and download speeds were less than 500 kbps.

Additionally, I have a fixed IP and I found that the IP that I was using was not mine.

Thirdly, all my computers are connected to the internet through a Router. i found that if I went on to connect my router, I lost the internet connection.

Lastly, during the last 7 years I have used DHCP to connect to the internet. I have not used PPPoE. I found that I was unable to connect using DHCP and my own Fixed IP but only through the PPPoE which was assigning me the random IP.

All these problems has made life continue to be difficult as I am using just a single computer to connect to the internet.

I have a backload of about 6 weeks of work. With this situation I will only be able to catch up by the end of April.

I have lodged my complaint with my ISP .- and hopefully I will get some action by the end of this week.

Please bear with me till I get back into full swing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Almost 2 months in silence

Although I have been quiet here for almost two months, the Oulu Chaff Google Group has been active in that I have reported on two lunches, one in the Greek Restaurant, Crecian, and then one in the Indian and Chinese Restaurant, The Royal Garden.

I had a bit of a disappointment about the participation of Old Timer Chaff Participants in these lunch events, which I addressed in a Discussion Entry on the Oulu CHAFF Google Group.

There has been a spirited discussion and as a result we held a special meeting at the Ville Victor International Activity Centre last Sunday.

Ildikó has summarised this in her email sent out to all those on the CHAFF mailing list.

Dear CHAFF members,

Last Sunday around 8 members were present at Villa Victor to discuss the future of CHAFF. The following decisions were made:

1. At this point, we opt for an open group instead of a registered organisation.
2. We will create a new mailing list. For that I will be in touch with Artem and you will all get an email explaining how to register.
3. We will create a homepage, which Artem and Osku will be responsible for. The text input will be provided by Jacob and me in the first stage about the history of CHAFF etc, but anybody is welcome to participate in the work. Artem and Osku will be in charge of the technical solutions mainly.
4. We will kick of the new CHAFF in May with a CHAFF-party. Instead of formal lunches, we opted for CHAFF-parties, held by at alternating places with always different hosts and people in charge.
5. As soon as we have info about the new CHAFF, Lauri will put some information about it into Wikipedia.
6. We will continue having the blog, where anyone interested in contributing to it is welcome to do so. For that, Jacob will provide info about how to apply for a contributing position.
7. We agreed on creating a virtual forum on the homepage where everyone can and should post their own profile with picture. It will also function as a contact-creating base, where we can suggest events and search for people interested in the same things.
8. I promised to find out what multicultural kids and parents groups already exist in Oulu. I know there is something going on at the youth centre, the Mannerheim kid´s protection association, Setlementti and the International Women´s Club. After we know that, we can decide whether we need something separate or want to tap into existing resources.

I hope I didn´t forget anything at this point. Anybody willing to contribute to the homepage, please let me know. We need everybody!

Best regards

Ildikó Hámos-Sohlo

Anybody wanting to write regularly on this Blog can please contact me and I will add you as a "Contributer".

You can still use the Oulu CHAFF Google Group to discuss anything you want, but it will only go out to those who have joined that group - which is about 41 people.

Anyone interested can join the Oulu CHAFF Google Group if they want!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The seamier side of my life

Yesterday, I told you of my first love - my Miss Universe who has been at my side for 44 years and as my partner for 41 years.

But alas, man is weak, and there have been several women, besides my wife, who have shaped my life.

My latest love affair is just 9 days old, and is a girl who has not yet got a name. She is a great bundle of joy. I call her "Kochmol", which means "Little Girl".

She is the latest addition to our family, born on Sunday, the 20th of January (9 days ago) here in Oulu.

Our new granddaughter, whom I am calling Kochmol,
till her parents decide on a name for her!

She joins a beautiful young lady, Asha, who has been a great joy in my life for the last 10 and a half years.

Asha in 1998 (Photo by Susanna).

Asha in Newcastle in 2008. (Photo by Susanna.)

Asha entered my life 10 and a half years ago, and there is not a day when I do not think of this beautiful baby who has grown to be a poised young and highly talented lady and, above all, a loving granddaughter.

When I think of my grandchildren, I must say that the two ladies, my gorgeous daughters, who have "ruled" my life started as similar beautiful babies:

Susanna 1968.

Joanna 1971.

Joanna 1989.

Susanna 2006.

Although one of them describes me as an "anarchist hippie" and the other as a "workaholic", I still love both of them dearly. If they love me even 10% of how much I love them, they remain the apples in my eyes. (Fact: I have not ever been and am not an anarchist, hippie or a workaholic!)

Nalini as a baby in 1938.

Nalini with the British Queen Mother in 1960,
at the Opening of the new wing YMCA in Fitzroy Square, London,
just a few months before her demise.

Another lady, who has by her very absence, been a lasting influence on my life is my late elder sister, Nalini, who died after childbirth in 1960. I know her spirit in my heart has been watching and looking after me all through these last 48 years.

The lady who has most influenced my life was one so simple and kind and yet so powerful that no one realised her shrewdness. An only daughter and the only sister to 8 brothers who loved their sister dearly, she held them together to control them to build the huge family publishing and industrial empire from the time her parents passed away in the early 1950s till her own demise in 2000.

Ammachi in 1934 when she graduated from
the Women's Christian College, Madras.

Ammachi with her dog, Tippu, in 1976,
after returning to Bangalore.

My mother, Ammachi, inherited her kindness and gentleness from her mother, Valliammachi, my grandmother, and her shrewdness and business acumen were from her father, the late K. C. Mammen Mappillai.

One personal example will show you the nature of my maternal grandmother.

In 1950, when we were visiting Kottayam, the family of uncles and cousins, several tens of us, decided to go on a trip to Periyar, the Elephant Sanctuary. The day before, I ate too many jackfruit causing me severe colic pains. I was really ill. It was decided by the powers at the top that I should be left behind as it would be too dangerous to take me on such a long trip.

I was heartbroken as only a child of 7 could be. I was left in the custody of Vallammachi. I was feeling as fine, but was really feeling emotionally upset. Valliammachi had been instructed to keep me on a total light liquids diet.

In Kottayam, in her home, such an atrocity was just not possible.

Within minutes of the family members leaving for the elephant sanctuary, I was treated like a little Prince and given every delicacy she could summon, including a healthy dose of the offending jackfruit which had caused the colic problem initially.

I could not have had a better day in my life than that in the company of such a grand lady!

And this remained a secret between us till today!

The last lady who played an immense effect on my life was my paternal grandmother. A tiny woman, no one would have suspected the powerhouse that she was.

She brought up her 10 children, 5 boys and 5 girls with a whip hand to make all of them outstanding students and the 5 boys became top professionals during their life time. (One was a senior administrator in the Mysore Government, the second headed Tata Consultancy Engineering Services, another worked for the Shri Ram Group as their senior Administrator, one headed various sections of Indian Railways and also the Intergral Coach Factory in Perambur, and the last ended his career as the Chairman of the Life Insurance Corporation of India!

As the wife of one of the Mysore Maharaja's senior administrative officers, she was formal enough to run her household in accordance to all the rules laid down by the aristocracy. She ruled her dining table with such firmness that children knew they were children to be seen and not heard.

Yet she was a mellow as a lamb outside of her hours of duty. In her later years she was a loving character who could not have enough of the company of her grandchildren. She outlived her famous husband, Dewan Bahadur Mysore Matthan by over 20 years.

During that time she was respected and adored by all her grandchildren.

My love affairs with these 9 women are what made me what I am TODAY:

They say that behind every man is a woman.

I am proud to say that behind this poor human being there have been 9 outstandingly great ladies.