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!