As I landed I was greeted by a freezing wind and the pitch dark at 4.30pm reminded me of a deserted midnight street in India. My phone showed a temperature of -10 degrees. However, the drive from the airport to the place of residence in Helsinki felt like a good start with shiny buildings that boasted the architecture of the Soviet Union and Finland, complementing the beauty of nature.
I finally arrived at the serviced apartment and just as I was settling in, my phone beeped again – snow was coming. I put on layers of warm clothes and merino wool and dared to experience my first snowfall in Finland. I walked down the lane of the main train station – beautiful snowfall, smiling faces around, people walking on the streets, and my fears calmed down. I remembered the Finnish saying that there is no bad weather, only bad clothing, and luckily I was ready.
In Finland, people are reserved – unless it’s a Saturday night at a bar. Finns come alive on Saturday nights in bars, where shared tables and assembled spaces allow for easy friendships and conversation about culture. The whole city changes and people are bar hopping, drinking and queuing at food stalls at 3 in the morning.
Finns are quick to help and eager to share their love for their country, even though they are not the stupidest people. Once, when I was inquiring about a Finnish delicacy, voisilmäpulat, someone went from aisle to aisle looking for it, which sparked an hour-long conversation about all kinds of bread!
Although Finland’s reputation for being environmentally friendly has not been lost on me, nature and sustainability constantly remind me of the fabric of everyday life. I often see people queuing in supermarkets to return plastic bottles and cans for recycling.
Here I am in the center of a small Nordic country, where public services are world-class and often free for citizens. Free healthcare, education and libraries are available to all. As I write this from a library surrounded by workstations, play areas, sewing machines and a children’s area, I wonder if it would be considered “free” in India.
The author is a journalist who recently moved from India to Helsinki. He likes to write about the environment and climate change. In his free time, he enjoys classic rock music, watching movies, and traveling to explore new places and local foods.
Source: The Nordic Page