Si eres hispanoparlante y vives (o planeas vivir) en Finlandia, este libro es absolutamente imperdible. Escrito hace 110 años por el entonces cónsul de España en Helsinki cuando Finlandia era un Gran Ducado dependiente del zar de Rusia y la población de clase alta era mayoritariamente de habla sueca, este libro es un retrato veraz, ácido a veces y sumamente divertido en ocasiones sobre cómo vivían, comían, hablaban (o no), se relacionaban y morían los finlandeses de aquel entonces.
Aunque en algunas cosas el país ha cambiado sustancialmente, el carácter sigue siendo fundamentalmente el mismo.
Finally had the chance to watch this French-Belgian-Moroccan co-production, and wasn’t disappointed. The film tells the story of a contingent of North Africans who fight for the liberation of France in the Second World War. The plot and psychological environment is quite interesting as they are quite patriotic for a homeland they have never seen (a scene of them singing the Marseillaise and the Song of the Africans is quite stinging), but are still treated like second-class citizens.
It is very refreshing to watch a WWII movie that doesn’t follow the typical American conventions, that’s for sure, even if I really like Saving Private Ryan.
Visited the city on a business trip. I have to say that the most interesting things about Istanbul for me were the long historical view you get in the city, and the uncanny resemblance Turks have with Mexicans.
A city between cultural zones and continents, it has more than 10 million people and number of different names throughout history (maybe Byzantium or Constantinople ring a bell). So many different peoples have lived in it, that excavations for the metro and the Marmara project have found ancient ruins (just like Templo Mayor in Mexico City).
Traders by nature, the culture of haggling in its bazaars is very well developed.
The Aya Sofya, one of the most imposing religious buildings I have ever been to, started its life as a church, became a mosque and is now a national museum.
Mexican similarities exhibit A: look at this baker's bread-carrying tecnique.
Mexican similarities exhibit B: Kebabs are way too similar to tacos al pastor.
Today marks 70 years of the beginning of the Winter War, that historical event that is still at the forefront of the Finnish psyche. The good news is that Finland kept its unity and its independence (no mean feat when your adversary is the Soviet Union), the bad news is that it created a siege mentality that survives to this day in certain sectors of society.
For more background information, you can hardly do better than have a look in Helsingin Sanomat’s archive (1, 2, 3).
I came across Remembrance Day in my last stay in London. While I find the tradition very moving (especially given the current servicemen situation in Afghanistan), I am also slightly disturbed by its militaristic overtones. There’s nothing wrong with remembering your dead, but shouldn’t be used as a justification for hating others. After all, the First and Second World Wars were already some time ago.
This time of the year it is very common to get foggy days in southern Finland. I find them very interesting because the combination of setting with metheorological phenomenon brings to my mind images of Viking longships raiding the marshes and woods of the lands of the Fenni.
A friend of mine did share a story of Vikings rading a warehouse full of precious animal furs near the town of Nokia, which is where it takes is name from (noki being “soot” and sable being as black as it). Somehow drunken barbarians warriors attacking a town for its pelts sounds pretty funny to me.
This brings me to another point: every once in a while I feel like the Arab guy in The 13th Warrior. Par for the course for a southerner living in these northern lands