August 22, 2005

The last of the Mohicans


Monika, if you're reading this blog, this stare is meant for you. How could you?!? Pack up and leave us stranded here..?!?


Well, in fact, we're parting on good terms and it was a reason for a party last Sunday. Monika and Roland will be leaving back to Germany this Thursday... So sad... After they go, there's significantly fewer friends left in Leijonakaupunki... So few that the ones that are left become very significant... Farewell Monika! & thanks for being around (looking / finding / grinning / bearing / and making it! :)


We're still here.. Running around in the forest to avoid weekend construction horror.. Being pushed out of our lands by evil evil evil construction company.. Just like the last of the Mohicans... Still there, but very very annoyed...

Posted by gkligyte at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)

August 15, 2005



The Hungry Ghost month has started on Friday last week. Like I said before, it is hard to believe that it is a year since we came here. A year gone with some regrets, decisions done by us and for us, older, wrinklier, wiser (?). Didn't become better persons, didn't acquire wealth, didn't find peace of mind. Experienced some extraordinary things, definitely.. I got a proper 8:30-18:00 job, 42 days of vacation and salary each month. Na, nebetruks labai ilgai... Nepasakyciau, kad tai mano sauniausi metai.. No, ei kestaa enaa kauan... En voisi sanoa etta oli paras vuosi elamassa...


I got to know much more about the Hungry Ghost month - its the month when all the spirits get a "holiday" from hell (or how do you call the Chinese dead spirit repository?), so they come to visit us, normal people that are alive. Since the ghosts are on holiday, they have to be pleased: fed well, given money, entertained. Otherwise they may get upset. These days you often see people burning fake money outside of the office buildings, giving offerings, lighting candles and incense. In many places you may see this kind of huge tents full of plastic tables and a stage - these are the tents where the ghosts are entertained. Ladies dressed in glittering clothes sing and dance (I heard that last year there was a place that offered striptease dance for the ghosts!). There should be more Chinese opera performances appearing this month, also to entertain the ghosts. I quite like the smell of burning paper and incense, but my colleagues complain that they get lots of ashes in their apartments. Taking into account air polution in the areas near by, it is quite unfortunate that Hungry Ghost month coincides with forest fires in the region..


I'm sure you've heard in Europe that there's massive forest fires in Indonesia and that Malaysia is choking because of the haze. We've been lucky so far, but only as long as the wind direction doesn't change. If you look at the map, you'll see that we're very very close to Sumatra, where the fires are. I really hope the wind doesn't turn.


Kaj was gone to Finland for a week and it seems like eternity.. I've been trying to entertain myself, so, for example, last week I visited the President's residence. Because of national day celebrations, the park and the house was open for visitors. Otherwise it is closed..


Wow! It is just off Orchard road and it was huge! Looks pretty much like a golf field, doesn't it? The scariest view was these constructions coming closer swallowing each piece of unoccupied land in this country. My heart breaks every time I see a construction site - the land is raped, depleated, destroyed.. There's very few places in this country where you don't see a highrise peeping from behind the trees.. So sad..


It was only on Friday that I got a privilege to see Giuliano's and Joanne's baby Luca. He's been sleeping like a little angel most of the evening (yeah, he'll go far, maybe he's born for a diplomat career - he definitely knows how to create a positive impression on strangers..:), while we were enjoying a super-tasty risotto. We with Kaj are contemplating moving to the same apartment block (subsidised by my employer) as soon as we can get out of our current apartment. No. The construction doesn't seem to be moving at all... Just drilling and banging. Every day. Sundays too.. :(


Now here's a real hungry ghost for you!!! Thanks to server migration in Finland, my blog was down the whole weekend (I wrote all this on the weekend, but couldn't put it up) and I can include the pictures of valuable imports that Kaj has brought from the country far away... Thanks for everybody, who contributed - the strawberries were delicious!! Nam!

Posted by gkligyte at 11:24 PM | Comments (0)

August 07, 2005

Our eventful week


A lot of things happened last week. First of all, on Thursday we had our 1st wedding anniversary!! I can't believe how fast the year has passed, just blink and its gone. Time flies here much faster than in any other place.. I think it is because we have just 1 season here, so every day is just like any other (yeah, the same construction noise, these days even on Sundays.. So no day is any different anymore...) I got a new wedding ring for the occassion and I'll take a better care of it now.. :) We had the most amazing dinner in Flutes restaurant in Fort Canning park. It is in an old colonial bungalow and very beautiful (for some reason there aren't that many places like that here, for most of the occassions people flock to hotels.. Too bad, so sad.. These old houses have very special (should I say European?) feel about them). In fact, we couldn't have chosen any better - everything was spectacular that night, although we both had massive cold and running noses.. :)

From other good things that happened, Giuliano and Joanne (Giulliano is newly found friend and colleague (yeah, guess what, he found my blog, so he knew pretty much everything about me/us before we met for coffee first time...:) got a new baby Luca. I'll have to ask them if I could include some pics, or maybe I can take some pics when I visit them on Monday (if my body liquids are in better control, no I can't stop sneezing and I'm coughing my lungs out).


Then we had a charity day at our school. This was a pretty great concept - once a year everybody is invited to set up a stall and sell whatever, anything at all to make money for the needy fellow students. The school has an emergency fund that students can apply and get some money pretty much immediately. So the cause was great and the whole event was really fun. Things on sale were: food, tea, cookies, t-shirts, even hamsters (don't know if it is so wise to sell them, people were buying them on an impulse.. I wonder how they will fare in the future..), then a bunch of people were doing car wash and cleaning... Some design students made some great cookie packaging... Great way to exercise enterpreneurship skills!

Otherwise charity and financial help for the needy is a very contraversial issue in Leijonakaupunki. The government leaves the responsibility of personal financial wellbeing to the people themselves (the tax is low, you're supposed to save for the rainy day and have kids that will pay your medical bills when you get old). Of course, there are people who stay poor all their lifetime, get retrenched when they're 50 and have to clean tables or work in McDonnalds as long as they can get up from the bed (it is not uncommon to see 80 year old aunties (at least looking like 80 year olds) crooked by oestheporosis collecting dirty dishes or cleaning offices).


As we arrived in Leijonakaupunki, we were baffled by the amount of different charities collecting money in the streets. Every Saturday new batches of students are sent into the streets with donation bins as "community service". This was very hard for me to understand - if you want to make children more aware that there are needy people in the society, you should send these kids to clean old people's homes or buy grocceries for old ladies, make them chat with the underpriviledged, do a project together with some disabled people, not make them stand at every overpass, shopping mall entrance with those bins and demand money from the passers by... The kids hardly even knew what was the charity that they were collecting money to.. I read that so called "flag days" are set on each Saturday of the year, so about 50 different organizations are collecting money like that.

Last month a very prominent charity - National Kidney Foundation, was involved in a huge scandal. It was uncovered that the CEO of the organization received 600 000$ salary last year. Besides that they were installing gold-plated sinks in their office. I was very surprised to follow reports that uncovered how they run their business (yeah, it is actually a business, not really so non-profit as you may expect) - 50% of donations go to employ people that run a huge marketing machine. They have shows on TV with local media stars, organize lucky draws - "donate this much and stand a chance to win a new car!" or smth like that, have a huge office building in the prime city area, etc. They uncovered the fact that if people would stop donating today, it will take 30 years for them to run out of money, so in fact they have accumulated huge amounts of money already, but still organize shows where kidney patients are forced to come and cry on TV, begging people to donate more.


So, knowing all that, NKF seems to be the pet charity of Leijonakaupunki government. They'd actually like to see more charities run this way, as a business. Some prominent politician wife was on the board of this charity and she made headlines saying that 600 000 salary is "peanuts" when the person is handling an organization like that. The favorite principle of Leijonakaupunki - "the right person, the right pay" is well reflected in the salary of the Prime Minister that is about 2million dollars annually (5 times more than US president!). This is to fight the corruption. Be viso kito, dabartinis premjeras yra valstybes "ikurejo" sunus. Jo zmona yra pagrindine investiciju firmos direktore (ta firma is tikro valdo ir investuoja visa Liutamiescio turta ir biudzeta). Visa salis is tikro yra valdoma, kaip firma. Hmm.. Turbut butu teisingiausia pasakyti, kad tai ne salis, bet firma.. :) Nors Liutamiestis skelbiasi esas demokratija, tai greiciau karalyste, kur dinastija perduoda turta ir zmones vienas kitam... Ilman mita on jo sannotu, nykyainen paaministeri on Leijonakaupungin valtion "luojan" poika. Hanen vaimo on maan paa-sijoitusfirman johtaja. Koko maa toimii kuin firma, tai sanoisinko mina etta oikeasti Leijonakaupunki ei oo maa, mutta firma...

Besides all that, Kaj left to Finland on Friday. I couldn't, as I have work to do, its the middle of semester. First comments that I hear from him is that "people are scary". Well, thats after making a round in Kallio bars and karaoke places... :) Lets see how he likes staying in the mokki... Aija.. ja myos ma paatin etta ma lopetan mun duunit tammikuun ensimaisena paivana, sitten vasta 3 kuukauta viela toissa ja sitten varmasti pari kuukauta lomaa Aasiassa ja sitten on jo kesa Europassa, siis lisaa lomaa.. :) Beje, nusprendziau, kad baigiu darba sausio 1d, tada dar 3 menesius atidirbt ir pora menesiu Azijoj pakeliaut, tada jau bus vasara Europoj ir dar daugiau atostogu.. :)

Posted by gkligyte at 01:24 PM | Comments (1)