The anxiety that creeps in

Dear Helsinki,

It has been a long time since I have written to you and I wish I could tell you nothing has happened, but in fact a lot of events have taken place since I penned you a letter and now I am wondering from where I should start. In fact I have tried to scribble you something and every single time I say the same thing and then I give up, because there is so much to tell and I have absolutely no idea where to begin so I concede and do nothing. But if I continue like this, we will never be what we used to be so please forgive me if I sound rude and just tell you everything in the most rudimental manner possible.

My university studies are not going as they were supposed to advance — I just dropped out of from one of my compulsory courses, because I never attended the lectures. I also did not start my graduate seminar, because I was not bothered to sit down and decide what the topic of my thesis topic should be so rather than attempting to pick a topic that interests me enough, I decided there is no point. The same thing happened with one of my compulsory course. I have absolutely no idea what it entails and I heard from many of my friends it is an easy course to pass if you are willing to go through the boring lectures, but I could not bring myself to wake up every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 7.30am to attend a series of lectures that had no bearing for my future, well besides the fact that I had to attend the class to get my degree.

A month ago I got a call from the parliament. They wished to interview me for a job that I had applied to and although I had given up on the hope of ever getting it, I got enormously excited about it. The interview was a failure and a few weeks later I found out I did not get it, because supposedly they picked a person whose life situation matched better with the demands of the job. I had absolutely no idea what it meant, but it was the first rejection I had received since applying to high schools and I wish it had not brought back all the miserable memories from the period, but it did. Everyone had told me I would be accepted to my first choice, but ultimately I failed to gain an admission. I do not think I ever recovered from it and it still bothers me.

You may ask what does it matter if one says no and you are right, it should not. After the rejection in my middle school I did succeed and got a scholarship to study at one of the most prestigious high schools in the world, but the thing is that I never stopped competing against myself. In the final year of high school I had to apply to colleges and even with poor SAT-scores I managed to secure a spot at one of the most credited liberal arts colleges in the United States with a full scholarship, but guess what, I did not get into one college that was nowhere near the top rankings and I could not help thinking what is wrong with me. I accepted the spot at the college, but as you know, I dropped out quite soon to pursue my love and I thought that at this point I have lost all my credibility and there was no one that would offer me what my college had given me, but six months later I was accepted to a Dutch college, once again with a full scholarship that covered even my rent, and all that was in my mind how bad were the other people if they were able to offer me the scholarship. Afterwards I got an internship opportunity at an embassy, government think-tank and Amnesty International and none of the achievements made me feel good — and then I got the rejection from the parliament and I crashed.

I have never been quite happy with myself. I have always required external validation, but nothing is sufficient. Probably had I gotten a yes from the parliament I would had thought how bad were the other applicants if I was able to get the position, that very same lurking thought that visits me every single time when receive external validation. I never think that I was in fact the best of everyone; I just give the credit to the fact that I was the least worst of all the possible options.

The rejection I got from the parliament was one of the firsts in a really long time and it has affected me much more than I had ever imagined. Since that I have put my life on hold and not progressed with anything in my life. And I know it should be all right to take a pause, but everything else around me keeps going on at an insane pace and I cannot help but feel that I am lagging behind when what I need the most is just to sit down and think of nothing. But it is not just possible. Not the way I would need a break.

I wish I could tell you not to worry about me, that I would pick up the pieces and everything will be fine. I probably will, this is not the first time I have been disappointed at my self but what about others who just cannot find the strength in themselves to find the courage and fight against the norms that the society places upon us?

And what about me, my Helsinki?
What happens when I get too tired?

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Books and music and TV shows

Dear Helsinki,

This evening was the first day since I landed to your feet a month ago from India when I had almost absolutely nothing planned. After work I had all the time in my hands just to enjoy the beaming sun that has been visiting you for a couple of days and go to my favourite bookstore. I love that place. I discovered myself wondering around the shelves for hours and before I realised it was almost closing.

I bought four books: Intersecting Voices by Iris Marion Young, one of the best political philosophers I have read. Then my hands discovered Frances Harrison’s Still Counting the Dead that is about the survivors of Sri Lanka’s civil war. The third book is The City of Devi by Manil Suri; I am somewhat obsessed with fiction set in India, so this seemed to be a good option. The last book is a collection of essays by Finnish politicians, academics and journalists about the role of the EU in van-guarding human rights. I was not planning to buy any books; usually I leave a bookstore with a couple of notebooks that I never use, but they had amazing sales now and the four books costed me just 10 euros. I am tempted to go there tomorrow evening again. Continue reading

One cold summer evening

Dear Helsinki,

One cold summer evening I approach my door step. I have just bought it a couple of months ago with him after living some years in different cities and for a certain period even in opposite sides of the world, but what we shared with each other was so strong, so determined, so much in love that she decisively carried us to this moment when I am about enter a home that is ours. That very evening as I place the key in the door and turn the knob, I reminiscence the past. Against all the odds we had made it. Had someone bet even a dollar on our chances to survive, he would be a billionaire now. Perhaps that is the reason bookmakers never take bets on love. It is unpredictable and unlike in sports you can never do match fixing.

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In the beginning we had nothing else conversations online; we had met briefly after two weeks talking to each other, it was an afternoon that lasted no longer than a Woody Allen but the moment captured a myriad of feelings that no director has ever been able to portray in her works. Two men who met in a small Indian town and fell in love with each other at that very first time when their hands secretively brushed against each other. No art form is able to depict the sensation of being with him, listening to his luring voice as he tells you about himself and every single word he mouths is so tastefully articulated that it almost sounds as if he is reciting 13th-century Persian poetry. Those three hours wits him is something that you happens when miss Ordinary makes love with mister Wonder and it is just perfect.

We had just that for next six and half months. I was in Finland and he was in India, I was a student and he was a student, he wanted to study at Oxford and be part of the social change that makes this world a better place and I was still uncertain what to do with my life. Continue reading

Stories that restore your faith in humanity

Dear Helsinki,

This morning I woke up to the sound of your tears landing on the roof. I have never seen you as sad I have witnessed you this summer, but you never tell me what is wrong because you do not wish to distress me with what you think are trivial issues. You not telling me what makes you experience this lugubrious colour does not prevent me from feeling concerned for you, my darling. I care for you and I will always worry about you because in the grand scheme of things you are the only who has been there my entire life, even through the most abominable moments where I mistreated you. You never left me and you keep telling me you will never leave me, that you will always love me no matter how apart we would be. And I believe you.

Your melancholia was contagious and I am also wistful, wandering aimlessly in my mind. Irrational thoughts spiced with gloomy despair have gathered in my head to compete in the world championships but the opening ceremony has been delayed, because I am struggling to give in to the solicitous sorrow. I am not too sure how long I can resist any longer and perhaps that is the reason I write you this letter; I have been thinking about writing about love and compassion of strangers for so long, but there is always something else that requires my attention so I never got around it. I did not want to think of too much about the morose speculation that seems to have made a reservation in mind for this week, so I think right now is the perfect time to tell you a couple of moments that have strengthened my faith in humanity and made the world look so much more beautiful than she already is. To remind you of it. And to remind myself.

I do not think I told you but I work two jobs presently. The mornings I spend in the office working on human rights reports among other administrative and office work that requires little interaction with the people. After seven hours there I go to my father’s shop to do three hour shift; my dad has traveled to India and my mother is unable to stand in the shop for twelve hours every day so I agreed to help them out for three weeks my dad is absent. And I have come to enjoy so immensely because of the few customers that come every night.

We are complete strangers, but yet we ask how we have been doing during the day and get to know about each other’s life, work and even love. It is a wonderful feeling to learn about them; we have never asked names and we will probably never meet outside of the shop, but we have established a special relationship despite the limited space of our interaction. I cannot explain it well. But I am always learning something new about the few customers who spend just a minute longer to learn about me. And that, perhaps oddly, brings joy to me.

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I wrote you some time ago about the kindness of people who were unknown to me, but here are three other stories that have impacted me greatly. There are many more, perhaps even more groundbreaking than the ones I am about to share with you but at the moment these are the tales I keep closest to my heart. I hope you can tell me about your buoyant encounters with strangers because I am certain we all have experienced them. No matter how small the deed, moments like these nurture our souls with the magnanimous love that in the sullen times remind us of how amazing the world is. I think hearing your stories would give me strength to evict the morose speculation in my mind. But here are mine, my dearest. Continue reading

Music blasting in India (June 2015)

Dear Helsinki,

I expected that I would not be able to send you the songs of last month because I had rather patchy access to Internet and I did not know if I could update my scrobbles on beloved last.fm. But it all worked out in the end and here are the artists that controlled my ears last month; the list does not include many new names with a few (major) expectations because did not really have the time (or the Internet) to discover new artists. Regardless I hope there is some pleasure in the songs I am sharing with you now.

IMG_2367 Continue reading