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

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Love that the world loaths

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Dear Helsinki,

Several years I have been fighting for my rights to be recognised. The language of human and fundamental rights have become an integral characteristic in the way I speak to decision-makers, general public and other stakeholders about legalising the love my heart longs for, desperately. I quote significant individuals who have come out in support of the battle I am struggling with, I refer to the international human rights instruments that protect all humans from oppression and discrimination and I compare the situation to other states which have made remarkable advancements. But this time Helsinki, I no longer wish to convince the rest of the world with abstract notions of love, rights and equality. I want to tell you my story. And I wish you to help me understand what it is about my feelings that still today make most of the world shiver with disgust.

I met a man in India a few weeks back. We started conversing on Grindr, an application for gay men to meet each other, and that alone felt strange as I never have a conversation on it. I use it for my own amusement and maybe three or four times a year I actually respond to someone, but his message and profile sparked my interest instantly that I responded without thinking the possible consequences.

We sent each other long messages, getting to know each other and soon enough I discovered myself having a chat with him every single time I had access to Internet. I would stay up until 3am every night, just talking about our lives, dreams that kept us going on, people that we had loved in the past and TV-shows that entertained us. It was effortless as if you had been discussing with a person who had known you the entire lifetime. Without realising I had let all my guards down with him, I had allowed him to enter my life and to access all parts of it without a hint of caution. My heart had not experienced such a magnitude of attraction and desire in years and she yearned to have more of the infatuation.

He had asked me a few times if I was able to visit Chandigarh, the city where he lived. I had been planning to travel there before we had started to talk, but then I realised it was four hour drive down to the mountains and as I was with my family my freedom was constrained. My lungs were thirsty to see him and the crippling thought of not seeing paralysed my entire body. Just a week before I was leaving the town, he found a compromise that worked for both of us: we would meet in Solan that was two hour ride away for both of us and have a coffee there. It was not much, but it was all we could have and I was willing to take it even though I was certain that the moment that meeting was over, the yearning for him would intensify conspicuously. Continue reading

The notion of love

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The notion of love,
it has gotten complicated and I am not too sure what to make of that. Had I been wrong the entire time?

It is hard, to write this. Somewhat confusing. I fear of going even more astray. I do know what verb tense to use, because deciding one would inevitably mean I have arrived to a conclusion while nothing could be further from the truth. So I apologise in advance if what I write does not make sense, my dear, but I just have to go from present to past and maybe even further into the past.

I was fourteen when I fell in love for the first time.
I knew it was not real love.

But something had happened when I saw him. I start to write stories, love stories. Not about him, although fan fiction was conquering the hearts of all online friends I had. Rather I wrote original fiction, about the love that all the people in the world, or so I thought, were after for because that was the sole purpose of your entire existence. To find someone who completes you, makes you what you are supposed to be because without that one person you are nothing more than a mere being stripped naked of meaning.

My love stories were sad. Star-crossed lovers acted as the protagonists in words that still are under my copyright. I do not think I wrote a single tale where the two lived happily ever after. Maybe because I knew there was not space for that in life I had.

Nevertheless I dreamed. It hurt, ached. I collected love quotes, wrote them in sticky notes and left them in different modes of public transportation in Helsinki. I watched romantic comedies, and tended to shed a tear or two in the end because the realisation of knowing it would never happen to me was too much to bear. I read,
& listened & saw & created.
And it all anguished, tormented. Continue reading

lights getting drunk in Helsinki

Helsinki has treated me quite well since I came back from Amsterdam, although I cannot deny I have been relatively confused about being back at home. I have this problem of grasping events when they happen and things hit much later, often with an added element of melancholia. Needless to say I have attempted to train the trait out of my system, but it is something that has been quite persistent in the life I carry. And I am not too sure if it is so bad, as long as it somewhat controlled and something that controls one’s life.

I have always had this strange sensation of longing back to the past events, because I know they will not be repeated ever again and moments that have could had taken place at the time are now lost chances. Regardless I have not ceased to appreciate the present, which before was extremely difficult for me but now Helsinki has offered me memories that I must share with the rest of the world, but especially with you my dearest. I know you have never seen Helsinki and I know we have never met either, but I do look forward to the time when our paths cross.

While I missed out on the light festival organised in Amsterdam, I experienced the annual Lux Helsinki that brings glittering, beamingly colourful lights to my precious hometown.

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I fell in love so deeply that the after the first night of witnessing all the beautiful artwork throughout the city, I had to make the same tour the following day. There were dancers with fire who expressed their emotions we all shared in front of the most picturesque monument of Helsinki. An artwork that I am not quite sure what it represented, but included needles and other medical equipment. It was dauntingly haunting. A booth where you could anonymously do whatever you wanted to and it would be projected on the Finlandia-talo, which all tourists supposedly should see during their visit in the city. Continue reading

Ever-lasting friendships & a new job

Last two weeks near Amsterdam with family were great fun, somewhat surprisingly. One and half years ago when I graduated and moved out of the Hague, I promised myself that I would not visit the country anytime soon. I guess I was desperate to leave that part of my life behind and not relive the bittersweet memories that I still occasionally recall unwillingly. I visited the Hague last spring as well for two days, but it was a quick trip during the country’s craziest festival (King’s day) so it went by without me even realising that I had ever actually been in there. This time it was different. I guess two weeks is enough for me to realise that I am no longer in Helsinki where people speak language that I understand.

I did not do very much during my holidays. I ate a lot, because my aunt loves cooking and she makes great food. I also visited Amsterdam quite frequently and as I wrote to her, I think I might have fallen in love with her again and this time permanently. Every visit required me to take a metro 51 from one end to another end and the ride lasted about fifty minutes. Obviously with a foreign SIM-card my iPhone was a useless piece of shit as I do not own any games, but it did not bother me. I had a book or journal articles with me and every time on my way to Amsterdam, my heart was beaming with excitement. Mostly because every time I went there, I got see a friend that I would have not seen in a long time but even the two times I visited the city just on my own my heart could not hold back the exhilaration.

Those metro rides were pleasant and when I think about it, I think I really miss sitting that fifty minutes in the blue/white wagon, reading my book, listening to the music that caresses my ears and once in a while look up at the people and wonder what their stories are. Sometimes I’d get lost in my mind so deep that the person I was thinking of would had already exited the metro without me even realising he left. At times like I think it was mostly because he was so handsome that perhaps I was thinking our wedding or something silly along those lines…

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I was really happy to see so many of my friends while visiting the Netherlands. I saw Marianne, well, in all honesty I have seen her quite frequently this year but every single time in a new place (Helsinki, Copenhagen, Tallinn, Brussels, Lisbon and now finally back in Amsterdam!). I cannot believe she is moving to Australia next year, though. I know I should be happy that she gets to fulfil her dreams, but it doesn’t have to stop me feeling a bit selfish that I cannot have her in this continent. Luckily she will come back after a year. Continue reading