I had been to Finland to get KT on a new project. The trip was for three weeks. And today I return. This is the first time I came to a place where I could see snow all around. I was in Logica Lahti office which is further north to the main office in Helsinki. It was so freezing the time I got out of the flight that I really understood why Logica pay for winter clothing once in three years when someone has got to travel to a freezing place.
I got a message from Sari, an employee from the administration department of Logica Finland, mentioning that the stay is arranged in a semidetached house and the owner of the house will let me know the way there. I got his number also from her. She also mentioned that, there would be a cover in Helsinki Airport which will have a SIM card for me to use while I am in Finland for the official purpose.
It was very easy to find the SIM card and I walked out to find a bus which goes to Lahti. It is some 100 KM north. I reached Lahti at about 4:00 in the evening. I called Jussi, the house owner who told me that he is also in the town and will pick me up. When I got out of the bus a man called me my name and walked towards me. It was Jussi, for the obvious reason that I am the only one in the near 50 KM who looks different, he recognized me. Before taking me home, He took me around Lahti and showed me all the pride of Lahti, which includes the high skieig towers and the ice-hockey stadium.
He took me to his home and showed me the place given for me to stay. Oops it's a four bedroom house near the lake with a private souna in the basement. The water in the lake is just Ice. It was difficult for me to walk as I was wearing a leather shoe with no grip in the sole. It was a kind of circus for the next one day to walk on the ice in some portions. Next day morning Jussi dropped me in Logica office. I saw Ossi who helped me in and gave me a place to sit. While I was getting comfortable I found that the adapter of my laptop will not work in the socket there. Rikhard (Riku) got me an adaptor. A few minutes from then Marko, who is the key contact of me being there, found me and took me to a comfortable seat where I could sit for the next three weeks. There were only a few people in the office, and I started interacting all those who sit next to me. Veli-Pekka helped me in the first day in understanding the system and the initial work. Marko gave continues help thought my stay in there.
It was the lunch time and I started talking to more people. Marko Oja, Ari Rämö, Tiina Utriainen, Jaakko Reinman were some of them who I used to be with while going for lunch most of the days. Rikku took me to a shop where I bought a new pair of shoes which helped my survival in Finland. He also took me to the bus station where I bought 30 days valid bus coupon. Second day he took me to his home in the evening and gave me a muffler which I could wear to protect my neck from cold. You could just imagine my condition where there is a 10 minutes' walk through the side of the lake after getting down from the bus. This is where there is a good wind which could freeze your ears and you could also see tears flowing out of your eyes. Third day morning when I came to office I wore a pair of gloves that Rajesh Jampana gave me before I started from India. It was so freezing that I could not even know that whether there is a glove in my hand or not. While walking through the side of the lake I found that there is only one gloves in my hand. I went all the way back searching for it but most probably it would have been lost in the bus.
Third day I found a pair of gloves in the table with a note "Keep your hands warm" it was Riku who brought a pair of gloves from his home for me. This was a great feeling of friendship and care.
The third day, Prabhat joined me in Lahti. He stayed there for four days and we made nice food at home. We were invited for a evening to play billiards and to have some beer. There we played and I lost all the games I played against Marko and Ari. We enjoyed the day and it went very well. We talked for some time and then Marko Oja dropped me back at home. Most of the Finnish people are seen to be a little shy to start talking, but once you are comfortable with them they start getting so warm with you. This was happening with me while the day passed.
I got help from Ari, and Jaakko in the next task. Jaakko was there available most of the time when ever there was a need of help. Saturday I invited Rikku and family for having dinner at home and I made sure that there is not much of spice. I made Pepper Chicken and Egg Masala. It was not so tasty for me but Rikku said it was.
Ice hockey is one of the biggest sports people enjoy in Finland. It is like how cricket is considered in India. Jussy invited me for a match and we went together to the ice hockey stadium. It was a match between Pelicans, the local team of Lahti and Karapats one of the team from the northern Finland. My seat was just behind the Pelicans team box and there were Jussy, his wife and children and also his brother in law. It was a great successful match for the host team we enjoyed the game and Jussy got me some hamburger and other foods to enjoy the game. It was great and all the people were in great mood. We made it to the best as we could supporting the team shouting
Days passed and there came Brilliant Friday (The annual day in Finland) we had a nice time there. Talking to so many people, and the mood was great. We end up doing arm wrestling and got someone and someone got me. We all exhausted all our beer coupons and then came sponsored drinks. We were all so high and left the party after 11 in the night. Anncy told me that I am going to have a nice hangover next day and will wake up only in the afternoon. We made a bet, I said morning 6:30 I will send you a message saying "I am still alive" if I managed to send it, Anncy would get me a beer. If not then I will have to get him one.
After the party there was one more coupon which was given which enabled us to enter another pub. Some of us went there and did not like it as there were only young people in there. By this time it was only Marko and me. Marko helped me to get a taxi and I left home.
This is one great day ever for me outside India where I made many friends in a day. I am sure that I have made a place in each of their heart. Well forgot to mention Ari, got an award of being exceptionally innovative.
Saturday I invited Jussi , his wife Sanamaria , Marko and his family for a dinner at my place. This time I was more careful while preparing the dinner and made pepper chicken fry, Chicken masala, and Kerala style Egg curry. This time I made it good and I was proud of me myself. All the guest were on time but I was still cooking it took another 30 minutes for me to finish with cooking even though I started cooking in the morning. We had a nice time and they got some gift for me. Marko's child Veeve made my day. I felt so happy with her she was doing exactly the same things that my child Claire do at home. I and Marko went to sauna after the dinner and had some more beer. This was another day which I would like to remember for the rest of my life.
Sunday Jussy and Sanamariya invited me for skiing. We went skiing on the frozen lake and found a man fishing in the lake by making a hole in the lake.
Marko continued helping me in clarifying my doubts and Jaakko helped me in solving many difficulties. This week Marko Oja was assigned to help me understanding the third side of the system and he was so simple in making me understand things.
This was the last week for me in here. I am now considered as one of them. And it was a great feeling. Wednesday Marko invited me to his home for dinner. I was so excited to see Vive his 4 year old daughter. He has a very beautiful house near the boundary of the forest. It is an old Finnish model house. And the dinner was also so tasty. I spend time talking to him and playing with his children. I asked him if he could drop me in the nearest bus stop. He came to drop me to the bus stop and changed his mind and drove all the way to my home and dropped me at my home.
The next day I Marko Oja, Ari and Jaako we went to Herald, a Finnish restaurant and had our dinner there. We enjoyed our meal and kept on talking till it got late. Said bye to all and started to go back. I also met Marko Oja's girlfriend who offered me a drive home. I said would walk and started walking. But then I found that it all looks same. I had no clue where to go. I asked some of the people and they showed me the route. I was confused once again and asked one more person who passed by. I heard a sound, "Joe are you looking for the way home"? , It was Jusi. He dropped me home.
This is the last day, Moring Riku came with a gift for my child. Jaakko brought mämmi, a traditional Finnish food, It was nice. And later in the evening Marko dropped me at my home and we said good bye to each other.
I think I have made a good relationship with the very good people of Finland. It is so nice of each one of them. They take you as a good friend if you managed to keep the right relationship.
We say Athi Devo Bhava, but they do. I loved each day I stayed there. A give big salute to Finland which has birth to people I met.