Apartment E101

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The morning of 1st Spetember 2016 wasn’t the most cheerful one. I got up from my bed, making slow advances towards the kitchen to brew my morning coffee for one final time. As the old coffee machine made grumbling noises, I walked into the balcony for probably the last time.

My contract for Apartment E101 had been terminated and I was all packed up to leave. Having arrived in Finland, this apartment was my first shelter. I was gathering all my memories from the last three years. I remember the first time I stepped inside meeting my roommates, befriending them.

Rodolfo, Qang and me were the first ones to move in the apartment and later Johan and Maxim occupied Qang’s room one after the other. Rodolfo and me had always been in the “House of Pendjos” (that’s what we called it XD). Both of us had changed so much as a person from the time we arrived here in Finland. Waking up to Latin music and greeting The Mexican with “Huomenta”, “Buenos Dias!” was our typical morning routine. I first got introduced to Latin culture and learned more about China through my roommates. I recollected the flashes of all the parties and drinking games I had in this same kitchen, our friends coming over, trying out our Mexican and Indian cuisines. roommatesI sipped my coffee and sat in the balcony thinking about the summer evenings. I found myself smiling and recalling those moments. Towards the end of summer, the dusk always seemed bright. I remember how I used to sit long in the balcony and read books, it used to so quiet and peaceful. img_20160731_215527

When it rained, the drops would make a clicking noise against the glass window pane in the balcony. It always felt good to feel the freshness and hear the rain against the window and watch the drops trickling down the glass pane, gleaming in the sun.img_20160802_211012

The door to my room resembled that of a high school kid’s, with posters and stickers, some of them posted by Rodolfo.img_20160823_123225I walked into my room, so many memories confined here. It felt like these walls have seen and heard too much of me. I had lot of interviews, calls, fights, laughs, sorrows, joys all in this room. When I looked outside from my window, I could see the trees all green. I had seen them change color with seasons, turing to yellow, white and green.

 

When I’m low, I have a habit of surrounding myself with things that motivates me and keeps me going. These posters and messages on my walls and windows are a symbol of that. I tend to talk to myself quite often and these walls & windows helped me with it. Apparently, Apartment E101 was very good at it.

 

 

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Orienteering

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Wikipedia describes Orienteering as “a family of sports that requires navigational skills using a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain, and normally moving at speed.”

One such rainy Monday afternoon, my friend Gaurav, his workmates and me set out on our adventure of Orienteering. We were introduced to the sport by Katariina: Gaurav’s workmate. Katarinna has been practicing the sport for quite sometime and was very skilled at it. She explained the rules, the ways to read the map and lent us the equipment needed for it. This sport works so that, one has to reach the multiple check points sprawled across a region, stamping an RFID tag at each of the check points. The time for the finishing the circuit is recorded and shared with the participants. There were different levels of the race, for eg “beginners”, which is spread over 3 kms and there were 11 checkpoints to cover. Our time were published at this webpage.

Being debutants at the sport, we did pretty well to finish the race. A wet weather didn’t help the cause. Holding the Orienteering map in our hand, we lost our way in the forest between the checkpoints. Reading this map requires some skills, the trails, hills and mountains are marked in with particular symbols.

 

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With the map, tag and compass

Though the sport was energy sapping, we felt accomplished after finishing it. Roaming through the forest, climbing rocks, slipping on the mosses, jumping over fallen logs, running in the swamps, it was an exciting experience, highly recommended.

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Orienteering Map

 

 

Suomen Talvi ’16.

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The title roughly translates to Finnish Winter 2016. There is something about winters, something colorful. Usually, people associate winters with darkness, long nights, but I tend to appreciate the snow covered silence, the cold breeze.
This winter was rather severe, compared to my previous experiences, with the mercury dropping as low as -33, in Tampere. Though, the cold agony was short lived, as the weather tend to stable itself after a few torturous weeks. Talvi ’16 brought tonnes of snow, and the scenes around seemed like a painted canvas.
You can’t get too much winter in the winter. Robert Frost
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/robertfros396590.html?src=t_winter
With the white snow just setting in the early December, the trees still had a few green leaves. The occasional warm sun, the hue of soft white snow below, sky overhead, yellow sun peeping through the green leaves in the forest.
On other days, the sky would be blue, brush stroked clouds, bare trees holding white snow and the unending roads.

 

Winter is not a season, its an occupation. ~Sinclair Lewis.
You can’t get too much winter in the winter. Robert Frost
Read more at: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/r/robertfros396590.html?src=t_winter

 

Walking on a frozen lake, through the sleigh marks, watching the sun go down behind the forest, the soft glowing light, and the cold refreshing breeze, with long silence.
The snow still firm laden on the ground, the kids playing, jumping, walking to schools. The red bricked buildings, the rusty trees lining the path, and the bright sun. The days start getting longer through the later part of winter.
 Robert Frost has rightly quoted “You can’t get too much of winter in winter.”

 

White blanket of snow beneath my feet.
Dark Skies overhead.

Gleaming moonlight  sparkles the snow crystals.
Misty yellow lamps decorating the street.

Winter doesn’t always disappoint.

 

March would announce the arrival of spring, well not so in Finland. Its a bit confusing time, the snow still stands, the sun gets warmer and some trees start to bloom. But nonetheless, its still picturesque as ever.

Things I did in Lapland =D

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This March, I had the chance to visit the winter wonderland, the home to Santa Claus =D, “Lapland”. Located in the northern part of Finland, peeping just above the Arctic Circle, the region is surely a place worth visiting. Sparsely populated, even by Finnish standards, the place sees hurling tourists, all throughout the year. We parked ourselves at the northern most tip of Finland, on map, its a point where, Sweden, Norway and Finland meet. A group of nine friends on an road trip adventure. Here is a small listicle of things I experienced in the memorable trip to Lapland.

Somewhere in Oulu

 

Northern Light Road, Finland-Norway (Aurora sightings)

Looong Roadtrip

Driving 2000 kilometers from south to the north, we pretty much covered the whole of Finland and more. We drove through multiple towns, admiring the scenery and appreciating the architectures throughout. From playing, fun games in the van to listening unstoppable music throughout, the journey, it sure was worth the road trip.

Museums and Library on the way

We made quite a few stops on our way, to experience quite different and variable architectures of both Russian and Swedish style. My favorite was a small city library, at Senajoki. Colorful, interactive, yet quiet. I wish I could have more pictures from the library.

 

 

Okay, I was frowned upon every time (even by the Santa), for using the name “Jakodstadt”, the Swedish name for Pietarsaari. There was supposedly an old wooden town, with colorful houses. It kinda looked pleasing and quiet.

Vaasa Beach

This town is without doubt the Swedish capital of Finland. Located on the western coast, the evening looked pleasant with warm sun, cold wind and the silence of the sea.

 

Snow Castle at Kemi

The walls, floors, chairs, bed, furniture, ceiling, everything snow. Yes, a castle built entirely of snow. The Kemi castle, supposedly the world’s biggest snow castle was surrounded by serene beauty. We climbed the roofs to see a desert of white, far and long in the horizon as far as the eyes could see with damp and cold winds, brushing us.

 

Santa Claus 😀

Smirky, smiling, witty old man, every kid’s dream. Santa Claus was really smart and intelligent, greeted each one of us in our languages, multi lingual. Virginia, had a video message for Santa, from her little cousin, demanding more gifts next Christmas. Santa asked the little one to a good kid, and he would bring more gifts to her next Christmas.

Reindeers

When you’re in Santa’s home, reindeer couldn’t be far. XD They are pretty uncommon animals, and we were lucky to pay them a visit at their farm.
 

Amazing Auroras

If you’re in Lapland, you in for a treat to your eyes. The majestic phenomenon, to see the sky covered in a wave of green, the stars sparkling and the white snow above the amazing auroras. When you just come out of hot sauna, to roll in the cold snow, and witness the auroras flashing overhead, Ah!! a moment to cherish, surely.

Hiking in sunshine on snow covered Saana

One fine day, in bright sunshine, we went out hiking in a shining white snow covered mountain, Saana. Blue sky, and vast expansive view, mountains, lakes, trees, all frozen and covered with snow. Tired, hungry and panting on reaching the peak, but still all worth.

Trip to Tromsø

Norway is surely, by far one of the most beautiful place. We drove through beautiful valleys, beside, under and over the Arctic ocean. Tromsø, showed us the northern most beer brewery of the world. The city center had under heated roads, beautiful library and delicious food.

 

Snow mountains and frozen lake

White and bright all around as far as eyes could see. People hiking, skiing, sliding, running, driving all on the frozen lakes and snow capped mountains, magnificent view.

View of Norway Sweden and Finland

Hiking up the mountains, we reached a point, where we could see all three countries before the horizon. Blue sky above us, sun shinning bright overhead, standing white sparkling snow and just hearing the wind blow, through and across the borders.

 

Playing in the Snow

‘nough said 😀

Chillout Evenings

Our evenings were pretty much talking partying and playing instruments. One fine evening, we had a party without pants. XD