Helsingistä Mississaugaan / Angelit & Värttinä

Hyville Ystävilleni!

The title of this post reads “From Helsinki to Mississauga”, a heading I have not wanted to type for three months. However time has come for me to pack up and return home tomorrow…with an extra suitcase! I have bought so many books that I had to buy a new bag last week. In a practice packing run I realized there wasn’t a chance in helvetti that I would get everything home. I am dreading the role I will have to play tomorrow: Craig as camel, laden with bags and towing a luggage cart that I feel will certainly break under all the extra weight. FYI, books in Finland are expensive, but not those printed in Finland and written in Finnish. English translations of Finnish works, even though they may be printed here, are expensive as well. By far the majority of books I have purchased pertain to my studies of the Finnish and Sami languages. I did buy one beautiful Swedish book on budgies (only eight markkaa = $2 Canadian).

Last August when I was in Finland my watch konked out. I needed to buy a new battery. Almost a year to the day (I was in Helsinki last 27-28 August 1999) my watch died again! When I bought a new battery last Friday, the watch was still dead. So as a(nother) souvenir of my summer here, I have bought a Finnish-themed watch, not easy to do in Helsinki. The only decent Finnish watches are ones made by local artisans and jewellers, and they are very expensive. Some tourist spots have Finnish-themed watches, but I did not want to pay the equivalent of twenty dollars Canadian for a plastic watch that surely wouldn’t last long. My new timepiece is a sharp-looking souvenir from Olympia Stadion, otherwise known as Olympic Stadium, home of the (cancelled) 1940 then 1952 Olympic Summer Games. Since I have to have the watch hermetically sealed in a package in order that I can claim my tax-free discount at the airport, I cannot wear it until I am on the plane. I am carrying around my little alarm clock for now.

Soon after I arrived in Helsinki, I saw one of my favourite groups, Värttinä, in concert for the very first time. Now, as part of Helsingin Juhlaviikot (Helsinki’s Weeks of Celebration) [1] I was able to see two amazing concerts. Last Monday I saw Angelit (sometimes known as the Girls of Angeli). This is a duo of sisters who come from the northern Lapin Lääni village of Angeli (or Áŋŋel). Perhaps I can’t call it a village since the population is a mere seventy. Angelit sings in Tunturi Sami, and fortunately their albums have been released in Canada and the U.S. Their new album, their fourth, is called Mánnu, and they performed mostly songs from that album. Angelit combines the traditional Sami yoik-style of singing with modern rock instruments. When Angelit got their international record deal, their record company compiled a “greatest hits” album from their first three Finnish releases. The compilation is called The New Voice Of North (by The Girls of Angeli). I have this album and recommend it for a taste of Sami-meets-Finnish rock.

The second concert I saw was by Värttinä last Thursday night. The group’s vocalists gave four brief a cappella shows. Seventeen songs were sung in total, so in a way this was a long drawn-out concert. The vocalists, Mari, Kirsi, Riikka and Susan, sung songs that were not performed at their June concert at Olympic Stadium. The Olympic show focussed on their latest album, Ilmatar (which will be released in Canada in October), however Thursday’s songs were all from their older albums. And I was so happy to hear the song “Oi Dai”, from their third album (of the same name). Ilmatar is the group’s eighth release. So I began my Finnish trip with a Värttinä concert, and it will end with a Värttinä concert.

I will touch down in Toronto Tuesday the 29th at 21.30 EST. I am missing my family, my two budgies and my friends. I do believe I have written more postcards in the last two weeks than in any fortnight stretch before.

Unless I write in the morning before I leave for the airport, my postcard total over this eighty-nine-day trip comes to a total of…eighty-nine! It is a pleasure to write to all of you.

Craigilta, jolla on ikävä teitä
(from Craig, who misses you)

Man will I miss Akateeminen Kirjakauppa (the Academic Bookstore)!

[1] The year 2000 marks Helsinki’s 450th anniversary, as well as the year where Helsinki shines as one of nine chosen European Cities of Culture. Thus there is an abundance of cultural events in the city. I picked a good summer to come!

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