Tag Archives: Finnish Culture

Perspective on a visit to the Cedars land.

I just came back from visiting Lebanon.

Year after year i discover how i have changed and how Lebanon changes, I was lucky to leave but I never expected Lebanon to become a country so full of hate, of fear, of anger, of worries like it has become!

Lebanon is dangerously on the edge due to the Syrian crisis. The blood, killing, hate and merciless war of Syria is stretching to my home country. It feels like a black cloud of evil is covering the region.

The worst part of the trip was to see how much fear is in the people, rumors around the streets of a car bomb here or a potential car here. Police asking for drivers to put tags of their contacts on their car, family advising to avoid this or that area.

It is important to note that above all this life goes on, like it went during the civil war but then you knew your enemy, you knew its a war. The situation is that Lebanon dangerous due that political parties in Lebanon  are now involved in the Syrian crisis. Our both neighbors are nothing then trouble. Human values are non-existent for the Syrian regime and in the name of the god they both worship they are causing havoc to my homeland.

The Syrian refugee crisis has taken a toll on the economy, the country resources cannot hold another million person. Food prices are high, a minority of Lebanese elite are living well as always but the Middle class is suffering badly. The main issues that are making refugees life hell is that Lebanon does not recognize the presence of these refugees in fear that they remain due to historical facts like the Palestinian refugees that remain in the country for decades now.

The Syrian refugees are paying the price, they are really living in miserable conditions in camps on rented land from land owners with support from UNICEF and local NGO’s but the longer the crisis continue the longer the Lebanese will become hostile to the refugees.
I feel that writing this might seem very gloomy and depressive, but the reality is Beirut didn’t feel the same. I shopped, i ate myself full, i enjoyed a great weather but Beirut does not feel back to life or alive as it used to be.

Helsinki on the other hand never change, extremely quiet and awaiting summer to get its people out of their hibernation back to their parks and summer festivals and back to life. I somehow wonder if we really live only 3 month(almost) a year here.

Visiting Lebanon, makes you feel hopeless that how much you tweet and try to advocate for a better nation in your homeland, your voice reaches nowhere. The hungry for power war lords are still in power, their sons and daughters are in power. Small changes are occurring but i wonder will we ever reach a stability/economical growth/solutions in our generation?

Hate seems to rule and the poor and the weak pays for the arrogance of the war lords. Lebanese are not united, they are born with the disease of religion in their blood to difference them from others. They believe that your religion, your sect is above your Lebanese nationality. I always said i wish Lebanese had 10% of the nationalism of the Finns, we would be in peace and prosperous.

When you visit the cedars land, your heart ache when you notice how much ignored is this crisis from where you come. In Finland, the issue of 1.2 million refugees is out of the Finnish media and barely mentioned in the society, we even debating as Finns if we take another 500 refugees in here. It’s a sign we are growing as humanity more selfish less caring of whats happening in the world. We think we are alone but we are not isolate, with social media with travel growing, with Europe, Finland is not alone as the countryside of Europe. We get affected by any event happening. Finland needs to be more present on the international scale, advocate for more peace, for more humanity and for more diplomacy.

I wanted to share a video to remind the Finns of a reality released by save the children UK :

“Just because it isn’t happening here, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening.”

Here are some pics from the refugee camps in Lebanon, Heartbreaking that they had no right to build homes, or basic food and were being used honestly in slavery in a way, there was lots of news of child labor told to us. We fight daily against our life stresses by living our #firstworldproblems while they are fighting for their life, for basic food and for water.

Syrian Refugee Camp in Zahle

Syrian Refugee Camp in Zahle

Zahle Camp of Syrian Refugees

Zahle Camps of Syrian Refugees.

A School for Syrian Kids.

A School for Syrian Kids run by UNICEF

Some Facebook pages working with Syrian Refugees in Lebanon if you are interested to follow or offer support:




Where is really Home?

The basic reference of the word home comes as follows.
/hoʊm/noun, adjective, adverb, verb, homed, hom⋅ing
1. a house, apartment, or other shelter that is the usual residence of a person, family, or household.
2. the place in which one’s domestic affections are centered.
3. any place of residence or refuge: a heavenly home.
4. a person’s native place or own country.

I have been for the last 7 years now in this northern part of the planet trying to figure out really what is home. Is it really true that when you are an immigrant to a new country, it’s like you are reborn. Is it true that you do the baby steps again, you build yourself, you integrate, you learn?  But does that make where you are now, your home?

As hard as it was to learn how to adapt, work, communicate in a new culture. Finland became my home! Every aspect of its society affect me, from its politics, to the little things of everyday life, even to the way i think. I have become “Finlandized”

When i came to Helsinki, i fell in love with the peace, with the system, the mentality of the Finns, their appreciation of everything given to them, their modesty, and the real democracy and freedom. This freedom and democracy is something people in the Arab world seems to be eager to have now, the youth of the Arab world are revolting to be able to live free, have jobs, a good life, standards, infrastructure, development and “democracy”.

But democracy cannot sadly be given in matters of days or even months, as i see after my experience here in Scandinavia, it is given by the way people  are raised, people learn to live  it, learn to be free, they learn to be given these rights. Our choices are ours, we are responsible of our actions.  The way you behave to respect  other humans even if different from you is the real democracy, the way you live is the real democracy.

Responsible for our actions is something that the Finns take seriously, they stand up to their country. I always say that the nationalism in Finland is not a curse, i wish my real home country was as nationalistic as we are here or patriotic and not divided over religion, over foreign interests or assets.

It is not the flag put on every building, it is not the love to “Lihapulla” or “Makkara” or the love to the “Suomi T-Paita” that makes Finns nationalistic really in my opinion, it is the way they are proud of their country, or the way they are proud of what they have built from the welfare state to the way how they  handle any breach of their air space or to the way they respect the value of a citizen. You can feel safe in Finland.

Many might say i am wrong, but i appreciate the love people have to their nation even though it is changing and maybe not toward the best. But well Home is a place where you are valued as a human, where you are treated with respect, where you are not scared from the police like the case in most of the Arab world. Home is the place where you can say to a certain extent what comes to your mind without fearing to lose your job or get in trouble. Yes! I know it is not the paradise, Finns still tend not to like being criticized and it is one of their weakness but the reality I feel home here and i am blessed to feel so. Domi ego sum!

A tale of a winter!

In Finland, change happens.  Change of seasons, and it is noticeable. Winter turn to spring, and you can feel it and taste it. Winter was rather harsh the last 2 years compared to years before.

But since i mentioned winter, i wanted to write about how do we survive it here. These little tips, come from the little i have learned when dealing with the great cold of the north.

Winter tips that i have learned that i would like to share :

  • Watch out from black ice that forms and the eye cannot see.
  • Walk using the top of your toes when you are walking on ice.
  • Do not try the trick of sticking your tongue to any metals 🙂
  • Use layers of clothe, they are the only ones to keep you warm.
  • Cognac and vodka or Jaloviina are your friends!
  • Wool is your best type of clothe. 
  • Listen to the advice of your spouse if they are Finns, they know better!
  • Finnish men do not like wearing a hat, but don’t be Finn on that one. A hat will save you. 
  • Do not think of Fashion, or how to look cool! cool and fashionable are not in Finnish dictionary during the dark winter month.
  • Buy a UV light, dark days can be devastating to you.
  • Appreciate your winter holiday’s and head to  a sunny destination.
  • Sports are huge part of winter, you can find all kind of winter sports here.
  • Use your camera to take these amazing nature pics, because it tend to get beautiful!

That is most of the advices i have, coming at this time when winter is on its end and spring is coming toward Finland, at least i wish 🙂

Talking about spring here are few pics i took from Helsinki & Finland during this winter! P.s if you ever plan to visit Finland, you should come twice, during the darkness and during the light seasons.

A year of change, a year since that winter!

Wow! What a year it has been since my last post here.

You might think that this blog is dead! Well, you are wrong. big time wrong.

The Finnish experience is on and on and that winter in my last post is way gone, but hell the current winter isn’t going anywhere. A bit of spring shows today though in Helsinki.
A year has passed and i have been busy with life, integrating, adapting, cooking, going on holiday’s, dreaming of how a democratic Middle east will look. Dictators have fallen, others have risen, majorities became minorities, disasters that shatter the heart have taken place in great nations. and even a nuclear fear populated by the world media that sparked the Finns to empty the pharmacies of Jodi Tablets.
But my Finland, is the same except of course Timo Soini is a powerful leader with 17.2 % of the voters wanting him to lead them to the new Finland, the nation of perfection.

Anyhow, before going into politics, I could talk a bit about how did Finland change in my eyes in the last year, last summer was extremely hot, the fans ran out from the stores, the Finns were sun worshipers again, nobody stayed indoors, the terraces were full of the happy Finns, but then …

Came winter again, a harsh one with -0C and much below for more then a 100 day, skins have dried, hearts have shaken, minds gone nuts, but all what i did was work. Working at night in Finland is scary for a lebanese soul sometimes.

In Lebanon, we are hyper, active, too sociable, and imagine the peace of the night of Helsinki, tasks are there to be done but the night is quiet, really quiet. sometimes at least!

But this year also, has been full of surprises, of hours spent watching Aljazeera, watching a new world being born, a new middle east, Tunis and Egypt got rid of their pain in the ass aka dictators, these brave nations youth showed that they are too eager for democracy, for change. Hoping few others will follow.

But what they forgot, that the democracy has taken the west years and decades to be learned, it is not something that you get after toppling a dictator in a matter of weeks, this is gonna be a long process and eduction will play a huge role in it. The future will show us great success in the region if the youth of these nations take control and know how to go from here.

As for the disasters of this year, the upcoming Finnish elections will be one heck of a disaster with the True Finns leading. It seems that the trend of blaming the minorities for the problems of the majorities, has become a habit in the Finnish society, leader like Soini tend to fool the people into following them promising them a better Finland (without modern art???!!! ).

What is wrong with today’s Finland ? That answer i keep it for my next long post. And i promise it will be before the upcoming heated elections.

Meanwhile, stay tuned for my following post dedicated to the brave nation of Japan.

And the witches and fires of Ostrobothnia …

We just came back yesterday night from a lovely holiday in the Finnish countryside, even if it was a very tiring one due to the huge number of tasks to be done and all the family activity.

The Finnish countryside, based on my 3 years experience here was the same as it has been! not much change in general.

Finnish Country Side

Finnish Country Side

Finnish Countryside

Finnish Countryside

Sun sets on Vimpeli's lake.

Sun sets on Vimpeli's lake.

We had the Easter holidays and we spent lovely time with Maiku’s family.

My post here mentions the people in that village, I always felt like an alien in there, specially on Saturday night when you head to the bar which feels like from the 1960’s and where all the eyes are scanning a new visitors.

It’s a small village called Vimpeli of around 3000 population and where everybody knows everybody, which means that i am known as the son in law of Maiku’s parents and that am a foreigner. Good so far!

One of the major event that take place in Vimpeli during the Easter holiday is the witch kicking, we don’t kick witches literally, what the people do is to make huge fires in the fields to kick the bad spirits of the witches. And here it was supposed to happen that Saturday of Easter!

Vimpeli's traditional easter fires

Vimpeli's traditional easter fires

I get this call from the family that we are going to watch the KOKKO fire’s and I get myself all ready for the big event that is a part of the local traditions, as soon as we make it to the relatives of my beloved wife’s which had a huge fire, there was the famous Makkara and Olutta ( Beer and Sausages) for the celebration, as is the case of every day of holiday, alcohol is a must use during day’s of rest!

Kick the witch!

Kick the witch!

Now the people that ignited that huge fire were super sweet but they suddenly reminded me of a book by a Finnish author named Arto Paasilinna that i have been reading called (Hurmaava joukoitsemurha) or in French as i read it (Petits suicides entre amis) , the story has nothing to do with the fires of Vimpeli, but the characters of the people were nothing less then the ones in that book. It was hilarious; my description is not accurate though until you read it!

Distant, friendly, drunk but still friendly, interested and curious and most of all trying all the time to show their culture and brag about their adventures in this part of cold north.

A burning Bear!

A burning Bear!

My trip did not end with this experience of course only, i had the chance to join my father in law in the adventure of ice fishing which is our yearly common hobby, where you have to open holes in the ice and fish, but then you might be really lucky if you find any fishes, I wasn’t on that day! But since I mentioned the event, I will explain a bit the concept:

– You have to get your equipment ready and walk to the frozen lake where you start walking on the frozen ice.

– You have to know the right spot which until nowadays i didn’t figure out why my father in law still insist on this spot after 3 years of unsuccessful fishing (it must be a tradition) and then you got to calculate the distance from the grandmother house to the house, some GPS navigator wouldn’t be a bad gift for my father in law I guess! Might save us some time!

– You got to the dig the hole with a tool and open the ice then throw your fishing tool and sit and wait until you either freeze to death or get a fish which wasn’t the case this holiday!

– The last step is when everybody back home is expecting you to come back with a few fishes for dinner and you are empty hand and totally ashamed, then the idea of running to the nearest supermarket and buying a few fishes is not bad!

Me trying to fish! as if ...

Me trying to fish! as if ...

Tools for icefishing

Tools for icefishing

That was mostly the Vimpeli experience, in my next post i will be writing about some of our daily life back here in the cold north.

Sasi from Vimpeli.

P.S : Please do not copy or reproduce these pictures without asking permissions.