11 May 2010

We are like that only!

Every morning at least 8 to 10 people get off the bus at Nokia...Koreans, Chinese, Finns and some Indians...

Everyone walks on the pedestrian pathway…Oulu is known as one of the most friendly cities for cyclists and pedestrians.

Today, Suddenly I see this Indian, running across the road and the grass, cutting across from all corners to reach the office. The difference that this zig zagging made to the total distance is less than 10 steps!!!!

Pedestrian crossings exist at regular intervals on the street with several office buildings...Our man crosses the road bang in the middle of 2 pedestrian crossings!!!

Why are we like that only?

10 May 2010

Karelian Rice Pies

RicePie Finally…traditional Finnish food…eaten the Finnish way!

These rice pies were served at breakfast in the hotel on my visit to Salo. I took one but didn't like it at all!!!

However, at a recent visit to a Finnish home, Sirpa warmed them and asked me to try it with butter or cheese or egg. I didn't want to hurt her so took half of it with some butter and it was yummy! Obviously I tried another with cheese and really…to enjoy traditional food one must eat it the way the locals do.

09 May 2010

Team Outing - Hailuoto Island

When I first reached Oulu (in all that snow!) and asked anyone what is a  nice thing to do around Oulu they would suggest a visit to Hailuoto Island, but with a caveat…wait till Summer. There is a nice sandy beach and in Summer there is lot of greenery and its very beautiful…hmmm…it sounded like a must visit! Lot of bird watching also since migratory birds stop here on their way back home!

A pleasant surprise when the Jouni and Tero suggested that they wanted to show us Oulu countryside and the place they chose was Hailuoto Island!!! And on a Monday…even more exciting!!!

Hailuoto means "Shark Isle". There are no Sharks! but why it is called that I STILL haven't been able to figure out. Even Google wasn’t able to answer this one!!!

The island is accessible by ferry year round. In Winters, the  sea ice thickness reaches 40 cm and then you can DRIVE the car OVER the ice!!! That would have been interesting…as it is I couldn’t get over walking on sea…imagine DRIVING on sea!

But even in early May the ferry ride itself was very nice. It felt like a trip on an ice breaker crushing large ice floes. So I saved the *** euros that you need to pay for a trip on the Sampo Ice Breaker! This is a pic of the ice sea taken from the ferry as it breakes through the ice!

We drove right across the beautiful island to the most western point called Marjaniemi. There was a small exhibition there about the island. Its actually a very young island which came into being in the medieval period as a result of a rise in the level of the land. The island is continuously expanding and in a couple of hundred years it will be a part of the continent!

Some stuffed birds and salmons…I had seen these in Rovaniemi also and thought that they were fakes, but I was told by Jouni that they were real!!! Yikes!

Lunch at a restaurant there…I felt this could be my opportunity to try the traditional Finnish food as I would have the locals to help me out. But there was this fixed menu and the vegetarian option was vegetable au gratin. Unfortunately not terribly Finnish, but made well.

Fixed menus – a main course, some side salad and a drink- makes me want to mention one more thing.  This is the ONLY place in the world that i have seen adults – men and women drink MILK at lunch time!!! Milk is the drink option with the food here. No coke, Fanta etc!

After lunch we decided to walk along the beach. It was kinda funny as in some places the snow still hadn't melted and since it was still a bit chilly and windy so we were all packed up with jackets and caps…it was like a contradiction…walking dressed like that through snow to go to the beach!!!  The sea at the back is still a bit frozen…maybe another 2 weeks till it melts completely.

The Finns love their coffee breaks. In office itself, Tero was like I am prepared for our picnic today as he took a coffee mug out of his pocket! the plan was to stop off at a cottage and make a fire and enjoy the coffee and doughnuts.

That's another great thing. There are these cottages all over the island, where one can just go and use (for free). You can make a nice fire and just relax there.  No need for bookings, if too many people land up, the accepted rule is FIFO.  Its OK to camp there too. If I am here in Sept, this would be an ideal place to hunt the Northern Lights!

When we reached the ferry point, we realised that the next ferry was after another 1 hr, so we decided to go back…and maybe buy a reindeer!

This was an interesting sign that we had seen on the way. When we reached this place it seemed very quiet. Even when we parked the car no one came out or anything. We ventured out and into the persons backyard, where we actually saw some reindeers.

But the place had this eerie atmosphere…I had this feeling, that this guy is gonna come out with a shot gun and shoot at us for trespassing! Maybe it was the after-effects of doing a project for the Mexico factory!

No one around, very very quiet place …and then we noticed a key in the back door. Probably the owner had gone out. Now I agree…this is one helluva safe place!

But this also meant…We couldnt buy the reindeer ;-)

07 May 2010

Bussing around!!!

I know the bus numbers that go home...and as far as I knew No 3 doesn’t go home. But someone mentioned casually that it goes till a certain point (Toripakka), from where I knew that I could take the smaller city bus (Linja C) which leaves me just short of the door step.

So a couple of days later as we waited at the bus stop, I see No 3 coming along. I suggested that we try this bus out, because we can take the Linja C home. Other buses leave us at a point from where I needed to walk 1Km to reach home. Jayanthi told me to ask the bus driver if it actually went to the Toripakka but I was quite sure it would go.

Not that I was wrong!!! It went to Toripakka, but only till Toripakka P and not Toripakka E which is the next stop. At Toripakka P as it turned right instead of left I casually informed to the 2 girls with me that looks like the bus doesn’t go to our stop...the glare I got said it all. Anyway we got off at the next bus stop and thought we would cross the road and take another bus back...only it was some kinda main rood and there was no pedestrian crossing! No jay walking here! So we had to trudge back to the last bus stop…my 2 colleagues with their laptop bags!!!

Just as we were approaching the bus stop I saw No 9 approaching. I ran to flag the bus down...oh yeah that’s the other thing in Oulu – you need to flag down the bus as they will not stop at all stops!!! But I guess he was already in the other lane and so didn’t stop. Immediately behind it was No 1. One day as we waited at the bus stop few days back, an old man struck up a conversation with us. He was waiting for No1 and wanted us to check the number on the bus for him as he wasn’t able to see too well. So I was like…that fella was waiting for this bus, so let’s get on to it.

I was aghast as the bus turned the wrong way again!!! I suggested that we take a round trip on the bus...it has to eventually come back. This way we get to see some more Oulu. Jayanthi gave me such a dirty look. And then started sulking!!! Harsha agreed and so off we went.

I had assumed that the round trip won’t be too long as buses seemed quite frequent at that time. Soon we noticed that we seemed to be going out of town as we were greeted with a signboard – Oulu 6. I thought…ok maybe after some time. Oulu 11, Oulu 15, Oulu 17...my sense of direction ain’t very great but somehow this time I felt I was correct. Every time I thought now he should turn left or right to go back towards Oulu he would take the other direction!!!

I started getting a little psyched. We had been on the bus for quite some time. What if the bus goes to some last stop and there is no return bus today!!! We were definitely NOT in Oulu anymore. So much for adventure!!! Oulu 21...that is it...now I thought that Jayanthi will probably murder me!

By now all the people had got off and we 3 were the only ones on the bus. The driver stopped the bus and turned around and said something in Finnish, which I guessed was...’so where the hell do u wanna go, u seem to be on the bus for a long time’. I said Oulu centre...we seem to have got lost. He gave me such a weird smile and shake of his head and said...OK, I go Oulu centre.

And I heaved a sign of relief!

01 May 2010