A toad does not run in the daytime for nothing *

Gekko (1 of 1)
Bathroom encounter

My thoughts today: even when confined to our homes, we remain part of nature. I’ve seen some wild images of how nature takes over fast in areas where humans ceased to interfere. When you live in the tropics you see in a concrete way that despite the fact that we create our habitats at the expense of nature, it’s still here! Now at the time when it is very quiet in the house, small birds are looking at me as if I were some sort of an intruder. They constantly check out good nesting spots in the interior terrace and bring in small sticks and tufts of hair and all sorts of things they consider useful for a nest. They have also understood that they can drink in the house because I water our small trees and other house plants regularly. Lezards have also become much less shy and run around in the house even in the daytime and while I am in the room.

Today I would normally be eating Ngalax, a sweet porridge-like dish based on millet, peanut and baobab fruit, that the Senegalese Christians share with everyone in Easter. I cycled to one local small supermarket on the mainland and bought a jar of strawberry jam instead, and I’m going to make pancakes. When I got back home I read that according to some recent research that was carried out in Belgium and Holland, you should keep a much longer distance from others, especially if you are running or cycling behind someone. Even when walking behind another person their recommendation of a safe distance is 4-5 metres, and when cycling, at least 10 meters. How would that even be possible here? Leaving a two-metre-distance means that someone – usually a taxi or a moped – is going to squeeze in to that empty spot immediately.

Wishing you all a Happy Easter, from distance!

* Quoted from Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

Yawn at dawn

It’s so quiet in the morning that I can hear one of the neighbors just across the street make long sighing sounds every time he yawns in his room. I can also listen to the music he’s playing on his radio.

Voisin 10APR2020
My neighbors’ house across the street

The government is now helping the most vulnerable households with food aid and free electricity and water. Someone commented on a social media that they should also provide free Internet connection to all households in this time of crisis. Why not, although even today the connection is trembling and works only sporadically.

Yesterday’s long break from the Internet connection prevented me from having my Amharic class but I had some material to work on to begin with. There are fairly frequent water cuts and occasional power cuts that you can fight with water reserve and solar lamps, but what do you do when the Internet connection is down? I am a little slow reader of the Amharic script and I just love it when the meaning of a word suddenly opens up after my staring at the word and the letters long and hard. Those unexpected moments of joy when you realize that with some effort there is life beyond Google Translator and online dictionaries.

The Ocean of Tuonela

Nappkat_Jarmo Pikkujamsa
Nappkat © Jarmo Pikkujämsä

The Ocean of Tuonela: Human and Temporal Impacts

The ‘Ocean of Tuonela’ refers to the Underworld, the realm of the dead, in Finnish mythology. It is the title of a multi-artistic exhibition at Bailiff Starcke’s House at Kyrkogatan / Kirkkokatu in Kristinestad / Kristiinankaupunki, Fibnland.

The impact of time and man on our habitat is the overriding theme of the show, which aims to break borders and serve as a wake-up call. The individual works and the exhibition premises, an old wooden building, are in a constant dialogue on current issues related to life, death, power and climate change.

The exhibition allows you to contemplate decaying murals of mess halls in abandoned Soviet-time military bases, the fate of Senegalese fishermen as their environment is being submerged by the ocean waters and the loss of collective memory. The unique historical layers of the building itself naturally add to the experience: the exhibition spaces all tell their own story. Visitors are finally invited to participate in the Last Assembly (Viimeinen kokous).

The Ocean of Tuonela is a complex and intriguing project. The setting naturally brings attention to life in picturesque Kristinestad itself. The exhibition takes a stand and delves into the heart of the soul, but also surprises you with curiosities. Inside the building, visitors will find themselves in the middle of the surging Ocean of Tuonela. They will move in visual landscapes between the real and the unreal. There is always a glimmer of hope.

The exhibition has been realised by the members of the working group Tuonelan tienviitta, established over the course of the past year. Like-minded they may be, but their different personal points of departure and life experiences in different cultural environments bring a richness of perspective. The working group includes:

Marianne Halenius, physician (Kristiinankaupunki)
Kaisu Koivisto, visual artist (Helsinki)
Teijo Laaksonen, restorer (Kristiinankaupunki)
Staffan Martikainen, translator (Brussels / Saint-Louis, Senegal / Kristinestad)
Liisukka Oksa, conservator (Kristiinankaupunki)
Jarmo Pikkujämsä, visual artist and researcher (Saint-Louis, Senegal)

The exhibition is supported by a grant from the Finnish Cultural Fund Southern Ostrobothnia and is open between 17 June and 31 July 2019.