Wednesday, 6 February 2013

My experiences shuttling between the Arctic and the Tropical Monsoon

This is a new blog I have started about general thoughts and my views about the place where I currently live, Finland. Many surveys have rated this countries as one of the best places in the world. The quality of life, health and education is one of the best. I am not going to debate about that. What sometimes baffles me is the transition one has to witness when taking a journey to my home , to Mumbai, one of the megacities of India.

From a city that boasts of a meagre population of just over 1 million  and a density of around 1000-2000 persons per sq km to enter another where there are 21 million people jostling for space, a mind-boggling 20000 persons per sq km. Now that's what is transition ! In less than 12 hours, you get transported from absolute calm and silence (and yes, you ll get to know what that really means here) to the non-stop humdrum of local trains. One train a minute , and still jam-packed, known as the super-dense and hyper-dense crunch loads.

Slowly and steadily, Indians /South Asians are making their presence felt in this remote Arctic corner of Europe. Staying in Finland for now close to 3 years, I have witnessed quite a lot of changes here. The number of Indians studying at Otaniemi campus has seen a steady increase, and we now have a small but rapidly growing community, which also has its own Facebook page.  A lot of Indian foodstuffs like spices, rice, pulses are available now in not one, but 4 Indian markets in two shopping centres in Espoo / Helsinki region. A few days ago, I received an ad as part of the newspaper, about a new restaurant. What stunned me  was that dishes like Muttar Paneer are a part of the menu at the restaurant , and these can be ordered by a phone call and the person delivers it at your doorstep. I ordered the same dish from there and was expecting the food to be just okay, but I was in for a surprise, as the food was really good.

So things are definitely changing here. What is further accelerating change is the super flight connectivity to India. Finnair now flies direct to Delhi from here, and the flying time, as compared to even European flights, is not much - just 6.5 to 7 hours. Its shorter than an overnight bus journey ! From Finland, the flight just leaves around dinner time and by 3 am Finnish time, or 6 30 am IST you are at Delhi, which is around 5000 km from here. Return flight leaves Delhi in the late mornings and by mid-afternoon 3 pm you are at Helsinki. Time just flies past in the flight. 6-6.5 hours is just enough for you to have a meal, and sleep for 3-4 hours. Thats about it !

Undoubtedly, the best part of being in Finland is the time difference between here and India. While most Indian students end up in the US, its at least 11 hours behind from India, or more I guess. However, the time difference between Finland and India is just 3.5 hours in winter and with DST (Daylight Saving Time) its just 2.5 hours. Now thats what I call awesome ! I sometimes call up home at 7 in the evening, and my parents are just about to go to sleep. It gives me a great feeling, as I and my parents are in the same part of the day (either its morning vs early afternoon, or early evening vs late evening in this case). All that I can say in the end is "Suomi on hyv'a paikka' , which roughly translates to 'Finland is a nice place'. All izz well here !