sábado, 30 de maio de 2009

Às armas!

A época de saldos chegou e, como manda a patriótica canção, não a devemos desperdiçar: às armas, portanto. Ontem fui bem cedinho e ainda consegui a minha Uzi por 14,99 euros. As bazucas e granadas de mão também estão baratas. A Mena pediu para lhe trazer duas, anda arreliada com as baratas na cozinha. À criançada comprei meia-dúzia de kalashes, dizem que agora é a moda lá na rua.

sexta-feira, 29 de maio de 2009

Tallinn new isolation or my Robinson Crusoe syndrome

By João Lopes Marques (Eesti keel)

No doubt times have changed: Tallinn is now much more isolated than a year ago. Than six months ago. Yes, we can blame on the credit crunch and cross our fingers hoping things will get better soon. But once again two questions must be raised: a) when will this crisis be gone?; b) will the former status quo come ever back?

I guess no honest person is prepared to answer none of the questions. Individual lives raise singular problems. In my case things are crystal clear: my job (and self-imposed exile) implies lots of travelling...

That is why I often divide my Estonian existence into two different eras: B.K. and A.K. ("Before KLM" and "After KLM"). No, this time it is not because of oil barrel prices. Otherwise: seems that the disruption of the operation to Tallinn by the Dutch national carrier changed dramatically the logic of the local airfares. Besides having two daily connections to Amsterdam — and from there to their comprehensive network in all continents —, they used to be the cheapest airline operating from/to Tallinn.

Such cancelation coincided with the end of EasyJet route to Berlin and no more LOT connections via Warsaw. Not enough, most airlines have reduced the frequency of their operations from/to Tallinn.

"It is the economy, stupid!" Even if my economic knowledge is rather limited, it is obvious A.K. airfares have skyrocketed because competition in Estonia has diminished. In a small market like this, where a butterfly flapping its wings is sensed from Võru to Paldiski, this could just be a noisy bang.

The saddest case in A.K. is my beloved Lufthansa (best food, best seats, best service, best planes). Currently, it is almost impossible to buy a return ticket at a decent price. What used to cost 6800 EEK for a Tallinn-Lisbon-Tallinn flight is now 40 percent more expensive.

Morevover, seems to me that the supply changed much faster than the demand. If there is promotion from Tallinn, cheap seats are sold out in minutes. Look at handy Czech Airlines: it used to offer some of the most competitive fares; now it is nearly a dream to find something below 5000 EEK. My hope today resides in their Wednesday email newsletter; maybe one of the three proposed destinations fit my wallet and calendar.

In A.K. airfares from Riga or Helsinki became up to 100 percent cheaper than from Tallinn. The proof is that Estonian residents (and tourists) are travelling more and more there to take their flights. The paradox again: if we think in perspective, Tallinn is the most central of the four cities (compared to Riga, Helsinki and Saint Petersburg). This periphery notion is just explained by the size of the country.

And here we are. Such a taste of isolation in our mouth is slightly bitter. Estonians know it very well, since they experienced it during the long-lasting USSR era.

Indeed, there must be something that can turn this. Estonians are masters in overcoming adverse situations. Direct accessibility triggers multiplying effects. What should Estonia do to boast flights to Ülemiste? Year-round festivals? To become a cheaper destination? Attracting multinational companies? To hold a European Union agency? National branding on CNN, BBC World and Euronews? Estonian Air better fares and more routes?

Food for thought for Toompean elite.

Critical mass is badly needed — or the peripheral complex will just grow. I know lots of Estonians even enjoy this distance from the outer world, an original way to celebrate independence and sovereignty. But such a scenario would punish disproportionally the Estonian living standards, besides jeopardising the options avaliable for the future generations.

Post-modernity has been about creating centralities. Not seldom in a quite artificial way.

Every time I pass in front of Robinson Club, in Vana Tallinn, I must confess I feel a weird thrill. Nostalgia of B.K.? Doubtless. Estonia will never be Crusoe's "Island of Despair" but this isolation can be slightly problematic.

Sometimes I even ask my adopted-yet-imaginary parrot: "Hey, Poll! When do you think they will pass by to pick us up?" Poll just repeats the sentence as a stupid echo. Fortunately, there are no cannibals around. And the fruits and the food and the drinks and the people and the nature and the cities and the bars and the shops are very normal. For the time being, my Robinson Crusoe syndrome is under control.

sexta-feira, 22 de maio de 2009

Feira do Livro 2009

Obrigado pela foto, Carlos e Paulo. E que bem ficam os dois livrinhos juntos... Dá-me ideia que até já baixaram cinquenta cêntimos o preço de capa do "Terra Java" (nunca desaproveites uma boa crise para vender mais livros). Se querem a minha humilde opinião, até os embrulhava num plástico de qualidade com um DVD da Jane Fonda enfiado lá dentro.

terça-feira, 19 de maio de 2009

Sexista, eu?

Só porque acho que Praga tem bons cenários naturais? Grande palácios e castelos que se movem nas margens do Vltava? Nada disso. Só vim cá mesmo checar.

segunda-feira, 18 de maio de 2009

Se mijar é extra

Entre sexo na praia e o limbo, acabei por preferir uma mijadela extra. Sei que é feio dizer, mas o João Espinho pôs-me o menu à frente. A cena aconteceu no Hell Hunt, mas o urinal cardápio foi surripiado algures no Nordeste da Polónia.

quinta-feira, 14 de maio de 2009

Start spreading the news: Kebab has arrived in Tallinn!

By João Lopes Marques (Eesti keel)

That was a strange morning. Spring was stupidly late. Allow me to add the unusual hangover from the wedding party the night before. As if it wasn't enough, in five minutes I received two SMS whose content was nearly coincident... Spooky. That was particularly concerning since they came from two different (foreign) persons who don’t know each other: “Hey! Did you know about the kebab place called ‘Istanbul’? We are a real European capital now!”

"We?" Well, more than Tallinn becoming finally a long-waited European capital city, I got immediately excited by the word “kebab”. K-e-b-a-b! I love kebab, as long as the yogurt dressing is excellent and the salad (especially the Anatolian medium-sized tomatoes) is premium. Only this could justify my irrational impulse: to put on my black shoes and pass by Teater väljak in order to try one of this amazing wrapped-and-grilled sandwiches.

Took me a couple of minutes to remark on how bad shape I was in. Stomach and head and stomach aches, plus other uninteresting stuff (details), as a result of too many vodka shots with Sasha (yes, I admit I played with fire). “No way… Instead I should behave and stay home recovering the whole day”, I said mentally while jumping into my confident red sofa. Funny: looking at such a vivid colour recalled me Kemal Ataturk and his magnificent Mausoleum in Ankara. I still remember I visited it the day I tasted one of the best kebabs ever, in early May of 2004, if memories don't betray me now.

However, such double SMS content had the power to colonise my time. First, my firm and old conviction that Turkey should enter European Union as soon as possible — forget Nicolas Sarkozy and his hawkish advisers, French Islamophobia is not the best example). Then, something related to cosmopolitan capitals: “They are absolutely right, kebab is essential so that Tallinn becomes a real European capital”, I wondered. “Sooner or later it had to land in Estonia, and it will be much more valueable if it happens before 2011…”

K-e-b-a-b: hmmm... my mouth started watering again, another good evidence of my fast recovery. It allowed me to trigger deeper thoughts like, for instance, if Estonia is really prepared to digest this kebab. In a metaphoric sense, of course: how will Estonians react the day not one but a dozen of kebab restaurants (and kiosks, and snack-bars) start mushrooming in Tallinn, Tartu and Pärnu? Will kebab taste the same or the meat will be rotten? How Estonia and Estonians would behave in a scenario of massive influx of Southeastern European immigrants?

"One example!", as the Turkish love to say: how would Estonia react if Georgia was taken by — and guess who — an alien occupant? Would the Ilves-Ansip duo issue residence permits to all the post-Soviet Caucasians brothers seeking for asylum in the Baltic oasis?

Oops, this moment my imaginary-yet-delicious kebab turned a bit sour (is it the yougurt?). Sometimes I even believe that independent Estonia has just experienced the good side of globalisation. The ubiquitous credit crunch is perhaps the very only exception. “Definitely, they day salaries rise hoards of European immigrants will flee here”, I fantasise.

I mustn't be that wrong: demographics is the cornerstone of the Universal History: sooner or later, successful Estonia will be more than a tiny country were Finnish, stag party-goers, freelance mavericks, Skype multinational employees and blondes’ boyfriends end up.

“Gosh, by the day it arrives they will have to find a formula to integrate all the Russians”, my confused brain adds. Or “optimistic”, instead: after the stages of 1) wait-and-see-period, 2) passive-and-tolerated-capitalistic-integration and 3) post-Bronze-Soldier-populist-reassurance-of-identity-paranoia, ultimate step is around the corner: 4) kebab-plus-tutti-quanti). Yes, it will take another decade, but darker skins will inexorably debark in the Southern shores of the Gulf of Finland.

Nobody can stop the tide with their fingers — let alone a EU full member. So far Estonia has been in denial, but kebab is maybe the magic word (remember that even blood-driven Germany had to review her old-fashioned Ratzelian geopolitical thesis). K-e-b-a-b: a handful of five humble letters to wake up the society while preserving national face: from now on all non-Estonians can be assimilated under the very solid (and consistent) doctrine dubbed the “kebab umbrella”.

Corollary? This is not rocket science: just integrating the best and most hard-working people who pass by here, this charming and charismatic piece of land can become stronger and more competitive. Evolve. More than stubborness, it would be a political waste. Besides being a millennar crossroads, post-Soviet Estonia is a much more multicultural country than most natives want to assume. Can be tough, but kucky you: present and future globalisation is about that.

Olá boneca...

Isto de que os tapumes das obras devem ser cinzentos é coisa passada. E nada como a coerência: passa uma garota em frente ao estaleiro e está à espera de quê? “Ó bomboca, mostra a toca?”, “És como um helicóptero: gira e boa…“, “Que rica sardinha para o meu gatinho”… Enfim, a legendagem (leia-se “piropo de trolha”) fica ao vosso critério. Desde que ponham o capacete, está claro.


Tinha aveia para o negócio.