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Words don't come easy? But Estonia really needs them

João Lopes Marques* (Eesti keeles)

"Blablabla..." This is an amazing word: "Blablabla..." It can also be a sentence if we decide to slow it down: "Bla, bla, bla..." As you probably know, this is one of the Estonian favourite ways to depict Southerners like the author of this column. This blablabla-caricature is particularly used by Estonian male patriots: aliens came here just to hook up local girls with their blablabla expertise...

According to this mentality — let's call it angle, instead — Estonians are much more silent people. Observers they are. Though much-much more reliable. They speak by their acts; they act through their examples. And if the doubt prevails, an old local proverb explains everything: "Words are silver, but silence is gold."

I may agree these are beautiful and poetic images. Just a pity they also help to hide one of Estonian biggest social problems: I am writing about the ubiquitous lack of communication. Interpersonal and social communication.

Serious stuff, since it can undermine one's existence here: most of my hazards here were a direct consequence of the systematic — and sometimes proudly — absence of words. From the lack of communication between relatives ("I haven't spoken with my father for a year and I don't know here he lives"), between lovers ("He is not able to share feelings and when he arrives home he just wants to surf in cars websites") to the lack of communication between Estonian- and Russian-speaking doctors in the hospitals ("You need a small operation and don't be afraid because this is a normal procedure").

The latter once happened to me. An unnecessary surgery, I mean. Another funny case? Once I woke up with all windows of my flat completely wrapped up. The building went under restoration and nobody let me know. Nobody informed me that I would live in total darkness for two months.

Last week I had another major evidence of the lack of verbal-non-verbal communication this country suffers from: after my Estonian Air Tallinn-Kuressaare flight was cancelled "due to technical problems", I noticed how relaxed everybody was. A man traveling the next row confessed me it was the fifth time such a thing was happening to him this year.

Instead of 45 minutes, we needed almost five hours to reach our destination. What's wrong? Absolutely normal, told me an airline officer: "As long as we offer an alternative to our passengers... You will reach your destination tonight", communicated a gentlemen from Estonian Air call center. Not many people protested: a senior Finnish guy and I, maybe one or two Estonians. Ridiculously, Estonian Air didn't even want to distribute meal vouchers to the trapped passengers. After pressing them twice, I finally got mine — meagre 75 EEK — to have an extra dinner on my long way to Saaremaa.

In fact, I've the impression my Estonian friends are more and more concerned about the communication issue. Look at the euro: Estonia is about to adopt it but very few raise their voices against the anorectic diet Estonian state made to have public finances in good shape to adopt the single currency.

Do you remember the first OECD recommendation after Estonia became a member of this rich club early this month? Something like "Estonia faces a serious challenge in the form of rising poverty among unemployed people and pensioners. The government needs urgently to find ways to stave off major hardship".

And what do we see? More and more people are convinced a good demonstration could help. No, I am not for Greek-isaton of Estonian society. Street violence leads nowhere and Greece — like my native Portugal — committed too many mistakes in the last decades.

Yet Estonian frustration is directly proportional to individual patience. Silence. Are Estonians still traumatized by Soviet Union terror practices? Was independence achievement fulfilling enough? Is this a consequence of the pagan-atheist-ultra-pragmatism? Does a small country provokes the fear of being caught in a faux pas?

From the Finns — whose Welfare State communication skills have improved lately — people joke they invented SMS in order not to speak to each others. At least they invented an alternative mechanism: they write something to each others... That's why Estonian silence is somehow enigmatic.

Since blablabla vocable was invented by the Greeks some three thousand years ago, I accept it's not the most popular thing in these days of crisis. Words don't come easy? OK, but trust me: when used in a proper context, the right word can make all the difference. Can be as powerful as silence. Solve complicated problems.

It's the difference between success and fail; happiness and angst.

*João Lopes Marques is the author of "Minu ilus eksiil Eestis".


Manuela disse…
Por mim nem precisava colocar em inglês.Estoniano é a minha segunda língua..entendo tudo.A primeira é..... esqueci...

O bla bla bla também falamos. Principalmente quando queremos "enrolar" alguém.Enrolamos nos aeroportos.Temos muito em comum.
O seu texto serve para a Estônia e para nós.
vim, vi, gostei. Voltarei
Obrigado, Vinicius. Será um prazer tê-lo por aqui de novo. Abraço de Tallinn,

Manu disse…
Em que lugar estão as "Pupilas do Senhor Escritor"??? Sumiram, é??

Sofia beijos pra vc. Que some e isso está proibido..;)))
Sofia disse…
O som do silêncio tem sido uma constante aqui para os meus lados...não é só na Estónia...

Mas prometo fazer por mudar, mais não seja pelo teu carinho incondicional Manu. Obrigada por não esqueceres de te lembrares de mim.

A menina Baleia não está esquecida.

Sofia disse…
A menina Baleia folga em saber...
Manu disse…
Eu nunca me esqueço de você.Nem do João, Rocío e todos do blog.Mesmo as que vejo pouco (Diola, Sônia...).
Por algum motivo, (como explicar isso? mesmo com tanta distância?) vocês estão no meu coração. Estou feliz!

Não suma...adoro vc por aqui. Me divirto.
Manu disse…
Podia escrever um livro infantil, chamado "Joonas e a menina baleia".Ou "Joonas no jardim florido" O jardim somos nós..heheheh
Sofia disse…
Agora podia ser maldosa para não dizer maliciosa...mas não o serei...
Porque nem todas as baleias são iguais...^^
Rocío disse…
Jonas, a "baleia", o amor fraterno (da Manu).... Isto começa a ficar parecido com a Biblia :-)

Quanto a aparecer com mais ou menos frequência, imagino que ao resto lhe acontecerá como a mim: nem sempre é querer mas poder
(esta semana que acaba -cheia de chatices e problemas no trabalho- trocava eu com qualquer, caramba!)

Mas quando o afecto é sincero não há distância (física nem temporal) que afaste à malta :-)

Sofia.. vou lá postar o filme da semana ;)
Manu disse…
Eu sei ser uma loura má também..heheh

Todo o dia dou um jeito de ver vocês.É na chatice com o trabalho que eu relaxo no circo.Um olho no gato outro na sardinha..;))
Sempre arrumo tempo para quem e o que eu amo. Não deixo para o bispo...ops...;))

Baleia é um animal tão lindinho..
Sofia disse…
A minha sorte é ser baleia...caso contrário afogava-me na minha própria baba...
Vocês mimam-de demais, depois fico mal habituada...

Rocío, já lá vou cuscar...

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Internacionalismo coxo

Foi interessante (e interessante é uma palavra interessante). No dia em que saí à rua com suíças tive de regressar a casa com estas canadianas. Ou melhor: com as canadianas amparando-me a mim e às suíças. Felizmente que não são mutuamente exclusivas.

19 kinds of girls who bruise my soul

By João Lopes Marques (Eesti keeles)

There was a time, not too long ago, I believed I had become a misogynous guy. False. I wasn’t. Then I started fearing I was slightly gynophobic. Nope. I was just afraid to bump into another stupid girl. It wasn’t easy to understand it but 10 or 15 years later I realize I’m just too sensitive to 19 specific species of women. Indeed, I can even turn intolerant in presence of one of them. Such a phenomenon can be either personal taste or old trauma, I know. However, I don’t care anymore. I just confess the following kind of females have the power to bruise my soul:

1- The hologram girl

You think everything is fine, that that closeness is real, and you stretch your arm. Of course you wanted more and she let you play that game. For a week. A month. Sometimes even for years. Helàs! Now you understand you were living in a dream. “Why did she give me so many wrong signs”, you wonder; “João, I’ve seen you always as a very good friend”, she states.

2- The drink-…