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A karmic birthplace called “Tallinn”

By João Lopes Marques (Eesti keeles)

Sometimes I wonder why the hell I (still) live in Estonia. At first I thought it was about pure hedonism hand-in-hand with my Nordic fetish. Then I got rid of my guilt complex and started believing I was just a normal bachelor addicted to the local beauties. Too short. I also convinced myself life here was easier and cheaper than somewhere in Europe. Or because of the fact all my four novels were written here, in what I started calling the-milky-cow-very-very-milky-literary-theory.

Sad that all the four are about me and myself. Another hypothesis, very true anyway, was related to the great people I’ve met while living in this country: Raili, Eve, Helena, Askur, Teve, Age, Ivar, Erik... They were — still are — absolutely inspiring. Yet now I finally discovered Agnes was the ultimate reason.

Throughout these more than five years of Estonia I thought about going away too many times. To leave the next day, although my attachment made me return always. Over and over. And leave once again. For no longer than a month. Since Klaus Mirsalis whispered me this would be my destiny, back in May 2006, I’ve been trusting in his prophecy: “Tallinn is a great place to live. My ancestors came from there. I’m a descendant of a Persian merchant and a Balto-German family from Estonia.”

I’m slightly mystic and Herr Mirsalis made all the difference in my troubled life. He was a honest German from Bodensee but spoke about Tallinn as a deep-rooted native — yes, we all have our Archangel Gabriel. He was a 80-something pensioneer and we had to tolerate ourselves everyday for a week in the Göttakanal cruise.

Breakfast and lunch and dinner and... Uff... A war prisoner just likes to tell old stories...

No, it’s not the first time I share this memoir. This seems like watching the movie Viimne Raliikvia once again. However, it’s the first time I re-tell it after Agnes is born. When I look at her, at her mother, at me in the mirror, at the flat I finally decided to buy two years ago not to flee forever from this country, at Agnes again, and again, I think about that wise old man.

Somehow he is guilty of my erratic destiny. Passion.

Well, not so deviant after Agnes. She brought me the ultimate justification for my exotic Northeastern option. In fact, there was something that always touched me in Estonia: the way locals look at kids. Either a 5-year-old one or a pregnant women. Unlike other countries, my Iberian geographies included, I feel the hope of future in Estonian eyes. You can’t, sorry, you can imagine how many people I didn’t know personally greeted us last weeks because of Agnes.

This is the moment one realizes small, literally small, can be beautiful. And I’m speaking about people I had never seen in my whole life but for whom babies are meaningful enough to cross the street and shake hands. I will never forget the coolness of Krista, the appointed midwife that afternoon, another proof Estonia and babies are close synonyms. Even Estonian language seems sweet when spoken between two local women in a decisive moment. The same with men: had never expected such a joy, cheerfulness and sensitivity.

Children are uniting people: last week I also got to know Agnes will have a Russian-speaking Estonian as family doctor. With an accent, of course. Such a colorful twist makes me happy. Forget Kalev and Linda, forget Soviet occupation traumas. Instead focus on the human scale and everybody’s daily contribute: Estonia is a much more multicultural country natives want to believe.

What did you expect from a crossroads like this? Are you still laughing every time a person pronounces the word “Kazakhstan?” I guess identity in Estonia obeys to other mechanisms: I was very happy to register Agnes as an Estonian citizen, even though I knew double Estonian-Portuguese citizenship is impossible.

Black and white it is: it was like favouring the Indians over the cowboys. Deal: she belongs here.

Truth be told, I bore in mind what Düsseldorf-born Mirsalis said about his remote ancestors that had moved here over 10 generations ago. The fact is that, three centuries later, this half million City-State was still the cornerstone of his identity. The world is huge and it should be used. Explored. But I just hope my daughter Agnes can one day continue this narrative.

Wherever she decides to settle, even though I hope charismatic Tallinn will be inspiring enough to her. Estonia herself or Viimne Raliikvia’s Agnes are perfect examples: when a rich nobleman thinks he owns you, much better run for an adventurer’s arms.

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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-…