29 August 2001

FinPro and The Tango Queen of Finland

My hosts in Finland are FinPro, a national trade organization that promotes Finnish businesses. In this case, each of about twelve wireless companies have paid FinPro to bring a group of foreign journalists to visit Finland and write about them. Since I was here early, I was invited to a FinPro annual party; a Finnish country music dance party out in the country.

FinPro has representatives stationed all around the world; I was boogying with people living in Hungary, the Ukraine, Korea, Iran, Canada, California, Japan, Poland. Many of these folks were native Finns, many were natives of the countries they were from.

index.html We're seated on tour buses headed out for the Finnish countryside. This lady comes down the asile with small jugs of lingonnberry liquor mixed with coolaid. The bottles marked with an "A" on top are alcohol-free. Group liquored fun on moving vehicles! Fun we don't have in the states.

I sat next to a young man from the Ukraine. I asked him about the lady I met in the Japan subway. He agreed that many Ukrainian citizens are leaving for other countries; some have been coming back with their money to start businesses. He seemed tired when he was talking about it; I felt bad to bring it up, but it was the reality of the Ukraine that I knew. Later I saw him wearing his rugby-striped shirt, dancing crazy on the floor. He was far and away the funkiest FinPro man on the floor!

Sitting on my other side was a woman from Hungary. As I started asking her about her country, I realized I really knew nothing about it. I thought Tito had ruled there ("That's Bucharest, not Budapescht - big mistake. Don't say that to a Hungarian person."). So I got a bit of a history and geography lesson on the country from her; between the jet lag and the lingonberries, about the only thing I remember is that she was proud they had more freedom within the USSR than most countries, and they fought for freedom earlier. There was a resort there in Hungary where families from West Germany and East Germany would gather to meet each other, since they weren't allowed to cross into each other's country.

index.html We were travelling to Porvo, a countryside town an hour outside of Helsinki. Our bus pulled up to a large dance hall overlooking an island dotted body of water.

Two-by-two the staff carried out enormous trays of "tar schnapps." Pine flavour and honey. We raised a toast as the the President of FinPro told a joke (in lieu of giving a speech):
Four nordic peacekeepers were taken hostage. Each was granted a final wish before they would be killed. The Norweigan fellow asked to have a traditional Norweigan meal. The Danish guy asked to have a traditional Danish meal. The Finn asked to be allowed to give a speech before he was killed. And the Swede asked to be killed before the Finn made his speech.

index.html Actors and performers had been hired to dress up, mingle and act strange. This particular bloke seemed to be acting as one of the "Two Wild and Crazy guys" from the Steve Martin, Dan Akroyd Saturday Night Live sketch from the early 1980s. Don't be fucking with me, he said, I want to be fucking with the ladies.

Another gent was dressed up as a sort of dock worker - looking out of place with the business consultants drinking wine. He was going from person to person, pulling a bottle of cheap Finnish vodka out of his coat and offering it to partygoers.

index.html This is the Tango Queen of Finland. She is famous. Many FinPro folks took a moment to express their shock to me - "I can't believe she's here! Singing at this party!" Even FinPro members stationed in other countries knew who she was, and shook their heads in disbelief. She had great stage presence and a rich full voice. I tried to find her after her set to get my photo taken with her, or maybe an autograph or something. But I was too caught up in the festivities and she had another night to enchant as the Tango Queen of Finland.

index.html こんばんわ。このパーチはたくさん日本人です。そして私は日本人が日本語話しまし た。この女の人は『八月の時にひろの公園見ました』言いまっした。二人が『アメリカ の女の人と日本の女の人とでわ、どちらのほが一番好きですか』たずねりました。もち ろん、日本の女の人一番好きです,もと奥ゆかしいです。


だから - so
なぜなら - because (一番べんりです)
ちょっかり - no hesistation to take an offer
ばれた - exposed secret
たとえば - for example
しんしょつきぼつ - unpredictable
ちんがい - different
おなじ - same

じゃっかん語句知ることがありました, でもあとで忘れりました。じゃっかん語句は新 しです。この語句はarrived in conversation。たとえば、ばれたなぜなら七月のときょへ行く 時にその女の人私と日本のじょせいが見ました言いまっした。いがいです、たぶんない しょうごと、そしてべれたです。あとで私の少し物話、その日本人は私がしんしょつき つです言いまっした。たとえば、フィンランドの国のおすしたべました。その日本人 『高いでした』言いまっした。はい、でもノキアは私の食べ物はらう。そして、その日 本人は私がちょっかりです。たぶんこの語句はちょっと悪いです、でもこの人々は私が 日本へ行く時に、その国は私が好きです。たぶんなぜなら私はしんしょつきぼつです。

index.html On the bus ride on the way back, some of the folks elected to sing loud and drunkenly. An older lady found the bus microphone and sang two phrases from "Oh When the Saints" and "Yellow Submarine" and then a bunch of Finnish songs. These ladies escaped the merriment by keying messages into their mobile phones.

There were two other Americans who had also arrived in Finland for the trip - Shelley and Mr. Gadget. Shelley was ambitious, planning to visit Estonia and do some sightseeing before our press tour of duty began. I didn't know anything about Estonia, and I didn't understand why I would come to Helsinki to go to Estonia, so I began asking about, Why Estonia?

A old bloke reminiscent of Peter Falk spoke up. He was a seasoned FinPro representative who had seen 78 countries and all 50 states. He had been stationed in Estonia and he said he always noticed a lot of car accidents on his way to work. He wondered, why when I drive to work here in Estonia do I see so many car accidents? Are these Estonians just bad drivers? Then he realized that it was because of all the beautiful women dressed up to attract men. Another woman on the bus put it in perspective; the women in Estonia dress in high heels and short skirts.

Also this man had served FinPro in Tehran, Iran. Sexy ladies there too? Lots of wink-wink eye contact stuff he said. And the most beautiful homes he ever saw around the world - swimming pools, tennis courts.

September 2001

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