Friday, March 11, 2011

Seminar British Council, Estonian Ministry and their glass table

Yesterday my alarm clock went off at 05.00. Early! Time to head to Tallinn. Kristina picked me up with her car and it was planned to go to the train station together. Also Eduardo, my new colleague, joined. He had not such a good start of the day. His roommate loudly Skyped till 04.00, and when taking the first steps outside on the ice Eduardo fell down, hurting his arm which is now severely bruised.

For the first time I entered an Estonian train. They are like the Latvian ‘Soviet expresses’, only then colored blue and white. ‘Edelaraudtee’ is the national Estonian train company. Sounds sweet! We found ourselves a nice place in the 1st class department. There was a bistro on board selling sandwiches for only 1,60 euro, which in the Netherlands would cost at least 4,50 euro. I brought my own survival kit, consisting of a German like streuseltaler, half a liter of kefir and a karums. Kristina told me that I’m very well integrated. With Eduardo this process will be a bit more difficult. He’s only here for half a week and he misses the Spanish food already. During the train ride we had free access to the internet. Crazy, that such a small country in the North-East is so ahead on the West concerning technology.

We left the train one stop before the main station and ended up in the Russian area where we took the tram. Our destination was the Radisson Blu Ol├╝mpia hotel. The British Council organized a seminar on ‘Estonia’s road to tolerance’ there. It took place in a banquet hall with around 12 tables, full with tea, coffee and food. Happy Nienke! I seriously enjoyed listening to all the guest speakers. There were a lot of ‘big names’ present on this event, like

Indarjit Singh, the best known representative of the Sikh community in Britain and a regular contributor to the BBC’s ‘Thought for the Day’;

Viktoria Korpan, the Russian chief editor of the daily newspaper Postimees;

Abdul Turay, a British journalist discussing the relationship between black people and Estonians, very entertaining;

Indrek Teder, the Estonian Chancellor of Justice;

Marju Lauristin, a sympathic 75-year-old politician and social scientist;

and John Abraham Godson, the first black member of the Polish parliament.

Around 15.00 o’clock it was time to leave the seminar. After a car-sick-making taxi ride we arrived at the Estonian Ministry to discuss our asylum seekers project. Seems like Kristina found herself two very sensitive interns, because Eduardo and I both stepped out of the car with faces white as snow. The meeting would be in Estonian, however, this was an opportunity for Eduardo and me to see how meetings in Estonia normally take place. Like expected: very informal. I like that. However, before the meeting could take place we had to wait for some minutes in the main hall. Together with Kristina I was sitting on a couch, when looking up seeing the big squared staircase leading to the highest floor. Suddenly we heard something falling into many, many pieces. It was somewhere upstairs. All the people sitting and waiting downstairs shared a concerned look. At that moment Kristina and I had to run. A glass table broke down in 1000 pieces, falling down from the 3th floor, exactly on our heads. What a shock! Luckily no one was injured.

Kristina and Eduardo stayed in Tallin overnight. I decided to shop around in Tallinn a little and take the 19.30 o’clock bus back to Tartu.

Today I’ll work at the office and around 18.00 o’clock it’s time head home again. I’m looking forward to spend some lovely days in Riga :) !!