Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Democracy Day

Ballot box
Originally uploaded by knautia.
It is so funny at times being between cultures, now meaning the Finnish and the Dutch. I spent the first part of the day in meetings with Dutch people which means that you have to fight for getting your turn to speech.

Well, the mood changed when I cycled to the consulate to vote in the presidential elections. Today was the only option for voting for us emigrants. This is how it went.

A Finn comes in to the consulate. He or she starts speaking Finnish to the woman at the reception.

Her face tells immediately that this is not the first time and she says:"Sorry, meneer, maar ik spreek geen Fins." And smirks.

The Finn turns around and sees the comrades who queue for getting their vote cast. The Finns smirk. They all did the same mistake so they definitely are not going to help the newcomers. You live and learn.

Voting is a nearly religious ceremony for us Finns. It is serious business which Finns communicate by waiting silently.

I was in a social mood and started talking (IN DUTCH) to the woman at the reception. Like asking whether it's been busy, saying that it's not the most exciting election, we all know who wins etc.

All the Finns stared at me like they were they were thinking of informing the authorities. I took all the fun from the situation by starting to be supersocial with comments like:

"It didn't hurt, did it?" (to a girl who just voted - reaction: smile)
"Well, civic duties carried out. Your turn, madam." (after coming out of the booth - reaction: smile)
"So nice that we can vote here and we do not have to travel to the Hague." (to the election worker - reaction: no reaction)

Such a funny nation we are.

1 comment:

Teea said...

Well here we see that living abroad really does change a person. I am giving you frowning looks right now, whoever heard of chatting and smiling in the middle of voting! Or in the middle of queuing for that matter. Double mistake! :)

I myself was a Finn through and through last Sunday on the first round official election day. Already silent when entering the voting room. I was shocked when I was (silently) showing my ID to the elections worker, that she blurted out: "Finally you came. I am a long-time friend of you mother's!"

I managed a very short and curt conversation about when they have met. But I'm still wierded out. She was waiting for me?! I expected the whole time that next she must start talking about how she knows where I live, and my social security number!