Let it be said I don’t particularly enjoy writing about myself. I like writing about things I find exciting and that I’m interested in, with the wish that others might share my enthusiasm. But then again a blog is a personal web journal and writing about places I visit and people I meet does put me into the picture to a certain extent, for the good or the bad.
So in case some readers prefer to know who I am and what is the backdrop on which my present experiences and views are projected upon, let me share some things about myself. After all, this blog is not anonymous, a possibility I seriously contemplated as it would be easier to write behind a pseudonym when coming to more controversial subjects like politics, religion, philosophy etc. But after giving it some thought I realized that when I read a blog myself I prefer to know something about the person behind it, and so with my simple logic came to the conclusion that maybe others do too.
I was born in the early part of the 70’s in the fairly arctic city of Helsinki, Finland. This happened in the middle of winter at a time period when Finland had not yet fully become the modern state that it is now, and the shadow of the then mighty neighbor USSR still loomed high and mighty as only a few decades separated the minds of the people from the great wars of our nation, among them the Winter War of some repute. I grew up in a time when little corner shops, tailors and cobblers still made up the neighborhood economy and international chains and brands were yet to make their mark in any serious way. And yes Nokia was still making rubber boots. I know, I had a pair.
My maternal grandmother was born in Uzbekistan, Central Asia, and maternal grandfather came from Sweden. On the paternal side my family descends from Franco-German aristocracy with a lineage wishfully said to go back to great rulers of the past on one side and Finnish peasantry on the other. Oh, and throw in some Romani ancestors and you are beginning to get the picture. Maybe it was the latter that programmed me to head towards India at a young age and eventually to make it my home for a lengthy period of time.
My earliest fascination for Asia arose when I was still a very small child, almost a baby in fact, when my mother returned from a long trip to China. She had taken the Trans-Siberian Express there, which later went extinct as a real train service but has since been revived as a tourist attraction with prices to match. One thing on my to-do list is to get on that train and imagine I am not paying the amount I am and enjoy the ride. Anyway, on arrival back home she brought with her fabrics, music, incense, tea, clothes and all kinds of curiosities that captivated my ever so inquisitive senses. I still remember my older sister dressed in a traditional Chinese costume.
Another memory of things Asian is watching Silk Road, the classic TV-series, with my whole family as a child. I so wished to go exploring the kind of places I saw on and to be an adventurer and traveler visiting places in the farthest corners of the earth. I am not sure I have done quite that and I am surely no Indiana Jones, but I think the small child in me is happy at all I’ve seen so far and I certainly plan to take my journeys further before I call it a day. As far as the Silk Road goes a trip via land route through Pakistan and Afghanistan to Uzbekistan, the heart of the silk route, has been on my mind for a long time, but political and religious turmoil in those regions have put my plans on hold for now.
My father was a foreign correspondent with the Finnish Broadcasting Company, which meant we spent part of my early childhood living abroad. We lived for periods in Moscow and London and I carry many memories from those places. The isolated Soviet Union and cosmopolitan London were poles apart in their atmosphere, something even a child could sense. Listening to a song like Russians by Sting about the Cold War and Oppenheimer’s deadly toy as a child in London during the peak of the cold war had a special meaning for me. I still shudder every time I hear it. Fabulous Album that it’s on by the way – Dream of the Blue Turtles.
Wherever our home happened to be it was always filled with music. My father is a lifelong jazz aficionado and amateur jazz pianist whereas my mother used to play classical piano. So my early childhood music consisted of mostly American jazz and European classical music and they will always remain in the deepest core of my being. My first LP was Cute by Count Basie and I still have it. And yes it still gets rotation. Also curiously and befittingly I also developed a liking for Indian classical music that I discovered among my mother’s LP’s. Later of course came other genres like 80’s New Wave pop that I fell in love with after our whole family moved to London.
We arrived in London in the early 1980’s slap in the middle of Thatcher’s bold new England. During those years I awoke to many things – music, poetry, literature, films and the Loch Ness monster. In London I also picked up tennis, a sport that I love to this day. For your sake I will leave out telling you about my stint in Breakdance.
One memory that for some strange reason comes back to me from the London years is the looming figure of Karl Marx’s above his grave that happened to be a walking distance from our house at the Highgate Cemetary. But what really stands out was my new found love for collecting LP’s and 7″ / 12″ singles with my older brother. Trips to HMV stores and Camden Town record shops to dig through crates of black vinyl was a turning point for me and something I have lately discovered after again buying a Vinyl player and getting out what was left of my collection after the CD age that came later. But all this is another story altogether. I will write about my love of collecting Vinyl elsewhere.
Behind all these biographical events there is a theme independent of exteriors that my life revolves around and that is the search for meaning and answers, the desire to understand the world we live in and our place in the universe. Sound like the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy? … the meaning of life, Universe and Everything? I know it does, but that’s the way I was and that’s the way I am – inquisitive.
I remember being three years old and asking myself if this world we see in our waking state is like the one I saw in my dreams at night or if it had a more substantial or “real” existence. This inquiry sent me into a kind of trance wherein the world around me lost its solid nature and I perceived the universe from a new perspective where everything seemed to consist of energy and consciousness. What that all meant I am still searching the answer to, but I guess this goes to show that this urge to understand was there from the beginning. And I like to believe I am not different from anyone else out there in this respect. Maybe we are sometimes just too busy to stop and wonder and to look for answers.
From the mid 90’s onwards I have been spending most of my time in India and calling it my home and it is here that my inquisitiveness led me to meet several sages and philosophers. This in turn led me eventually to the South-Indian female savant Mata Amritanandamayi. A good part of my time goes towards volunteer work with her non-profit charitable organization known as Embracing The World. For those who want to learn about the organization and it’s projects can download a PDF by clicking here. But the agenda of this blog is not to promote anything except a spirit of inquiry and an open mind, not to force my ideas and interpretations on anyone, but only to share my enthusiasm for things on a very wide spectrum. So the search goes on and part of this blog will be about that.
Rather than being restricted to philosophical or spiritual topics this blog will cover a wide range of subjects including fine wines, films, world cuisine, literature, music, and who knows maybe even mud wrestling if I come across it during my travels. For me the world is an exciting platform to discover and learn about new phenomena every day and our time here is short. Rather than be narrow and accept only one viewpoint, I prefer to contain multitudes as Walt Whitman once said.
I sincerely hope you find things that interest you on these pages and hope that you will also comment on them and send me feedback. Also let me know if you have a blog you think I might like to follow and discover new things.
Let that suffice about me for now. I Hope you enjoy reading this blog as much as I enjoy writing it.