Autumn

This post was due already a couple a weeks ago, but because of technical difficulties, a lengthy post that I wrote on a cold October night never saw the light of day i.e.  never made its way onto the world wide web. Sometimes my life feels rather hectic, even though when observing from a far, it isn’t, perhaps it is just my own mind that makes everything so difficult and complicated in my small world, but at times I feel that I need to unwind.

I often clear my head by going for long walks during chilly autumn nights, thinking about the past, present and future. One evening as I headed out, a scarf around my neck, a beanie on my head and a camera in my hand, I reminisced about a lot of things as I took deep breaths of  the fresh air outside. It’s funny how climate can bring to our mind our own past sometimes, as if those things had happened just yesterday.

As I walked in my local park, that had gone silent for the winter, inhabited now only by small bunnies running mindlessly through the leaf covered scene, I remembered how I always linked autumn to anticipating something. I remember how as a small kid I waited eagerly for the leaves to fall and the colder weathers to come, because with cold weather came ice and with ice came ice hockey. Even though I have had periods in my life when hockey hasn’t been that important, as a kid it was. Partly because that was where all of your friends also were, on the ice. Only now as I’m a bit older I’ve noticed that in fact my oldest and most trustworthy friends were indeed my line mates as I was 6 or 7. Some of my friends continued to play hockey, I didn’t, I moved onto skiing, downhill that is.

When I started to ski and film my friends for snowboard videos and stuff (LINK), I got into new fun circles for which I am to this day still damn grateful. Every autumn as the weather started to get colder, we watched ,nearly non-stop, the webcam of our local ski center, to see if the snow-cannons had started to paint the slopes white, and when they did start to cover the hill with what was more Ice than snow, we headed to the center to film something. Waiting for the ski season to start was for a long time a part of my autumn, but that changed once I moved to Helsinki, and especially now that I live in Berlin.

Sure,I could have continued to ski in Helsinki, but it would’ve been way too much of a hassle to travel to the nearby towns, with public transport, not to mention not having the familiar faces of my “crew” there. As if by accident my road started to lead back to my former hobby, although this time to the rafters. A good friend of mine started to lure me into going to see the hockey matches in Helsinki, needless to say it didn’t take long for me to be hooked again to ice hockey. As the hockey season starts usually around September, this “spectator sport” started to be the new thing that I awaited to begin during autumns, we even went to see my team’s (IFK Helsinki) training matches in August, because at times it felt that the season couldn’t come quick enough. Needless to say, I haven’t been to IFK’s games in a while having moved to Berlin.

I have tried to follow both my team’s games and the local Berlin team’s games here, but it hasn’t felt the same. I do still watch the Finnish league (and the NHL , if they didn’t have a lockout season), but nowadays I’ve noticed I enjoy spending a lot of time with my camera. Even on that cold October night, as I was kicking the maple leaf piles with my feet in the empty park, I had my Sony with me. I perhaps lacked the anticipation of something “seasonal” but I have a continuous hobby now, which is surprisingly chill and allows me to clear my head as well. Dwelling through the park, snapping photos and enjoying the lack of noises is just bliss at times. That night I spent a good few hours walking around, stopping now and again to sit on a bench to observe the wild life that had still stayed in the park for the upcoming winter.

I believe Nietzsche once said ” All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking” and I do believe he is on to something there, since at least for me, when I walk alone in the evenings I am able to clear my head of the  less useful thoughts and focus on the good ones, which is something that for me is hard to do at times when surrounded by people. I might have walked out that night out of the door, with a big stressful mess of different thoughts, but returned with a much calmer mind and even a couple of nice photos, all thanks to a “sleeping” park and a late evening walk. I also know now that I do not need to have anything to anticipate during the autumn anymore, sure skiing would be fun, but in the end, taking pictures or writing nonsense isn’t a bad hobby either, and you can do it anytime of the year.

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A Day at the Ballpark

I found myself on Saturday evening feeling a bit tired after a going away party for one of my Finnish friends. The scorching heat of 30 degrees Celsius did not aid in anyway to get me up and going to actually do something on a Saturday night. As I sat at my desk, browsing mindlessly through different sites, I glanced at my camera and turned my attention towards the beautiful, nevertheless hot, outdoors and decided that I’d take my chances with the hot weather and go walk around the neighborhood to see if I could catch anything interesting onto my memory card.

I felt the heatwave immediately hitting my face as I walked out of my building and I could not help but think that this was not the Germany I was used to. Like an explorer in the Sahara desert, I walked for sometime without seeing anything of interest. I had long planned to go and take pictures of the old Tempelhof Airport, basically next door to me, and seeing that the sun was starting to head under, I ran to the nearest train station and took a train….the wrong train. I ended up back where I had started from, at Schöneberg, only to enjoy a 20minute wait for the next train to Tempelhof, needless to say with the ongoing sleep mode and the oven-like climate, I was not happy.

After fighting my way out of a train that felt more like a cattle transport, due to the amount of people fitted into a single train, Iwas happy to be at my destination, the former airport of Tempelhof, now one of the largest parks in Berlin. Recently, I’ve been trying out creating HDR picture, with success and at times with no success. This Saturday was to be yet another chance for me to learn a bit of HDR photography. As I traveled towards the old Hangars and Terminals, I was excited by even the mere thought of walking on a runway that had once received at peak times a plane per minute and had helped the people of Berlin enormously during the Berlin Blockade.I mean, I know I am a history nut, I get it. On my journey towards the terminal building I also stopped to take  pictures of the usage of the airport nowadays:People having picnics, parties and doing different kinds of sport activities.

Even though I had envisioned that I would get cool pics from the Airport itself, I have to say, the Terminal building was rather hard to photograph, being that you couldn’t really get too close to it and thus the angles for pictures were rather limited. Nevertheless, I took a couple of photos and continued my way along the runways, running into an old reminder of the time when the U.S. Army was present. Some plane enthusiasts probably know the model of this troop carrier, but for me it was merely a nice shiny plane accompanied by some stairs belonging also the U.S. Army. It’s sometimes really interesting to think how much of U.S. influence Berlin has throughout the times had, having so many troops stationed here during the Berlin Brigade times, the Americans also partly brought parts of their culture into the melting pot of Berlin.

For most Europeans Baseball isn’t that familiar, which is why  the two rather old Baseball fields (ok, one was a softball field) caught my attention. Wearing often baseball fan apparel (especially Redsox gear, go Boston) and having tried to understand the sport more and more, I have to admit that this was my first real encounter with a real Baseball field. Now when I say real, I have to clarify that I had seen these fields earlier this year but not yet looked at them more closely. I couldn’t get too close now either, seeing that both fields were fenced thus making it understandably hard for non baseball players to access the fields at night time. I walked around the fields trying to find a place to get my zoom on and perhaps try and take a couple of nice pictures. I managed to stick my camera through a couple of holes in the fences, so as to have a less obstructed view of the diamonds and the field itself.

Having managed to take a couple of decent pictures I left home in hope of trying out HDR editing on photoshop during the late hours of the night. I know that Berlin has a couple of Baseball teams and seeing that I want to learn more about the sport, I have to definitely look up some of their game schedules. Funnily enough, I left my place in hopes of getting a couple of pictures of old historic places and I managed to do so, however I had not thought that the most interesting place to take pics would not be the old airport, but the sport facilities of the people who used to work there, a long time ago.

Summer in Finland

Even though I thoroughly enjoy living in Berlin, with all its big city related atmosphere, I have to still say that I have been really happy to be “home” for a couple of weeks.

Here in Finland, where we are used to cold temperatures, the Summer is always an anticipated time of the year when people head to their Summer houses to chill and relax for a while. Sitting in the Sauna and enjoying the peaceful landscapes gives one’s head a much needed rest.

Obviously scenery is always much more impressive, when seen by one’s own eyes, however despite this fact, I attempted to capture the Finnish Summer in pictures, hopefully being able to give you a slight impression of what our Summer here up north is normally like.

I will add in a couple of posts to come some of the photos I have taken here in Finland during my stay, starting today with scenes from our family’s summer house. These photos hopefully not only provide you with a glimpse of what I have been experiencing here, but also for myself they will work as a reminder of what home is like in the summer time.

IamJPR

 

 

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“Be Yourself Days” or Karneval der Kulturen, as they say here.

Every spring when the sun has started to become a frequent friend and the temperatures are rising like a souffle in an oven, Berliners living in Kreuzberg clear the streets of cars, not in fear of them getting burnt as usual, but to make space for the 3 day street party that is the Karneval der Kulturen.

I could go on and on about how the whole carnival got started, but to be honest my timetable doesn’t really enable me to research the party in too detail. All I can say for sure is that it started in 1996 to celebrate cultural diversities or a multicultural city as it is. The concept seems to be that people of different unifying factors form floats which then parade through the streets of Xberg and spectators walk along the roads digesting culture through every single sense they can.

The Crossroad at Mehringdamm

Whistles, techno, samba, hiphop, punkrock you name it, you heard everything whilst walking behind other people as if you were a big herd of happy zombies enjoying the awesome weather and good company. Since I’ve been here in Berlin I haven’t seen a gathering of people so large except at Brandenburger tor during the Einheitsfest, but even there people weren’t filling the streets in such lengths as they did this weekend in Kreuzberg.

If you happened to have Kohle (trying to be hip and use German lingo for money) there was sure enough places where you could get rid of your excess cash. Cocktail kiosk, beer booths, grills and obviously the most necessary kiosks of them all: the funny hat/wig stands. Personally I only used the services of one grill to buy myself a big ol’ steak in a bun. Sadly though, I ended up having a rather bloody steak which was impossible to eat thus ended up enjoying a mere “steak flavoured bun”, which I kept telling myself was all I actually wanted and didn’t care for the steak anyway.

Vendors everywhere

The numerous “official” parties were also accompanied by seemingly popup house parties on literally every corner, and yes these parties were not invite only! Not only were people jamming to their pop tunes coming out of their home stereos, own grills were also set up on the street or porches near the said parties, giving the mini-fests a nice smokey aroma.

Houseparties Berlin style

If you happen to be a more of a “I know I can dance guy”, there was plenty of room on the streets to get “jiggy with it”, as the Fresh Prince of Bel Air once sung. Probably one of the coolest streets was Zossnerstrasse, just off the main parade road. At times it truly seemed there that we were in a massive outdoor disco, it was ridiculous, in a good way!

Sunny

The fact that people can have so much fun, without causing disturbances or trouble even when enjoying alcohol, is for a Finn almost unheard of. During the whole time I was there (roughly 8hrs) I did not witness a single fight or other violent behavior, maybe it was just luck, but I’d like to imagine it’s something else, it’s the culture. I believe this to be the best part of the Karneval der Kulturen that if it indeed is possible, Berlin felt even just a notch more tolerant than normal which is really impressive seeing that this is by far the most tolerant and peaceful city I’ve been to so far. During these 3 days people could not only come to the streets and be themselves to the fullest, but furthermore they were encouraged to do so, which I can only say is pretty damn awesome.

Jurgen Klinsmann?