Monday, 6 December 2010

Landing on Planet Finland

"Did you know that the first Matrix was designed to be a perfect human world? Where none suffered, where everyone would be happy. It was a disaster. No one would accept the program. Entire crops were lost. Some believed we lacked the programming language to describe your perfect world. But I believe that, as a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery. The perfect world was a dream that your primitive cerebrum kept trying to wake up from."
- Agent Smith, Matrix, 1999

Here I am in Helsinki and I'm utterly confused.

Who kidnapped all the humans and replaced them with these replicants?  The inhabitants here all look human (copied from an attractive blonde-hair, blue-eyes template), and when they aren't speaking in their strange unearlthly native tongue they speak excellent English and sound human, but they can't possibly be human.  They're just too.... cheerful.

Honestly, it seems like every single inhabitant of Helsinki is pleased to just be alive and breathing.  They're pleased to meet me. Pleased to serve me. Pleased to help me. And just as pleased to do the same for everyone else.
It makes me want to wipe that cheerful smile off their collective faces, but I bet they'd happily offer to stand still while I hacked their heads off with an axe.  It's just not human to be happy about nothing.
They must be brainwashed, robots, aliens, or maybe something else.. Maybe I've entered the Matrix?

As an example, I tried to phone the Helsinki railway station to book a train ticket from Rostock to Hanover for after I arrived in Germany, but I accidently called the wrong number!
The lady who answered the call could have reacted in one of a few ways, but she didn't yell expletives at me and slam down the phone.  She didn't even dismiss me and hang up.  Instead, she politely apologised that she couldn't sell me any tickets because she had nothing to do with the railway, and then asked me who I was trying to call and cheerfully went and looked up the correct number in the phone book for me.  Amazing.  I still have no idea who I actually called, but I should have written down her number to use as my own personal directory assitance.

Oh, and it's damn cold here too.
But just like the Russians, the Finns don't let a few feet of snow stop them from doing anything.  It's business as usual here.  Everything is still open, and everything runs on time.  After all, it's only the very beginning of Winter.
Spend a few minutes in a taxi here and after getting a bit sideways around every corner or roundabout you'll understand why so many of the world's greatest rally drivers come from Finland.  Awesome.

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