Cultural Differences: Snakes, Brain and ‘Seitsemän Veljestä’

Doston* Tervetuloa**!

It is 6:30 am and I am sitting at my window…writing.

” Swoosh! Swoosh!! Swoosh!!!” I hear the noise and my heart misses a beat! My fears on wild-life in India suddenly come alive. “Snake! Snake!! Snake!!” my brain screams…

… and then my frontal lobe, the logical Holmes brain stares at my amygdala, the quivering hyperactive Watson brain. “My dear Watson! How can there be snakes in Northern Finland in approaching winter? You see them in Eastern Finland in summer!”

“Aha yes!” says Watson brain with a sigh.

What was then the noise all about, then? In front of my window is a flag pole and the ’24 x 7 Service’ guy was hoisting the Finnish flag early morning. The ‘swooshes’ were the noise a hoisting flag makes.

… and then the substantia nigra, the curious part of my brain wonders about today’s flag day and googles it. So, it is 10 October, Alexis Kivi’s day, who authored the famed Seitsemän Veljestä (‘The Seven Brothers’). Well in Kivi’s honour as the greatest, the day is also celebrated as ‘Day of Finnish Literature’.

… and then my very frontal lobe, breaks into a giggle at funny coincidences. For I am writing this piece sitting in a building named after one of the brothers in Seitsemän Veljestä. Juhani, Tuomas, Aapo, Simeoni, Lauri, Timo and Eero! Which one? I will keep you guessing!

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P.S.  ‘Flag Flying days’ are part of the Finnish culture, either part of custom or law. They are there to ‘honour’ an event or a person or something of significance. For e.g. Father’s Day, Mannerheim Day and Independence Day. Every Finnish citizen has a right to hoist the flag on the property they own.

Across the pond, in India, the tricolour flag is hoisted on 26 Jan (Republic Day), 15 Aug (Independence Day) and 7 Dec (Army Flag Day). Earlier private citizens did not have right to hoist flags. The law was amended in citizen’s favour on 26 Jan 2002.

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*Doston = ‘Friends’ in multiple Indian languages.

**Tervetuloa = Welcome in Finnish.


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