Sunday, November 20, 2011

Ages in Estonia

Take a peek into Estonia's past: crusaders, conquerors and independence! 

The Livonian Order and the Teutonic Knights (1200- 1500)

The Battle of Lake Peipus - Alexander Nevsky takes a different bite in 1242!

The Swedish Empire and Charles XII (1600)
Peter the Great and the Russian Empire (starting from 1700)

The Estonian Republic during the 1930s before WWII

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Important Dates in Estonian History - Tähtsad aastad Eesti ajaloos

Hiigla suur linnumuna kivisamba otsas ei ole tavaline. Miks ta seal on? Kas on tegemist Kalevipojaga? 

Eestimaal leidub palju huvitavaid kujusid, nii muinasajast kui ka muinasloost. Samamoodi on Eesti ajalugu põnev, keeruline ja erinev teistest Euroopa riikidest, kuigi ta on paljude riikidega seotud. Igal nädal paneme pilte, jutte ja mõtisklusi, tule kaasa minevikku!

Why would anyone place a huge granite egg on a monument? Was it Kalevipoeg? Estonia is full of peculiar statues and sculptures; likewise its history is intriguing, complicated and very different from the rest of Europe. And yet not completely - many states and cultures have left their mark over the centuries. Come along for the journey through time! Every week we include stories and quizes along with the battles.

Olulised ajaloo etapid – Significant timelines:
Esimene etapp
1200      Saksa ristirüütlid Eestis (Teutonic Order)
1210      Ümera jõe lahing (Battle of Ümera, in Latvia)
1217      Madisepäeva lahing (Battle of St. Matthew's Day, near Viljandi)
1343      Jüriöö ülestõus (St. Geroge's Day Uprising, April 23)
1535      Esimene raamt eesti keeles (First book published in Estonian)
1575      Esimene aabits (First Estonian primer)

Järgnevad etapid
1600      Rootsi aeg (Swedish Rule)
1700      Vene tsaari võim (Csarist Rule)
1918      Eesti iseseisvus (Estonian Indepedence)
1944      Nõukogude Vene okuptsioon (Soviet Occupation)
1991      Taasiseseisvus (Re-Independence)

Ja linnumuna? See on kaarnakivi (raven’s stone). Eesti rahvalugu seletab, et kaarnakivi võim annab inimesele kõik, mida ta tahab – kui inimene selle leiab ja oskab targalt soove kasutada. Kaaren on vanast ajast mitmele ravhvale müstiline lind.

In mythology, the raven is associated with dark and magical powers. In southern Estonia, if you find a certain kind of raven’s egg, rub at exactly the right time and then make a wish – it will come true! Juhan Jaik was born in Rõuge, Võrumaa. His short story collection „ The Raven’s Stone” was published in 1980. He died in 1948 – this is his monument.

History is like the raven's stone - it will give you a glimpse of the future by studying the past.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Essential Estonian Facts- Põhilised faktid Eestist

Eesti Riigi sümbolid - Estonian National Symbols

Eesti lipp - Estonian flag
Sinine väljendab helget tulevikku ja tähistab põhjamaist taevast. 
Must meenutab rahva minevikku ja tähistab mullapinda. 
Valge märgib rahva püüdlusi vaimuvalguse poole ning tähistab talvist valget lund ja suviseid valgeid öid. (
Valge meeutab ka puhtust ja lootust paremale tulevikule.

Sini-must-valge trikoloor võttis eelmisel sajandil kasutusele  esimene eesti üliõpilasorganisatsioon EÜS (Eesti Üliõpilaste Selts) ja õnnistati 4. juunil 1884 Otepääl.  (Loe lipulugu siit.)

The colours of the flag reflect Estonian nature: blue-sky, black-soil and white-purity, hope and of course, white nights. The original flag, which went into hiding during the Second World War, is now 127 years old. Fewer than 10% of the world's flags can claim that distinction!

Eesti vapid - Estonian coats of arms

Suur riigivapp
Greater coat of arms 

Väike riigivapp
Lesser coat of arms

Eesti Riigihümn on „Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm“
„Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm“ kirjutati 1869. aastal esimesel üldlaulupeol ettekandmiseks.
Sõnad:         Johann Voldemar Jannsen
Muusika:    Friedrich Pacius

Eesti rahvuslind on suituspääsuke.
The national animal of Estonia is the barn swallow.
Bird of the Year 2011
Aasta lind 2011

Kuna suitsupääsuke viivib suviti Eestis, õeldakse, et ta toob päevasoojust. Nii on pääsukesed rahvaga koos ammust ajast elanud ja nii kestab edasi.

2011 is an important year for the national symbol, the barn swallow or suitsupääsuke. Although it migrates to Africa, Australia and the Sahara, when the swallow returns to Estonia (and other northen countries) it makes its nest among barns, hence the name.

This year the Estonian Ornithological Society has the Barn Swallow as bird as the bird of the year.Why?
 “ To help draw attention to one certain bird species, to study its habits more widely and to provide information to a larger audience.”

Eesti rahvuslill on rukkilill.
The national flower of Estonia is the cornflower.
Eesti lipu õige värv on sinine nagu rukilill, mis on kasvanud Eestis nii kaua kui inimesed seal on elanud - umbes 10,000 aastat!

"The campaign to choose a national flower was organized by The Estonian Wildlife Protection Society in 1967-68. The ornamental blue cornflower was the favourite.

The cornflower has grown on Estonian soil for more than 10,000 years, from the time when the first humans came to Northern Europe. The plant grows commonly in rye fields, creating a strong connection in the minds of Estonians between the flower and their daily bread."
During the Soviet era, the blue black and white flag was forbidden, so the blue of this flower carried on the national spirit. Read the Eesti Institute site for other amazing Estonian facts!

Põhilised Eesti andmed  - Estonian Facts

Two Estonian Pink Houses

When sorting out photos of Estonia, I came across this beautiful pink house with the guards in front. Is it the Stenbock House or not? Actually, the two mirror each other: both are pink baroque-style buildings with the Estonian Coat of Arms on the portal. And both are state buildings.

Below: The Office and Residence of the President of Estonia in Kadriorg was designed by architect Alar Kotli  for President Konstantin Päts in 1938, in Kadriorg, near the huge Palace. It also houses a wonderful art collection - but unless you are a guest of the president, you won't be able to see it!

"Designing the new Kadriorg Palace, Alar Kotli faced a complicated task requiring great discretion. He located the building on the same axis with the old Kadriorg Palace. The new building was not to infringe the integrity of the gorgeous ethereal ensemble of baroque architecture. Therefore, the back of the administrative building facing the old palace is serene and fairly modest, compared to the abundantly decorated facade. The garden connecting the two palaces was completely re-landscaped. As far as our brief summers allow it, the garden was and still is used for ceremonial purposes. In early summer, the President receives the best school and university graduates there. In summertime, the garden is open to visitors." 

Below: The Estonian Parliament Building on the Toompea Hill, built well over a century earlier in 1792. Although tt has changed hands many times it was always known as the Stenbock  House, in honour of Count Jakob Stenbock, who financed its construction. 

"Since 1828, after the death of Count Stenbock, the ensemble of early classicist buildings that is still called the Stenbock House today, belonged to Paul von Benckendorff, the chief of rural police court. For a long time the building was used by the knighthood: since 1855 the building sheltered the Toomkooli Boarding School and was sold to the Knighthood of Estonia in 1873. In 1891 the building was transferred to the ownership of the Administration of the Guberniya of Estonia that, 100 years after the completion of construction, first started using the building as a courthouse." Read the complete story here.

Stenbock House on Rahukohtu Street,
Photo by Samuli Lintula 
The Republic of Estonia undertook its current restoration in 1996; it was inaugurated in 2000 and houses the government session hall and executive offices.

Restored Assembly Hall/ Riigkogu saal. 
Photo: Steve Jurvetson

"The biggest room of the house initially designed as a court hall is located in the western wing on the second floor of the main building. Now the Government of the Republic holds its session here every Thursday by means of the electronic session system. This is the only room in the building where the dogtooth cornice edging the vaulted mirror ceiling has been restored. The three modernised chandeliers in the room are original designs by Peeter Tambu, interior designer of the house."  LINK.

About the Estonian Parliament
"The contemporary Estonian government follows the principles of separation of power and its people elect a 101-member parliament every four years. 

Only Estonian citizens may participate in parliamentary elections. The Parliament chooses a president, who can be in office for a five year period for a maximum of two terms. The President is the Supreme Commander of the National Defence of Estonia."

"A party must gather 5% of the votes in order to become part of the Parliament. As a rule, the President asks the party leader who has collected the most votes to form the new government. The representational model based on party politics has strengthened over the last decade. 

In the years shortly following the restoration of independence, there were dozens of parties to represent a population of only 1.4 million; at present 6-7 parties have remained. The local authorities have developed in the same direction. All permanent residents of voting age (18) may participate in local government elections". Read more from the Eesti Instituut.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Introducing: Mari Pokinen

If you flew to Estonia this summer on Estonian Air, you would have seen their elegant inflight magazine, (pardaajakiri) “In Time”. This quarterly publication highlights Estonian people, their culture and cuisine along with exotic destinations; the stories alternate between English and Estonian. If you are learning Estonian or are related to one, “In Time” is a great resource.

For the fall issue, "Picturesque South Estonia", columnist Triin Tammert interviewed Mari Pokinen from Tartu, a 23-year-old singer, songwriter and actress, and a recent graduate of the Viljandi Culture Academy (at the University of Tartu). Her debut album “22”, released in 2010, was an overnight success and has remained in the Estonian Top 10 all year.

Her songs are simple, captivating and timeless. Having Estonian Air use her hit single "Sõpradele" as a theme song for their commercial “Olulised hetked” (Important Moments) certainly helped a lot!

Does she have mixed feelings about releasing her song to a commercial? Yes. Raadio-2 recently asked her that question on „Siin me oleme“ (Here we are), a talkshow airing weekdays around noon :
“See pole lennureisi lugu. Ühel ilusal soojal päeval kirjutasin selle oma sõpradele," lisas Pokinen, kes ei aimanud, et tema loodud kaunis laul hakkab reklaamis oma elu elama". Read the interview here.

The song was written on a beautiful warm day and dedicated to her friends, which is why it is so honest, powerful and heartfelt. And now it has a life of its own, which must feel strange to her, since her goal was to become an actress, not a singer, although singing and writing music were always a part of her life. „Ma ei ole julgenud ennast määratleda lauljana ega valida muuikat elukutseks, leivateenimiseks.“ 
"No näed":

How does she write songs? What is her inspiration? Simple things:  life in Estonia (wonderful!), friends, song – being in the moment.
Read for inspiration: see how simply the expresses her feelings about the essence of time and space in words!

"Mäletan, kui Luha tänavale kodu ehitasime, istusin oma uues tühjas kajavas toas ja kuulasin ballaadi, mis kostus üle ehitusteipide, avamata kastide, parkettpõranda liistude teise maja otsa. Ja mina vaatasin lage ja seinu ja põrandat ja kujutlesin, missugune kord olema saab nende lugu. Kui soojaks ja targaks nad saavad. Paigutasin mõttes asju kohtadele. Uurisin kõiki nurki. Ja ballaad oli vabaduseks. Kuulutas uut algust".

"I remember when we were building our home on Luha street and I was sitting in my empty new room, listening to a ballad that floated over boards, planks, unopened cartons; from one end of the house to the other. As I sat there, I imagined the life these items would have, what would be their story. How warm and smart they would become. And as I looked at all the nooks and crannies, I created a room. And the song in the air was about freedom, announcing new beginnings."

New Beginnings in Tallinn
This past summer Mari was a witch -  a hundred year old endearing, teenage witch, the kind you would want to meet! And this Christmas on ETV, you probably will – she plays the part of Nõianeiu Nöbinina, in the ten-part television series based on the book by Kristiina Kass. Like many of Kass's previous children’s stories, it is funny, sweet and easy to read – and soon out of print!

And now for something completely different....
How about a rock and roll cabaret based on "The Brothers Karamazov" by Fyodor Dostoyevsky?  How wild is that? Very!  The „12 Karamazovs”, directed by Kristjan Smeds, is currently playing at the Von Krahl Theatre on Rataskaevu Street in Tallinn until Novemeber 24. The cast: new professional actors, including Mari Pokinen, from the Viljandi Culture Academy.

"The „12 Karamazovs” is not a classical play but a state of mind, which the whole crew has initiated. It is a statement of both modern Russia and postmodern Estonia; full of punk attitude, odd Slavic traditions, switched male and female roles and numerous surprises on the way”. Length: 4 hours, 15 minutes. Exciting, yes -  but not for the faint of heart! 

The Von Krahl is an experimental theatre, an ultra cool nightclub and restaurant - AND an academy all in one! The small theatre, led by Peeter Jalakas of the VAT Theatre, opened in 1992 and focuses on alternative modes of performance. (Estonian Theatre, Jaak Rähesoo). Sigismund Von Krahl was an Australian philosopher of Baltic German origin, whose his ideas have inspired the theatre group named for him. Interested?  Read the complete history in the article by Katrin Ruus here

And how does Mari Pokinen feel about Tartu and Tallinn?
"Käisin kodus. Tartus liigub aeg võrratute pisikeste sammudega. Tallinna aeg on jämedam ja jookseb rahust ja ilust tihti üle. Nii tundsin vajadust pealinnast eemale saada. Ja tegigi kodu mind jälle mõnusamaks. Sügis on Tartus samuti hoopis tundlikum. Sügis annab ennast seal päriselt kätte ja kõik sealne annab ennast sügise kätte." 

"I went home. Time in Tartu moves at a much slower pace. Tallinn’s time moves forward quickly and often tramples over beauty. I felt a need to escape from the capital. And I was comfortable again at home. Fall is more sensitive in Tartu and lends itself to people and they are able to relate to it more there."

Although penned in October 2010, before the release of her debut album "22", I bet she still fells the same way - Tartu or Tallinn?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Paha Polly: Tartu or Tallinn?

Our tendency is to join things, to associate places and things and to remove what doesn't fit. Maybe the things that don't necessarily fit are what make life interesting. Maybe the pieces of a puzzle don't even have to fit, strange as that may seem.

For instance, how are these people and places connected?

  • The Estonia Theater (now the Estonian National Opera) in Tallinn,
  • Professional cyclist Rein Taaremäe and sculptor Mati Karmin (Kissing Students) from Tartu
  • Leelo Tungal (Ruila) and Raimond Valgre (Rapla) in Harjumaa,  not far from Tallinn

How different are Tartu and Tallinn?

Listen to Paha Polly, a folk rock band from Võru (2005) now based in Tartu. The band consists of  Liana Kolodinskaja (vocals), Kaur Pai (guitar), Toomas Oks (guitar), Ervin Sokk (bass guitar), Marek Manglus (drums) and Taavet Schotter (accordian). Their first album "Ei jäägi üle muud..."(Naerame) was released in 2009, followed by "Killud" in 2010 (Ma olen Tartu).

Are you curious about how bands get their names? Take Paha Polly (bad Polly). One of their favourite groups, Nirvana, had some great songs: "Polly" and "Molly's lips". Another band member was really into "Good Charlotte".  Play around with these names and what else could you get but "Bad Polly"? Read the story here in Lõuna Leht.

Ma olen Tartu ja sina oled Tallinn
ma olen Tartu
ma olen Tartu ja sina oled Tallinn
ma olen Tartu

Me vahel laiub paarsada kilomeetrit
musta lõhnavat asfaltteed
sa oled kivist ja mina olen puust
kuid suuri sõnu kuuleb mõlemate suust

A a couple of hundred kilometres separate us 
on asphalt-reeking roads,
You are stone and and I am wood,
But complicated words you'll hear from us both.
Jah, minu jaoks su linn on tõesti liiga suur
vaid kaugelt vaadata su poole vist ma julgen
ning sinu jaoks mu linn on kitsas nagu puur
nii kumbki meist siis oma linna jäägu

Your city is really too big for me,
All I can do is gaze at you from afar,
Yet for you my city is a narrow cage,
I think it's best we both stay where we are.

Left: Photo of Tartu by Dezidor                      Right: Photo of Tallinn by Arunas - visit

Su linnas pidutseb glamuur, on kõrge lend

Ning tähtsaim sõna seal kindlasti on trend
boheemid minu linnas tegutsevad endiselt
siin kõrgelt hinnas kottis kampsun on ja tennised

Snowy Tartu by Veljo Haamer
Your city is filled with style and glamour, 
The key word there is "trend";
Bohemians still roam around here as before
Needing only sweaters and running shoes, not more.

Su hinge tahaksin küll ära osta ma
igavesti peita selle oma seinakappi
ei vaataks kunagi sa, kus on Tallinna
ning alatiseks jääksid siia mulle appi

I would really like to buy your soul,
hide it for eternity in my cupboard;
Never again would you look for Tallinn,
You would stay at me side forever.

Villa Margaretha -  Jugendstil  hotel and restaurant

"Sa oled kivist ja mina olen puust"

In many European cities older wooden houses have long since been replaced by stone buildings and facades. Fires and wars did not help. Tallinn is known for its stonework, although sections like Kalamaja and Pelgulinn still maintain their wooden houses.

1930's buildings combining wood and brick
Villa Margaretha Foursquare link with map

If you are in Tartu, be sure to visit Karlova, Supilinn and  Tähtvere. The wooden buildings in these historic districts are rare in Europe and slowly disappearing in Estonia as well. The Karlova Assocation has kept an archive of the buildings along with individual house histories, they are quite fascinating - but unfortunately all in Estonian!

Mart Siilivask has  written a wonderful article in English:
 "The Historic Town Structures of Tartu – The Historical Overview and Main Preservation Problems Today".
Foursquare link with map to Anna Edasi kohvik/cafe/restaurant.

"Karlova: This wooden district of more than 300 mainly perimetral two storey tenement-houses arose outside of the town-limits in 5 years (between 1910 and 1914), the latest houses are from beginning of the 1920s. The main building contractor and designer was building-engineer Fromhold Kangro, but most of the buildings were probably designed and built by local master-builders." 

Paha Polly - Their music   "Mu valgus" (My Light) - 2011
link to music video

News Upadate: 
Drummer Marek is leaving for Sweden in October, 2011. Last concert was in  Trehv, Tartu - but hey, maybe the next song will be Ma olen Tartu, sa oled Stockholm! Ha!

 Trehv Foursquare link

Friday, September 30, 2011

Raimond Valgre ja Metsatöll - mis on side?

Vaatame neid pilte. Nad on väga erinevad aga siiski leidub nende vahel ühiseid jooni. Mis võiks neid siduda?

TUNTUD & TUNDMATU                                            METSATÖLL, Äio, 2010
Raimond Valgre legend                                               
Jaak Ojakäär
TEA Kirjastus 2010

Oli 1940.aasta suvi. Pärnu Rannasalongis kõlasid Raimond Valgre orkestri Merry Swingersi helid nii valjusti, et Valter Ojakäär, siis 17-aastane koolipoiss ja autor Jaak Ojakääre isa, "kuulas neid kõlakojapoolsete avatud akende all". Muidugi olid Pärnu rannas ka üles pandud kõlarid. Kuulda oli Valgret ise laulmas kuid ka plaatidelt Bing Crosbyt, Django Reinhardtit ja Ella Fitzgeraldit.

"Bing Crosby oli Valgre lemmiklaulja ja suur eeskuju elu lõpuni.", lk 7
Vasakul: Eesti Kullafond, 47 parimat laul
Paremal: Bing Crosby laulud lindistatud detsember 1931.aastal LINK.
Valgre häält ei leidu ühelgi plaadil; mõned arvavad, et oli väga sarnane Bing Crosby toonidele.

Valter Ojakäär polnud veel Raimond Valgrega kohanud. Ja Merry Swingers said ainult kaks nädalat mängida kuni tuli teade, et Rannahotell tehakse tööliste puhkekoduks. Sinna aga paigutati hoopis Nõukogude lendurid.

Raimond Valgre saatus: vale koht, vale aeg
7. juunil 1941.a lõpetas Valter Ojakäär Pärnus Poeglaste Gümnaasiumi ja samal ajal kutsuti teda taasavatud Kaubastu restorani (Rannasalongi) mängima Raimond Valgre orkestrisse.

13.juunil 1941.a õhtul oli orkestri trompeti mängija Robert Tilgari 20.nmes sünnipäev, orkestri liikmed pidasid seda koos. Öösel oli kuulda veoautode mürinat, küüditamine hakkas peale. Peale küüditamist mängis orkester edasi, maksti palka, restoran oli rahvast täis. Keegi ei julgenud kodus olla, võibolla tullakse järele.

22. juunil 1941.a mängis orkester viimast korda Rannasalongis, pimedas, elektrit ei tohtinud kasutada. Mobilisatsioon oli peale hakanud ja restoran suleti. Saatus oli senini Valgrele hea olnud.

Kuna Rannasalong pandi kinni, piirdus Valgre Tallinna poole, mängima Pirita bussijaama ligidal restornis "Bussijaam". Sel ajal olid pillimehed, eriti akordionistid, olulised rahva meeleolu tõstjad, neid otsiti kohvikutesse ja restoranidesse, nad olid siis mobilisatsioonist vabastatud.

Oleks Valgre vastanud hoopis teise ansambli kutsele, kes mängis Grand Marinas, oleks ta elu võibolla teisiti läinud. Akordion, millega ta teisi lõbustas, sai temale endale saatuseks. Bussijaamas läks poistel kakluseks, kutsuti sõjaväepatroll, pandi jooksu aga süütu Valgre oma pilliga jäi akna vahele kinni. Nii muutus tema saatus.

Valgre ja teised noored mehed kutsuti kokku Lauluväljakule. Oli juuni lõpp, juuli algus, soojad suve ilmad. Kolme päeva toiduga ja suve riietusega pandi neid noori mehi teele Venemaale tööpataljonidesse ja vene sõjaväkke.

What is the connection with Metsatöll? Listen to this song, do you recognize it?

Oma laulu ei leia ma üles (I can't find my song)
Music by Valter Ojakäär, words by Leelo Tungal

It is the theme song (tunnusmuusika) for the Estonian television series "Tuulepealne maa" (Windward Land).  It has also been immortalized by Metsatöll - listen to their version HERE with English subtitles.

Metsatöll's CD is named for the Estonian god for slumber, Äio. 
Äio on taarausu unejumalus Taari abiline, kes annab inimestele und, et need puhkakisd päevastest  raskustest ja muredest. (Eesti Mängu küsimus finaali võistlusel, 25. august, 2011).

Estonian lullabies often begin with  "Äiu, Äiu".And those are probably the last words that Raimond Valgre's mother spoke to him as he dying in a coma on December 31, 1949. He had become famous for his songs written in Russia, but he never did find his song when he arrived back in Estonia after the war ended. Perhaps he is the inspiration for the music written by his bandmate, Valter Ojakäär, and the words by Leelo Tungal.

Films, movies and operas have been made about Raimond Valgre's short life from 1913 - 1949. And Valter Ojakäär has written a brilliant story about the musical history of the 1930s, 40s and 50s in Estonia. This book, which also comes with a CD, should be translated. And soon!

Friday, September 16, 2011

RKlubi suvelõpupidu

Kooli algus oli tulemas, veel oli aega süveneda suvesse. Ja nii tegime raamatukogu klubi liikmetega 18.augusti õhtul väikese koosviibimise, pühitsedes samal ajal Eesti Vabariigi Taasiseseisvumispäeva.

Ettenähtud äikese torm jäi tulemata, roosa taevas säras hämarikus, küünla valgusel jagasime muljeid Eesti reisidest ja suvekodu tegevusest. Ja ka raamatutest, mida olime suvel lugenud.

Näiteks Justin Petrone   "Minu Eesti 2. osa", subtiitriga eesti keeles lihtsalt: "Mida sa tahad?" Jutuhooajal hiilisid naabri aiast ebaviisakad külalised:

     Jama 1. ja Jama 2. (puudub).
Kaks venda (või õde;-) kes öösiti viibivad meie rõdul ja hommikuti tervitavad ilusasti! 
"Mida teie tahate?" "Kiluvõileba!"

Kuna elame kesklinnas suure pargi ligidal, on raske kutsumata külalistest kergesti lahti saada, pigem peab nendega elama.

Unwanted guests are always a nuisance. If they interrupt a party, that's not too bad, but if they damage your house - that's another story!

Was this the work of our fearless, frisky raccoons? Not at all - the tiny holes were the homes of our bumblebees (kimalased). The gashes were made by our newest resident, Mr. Woodpecker! In Estonian, musträhnHe left after his doorframe was replaced, but not without a fight. (We assumed the hammering was our neighbour building his porch!)

No Estonian evening is complete without a good game or two, especially during coffee and cake.  Eesti Mälumäng is a very popular trivia boardgame, very difficult even for Estonians - some, more than others:-) 

For example:
What is the northernmost city in Estonia?

Milline on Eesti põhjapoolseim linn? Seitse naist panid pead kokku ja arutasid omavahel. Kas pole mitte Tallinn? Või Kunda? Paldiski?

Vastus/Answer: Loksa. On see linn? Ikka. Nii oli kaardile märgitud, nii peab olema.
33.11 on ikka mul peas koolist saadik. Mis see on? 33 linna ja 11 maakonda, loomulikult! Loksa, Lahemaa rahvuspargis, polnud siis linn!

Oddly enough, the one question we were expecting was missing, but then again, we didn't play through the entire deck. That's 600 questions too long! 

Mida võiks teada Eesti kohta? Eestimaa suurus on45,226 km2. (But 45,227 km2 has also been stated by different sources!)

Aren't sure about Estonian statistics? Just keep playing this game! Is there a Latvian version? Their politicians sure could use one! When asked about the size of their country, only one came close. Story and link here.  (What is it about the number of teeth - it appears in every trivia game:-)

"The newspaper Diena tested at the erudition of representatives of leading political forces in Latvia. None of them answered all 30 questions, but the best results showed the leader of the Reform Party, former President Valdis Zatlers, and the worst – candidate for prime minister of “All – Latvia!” -TB/DNNL, Ex-Minister of Justice Gaidis Berzins". 

And the size of Latvia is..... 64 589 km265,000 km2 was the closest answer - give or take a few hundred square kilometres:-) 

So come out to our next RKlubi meeting, make new friends and learn about Estonia and the Baltics!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Viljandi Pärimusmuusika Festival: 30. juuli

Täna esinevad Tuule Kann ja Jaak Sooäär Aida suur saalis.  This footage from the Estonian Embassy in Paris concert in 2009. Tuule Kann performs on the Estonian baltic zither. Here is an introduction to Estonian and Baltic folk music in English.

Jaak Sooäär: "võib pidada Eesti üheks parimaks jazzkitarristiks"
Tuule Kann:  "on tuntud kandlemängu pedagoog, levitaja ja esitaja; 2009. aastal pälvis Tuule Kann pärimuskultuuri auhinna väljapaistva tegevuse eest kandlemuusika traditsioonide hoidmisel ja arendamisel." Siin ta mängib kromaatilist kannelt. Read more here about them and the Viljandi Folk Festival : LINK 

From Wikipedia:

A kantele in Finnish or kannel in Estonian is a traditional plucked string instrument of the zither family native to Finland, Estonia, and Karelia. It is related to the Russiangusli, the Latvian kokle and the Lithuanian kanklės. Together these instruments make up the family known as Baltic psalteries. The instrument is also known as the kusle among the Volga-Finnic Mari people.

The oldest forms of kantele have 5 or 6 horsehair strings and a wooden body carved from one piece; more modern instruments have metal strings and often a body made from several pieces. 
Alfred Aasma's  zither in the Canadian Museum of Civilization
Modern concert kanteles can have up to 40 strings, Modern instruments with 15 or fewer strings are generally more closely modelled on traditional shapes than the concert kantele, and form a separate category of instrument known as small kantele. The playing positions of concert kantele and small kantele are reversed; i.e., to the player of a small kantele the wide'est low pitched strings are farthest away from his body, whilst to a concert kantele this side of the instrument is nearest, and the short high pitched strings farthest away. The instruments have different though related repertoires.

From the Tuule Kann performs in the Chromatic or Concert Zither.

 Estonian chromatic zither produced by the Tallinn Piano
Factory in 1988.  Photo: Adeline
From the Estonian Wikipedia:
Kromaatiline kannel (täpsemalt kromaatiline kontsertkannel) on keelpill.

See on klassikaliste muusikainstrumentide kõrval uustulnukas. Oma praeguse kuju sai eesti kromaatiline kannel 1952. aastal kandlemeister Väino Maala käe all.

Kromaatilisus võimaldab mängida piiranguteta kõigis helistikes ja annab suuri võimalusi erinevate ajastute muusika ettekandmiseks. Kromaatilise kandle keeled on ristuvad, see tähendab, et diatoonilised keeled suunduvad kõlalaua kohal paremalt ülalt vasakule alla ja altereeritud keeled vasakult ülalt paremale alla. Seda võib võrrelda klahvide paigutusega klaveri klaviatuuril (mustad ja valged klahvid).

Kromaatilisi kandleid valmistas Tallinna Klaverivabrik alates 1950ndatest kuni 1990ndate aastateni. Need kandled on 46 keelega. Praegu on võimalik tellida kromaatilisi kandleid Soomest või eesti kandlemeistritelt. Uuematel Soomest pärit kanneldel võib olla kuni 50 keelt.

When was the first chromatic zither manufactured? In Finland, by Elias Lönnrot between 1835 and 1840; one of these early models is stored in the museum of Finland. 

The Kalevala and the kannel-zither:

Rainy Tallinn - vihamane Põhja-Eesti

ERR uudistes: 

Kundas sadas ööpäevaga 80 mm vihma 

      but Southern Estonia is dry!

Siin on kaart: (ERR)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Estonian Word of the Week: Pantvang (Hostage)

Valgamaalane, July 14, 2011
Pantvangid pääsesid vabadusse
Neljapäeva varahommikul vabastati Eesti, Liibanoni ja teiste partnerite koostöö tulemusel Liibanonis röövitud seitse Eesti kodanikku. (Some of the cyclists are from the province of Valgamaa, read the story here.)

The Baltic Times, July 15, 2011
Estonian Hostages Freed
TALLINN -- "The seven Estonian men who were kidnapped while cycling through Lebanon in March have been set free and are back on home soil."  (English roundup of Baltic news, here).

The most captivating Estonian news headlines this week must be the happy end to the 113 day hostage crisis. Yesterday the Lebanon NOW headline read "Estonians freed, but mystery remains"; it went so far as to state: 
"The truth of what happened to the men, and who was behind their abduction, therefore may not come out for weeks or months, if it ever does."  
We hope the opposite is true and that truth will out. (From Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice")

What are the origins of the words "hostage" and "pantvang"?

Both the Finnish "panttivanki" and Estonian "pantvang" are similar in origin and are divided into two words, pant and vang. Pant, pantti originate from the Latin pīgnus, pīgnoris (pīgneris) n.  a pledge, gage, pawn, security, guaranty; they were loan words from the Germanic base Pfand, a pledge, pawn, security.

Vang, vanki (prisoner) derive from the Germanic root Gefangene and are similar to the Swedish fånge and the Icelandic fangi and can also be traced back to the English word fang. 

Photo: Frank van Mierlo

Vang is also a nautical term:
boom vang (US) or kicking strap (UK) is a line or piston system on a sailboat used to exert downward force on the boom and thus control the shape of the sail. An older term is "martingale".The vang typically runs from the base of the mast to a point about a third of the way out the boom.

Here are the Estonian definitions from "Eesti keele seletav sõnaraamat"
1. vara, millega tagatakse laenu vm. kohustuse täitmine. Maad, talu panti panema. Andis raha eest kella, sõrmuse pandiks. Tal on kogu varandus panti viidud. Raamatuid laenutati pandi vastu. Pandiks võeti kaks sõjavangi. Ls. kinnis|pant, vallaspant. (mortgage, security, collateral).
2. tagatis millegi saavutamiseks. Õnne pant. See ennastsalgav tegu sai meie sõpruse pandiks. Teaduse arengu pandiks oli ta seos praktikaga. Annan pandiks oma mehesõna. Lapsed on rahva tuleviku pant. Töö on edu pant. (pledge of security, future happiness).
3. pandimängus ese, mille mängujuht võtab mängijalt ja mis tuleb mingi ülesande täitmisega välja lunastada. Kes mängureeglite vastu eksib, annab pandi. Mängisime pantide lunastamist. Mida peab see tegema, kelle pant minu käes on? 
1. vanglas karistust kandev v. eelvangistuses viibiv isik. Paljaks pöetud peaga vang. Sunnitööle mõistetud vangid.
2. vaenlase poolt kinni võetud isik (näit. sõjavang, pantvang). Sõjas võetud vangid. 
3. PILTL a. keegi, kes on kuskil kinni, ei saa liikuda v. lahkuda. Et võtit polnud, oldi vangid omas kodus. Teedelagunemise aegu oleme oma koduküla vangid. b. (inimese kohta, kes on millegi kütkes, lummuses). Ta on oma kujutluste, iseenda, armastuse, töö vang. 

And last, but not least: vàng in Vietnamese means gold. Coincidence or not?
Adamson-Eric: Gold Brooch and Bracelet, 1968, Estonian Museum of Art

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Tour de France - Rein Taaramäe is moving up!

Taaramae moves closer to top 10
Jul 14, 2011
Jared Grellet
PARIS, France – "Estonia’s Rein Taaramae has moved up to 16th overall in the Tour de France despite losing time on race leader Thomas Voeckler of France.   After 12 stages Taaramae is sitting seven minutes, 27 seconds behind Voeckler and just under three minutes outside of the race top 10". He is currently in 16th place - 2nd best best young rider overall!

Rein is 24, born in Tartu, Estonia, rider number 151 for Cofidis. His code name is vader, short for reinuvader (fox).

The hardest segments of the Tour de France for an Estonian loom ahead: the mountains. Rein has faithfully been writing his blog - read it and keep your fingers crossed (hoia põialt!) that he makes it to the finish line. A top 10 finish is a lofty goal but not impossible! Next Stage: Touri mägedeetapp!

Rein Taaramäe's blog: :
Tour de France link:

Bastille Day - Prisoners Released!

Storming of the Bastille,  Jean-Pierre Houël (1735-1813)
July 14, 1789 - Storming of the Bastille Prison in Paris, France:  the beginning of the French Revolution and  the birthday of the modern French nation celebrated by fireworks and the oldest and largest regular military parade in Europe. 

"Besides holding a large cache of ammunition and gunpowder, the Bastille had been known for holding political prisoners whose writings had displeased the royal government". 
For instance, the Marquis de Sade. He then managed to write "The 120 Days of Sodom" IN the Bastille - but missed the storming, having been transferred to Charenton in early July 1789.

"As it happened, at the time of the siege in July 1789 there were only seven inmates, none of great political significance."  LINK  According to Antonia Fraser's book "Marie Antoinette - The Journey", the list included two madmen, four forgers and one nobly born criminal. (page 283).

Estonian Hostages Freed
On the same day over two hundred years later seven other prisoners (hostages), this time Estonians, were released with the help of the French government from the tiny Eastern Bekaa village of Arsal, an area known as the Wild West of the Middle East: 

The Estonian hostages on the balcony
of the French Embassy in Beirut. Photo: Jessica Sarhan

"The desert heat spills over the mountains from Syria, the streets are dusty, and elderly people sit silently by empty storefronts all day. But those aren’t the only resemblances. 

If you’re a farmer, you carry a gun, locals say. The lands of most people in Arsal lie at the hudud, the border with Syria, which has never been properly demarcated. And because no Lebanese authority guards the border, the Syrian farmers have been encroaching on and stealing Lebanese land, villagers contend".
Read the article from Lebanon Now HERE.

According to the BBC, "a previously unknown group called Haraket Al-Nahda Wal-Islah, or Movement for Renewal and Reform, claimed to have carried out the kidnap, and demanded a ransom". Estonia relied on France and other NATO allies for their release as it has very few diplomatic staff in the region.  Read the story from Sky News., here is the Estonian new source: linkIt is interesting that Estonia has an embassy and six consulates in France - the same as in the United States!

Question: Which country is home to the largest number of Estonian citizens living abroad?
  • Russia
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Finland
Finland (28,489), followed by Russia (12,686), Sweden (3155) and Canada (2693). 
The United States has 2514 Estonian citizens, the United Kingdom 2289, while France has 319. 
And the country listed with the fewest? Bulgaria - 22. Source:  Eesti Ekspress,  20. jaanuar 2011

Bastille Day Military Parade 2011 - View the amazing photo gallery here: LINK
This year's parade highlighted France's overseas territories, such as Guadeloupe, Guyana, Martinique, Reunion, Mayotte, New Caledonia and Polynesia but was overshadowed by the worst French losses in Afghanistan since 2008. 

"Another French soldier was killed on Thursday, meaning that seven have died over the past week. On Wednesday five French soldiers and an Afghan civilian were killed, and four other troops injured, in a suicide bomb attack on a meeting of local village leaders in Joybar, in the Kapisa province north east of Kabul.

’We are now faced with more terrorist-type actions, not just military action’, Mr Sarkozy told reporters after meeting wounded soldiers in Afghanistan at the Percy military hospital. ’It is a new situation and to deal with this new situation requires new safety measures’ ” LINK. 

Bastille Day USA - Washington, DC
Do you happen to be in Washington and love to party? Then you are probably near (or in!)....
... the French Maid's race! Party starts at 4 pm and the race at 8 pm! Got a broom - gotta go!

Where: L'Enfant Cafe and Bar Block Party - 2000 18th Street NW
Foursquare link:
An amazing 1250 check-ins!