Friday, June 29, 2012

tengo marcado en el pecho...

i have always drawn personal maps of the world and compiled private atlases. some lands of this earth are in my very heart. iceland, finland, croatia. england, germany. the united states. india. they shine and stand out, and it is easy to love them, like one's own children. some other countries are there, too, still noticeable, still lovely, while some are hidden in the fog. although i love them all, like all the children of this world, some simply feel foreign. the whole of latin america, russia, china. most of africa. arabia. spanish is a foreign language to me, as is japanese, or turkish.

my private maps are flawed, and i learn it over and over again. last year i went to prague, not expecting any particular connection. the czech republic was one of the places that i thought will feel foreign. however, from the moment i landed, to the moment i drove across frozen fields towards the airport, i enjoyed every single thing of my trip, and now when i hear czech spoken, i react with a smile. it has nestled in my private world.

in every foreignness, there is a grain of commonness. foreignness is a subjective and superficial feeling. if we give it a chance, any culture or land can become our own. i started thinking about this today, upon accidentally hearing a song. hoy, by gloria estefan. and although i already said that latin culture does not play a huge role in my life, this song touched me, it 'left a mark on my chest'. it made me remember. and it reminded me of how important it actually is to me, and how spanish can be the language of my heart.

then i wanted to explore some more, and look for other latin songs with equal emotional significance for me. and then they just started flooding me over. i decided to point out just two more. 'un amor' shook me deeply. i remembered the late eighties, my late teens, the times filled with love and expectations. it felt like the essence of that part of my life is huddled in this song.

i couldn't skip 'la dolce vita' by anneli saaristo, a latin song sung in 'my' language, finnish. most people probably cannot bear past the first few lines, but i get goosebumps when i hear: 'ja sen mukana laulaa voi onnellinen: lapsi kesän ja auringon'.

this might be a lesson of how futile and limiting it is to draw private atlases. i will probably go on experiencing some cultures as more intimate than others, but will try to be more open to the beautiful variety of the world.


  1. Kivaa luettavaa, Janko!
    Aurinkoiset terveiset Suomesta Tuuli-Marialta :))

  2. I’m glad you stayed open to other cultures, languages, music. I do not understand people who go to the same places over and over again missing the beauty and the experience “hidden” somewhere else. The whole world is waiting out there! ;-)
    Again, you’ve found and shared a beautiful song – Hoy. Thanks :-)

  3. thanks for the comment - the world is out there alright, and unexpected things are on every corner. well, some things are naturally closer to heart, but it is no reason to close off for everything else.

  4. great post! I almost felt as I wrote it. but there's a sad fact. I explore my 'maps' only through the internet, books, music, documentaries and I think I don't have to explain why :] but I promised myself I'll work on it. At least Iceland. modesty's my defect :]

  5. when i fell in love with iceland for the first time there was no internet, no music, no books. only a handful of newspaper articles and rare tv footages. it took me almost twenty years to set foot there. i hope it doesn't take so long in your case :)

  6. 'Un Amor' shakes deeply, indeed... the beginning of it in particular...

  7. i have to mention here my Skunk Anansie, the only one... just to mention :)

  8. "Foreignness is a subjective and superficial feeling." So true.
    The concept of foreignness… it is all in our heads, really. If we allow ourselves to approach the things, in this case different countries and cultures and languages, with an open mind and let them into our lives with no prejudices, after some time they won’t feel foreign any longer. Unfortunately, in our ignorance, we impose limitations on ourselves, in this and many other aspects of life. That is even more reinforced by the fact that we live in a society where people just further quash and repress the need of the few who try to break free from such mind restraints.

  9. The forces of conformism are terribly strong. Prejudices are also something that is impossible to avoid. So, the picture of the social world is not a happy one. Although it could be.