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Back to Helsinginkatu 10: Chapter 21 Back to Helsinginkatu 10: Chapter 21
by Thanos Kalamidas
2010-08-27 07:59:03
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21. At last Seppo

Kitty’s is an Irish style pub in the open inner area of Makkaratalo in the very centre of Helsinki close the train station and the world trade centre. Makkaratalo means sausage house but the place has and never had anything to do with sausages and it’s real name if you could call it name it has been ‘city centre’ or at least that how they called when they made all those plans in the end of 1950s.

The era of the big shopping centres and malls hadn’t started yet and they thought to make a protected from the cold and snow city centre where they could host all kind of shops restaurants and anything else that makes a commercial centre in a city. The plan covered a huge area but by the end of 1960s only a small part of it was build, the one opposite the central railway station and due to some decorative inspiration there is a cylinder going around the building reminding everybody a huge sausage. That’s where the name roots and nobody – except some signs inside – remember that the original name was city centre; everybody knows it as the Makkaratalo.

The truth is that when you see it standing cross the road on the station’s side it is a very ugly and depressing gray building and standing next to the architectural beautiful national gallery makes it look even uglier. But I suppose after a while you get used to it and after a period you don’t even see it; you just go inside through the glass doors to a warm environment with shops and restaurant and of course Kitty’s. Kitty’s opened just when Churchill’s closed and I suppose a few of Churchill’s regulars moved there automatically. It’s a nice pub but I don’t know if it is just me but I always have the sense that there is something missing. Perhaps it is the very bad collection of wines or something to do with the deco but I always feel the rush to finish my drink and get out of there. During the winter evenings the body builder they usually have at the door makes everything worst. I don’t know if they are doing it intentionally but they seem to choose people with real attitude. They think that they guard the Buckingham Palace not a bloody pub in the centre of Helsinki. Winter evenings are a totally different story. There is an outside patio with wooden tables of four where you can sit quiet and enjoy your beer and cigar without having anybody bothering you. Actually this is another problem in the winter, been one of the best pubs in the centre – which says a lot about the rest – is always overcrowded with drunk Finnish pushing each other.

However Kitty’s had replaced Churchill and here was I waiting Seppo who was late. That’s another thing with Finns. When you meet them in a pub they are either too early and by the time you get there they are nearly drunk or they are seriously late and by the time they get there you are nearly drunk. And that works fine if you are Finn and not diabetic. I belong in the other category and ordering a light cola didn’t help much the way the man behind the counter looked at me. But beer would follow when Seppo arrives I said to my self and I paid my drink heading outside where I could join my cola with a cigarette.

Seppo came and he hadn’t changed a bit, he looked to have added some weight to his waste but as always he looked overwhelmed to see me with a big smile on his face and the familiar small black bag in his hands. I left him outside and I went to get our drinks. A pint of brown ale for him a pint of Guinness for me. He had never had brown ale before we met and I think Churchill’s was one of the first pubs in Helsinki to have draught Newcastle brown ale so every time we met he drunk the same brown ale and I could say that he missed the taste in the way he zipped the ale when I put it in front of him. 

The next half an hour I was still half way my first pint and Seppo was on his third. He told me something he should now long time ago that politicians give promises that they can not keep and how he resigned his first job when the politician saw his business shrinking like his political career, how he had to move from the second since the promises about quick promotion where given to more people than the available positions and how he got divorced after long time of having enough in a marriage where religion became more important than love. The last one exploded like a grenade and gave me all the information I was looking for without asking any question and never mentioning Ferah and Alexei.

 Seppo’s wife was Moroccan – that was the small detail I couldn’t remember – and they met while she was at the college and with some friends of hers did some volunteer work for the party. They fell in love straight away, I had seen photos of her before but a new photo of her reminded me how small she was. Huge beautiful black eyes in a round face only this time the photo accompanied the face with a veil. In the beginning their relationship was just like any other and his wife – for a strange reason I had never heard her name and he didn’t mention it all through our conversation – was just like any other college girl. Studying, partying, going out and dating Seppo with dreams for a small house and a lot of kids.

That’s when he thought it was about time to finish his bachelor’s life and put some beauty to a life that was really boring, so he asked her to marry him. This is when he found out that west might meet east but there were the Himalaya in the boarders and he had to cross them. First of all it wasn’t his wife to be who could say the yes or no but her father and the religion was not a question. If he wanted to marry her – of course after the father gives his permission – he had to change religion and become a proud Muslim.

The mother and the girl’s sister lived in Finland but the father spent most of his time in morocco in a small place where he knew just everybody, always according Seppo. And this everybody meant the mayor, the policeman, the local bureaucracy and as Seppo said the man used to say that he has them all in his …pocket something you can translate even literally.

The father had the right and death over his daughters and there was nothing they could do without their permission doesn’t matter the miles that kept them physically separate. Her mother was covering the part of the normal college girl because if the father had found out she would have to return home and find herself locked in the house and go out only fully covered and always accompanied from her father or another man of the family. The beers were working into Seppo’s anger and more and more were coming out of his mouth; the sad thing was that I could sense that he still loved her despite the bad divorce.

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