Thinking outside the box

Published in Helsinki Times 3.7.2014

Are you moving away from Finland for a limited period of time? Or just longing for more storage room? Pelican Self Storage offers an uncomplicated solution to situations like these, and peace of mind to anyone with valuable items to store.

Pelican Self Storage is easily recognisable even from a distance, due to its signature bright green colour and the large pelican logo. A first-time visitor is welcomed at the combined store and information point where a variety of packing materials can be bought, and customers are served and advised.

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Aside from the storage room, Pelican Self Storage also provides all the packing materials.

“The first contact can just as well be made by phone or by leaving a request for a callback for us online,” explains the manager of Pelican Self Storage in Kilo, Mari Rautelin.
“We then decide together with the customer on the size of storage needed. After that, the customer comes over and we show them how everything works. Of course, customers are welcome here straight away too, if they want to see the premises before starting negotiations. We are here from 10am to 6pm every weekday, and Saturdays and Sundays as agreed.”
Pelican Self Storage offers storage room of four different sizes, the smallest being 1 m² and largest 30 m², which fits easily the contents of a detached house when cleverly packed. The storage rooms are rented out with flexible contracts, one month being the minimum length. From then on, the contract lasts as agreed for a defined time period or as open-ended. Insurance is also included.
“Our longest contracts here in Kilo are still ongoing from the year of opening, 2012. We have a lot of companies as customers, and they make generally more long-term contracts. The payments are done one month in advance and there’s no deposit or any additional payment.”
All the packing material from boxes to bubble wrap and tape can be provided by Pelican Self Storage, and they also co-operate with Kuljetus Frisk that helps with removal of the items, if needed.

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Pelican Self Storage has teamed up with one of their customers, Seppo Frisk, in co-operation over moving houses and items.

“We are very flexible with our contracts, different kind of deals can be made and everything is negotiable,” Rautelin clarifies.
“The co-operation with Kuljetus Frisk means that our customers get a discount if they use the services of them. We also have a trailer here that customers can borrow free of charge.”
Simple service, easy access
The founder of Kuljetus Frisk, Seppo Frisk, was originally a customer at Pelican Self Storage himself.
“I was behind the door the same week the first store opened.”
From being a customer to Pelican Self Storage, Frisk moved on to be a cooperation partner. Now his moving company regularly transports other customers’ items.

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Pelican Self Storage offers storage rooms in four different sizes, with the largest easily fitting in the contents of a detached house.

“We do moving abroad as well as nationally. For example, next week I’ll drive down to Rome for work,” Frisk says.
He also still has his own storage room at Pelican Self Storage.
“I come here on a daily basis. I specifically appreciate the flexibility in access to the area. This kind of service was really needed here, before this company only random storage rooms surrounded by chicken wire were available for renting.”
The originally Danish company has expanded so far to Finland and Sweden. The first Pelican Self Storage in Finland was opened in 2010 in Vallila, Helsinki. Now there are 17 of them around the Metropolitan area and Turku.
“There is no clear customer prototype: we have everything here from those moving abroad for a while to those who are renovating their homes or just need an additional storage room permanently for example for seasonal items,” Rautelin says.

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Coming and going is easy at Pelican Self Storage as each customer is given a code with which they can access the building and their own storage room.

“We have customers who work as entrepreneurs and store for example their tools here – it’s much safer than keeping expensive items at the back of a van somewhere. Every year on Christmas Eve we see people coming to get the Christmas presents from storage as they find this a handy place to hide them from the kids. Small companies might not even have an office so this kind of service is perfect for them, too. We also take in deliveries for companies if they’re not able to make it here just then.”
Coming and going is easy at Pelican Self Storage as each customer is given a code with which they can access the building and their own storage room every day of the week from 6am to 10pm.
“The whole idea is to make using Pelican Self Storage as easy as possible. The concept is customer-oriented, flexible, simple. People tend to think that finding large storage room is something painstaking and complicated, a big thing to organise. We want to bring the solution close to the customer. This can be part of their everyday life, just an extra storage room with easy access, if they like.”

Full plates in Kamppi

Published in Helsinki Times 5.6.2014

Cafferino Oba is a welcome addition to the Helsinki coffee house scene. Forget about hastily put together, soggy sandwiches and the over-represented caesar salad. This small, cosy tent provides simply delicious food with the perfect surroundings for the tired and stressed to unwind.

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Mediterranean-inspired Cafferino Oba has opened in Kamppi.

Thursday afternoon at Cafferino Oba is quiet as the hectic lunchtime has just passed. I quite enjoy the calm in the middle of my hectic workday although the owner Bayram Baran eagerly awaits for more customers to appear. The interior design of the place is relaxed yet stylish, Southern Europe springs to mind. Colourful cushions and lanterns add an oriental feel, music plays low in the background.

Baran is not a new beginner in the field: he’s had several restaurants in the past.

“Starting Cafferino Oba, I didn’t have a clear image of what it was going to be like but I wanted to do something different to my previous places. And then it all came together as I went. This place offers a mixture of Mediterranean tastes, as the food from that area is light and healthy, yet delicious.”

The menu consists of different salads, filled and grilled pitaninis, soup, sesame bagels, baklava sweets, and a variety of coffees. Baran himself has a very international background, being Turkish and having lived previously in Switzerland and Norway, and has put the menu together combining some of his favourite ingredients. The place has been open only for a couple of months now and is slowly but surely growing its clientele.

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The cosy interior attracts a passer-by to pop in.

“Those who have been here seem to return. Generally, I’ve received really good feedback. I wish I’m going to get a lot more regulars through curious first-timers. This place is, after all, quite close to the centre, once you find it.”

Fittingly, in walks a smiling young couple.

“We came back as it was so nice last time,” the woman gushes.

Entrepreneurial efforts

Baran tells that the most popular choices at Cafferino Oba are pita bread filled with spicy Turkish sausage and mozzarella, and a grilled chèvre salad. He makes everything himself from scratch, using fresh ingredients. For example, he bakes the bread and the baklava cake, smashes chickpeas for the humus paste, and roasts the chicken in the kitchen.

And it all results in a fabulous culinary experience. I start with a latte, which meets my demands in taste, texture and temperature. Soon after, the spicy sausage and mozzarella pitanini with a side salad and a selection of aubergine, tzatziki, and humus pastes arrives on my table. The side salad is a mixture of bulgur, aubergine, roasted peppers, olives, tomatoes, pumpkin seeds and a pomegranate-vinaigrette dressing. The food is an excellent proof of how simple ingredients can make a top quality meal when skilfully put together – I can’t recall last time when I would have been so impressed with food served in a café. Everything is delicious and the meal very filling. So filling that I need to take a half an hour rest before the dessert.

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Cafferino Oba’s food is an excellent proof of how simple ingredients can make a top quality meal. The spicy sausage and mozzarella pitanini comes with a side salad and a selection of aubergine, tzatziki, and humus pastes.

Baran himself is very welcoming and friendly, and happily keeps me company while I digest the pitanini meal. He tells me what it’s like to be an entrepreneur in Finland.

“Being an entrepreneur has a reputation of being difficult in this country. I say it’s not difficult if you’re prepared to do a lot of work. Let’s put it this way: you’re definitely not going to have problems with what to do on your spare time, since there is none! In a long run, with a lot of hard work, you might become successful.”

It’s time to try the baklava. The pastry originates from Turkey and has a very sweet, nutty flavor to it. On top of it is sprinkled something that looks like green powder. Ground pistachio nut, Baran reveals. Baklava is an excellent choice for hard-core dessert lovers, it effortlessly satisfies any sweet cravings one might have.

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The baklava dessert is sweet and goes down perfectly with some basil-flavoured water.

“Oba is a Turkish word and refers to a small tent, or a cosy home. In the old days, farmers would sometimes be away for months with their herds, and oba would provide them a much needed resting place,” Baran explains.

There is no doubt whether this place could be warmly recommended to anyone fond of good quality, self-made food. The food is great, simply put. And Baran a very good host who looks wonderfully after his guests. Cafferino Oba really lives up to its name: I might not be a farmer but I feel like I have been provided with a well needed rest from the huzzle and buzzle of my everyday life in this cosy café.

Cafferino Oba can be found on both Facebook and Twitter for more information.

Coffee, Art and Tunisian Treats

Published in SixDegrees 22.5.2014
http://www.6d.fi/6d/index.php/columns/59-appetizer/811-coffee-art-and-tunisian-treats

An exotic Northern African café in Helsinki welcomes people to take a break from their hectic lives and try drinking coffee sitting on a floor. If you’ve got a bit of a sweet tooth or are a fan of art and design, ChoFé is the place for you.

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The trendy Punavuori district has got a new addition to its growing number of cafés in the form of a Tunisia-inspired coffee house. Founder Karim Ben Chouikha comes himself originally from Tunisia, but has also lived in Germany and France, before finding his way to Finland where his long-time dream of running a coffee house has finally come true.

“There are so many cafés already in Helsinki that I wanted to do something a bit different to stand out,” Chouikha tells.

“So I came up with the idea of opening a Tunisian art café with a French twist. This is the only place in Finland where you can buy Tunisian sweets.”

The interior decoration of the place mixes up Finnish vintage and Tunisian styles with a hint of French countryside. The DJ decks are placed on top of an old Singer sewing machine table next to a wooden rocking chair, while a big wooden chest by the window contains exotically coloured mats that, Chouikha says, people can sit on if they really want to go for the Tunisian experience. For more traditional café-goers, however, there are also chairs.

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Chofé is an ideal place for light lunch or for those moments when you just need something sweet. The café offers small snacks, such as paninis and hand-made French and Tunisian sweets.

“I order the bread daily from a French bakery and make the paninis myself. The coffee sold here is organic, and milk too. You really do notice the difference with organic products, they taste so much better. The organic coffee we serve here has a really nice rich, chocolaty taste to it.”

Popular tastes

Chouikha picks out the most popular Tunisian sweets: a pistachio sweet, a small nut pastry and one that looks like a Moroccan hat. Among the most popular delicacies is also a foamy white chocolate pudding from France. The Tunisian sweets are truly sweet and compliment the coffee fantastically. To the Nordic taste, they are definitely something different and exotic. The French white chocolate pudding is simply divine in both taste and in texture.

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After satiating one’s appetite, there is an opportunity to nurture the soul as the coffee house also hosts an art exhibition. At the moment, they have a contract with Lapland University whose students sell their designs at ChoFé.

“My wife is a designer and selects the art. The exhibition changes regularly so every month we have something different here in terms of art and design.”

The multi-national café offers service fluently in English, French and German, as well as in Finnish.

“I can do the customer service in Finnish but I only speak it when I absolutely must. The language is so difficult,” Chouikha laughs.

In the near future, he would like to see the café securing its place in Helsinki coffee lovers’ hearts as well as hosting more events.

“Currently, I’m planning on starting poetry and music events here. It seems to me that those who come here once often come again so I’m hoping that as many people as possible would find this place.”

Hanging around

Published in SixDegrees 22.5.2014

Aerial yoga is a new member of the growing yoga-inspired exercise family. What sets it apart from the more traditional types of yoga is doing exercise while you’re literally hanging up in the air, – not due to fierce meditation, but by a piece of material.

In short, doing aerial yoga involves stretching and muscle strengthening exercises while balancing on a fabric loop hanging from the ceiling. The first aerial yoga lessons were held in New York in 2006, and recently, the acrobatic yoga form arrived to Finland, too. The first place to offer aerial yoga lessons was Vertical Club in Helsinki.

“Aerial yoga suits active people who might find traditional yoga a bit too slow or boring. Those who look for more variety in yoga exercises usually find this suitable for them,” explains Vilja Eskelinen, an instructor at Vertical Club.

Aerial yoga combines traditional yoga with acrobatics and provides an efficient exercise for the whole body. An essential part of it is a fabric loop, a so-called hammock, that hangs from the ceiling supporting one’s weight and balance, enabling even an un-experienced beginner to try some pretty impressive tricks.

Aerial yoga offers a shortcut to the feeling of levitating. (Jukka Lintinen)

Aerial yoga offers a shortcut to the feeling of levitating. (Jukka Lintinen)

“Anyone is welcome to try, previous experience is not needed. Aerial yoga is a bit less demanding than traditional yoga in a sense. For example, those with problems with their balance or joints can do this as the hammock supports all the movements. We have pregnant customers, too, who adjust the exercises to suit their bodies.”

Vertical Club offers lessons of four different stages of aerial yoga: intro, soft, beginners and intermediate. Lessons of all the stages, apart from intro, are held several times a week.

“It’s a really good form of exercise, for the back specifically. It stretches out the vertebra on your back and strengthens the muscles, and therefore improves your posture,” Eskelinen adds.

“And it’s fun! As an instructor, it is really rewarding to see how surprised people get over what they are able to do with their bodies even as beginners.”

For those not interested in yoga, Vertical Club also offers other options to do exercise with the hammock: aerial stretching, aerial tricks, and as the latest addition, aerial dance.

See more on Vertical Club on their website http://www.verticalclub.fi.

Jesica Kaboel

Legal Immigrants

Published in SixDegrees 22.5.2014
http://www.6d.fi/6d/index.php/society/39-society/814-legal-immigrants

Indonesian Jesica Kaboel was initially shocked by the Finnish language but has since mastered it and settled in well to the Helsinki way of life. She embraces the honesty of Finns and thinks that Finland has made her a better person.

Jesica Kaboel was initially shocked by Finnish language but has since then learned to love it. (Jan Ahlstedt)

Jesica Kaboel was initially shocked by Finnish language but has since then learned to love it. (Jan Ahlstedt)

What do you do here in Finland?

I have a day job to make a living. In my spare time, I do what I really want to do: read, write, listen to music. I used to play in a band back in Indonesia so music’s close to my heart. Art in all its forms is my passion, actually. I’m specifically fond of old literature.

When and how did you end up here?

25 August nearly nine years ago marks my arrival here. I remember the date so clearly because it’s my mum’s birthday. Originally, I was brought here by love. And after that was gone I stayed because nothing, except for my family, awaited me in Indonesia. Moving here was one of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made in my life and I didn’t see the point of going back once that decision was made. I wanted to see what life had to offer me here.

What attracts you about Finnish culture?

What I like so much about Finns is that they are very straightforward and honest. In Indonesia, the culture is very different. Here, even if what you say is going to be hurtful, it is still ok to say it. There’s no pretending, it is what it is. I prefer that.

What were your worries about life in Finland?

I’m not the kind of person to worry much about anything. The biggest difficulty for me when leaving my country was leaving my family. Apart from that, the move was like an exciting adventure.

How has Finland changed you?

Oh my God, this could be a novel! It has changed me in every possible way – my way of living, my way of thinking. My whole life philosophy, if you like. Finland has changed me into a better person because here I experienced my biggest downfall and overcame it. It’s a sad story and a sad experience but it was all essential in shaping me into what I am now.

What culture shocks did you experience when coming to Finland?

The language was the biggest shock to me! As I’m a literature lover, I naturally also love language. But before coming here I had mainly travelled in English-speaking countries and Finnish was something else. And of course the weather shocked me – I’m a tropical girl! The winter was truly shocking.

Have you been able to settle and integrate into Finnish society?

Yes. Very well, I’d say.

What are your future wishes for your life here?

I go where life takes me, and at the moment my life is still in Finland. I have expectations but no particular wishes, as long as I can do what I love doing and I’m happy.

What is your favourite Finnish word?

I’ll say karhu (bear). Because it has two meanings, a bear and a beer. I just recently saw Aleksis Kivi’s play Seitsemän veljestä (Seven Brothers) and there was talk about bears. For some reason, I like the word.

Minority Report

The Polish

Published in SixDegrees 22.5.2014

There are approximately 3,000 Polish people living permanently in Finland. It is common for the Poles to come here to work on a temporary basis and as it often happens, some of the workers end up staying as they marry Finns. Most of the immigrants are male and settle in big cities, such as Helsinki, Vantaa, Espoo, Turku and Tampere. There has never been an actual wave of immigration from Poland to Finland but Poles have come here more frequently and in greater numbers since Poland joined the EU in 2004. Although Finland has never been the primary location for the Polish to immigrate to, better income opportunities in Finland attract them.

A typical male Polish immigrant comes to Finland to work in the construction sector. For example, a couple of years ago there were around 3,000-4,000 Poles working on the building site of the Olkiluoto nuclear power plant on the west coast of Finland. Since then, the numbers have come down quite a lot. Women typically find employment in the hospitality sector, taking care of the elderly.

There is no Polish school in Finland but Polish afterschool clubs for children are arranged in some of the big cities. For those wanting to learn Polish from scratch, Finland-Poland Association of Helsinki offers language lessons. The Association has also become known for organising Polish movie nights and providing opportunities to learn the secrets of the Polish cuisine in cooking classes, in cooperation with Arbis, the Swedish Adult Education Centre.

The social scene for the Polish in Finland is rather active. There are numerous Polish associations, with the Polish Union, Federation of Finland-Poland Associations, and Polish Cultural Society being the three biggest. The Federation of Finland-Poland Associations was originally founded to advance and improve the relations between the two nations. Polish Cultural Society, on the other hand, is mainly run by Polish women married to Finnish men who want to keep their children attached to Polish culture and language. Generally, the associations have been founded to provide the Poles a chance to meet their fellow countrymen and -women. Various celebrations at the associations take place on Polish National Day, 3 May, and Polish Independence Day, 11 November.

Poland is mainly a Catholic country with 85 per cent of the population Roman Catholics. Therefore, Christmas and Easter are very significant times of the year for the Poles. During those holidays, the Polish Embassy in Helsinki hosts a big reception to where certain representatives from the Polish community in Finland are invited.

Annual Flea Market for Cleaning

Published in SixDegrees 22.5.2014
http://www.6d.fi/6d/index.php/starters/36-starters/799-annual-flea-market-for-cleaning

It is soon time for another Siivouspäivä (Cleaning Day), with Helsinki transformed into one big flea market.

The event is a celebration of urban culture as well as an opportunity for citizens to sell their unwanted items on streets, parks, and other public spaces without any rental fee. It is a unique day when Helsinki does not require permit for selling something in public areas, as long as the selling location has been registered on the Siivouspäivä website.

Based on the registrations, a map on the website develops and shows what kind of items are going to be sold and where. Using the map people can then plan their routes around town if they are searching for something specific, for example furniture.

Siivouspäivä in Karhupuisto, Kallio.

Siivouspäivä in Karhupuisto, Kallio.

On Siivouspäivä, there are also recycling points provided for example for scrap metal and old electronic devices, and a point for donating unwanted items for charity. The locations and times for these can also be found on the website.

This communal event brings citizens together to enjoy the day out – or in, as it is also possible to have a place of sales in your own home. The main purpose is to be good for the environment, benefit yourself while benefiting others, and result in having a cleaner house.

“In order for us to be able to have Siivouspäivä also in future, it is important that everyone selling their items registers on the website and cleans after themselves,” reminds Pauliina Seppälä, one of the event organisers.