When We Were Young: Once Upon a Time in the North (2)

Two words during our whole youth exchange time have gained special significance for all of us. They could proudly hold a triple title as they have become our not-so-holy Trinity: an inside joke, a grotesque image, and a synonym for boredom.

But I shouldn’t jump ahead of myself. Let me ask you a question, as I so like to do:

How could something so incredibly boring become an object of our interest?

I’m not gonna be like one of those self-proclaimed smart students in your class, the ones that often go so far as to try to answer a rhetoric question. How could I? “Well, let me tell you…”

Leaving my, potentially, confusing joke behind, I come back to the topic of the mysterious words. For all of us who have been there, just to read them is tough. Get ready, here they come:

Cement museum.

When you see words like that in your youth exchange schedule, there is only one way left to react. “WTF?” were the comments many of us have even written down on our programmes right by this bizarre combination of words. OK, Kunda – the small town our activities took place in – has a cement factory, so… a factory maybe? But a museum???

What magic we could potentially see there, we were all (equally confused) wondering. “Pieces of different kind of cement?” we all laughed. Laughed then.

And, to once again use Žižek‘s words, – my god! – we were right.

Right after we entered the house, we were greeted by walls decorated by Soviet-figures-like portraits of some older men, who, we were explained, held extreme significance for the whole development of the cement industry. Or maybe just for that factory. I forget now, coz my attention was lost at that very point.

I do remember more stuff – interestingly, my sub-consciousness didn’t block everything from my memory as a mechanism to cope with trauma – but I will save you from the misery of hearing about the details. One detail, one thought, that was running through my head continuously at that time was simply “Why? Why would anyone think could be interesting to anyone?” In addition, this punishment-like tour was a brilliant reminder of how relevant the pace of time is. That day, I swear to you, the time stopped – in the worst way possible, of course. Not even a car trip with my dad, when he in details told me how and when asphalt replaced the old gravel-based road close to my house, could compare. When I remember it now, I do think that even waiting for an hour on the other side of the bathroom door could have been less painful than spending time in that damn museum.

The only things that served like remedies to that incredible boredom were the ones that I’ve been greatly enjoying throughout our whole time together. One of them – and probably the best – was our cool intonations that only non-native speakers can have (I am very limited with examples here coz, well, I’m not gonna stress the whole sentence somehow). But it is Okeyyyyy.

Another one would be some linguistic misunderstandings – our beard-bird situation deserves a mention here – and simply re-discovering the forgotten duality of certain sayings. Like putting two fingers up and sort of shaking your head a bit while saying “…there are heavy metals in this substance…”
Just like my mind wandered when I was being enlightened about cement, my writing wandered and tried to escape me writing about that cement now. Let me apologise and as a sign of this apology give a point to this post:Other instant remedies that helped me to survive that museum were some quick shadowplay in front of the projector when our tour guide wasn’t looking, and…ah, yes, coming up to a mannequin that has absolutely no face features and saying “hello there, your face seems familiar…” Too easy of a joke, I know.

There are places about which people start their sentences in this way: “if you have a chance, you should definitely visit …”

My advice is: if you have a chance, punch the person who wants to say “if you have a chance, you should definitely visit a cement museum.”

Yet if you do have a chance, you should definitely participate in a youth exchange project. It gives you way more than two blog entries, let me tell you that.

2 Comments

  1. So, you dint like the Cement museum? Why was it so boring, I had some hard times, trying to transelate the estonian words to you all that were with me… It was hard. But it wasnt so boring… You just need to visit more museums… NOT CEMENT museums but museums…

    1. Erik! I should have mentioned – my apologies – that another remedy for that boredom was in fact being all fascinated by how well and how quickly you are translating everything!!!

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