Despite its unjustified prestige (or did I just imagined it?), derived mainly–rather solely–from the country whose flagship airline they are–or were, Finnair actually belongs in the bottom grop of low-cost, cheap-it & cheat-it airlines that we find all over out there. It ain’t a tiny bit better than other much more discredited ones like Wizz, Ryan or Vueling, just to name a few. I’m now alluding to their illegal and abusive “50 € refund handling fee” applied to their customers whenever there is a refund to be made–if the ever make it.
In the first place, it’s not possible to contact Finnair’s Customer Service (CS) by e-mail. Their CS staff’s e-mail addresses are among the best kept secrets on the Internet. It took me a long while of web search to find this one: firstname.lastname@example.org, but it turns out it’s not working. Therefore, the customer who wants to claim a refund needs to either fill in and submit a web form (which will be answered from a no-reply address that doesn’t allow for any kind of follow-up discussion), or try to place place costly, ineffective and time-consuming phonecalls to Finnair’s CS phone numbers. Continue
I liked him at first sight. He was a tall and somewhat ungraceful man of crude and unusual features–as if his face had been left unfinished by the sculptor–suggestive of a sound yet silent character. We had met at a restaurant; actually he was the cook; and though sparing in words, we had stroken up a slow yet heartfelt conversation out of don’t remember what. To judge for the short time we had the chance to talk, I gathered he was, above all, a decent human being, such a rare specimen.
He mustn’t have had much work at that time, because, once I finished my meal and paid the check, he told me to go out for a moment and continue our chat while he had a smoke. Right on the doorsteps to the street, for a brief moment I thought I’d lost sight of hime, as if he’d vanished into thin air; but no: a second later there he was, barely minding his cigarette, staring at the street’s damp grey cobblestones, wet by the recent rain, or looking at the unmistakable indigo of the northern sky above the neighbouring houses’ low roofs. Though we hardly spoke anything, I felt his as a close and pleasurable company; a company I could’ve enjoyed more had it not been for that noise, that fastidious and demanding noise that seemed to gush from within my head with growing strength…
It was the alarm clock. I opened my eyes to an unfamiliar hotel room, Continue
Actually the whole episode could’ve not been simpler, and if I had to put it down to some element more or less outside its direct players, I’d probably point to the mismatch between my eating habits and those of the Japanese: there, restaurants are rather for dining, and most of them–except maybe in the cities–only open after around five or six in the evening; but even the ones serving lunch close down usually for a long break shortly after noon–which is when I’m normally waking up from bed… or sort of; therefore, by the time I start getting hungry–say 3-4 p.m.–I can’t find where to go for a meal. That’s why that day I had to overcome my qualms regarding small bistros and get over the embarrassment of feeling like an ignorant alien among the other customers–who would no doutb be watchful of every move of mine–in order to get inside that particular hovel–the only one I found open–called by its small, dusty and neglected showcase, where there yawned–since years ago, I’d bet–the so common in Japan plastic replicas of four or five different dishes, labelled with their respective prices.
Right after getting in, I was welcomed (welcomed?) by the typical stale fag-ends/cold-smoke smell, which is one of the things I find most unpleasant in regular life–very specially when having meals–except perhaps for the typical lit fag smoke, which was also present in that place. This aversion of mine to tobacco truly hinders my enjoyment of many (otherwise) pleasant moments that life could–and indeed does bring me; most of all in Japan, where the smoking rate among the (male) population is rather high and where, funny enough, though it’s forbidden on the streets (!), turns out to be legal inside bars and restaurants, except for the few ones (normally more sophisticated and expensive) whose managers have willfully banned smoking. Hence the qualms I mentioned. And that’s a real pity, because it’s precisely in the more local bistros where one can–and usually does come across the more genuine experiences and people, leave aside the more affordable prices; but then you have to count on the smoke, which is twofold a problem for me, because on top of inhaling the foul air, later on I’ll have to hand wash the smelly garments in the hotel room’s sink, or send them to laundry–whichever way a chore.
As I was saying, Continue
So there I was, back in my hometown, being paid a spontaneous tribute by my country folk for having returned from my endless journeys around the globe; a casual open-air meeting in the middle of the street, where I was welcomed by everybody in an atmosphere of brotherly harmony that I had not seen before; approached by all, shaking hands, people patting my back and uttering warm words of recognition or praise, same my friends or my acquaintances and even those who never liked me (a fair majority, I must say), they all wanted to talk to me and greet the prodigal son; though curiously, far from sounding hypocritical or phony, their signs of affection were real–I mean, as real as such an odd meeting could be. Among them, there were also a few friends I had made abroad, friends who couldn’t possibly be in Spain, who have not been there in their lives and who won’t likely ever visit my hometown, although in that moment those little details didn’t seem implausible to me: neither the presence of my foreign friends nor the sincere well meaning of my country folks.
And there I was too, simultaneously (mark, reader: simultaneously), sitting–so to say–at the director’s chair and directing the scene, exchanging opinions with an invisible assistant, making small changes and improvements we thought of on the go: Continue
In the foreword of that joke book that is Perfect Vacuum, where its author, the Polish essayist Stanislaw Lem, reviews a series of nonexistent literary works (they reside only in the universe of his boundless imagination), the prologue writer tells us that, with this, Lem tries to give life to — or perhaps get rid of some of his overabundant ideas, considering that he has much more literary projects than biological lifespan to accomplish them. Thus, by the resource of ‘reviewing’ a few novels that, attributed to equally fictitious authors, he would’ve written himself were his life to last longer, he at least can offer to us the thought arguments or plots, along with the possible, suggested controversy or debate the hypotetical lecturers of the nonexistent books might have come up with. By the way, and for icing the cake, by the end of the foreword we are hinted to suspect that this, too — the foreword itself — is, in turn, Lem’s own craft, and not another person’s. Quite a feat of literary juggling.
Perfect Vacuum is an excellent work; a display of dialectic dexterity, intelligence, logic, and fantasy in equal measure with imagination, all of which at some passages has made me swoon.
And because I have so much liked it, I’m quoting here four of such paragraphs; not necessarily the best, but in any case remarkable ones, most of all considering the decade (the 70’s) they were written, which should suffice to give us an idea of Lem’s amazing clearvoyance and prophetic dowry. All four quotes belong to Perycalipsis, one of the book ‘reviews’ featured in the volume. Continue