Story time: Revealing the Gravatar image

moi, haudi, morjens, tseenare!

You might be wondering what the nonsense above might be, but no worries! The words in question are both common and less common greetings in Helsinki slang, an almost forgotten lingua nordica very much in use in the 1950’s. But now I am procrastinating. The topic for today is not Helsinki slang – although highly tempting as such – but something else completely.

It has been very busy lately, the days have flown by way too fast. So I thought of postponing the upcoming book review until next week, so instead here comes a revelation on the image in my WordPress Gravatar. I also wish to pay a tribute to the first official day of summer. It might be less than 10 Celsius degrees outside, but nonetheless it says “summer” in my calendar, so I am going with that. Any more questions?

In a nutshell, I wanted to share a short background story for the Gravatar I am using with WP. The picture is closely related to a very adventurous time in my life, so the image contains positive baggage so to speak.

Did you know that the Gravatar image is actually the ceiling of the Imperial Royale Hotel lobby in Kampala, Uganda? I took the photo back in 2012 when I was on a business trip in Uganda.

Uganda. Photo: fictivestina
Uganda. Photo: fictivestina

I remember vividly the smell of rain in Kampala. After coming from Nairobi, the whole city of Kampala seemed like a buzzing green realm with several hilltops and motorbike taxis – or boda bodas as locals call them. Despite the noise from the bikes the city was filled with a sense of freshness that only an African rain can bring.

Whenever I look at the photo of the beautiful ceiling, I am instantly reminded of the whole experience related to spending time in Africa, a place culturally and climate-wise very different from the windy coolness of Finland. And I will always think of Uganda as the reference point compared to Kenya, the Western neighbor with a beautiful sleepy rhythm.

Blog Gravatar. Photo: fictivestina
Blog Gravatar. Photo: fictivestina

Btw, in order to get a grasp of the sense of belonging and time in Africa, I highly recommend Ryszard Kapuscinski‘s Africa travel book The Shadow of the Sun. The concept of time passing is perfectly illustrated in Kapuscinski’s novel. The story seems to hint that the hotter the climate the longer people wait under trees in perfect harmony with the surrounding heat. In the age of digitalization, technology and various gadgets, we have lost the sense of being bored. Our attention span is short and in constant need of stimuli. Nowadays people hardly can sit in silence without anything to do. In that sense The Shadow of the Sun is a classic to teach us about the concept of time and our approach to passing time when there is absolutely nothing to accomplish.

The quote below, although it describes Kenya, fits to the sense of time and stillness in Africa.

“There is silence after a rainstorm, and before a rainstorm, and these are not the same. There is the silence of emptiness, the silence of fear, the silence of doubt. There is a certain silence that can emanate from a lifeless object as from a chair lately used, or from a piano with old dust upon its keys, or from anything that has answered to the need of a man, for pleasure or for work. This kind of silence can speak. Its voice may be melancholy, but it is not always so; for the chair may have been left by a laughing child or the last notes of the piano may have been raucous and gay. Whatever the mood or the circumstance, the essence of its quality may linger in the silence that follows. It is a soundless echo.”
~Beryl Markham, West with the Night


Author: fictivestina

Hey, I'm a native Helsinkian but a cosmopolitan at heart :) Outdoors, reading, writing and cultural attractions are my passion. Hiking in Lapland cannot be competed with!

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