How long does it take…

… for a rural people to get used to living in a city?

This is not an entirely fair or intelligent question, but I’ll throw it out there anyway. What, after all, is ‘a’ people? And since when were all rural folk and all city folk identifiable as a group?

Well, to be fair, our protagonist would say there is something city-like about many people she knows and likes. They live and let live, they can be civil without being friends. So for her, there is something that’s recognisable as a city and there are city people. She’s one of them, definitely. She was telling a friend over lunch today that she’s a bit concerned that the speed of growth in Helsinki may mean that civility is stretched a little as people don’t have the time or the imagination to change themselves in response to changes around them. The layers of the city, she feels, need to come along bit by bit.

Helsinki

Helsinki by layers

There are recognised minorities in Helsinki of course, and one, its Roma or Gypsies has a particularly prominent place. To their credit, our protagonist feels, the City Museum has done a rather good exhibition about Roma in general, taking in not just the romanticised imagery of Finland’s own variously mistrusted and stereotyped minority but the background to the beggars from outside the country who have taken in recent years to coming to Helsinki to beg. To be recommended.

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