The news this month: the Israeli government permits the building of 1200 new homes in East Jerusalem in defiance of American wishes; the head of ETA’s armed resistance wing is arrested at a safe house in Normandy; ‘Angel of Grozny’ Xhadizhat Gataeva is deported by the Finnish authorities despite her asylum appeal being unresolved; and David Beckham was treated for a torn Achilles tendon in Finland.

Wait, hold on, what? David Beckham? You mean the David Beckham? Worldwide celebrity married to a Spice Girl? That guy? Here in Finland?? OMG! Amazing! Hold the front pages! Israel? What? Screw that! It’s DAVID BECKHAM.

AH, AT LAST, a proper winter – miles of piles of snow, bone-chilling cold, and lasting well into the spring. Now, that’s what it’s all about. Some people are starting to think it surely must end any day now, but they just might have another think coming. This chill has teeth and looks like it intends to stick around, despite a few respites and regardless of what the calendar says.

They say Helsinki hasn’t experienced this kind of snowfall since the 60s, and throughout the country records on the length of frost periods have been broken right and left. Hey, this is Finland, what did you expect? At least now we get a glimpse of where all those rumours of polar bears roaming the streets of the capital and so on are coming from.

MY first exposure to Indian food was as a nine-year-old at my friend Ravi’s house, as his mother prepared extravagant dishes from the subcontinent with ease and flair. Sweating and close to tears, my naïve Australian palate wilted under the heat of the fiery delights, and it wasn’t long before a plain omelette with white toast magically appeared on my plate.

THIS, I’m afraid, is chief of my childhood regrets. Some people lament a first love, a faded football career or the loss of freedom, but for me it was those years denying Ravi’s mum’s kitchen that pinch the hardest. Thus, upon arriving here in India two and a half months ago, I have been furiously making up for lost time by indulging in the cavalcade of culinary delights on offer.

Everyone buying a new computer these days likely experiences the same thrill of a new toy, closely followed by the dawning horror that everything he once knew about computers is now redundant. At times it seems as if Microsoft take a perverse pleasure in pulling the rug out from under the users’ feet, a kind of “this will screw them up for months!” delight.

I have no doubt that Microsoft do not actively set out to ensure users can not access their email, but on the other hand I suggest they give insultingly little consideration to normal users. Tried importing an address book or records of your old emails from one account to another recently? It is theoretically possible, and given three days of sweat and tears you may be able to get it done, but more in spite of the tools available than because of them.

 

With so much media coverage devoted to what goes on in the US it seems almost redundant to talk about it here. Nevertheless, one gets a certain kind of perspective on a place only from actually being there. There just isn’t a substitute for the word on the street.

I recently visited my home country after a few years away and picked up on a fairly significant change in the atmosphere. This was not exactly the exuberant change that Barack Obama stumped for during his presidential campaign. On the contrary, the mood was far more weary, frustrated, and down-right cynical than ever before. The people of the United States seem to be united principally on one thing: discontent.