Kadriorg Park, Tallinn
02 September 2017
How passing a stranger in a park works in the UK
You’re walking through a park, not many other people about. You see someone walking a dog, coming towards you. You don’t know them. They don’t know you. The dog approaches you first, sniffs at your feet, you say hello, the dog has a quick check to see if you have any food, and then moves on, in search of some other dog’s urine. You and the owner come along side each other. You say hello, and perhaps smile. The complete stranger says hello and smiles. You move past the complete stranger and, quite probably, never see them again in your entire life.
How passing a stranger in a park works in Estonia
You’re walking through a park, not many other people about. You see someone walking a dog, coming towards you. You don’t know them. They don’t know you. You look away, beginning the process of never seeing them again in your entire life at your earliest possible convenience.
Estonians view talking the way President Spunktrumpet views exercise, as though one only has a limited number of words that can be spoken in a lifetime. Why waste them on complete strangers?
Within a week of arriving in Tallinn, my wife remarked that I was Estonian. For three years I contentedly walked around our local park, ignoring literally everyone. And now, back in the UK, like a human chameleon, I walk the narrow country lanes of Somerset, happily greeting dog-walking strangers for all the world like I’m normal.
Here are some pictures of our park in Tallinn. I miss it, and its taciturn inhabitants.
Kadriorg Park, Tallinn - for all your walking-in-contemplative-silence-while-plotting-a-crime-novel needs.