The Simple Joys of Kalamaja
Updated: May 16
Kalamaja is a residential district in the northern part of Tallinn, its famous for its colorful wooden houses, laidback bohemian vibe, although in the last year or so its suffering from the effects of gentrification. Kalamaja has been my home for more than 3 years and I just wanted to write down what I felt about this place.
Its 7 am. You feel toasty in bed. The sun warms your face. But your don't want to open your eyes. You can hear the birds singing. A faint tune drifts through the window, it sounds familiar, like an old friend. You try to place it in your head, It reminds you of deep blue sky, of dark forests and endless plains of snow. And then it clicks.
You are hunched forward on your bike, cruising through the narrow streets. Everyone is rushing to go to work. You see a guy dragging a trolley. He is dark, just like you. His orange jacket stands out against the snow. The trolley is full of postage. You try to catch his eye but he trudges through the snow without looking up.
Its noon, you see a dozen schoolkids hunched on the road. They are picking up litter with their tiny gloved hands. They are wearing neon vests that are too big for them. Their teacher is guiding them, like the conductor at an orchestra. You slow your pace, taking in the happiness emanating from them
You are in the grocery store, there is a new girl at the cashier desk, she flicks through items them like a maestro, whips away your things and hands you the check. You stand there in awe for a moment, you want to compliment her, but her face so stern, you just nod your head in respect.
Its 1 am, you are walking home when you see light coming from a slightly open door. You go and knock. A hand appears through the door. You ruffle your pockets and put a coin on the hand. It disappears for a moment and then comes out with a packet. It's warm to touch. You walk back home, pressing the packet against your cheek. It fills your face with warmth, cracking the cold. You then slowly unwrap and break a piece. The bread is soft and fresh and it fills your mouth with joy.
Its the weekend, you are in the yard, spreading your clothes on the line, a puppy runs to you, he wants to be petted, you scratch its belly. The puppy rolls in the dirt. The neighbor isn't happy. He calls the puppy to come back. The puppy wants to play. He licks your palm. The neighbor comes and scoops him up. You stand there for a moment, still smiling
Its 6 pm, you are cycling back home, you turn towards your street when you see a girl, she looks you in the eye, a smile fills her face and she waves at you. Your heart beats so fast you nearly fall off your bike.
Its 2 am, you are alone, sitting beside the fountain in the park, listening to the trees. Darkness wraps you from outside. You look inside: it's filled with emptiness. There is no joy or sadness, no hope or sorrow. You are just there, since forever. Something fluffy brushes against your back, a cat, she sits in your lap for a moment, reassuring you. And then without a moment's hesitation, she leaps and disappears into the darkness. You feel a pang of separation, but then you understand. And then you understand everything.
It’s summer, you are at the beach with your family. You feel the sand beneath your feet slipping every time the waves recedes. You could hear your brother talking. Your father sits atop with his glasses. Your mother is sitting on the rock, the waves washing her feet. She smiles and waves at you. You look inside: it is filled with sunshine, the lightness of the blue sky, the taste of saltwater and love, so much love and care.
And in that moment, you close your eyes and lower your head. And let yourself be washed over by gratitude, for being given this moment.