Tuesday, December 31, 2013

CEREMONY & TREK SURVIVAL - PART 1 (B)

After working on the fishing boat, his mama demanded that he learn the English language for the family business because there was a need and she thought that he would be a good candidate. There was also pressure on her due to the increasing number of tourists: Yanks (Americans), Canucks (Canadians), Roos (Aussies), Kiwis (New Zealanders), Springboks (South Africans), and most of all Brits (those from the United Kingdom, specifically Great Britain) that had English as their primary spoken tongue.

Thus, her impatience in this regard was understandable. Mekkar was his mama’s choice and she was determined to make him fulfill this role she set out for him even if it killed her. His mama set up home schooling with tutors along with his special foreign language studies. Sirga also felt that this was a good reflection, in one aspect, of her parenting abilities.

When Mekkar’s papa Henrik would go to the United States, Britain, or another nation with English as a mother tongue for business, Mekkar’s mama made requests of him. It was mainly for Mekkar’s benefit in her mind. Sirga would tell Henrik to purchase and bring back English speaking only sports tapes, films, and videos for Mekkar.

She knew that would the best and quickest way Mekkar could grasp the correct phraseology through his passion of sports. Sirga never failed to remind Henrik to tell his translators too. She would do this herself on the rare occasions when she met the go betweens directly that would travel with her husband on those business trips.

It was important due to the fact that Henrik never learned nor spoke English himself. He admitted being taught a few of the swear words as part of the Allied air group during the Korean conflict, but long since forgotten them. Henrik was able to converse fluently in ten other languages, with business vocabulary in German being most important for his employer at that time.

Henrik would buy in North America, at the behest of Sirga; National Football League (NFL), National Basketball Association (NBA), Major League Baseball (MLB), World Hockey Association (WHA), National Hockey League (NHL), & English Futbol (Soccer) items for Mekkar. Henrik would bring back whole boxes of items. This was done to encourage Mekkar to continue on and to help him develop the skills needed as soon as possible. An incentive program!

Sirga had confidence that Mekkar would succeed in the immediate and difficult task she had given him. She had a plan. Sirga held back whipping his rear end and other forms of punishment until the job was done in a satisfactory manner as a last resort. So, when Mekkar’s mama felt he was ready enough she put him into the fire by mainly pressing Mekkar into service due to need.

On one of the first days of dealing with the tourists in the family restaurant Mekkar was busing tables and took a couple of orders. One example was some tourists that had just arrived into their small 15 table specialty diner. The visitors from the United Kingdom appeared to be astonished when a boy came over to their order in fairly broken English in their opinion.

It seemed as though both parties understood each other well enough to converse. After his first order was received in the foreign language, Mekkar approached the kitchen. Now he was beaming with confidence, well as much as a little boy could muster. In his eagerness, he took a few more that day.

Later on, another kid in one of the tourist families taught Mekkar a new swear phrase. In a particular instance Mekkar was given inaccurate information as to the meaning of the quip and was told that it meant Hello or referred to it as a type of greeting instead of the phrase’s true meaning. Why Mekkar took it at face value from the slightly older visitor we will never know.

Eventually Mekkar used that greeting toward another small group of visitors and received an appalled reaction which caused them to flee out of the restaurant. When Sirga got wind of it she was angry at Mekkar and smacked him upside the head. Mekkar was confused and bewildered to say the least by his mama’s response. He thought that he was generally being friendly. Mekkar was unaware that the specific choice of words was a type of curse phrase instead of a friendly introduction.

The lessons learned when his mama explained to him of the true meaning after she was warned by one of her friends who happened to be nearby and spoke English fairly well. Of course, this was before Sirga began her own process of absorbing English for her to be relatable to a host of tourist groups supposedly coming their way in the near future.

This was the only slip up by Mekkar and overall it was considered that he did a good job. Mekkar was rewarded after closing hours with pots, pans, dishes, & cleaning duty. He felt that maybe it was due to his swearing at the tourist earlier. Another possibility might have been because his little brother needed to have an example to follow to be groomed to carry out the same tasks when he got older. It was determined there was just a lack of available bodies to fill all the jobs for now.

Later on the family business expanded into a few other areas and branched out a bit. Sirga also forced Mekkar along with his siblings and friends to expand their foreign speaking skills by hook or by crook for employment requirements. Since, Mekkar didn’t go to the formal school and instead had tutors, training aids, etc. he could spend more time working. His extra time was playing sports and just being a kid as much as he could. This was because in this culture children had to grow up more quickly and contribute to the family’s welfare. When he got older formal classroom schooling was sacrificed on the altar of sports.

Mekkar was in the process of learning not only his native tongue, but another nearby dialect of it, the national language of the country he lived in, a regional speech, a couple of continental languages, along with communication in English as his mama required. His plate was quite full at this time.

This was all determined by the force of his mama’s personality backed by statements of “do it my way or I’ll beat your butt!” There was no double standard or dual meaning to interpret regarding Sirga’s words or intentions, unlike today’s politicians. The goals were made very clear and defined. She meant what she said.

Mekkar’s mama also made his brothers, when they reached a certain age; learn other foreign tongues to fulfill various other needs according to her perceptions. Alf would eventually become fluent in easily over twenty languages including Hungarian, which is considered by many to be the hardest language on earth. Eventually Alf could converse in Cantonese Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Greek, and many of the prominent Finno-Ugric, Germanic, Slavic, & Romance languages. Mekkar, on the other hand, was considered a slacker in his family for speaking less than ten languages himself. However, he spoke English which others in his family did not speak as of yet.

Due to lack of use and practice, in time Mekkar would forget a couple of the tongues he learned when he was a kid. He still remembers odd words however. English was here to stay and would be of more use in the future unbeknownst to Mekkar when he had to flee his home.

Another time Mekkar was outside tending to some of his reindeer to keep them healthy for the tourist business. Then some other visitors were driving by slowly in a vehicle near the area where Mekkar was. The car stopped and a man and what appeared to be his wife along with two children got out. Mekkar recognized them as non locals because of their clothes and he had interacted with some of them in their own language earlier in the day. However, he kept his back turned toward them and continued on his task.

When the man approached Mekkar within speaking distance he said disparagingly, “Hey reindeer boy turn around and look at us, so we can get a picture of you with the animals.” Mekkar heard him and thought that maybe the British tourist did not recognize him from earlier. Mekkar surmised that the visitor thought he was speaking to someone else, but he was the only native there at that moment.

Mekkar was perturbed at that condescending comment and responded by turning slowly to his right and giving those arrogant bastards the native version of flipping the bird at them. In case that wasn’t enough for them to get the picture, and Mekkar believed that it might not have been, he then proceeded to drop his pants to his ankles and moon the tourists there. While at the same time pat his bare bottom in their direction.

The boy reacted with a flippant attitude in this manner. He did what he thought was an appropriate comeback to combat the snobbish attitude and comments on the part of the out of towners.

Usually Mekkar tolerated a lot due to communication challenges, but when people got rude with him his outgoing friendly demeanor changed. He might say something back that was sharp and blunt in response. “Hey, you don’t understand here”, he might blurt out. Mekkar never allowed any interaction intimidation by any individual against him. This attitude would also incur Sirga’s wrath on occasion also. She didn’t want any harm to come to the business.

Some other times Mekkar’s buddies would show up at the restaurant to give Mekkar grief and a hard time but it was all in jest. Those, whoever was running the eatery that day whether it was Mekkar’s mama, grandmamma, or another family member would proceed to kick the boys out. The aim was to keep Mekkar from being distracted by their behavior and get back to work.

This was part of Mekkar’s makeup or maybe just a character flaw. Mekkar had a situation where people came into the diner and tried to get any employee’s attention to wait on them. Mekkar came up to their table and was fully confident in his task. He already knew what he was doing and by this time had a lot of experience despite his outward youthful appearance. However, this particular group of tourists did not see it the same way. They tried to chase him off as he was about to take their food order. One of the persons in their party shot out a comment, “Hey, get out of here little kid as we are getting ready to make our selections from the menu.”

Mekkar at first thought maybe this was joke on him. Since he was the only one on the small staff who could communicate with these English speakers he felt the need to approach them again. Mekkar perceived the grumpy old man who made the earlier response as another arrogant visitor who thought that they were better than the locals. You know what they say about obnoxious travelers, it fit in this case.

The native youngster once again thought that maybe the man was not too old, but his face made him look older than he probably was. He tried to quickly analyze the visitor by his outward appearance. This way of thinking, was the first instance that Mekkar could recall, where he believed he was being contrary to his own native cultural upbringing.

Unlike, in many other places, observations of people here are usually not based on the first impression or introduction with an individual. The reason is that it is considered a poor indicator and not an accurate measure of a person’s character. Mekkar knew that these first interactions should not be relied upon as a true gauge of a person’s real personality. Family members and elders in the village had mentioned this in quite a few discussions with Mekkar.  

The trouble was Mekkar was beginning to have another standard of which to judge tourists as opposed to other people. An increasing number of visitors seemed to arrive with more superior complexes and this began jade Mekkar’s opinion of them a bit.

The customer at the table had a few wrinkles around the eyes and a squint to his facial features. Mekkar, well he tried to copy that as he was taught to carry himself in a mirroring effect with new arrivals when he spoke to them. The issue was that Mekkar, being a boy, did not have a deep voice like the man.

But Mekkar didn’t want to show that he might be overwhelmed by anyone. So, Mekkar felt the only way he could be forceful enough to garner any respect was with his bluntness with all people. That was the way Mekkar was and he inherited this trait from his mama’s side of the family. His own native language tended toward that straightforwardness also.

Another person in the group spoke up, “Get out here little kid and get someone who will take our order!” Mekkar responded, “I am ready to take your order now.” Mekkar guessed that these people still thought this was some kind of prank or something else.

Mekkar suspected that these tourists were from the United Kingdom or thereabouts. He figured that he was the only one able to communicate with them and he was improving his skills and fluency on a daily basis. There was some difficulty comprehending some of the British speech, but this exchange was completely unnecessary in Mekkar’s opinion.

There was inferred tone now in his response to the rude travelers, “I know what I am doing. If you want something that is fine, but if you don’t there is another long distance up the road, where you can order somewhere else.” Mekkar had quite enough of the negative vibe directed at him.

He also perceived that those people in that party looked hungry and tired. They appeared to him to have needed a break. That is one of the reasons why Mekkar took this tact approach. He expected a retreat from confrontation on their part. Plus, Mekkar also knew that he had stretched the truth in his blunt retort. There were other eating places and competition right there in his village and nearby. But, he was not about to give in to anyone’s attack against him.

Mekkar had a method to his madness, there was a strategy. He wasn’t going to put up with rude attitude nonsense for just doing his job. At the same time hoping that word of his sharp tone, response, and behavior with the guests wouldn’t get back to his mama. Sirga is the one who would meter out any punishment or discipline as necessary. Mekkar was determined that no one was going to defeat him with this confrontational strategy of his when he had to rely on it.

The arctic lad noticed the sweat running from their brows and those visitors looked physically exhausted, needing a rest. So, Mekkar reacted with that stance and the gamble paid off and the tourists stayed. They ordered their food and drinks. Unfortunately, for Mekkar they did complain to management, Mekkar’s mama, and he did get into trouble for this.

Anyway, it was worth the risk to Mekkar in that he knew if you are stern and stand up for yourself against any type of attack, you will eventually be victorious. This is the way Mekkar thought and he was born a fighter. Even fighting for his own survival at birth. Mekkar is of the opinion that he will always be a fighter throughout his life in some capacity and this would probably never change.

Mekkar once heard from someone close to him that his mama made a dramatic comment regarding him not long after his birth at the hospital. Sirga said, “That boy, if he survives, is going to be feisty because that is what will keep him alive, especially now.” Thus, the reason why Mekkar thinks his mama is some kind of prophet or has special powers.

Well, this went on for a couple of years, in between entering into the realm of semi-organized ice hockey and other activities. The hockey was not organized as compared to leagues and teams in the larger town scope some distance away. He just considered it semi structured for the immediate scarcely populated area Mekkar grew up in.

You know, being a kid and even going on special adventures that most children and other people do not normally enjoy. Including going on the reindeer trek. It is well to note once again that Mekkar was brought into this world while a small percentage of his family was fairly nomadic in some respects. That is they used to follow the reindeer in their migratory patterns just as some of his ancestors did.

Some scientists and anthropologists say even as long as more than ten thousand years ago. Carrying out all these various activities in the harsh environment of the Arctic. His native people also existed far below the tundra areas to more southern latitudes. Over time they were pushed northward by other more numerous peoples.

Well, Mekkar and some others in his tribe and village were about to embark on a long round trip trek this time around. Their direction would take them northward to the plateau, swing to the east travelling through some small towns along the way. They were going to go so far east as to almost reach the sea.

However, they didn’t want to get so close as to alert the military installations in that region because that would bring a host of other problems the trekkers were looking to avoid. It would be a hard journey through deep snow and the group doesn’t want to use up all the food and other resources where they are now and deplete it for future use.

Thus, the reason for the migration and movement for the sake of the animals because they are the lifeblood and identity of the tribe. Some of the members rely on the animals for their main livelihood. If the reindeer can’t eat and feel safe from various predators, they will starve and not be strong enough for the journey and won’t survive through the season. The result is that the people with the animals will be negatively affected and could starve also.

The reindeer are also valuable commodities as well as, in some cases, good companions like a family pet. They usually listen and don’t interrupt you when you speak. Mekkar has this idea that they might have the ability to show some concern and know that you are all in it together. Of course, he hasn’t confirmed this theory of his.

However, Mekkar is convinced that these animals are smarter than they are given credit for. On the other hand, some of the beasts can be extremely stubborn and aggressive at times. This is especially true when the antlers are reforming and growing back as well as during round up, rutting time, along with competing for food and treats.

A reindeer is not stupid and can ingenious at times for a pack animal. They have the ability to find food under deep snow because of a keen sense of smell. Mekkar calls it their radar. The animal is very suited and adapted for arctic climates.

The first time Mekkar saw the reindeer stop in its tracks he was amazed as he watched quietly as it located its food source. Mekkar is still amazed regarding that capability even to this day far into the future. Sometimes, he will say to himself, “How did they do that?” Even when Mekkar knows the scientific explanation and answer to his question.

Many people make statements regarding the fact that the human is smarter than an animal because they have the ability to reason. But, Mekkar disagrees with this analysis because he is convinced that in some cases the opposite is true.

As he has gotten older, Mekkar doesn’t believe that is the case at all. Through seeing with his own eyes, Mekkar concludes that in a few aspects the animal is much more superior to the human. One reason is that just because humans have common sense doesn’t mean many in their species actually use it. Also, human beings have used part of their extraordinary talents to destroy the whole planet instead of nourish it.

Over many years the animals haven’t been the ones in command of earth and thus they have not tried everything in their power to destroy it either. Unlike people, the animals have embraced their surroundings, adapted, and furthered the growth of Mother Nature along with native tribes for their own survival.

Whether the non-human species realize it or not, a limited number of people such as native tribes have followed suit in forms of adaptation. Furthermore, they have displayed a caring for the immediate environment around them.

Not forcing or attempting to compel and exploit nature to adapt to people like the modern societies do. This while at the same time the advanced and developed cultures giving lip service regarding the betterment of the planet and their own natural surroundings.

This train of thought is in direct conflict with Mekkar’s upbringing and concepts that help shape Mekkar’s native people. As stated beforehand, in that cycle of life we are just a small piece in a much larger human puzzle. The people who live in harmony with the land and environment all know that they are all here together.

The whole key is understanding these concepts and the goal of the natives there is to survive and even thrive. If one becomes well off that is even better because it shows that not bleeding the environment dry can be done successfully.

That is successful in whatever endeavor one chooses if they are smart and conduct themselves in an appropriate manner. Of course, there are other factors at play here that many fail to mention that are related to a person being accomplished significantly in life.

One is you have to be lucky; however one defines it, and be at the right place at the right time. Another aspect is that Mekkar like anyone else needs a lot of help from others along the way. Mekkar knows that no individual in existence became super great at anything without some input, guidance, or help. The person who says they did it all by themselves is not telling the truth. Only arrogance and greed proclaim otherwise.

So, connections are extremely important. You know the common saying; It’s not what you know but who you know. This is more crucial than ever in today’s world. Mekkar likes to add to that well known statement. It maybe more accurate in some cases to say it’s who you sleep with takes priority over your brain power and intelligence.

He believes that this rings more true in modern societies if one is wise. This is just some of the thought processes that run through Mekkar’s mind. Those ideas have definitely been imparted into his being and influenced him from sources around him especially family members.

Mekkar was still impressed to see these creatures in action even though he had been around them all of his young life so far. The reindeer is not that large or as tall when compared with cattle or a moose. They are shorter but also have a wide body and have lower stature, much smaller than a horse. Very similar to how Mekkar would later turn out to be with a low center of gravity. Others were restricted in their view of him by noticing only his smaller overall stature, but discounted any possible advantages.

Reindeer have hooves that are split and help them to keep from slipping on winter surfaces. They have better traction than people do in regular shoes and boots especially on ice and hard snow. These animals are exceptionally strong for their size, very powerful, and they can sense when something is after them. They can swim too!

Remember, they are still a herd creature by nature and can be, like Mekkar, stubborn to a fault. On an individual basis they make their grunt type, snorting din which can change when being attacked. Mekkar realizes their antlers need to stay strong and sharp. So, they can protect themselves against predators and win tussles to impress others within the herd.

At times, they will use their antlers, along with their feet, for digging into snow to find food sources. Mekkar refers to it as using their radar system, heightened sense of smell, to locate edible nutrition. They are smart enough to rub up against trees and bushes to remove the velvet blood, skin, and fur layer that promote antler growth because they drop them each year. Similar to a snake shedding its skin. Adaptive and creative unlike a sheep but also part of a collective for protection.

Now, the curious thing about starting the trek is not finding the leader of the reindeer. There are a few who will vie for that esteemed function. The key is to recognize the next few animals that follow right up there with or close behind the leader of the pack. The ideal is that the rest of the herd soon begins to follow the clicks of their feet to move the whole group in the same direction.

There are a few reindeer who will do battle for the alpha male leadership role. The baddest, toughest male gets more of the females. Just like it works in the human realm also despite the social engineering that abounds. If Mekkar decided to see things from a reindeer’s perspective, he would think why would I want to be the runner up instead of the top “dog”.

Reindeer are the only deer species where the females also grow a set of antlers like the male. However, they drop them at different times of the year. Furthermore, the female is required by biology to divert at least some of that calcium to other uses. Purposes such as offspring, production of milk for growing calves, and extraction for dairy products consumed by humans. All this is done without being affected by bone and skeletal cancer like people. Scientists are still trying to gain answers to those questions.

Mekkar still thinks they are amazing animals. While most individuals mistakenly fancy the notion that all they do is fly through the air pulling Father Christmas’ sleigh around to help him deliver Christmas presents. Mekkar says hogwash to that impression.

CEREMONY & TREK SURVIVAL - PART 1 (A)

[This story is an improved version from mini cassette recordings of Mekkar’s actual voice in 1990 while hiking and walking as a University student; Then, it was converted to a Windows Media Audio File and transcribed in 2011. Mekkar’s spoken English skills are nowhere near as polished as Saavo’s are.]

After awhile of Mekkar’s growth development from birth we have the ceremony. This is where one goes to work. The thing with this is you start early as compared to the modern work world. You have a ceremony at this stage because it is an honor. It shows that you have grown up enough to do work that is valued.

It is odd from the modern sense because if you look at other modern nations like the United States, kids are not expected to work until they get older in life. This was due to the abuse and exploitation by companies prior to the 1920’s.

But here in the native Arctic environment if you don’t pull your own weight you are considered a drag on the society. The native thinking and practice is you do not want to become a burden that negatively affects the whole. The whole is the most important thing because the whole group, the whole tribe, whatever terminology one wants to use - fits into the environment as part of the whole realm. Most native cultures adapt to their environments and circumstances while modern cultures seek to dominate theirs which natives see as to their detriment.

If something deviates from that perception, from the norm, there is the harsh reality of the environment to catch your attention. What is affected is not just that one deviation but the whole is also affected, everyone feels it in some way.

It is very intertwined there and it has to be, so that is why certain practices are frowned upon and other are followed. Such as when one is on a reindeer trek you always have to keep moving. The thinking is that you don’t want to eat up all the food and animal food supply that the earth provides in one place.

Otherwise the food won’t grow back quick enough to sustain the herd and you the next time the group is in a specific area. Which is important for the next season when you need it for feeding? If you don’t consider this factor, the next time you are in that area you will starve due to lack of foresight.

You let the earth go through its cyclical natural order, in other words – the whole. That’s the whole idea and viewpoint if you and your people want to survive there. The tribe or group is part of a whole big puzzle, a greater life cycle and that is why these things must be always considered.

Anyway, at the ceremony. The shaman is into his routine, beating his drum with his related items and used in situations like this. There is an alter made of stone and earth in which you have reindeer antlers adorning it and on the top of a hat. Mekkar will have to wear this headpiece as the ceremonee or the person as the focus of this particular ceremonial ritual on this day. The blood is sprinkled on the alter, along a few other items there that symbolize this realm and the blood of life.

The blood of life, there was a realization there on Mekkar’s part that without any blood there is no life. Since the basis of blood is water and without water, which the body is at least seventy percent of, there is once again no life. Any ritual is an interesting thing in that a person learns from their environment and how to deal with it through rituals. One learns how to adapt and their own limitations. This applies to all societies and all cultures. Neglect of this understanding results in destruction.

You think it is part of a cycle as life and rituals is also of a cyclical nature that reminds us that being part of the whole is the key. The whole has to fit within the environment whether it is the whole tribe or group. It must fit together in a unified way to be successful for all of those involved.

For instance, an example from the environment which is so harsh there during the winter is that if you are on the trek and you let the animals eat all of the food in one place. As well as you don’t move on, the food has little chance of growing back in time or takes much longer than expected. Then, the when you need it next time there might be nothing for you and you are up a shit creek without a paddle. If you have to go there in the future you will go hungry and starve to death. Not just you but the animals you are counting on also.

The group comes back to that location later on expecting any food supply in that area but it might not be there. The fault was yours due to earlier short-term greedy thinking regarding what Mekkar likes to call resource management. Similar to the impatience of stock markets around the world today. The tribe over used the land and resources available to them and didn’t think ahead for the long term future.

Everything and everyone is part of a great big puzzle. You have to fit in and consider the whole environment. When Mekkar speaks of the whole he is thinking of the whole group of people. People are just one smart piece of this huge realm, just like all the seas of the planet are a tiny portion of this dimension.

A star in the sky seems small to us, but we seem small to the star in the heavens. The sun that gives the earth warmth and light is considered by many scientists to be a fairly small star. It seems large to earthlings due its position which is very close to the earth. The thing with that is that is the whole point! People place more importance on themselves and think that they are greater than they really are.

Mekkar felt privileged at this point in the ceremonial event because he was the center of attention. He liked being the center of attention once again. He felt that he regained this status being here in the ceremony.

After his little brother was born only a few months earlier before this ritual, Mekkar exclusively enjoyed being the focus of many people and he thought everything in his own little world revolved around him. He was probably developing a sense of arrogance there. Now with a sibling Mekkar wasn’t the number one anymore. He was now not it and was frustrated by this!

His little brother Alf was now the cats meow. So in that way Mekkar resented him a bit or at least for awhile. Plus, Mekkar had his own dog as a pet. Mekkar eventually saw in another respect that hey here is someone I can help shape and mold his character any way that I want through his influence upon him. Mekkar felt whatever I want as a companion or lifelong friend as well as a relative for life.

Mekkar, even though he was young, was brilliant and highly intelligent. He had questions in his mind during the ceremony. However, wisely he kept his mouth shut for most of it. Yes, I am blessed but there is so much of the world I don’t know Mekkar thought to himself. Thus, Mekkar’s mind was continually flooded with more questions than answers. The more you find out, the more you know you don’t know (a modified quote of Socrates). For a small child that’s a brilliant deduction, but then Mekkar wasn’t like anybody else and rapidly absorbed many things shown him by his elders.

The thing with that is there is a reason why the ceremony, which usually happens on your fourth birthday, was happening for Mekkar even a week earlier. It was because his papa had to go on a business trip and papa is required to be there if he is alive. How little did Mekkar know that his papa was also working on his behalf right as the ceremony was going on.

Some of the individuals there observing the ceremony were friends of his papa. He was the person who took care of him and arranged for Mekkar’s first employment experience. Mekkar knew what was ahead because he was warned that there were many burdens to come and much responsibility. But, he didn’t know exactly how it happen. Maybe that was a good thing because he might not have wanted to forge ahead on this course. Especially if he knew the future difficulties and struggles laid out for him or would befall upon him.

This is what bothers Mekkar even as an adult to this day. Okay, well his papa worked it out and about a month later Mekkar was on his way to the sea off of the coast quite some distance to the west. The sea there has very cold water and is very unforgiving along with being an inducer of hypothermia.

Well, Mekkar was about to work on a boat of a crew of about twenty five people. He had the lowliest job but he was the littlest and thus was at the bottom of scale in regards to wage also. Some of the fishermen had been doing this job for more than twenty years and some much longer. Plus, because of their experience they also knew this area where they were fishing very well. Also, the boat was not the most modern one on the high seas nor was it a modern operation because the owners didn’t put much money back into the operation. It was a lack of funding for maintenance and operations which sounds like many companies today.

The good thing was that more of the profits were funneled back to the actual workers on the boat instead which is rare. There was a lot of cash to be made for hard work and a successful catch. Henrik felt this was a good experience for Mekkar but it would place many undue burdens upon the young boy.

Mekkar’s job was to swab (mop and clean) the decks and other cleanup duties. There were some long days, it seemed to Mekkar to be at least a few twenty hour shifts. That is a long time for a small boy but his papa thought it would help to toughen him up a bit. Mekkar was deluded. Even he at times thought that he was a man. Then, reality struck him hard that he was not. It was hard for him to keep up with some of these people and crew members who had been doing this type of work for a long time.

Originally there was not even a crank for pulling back in the fish nets. You had to position the boat so it would make it easier for the crew. Some of which would become divers into the cold water (brrr!) to help hook the net to another boat on a similar path and be able to pull the net in, full of fish. This is very difficult and dangerous work. There were other options such as to use another item to help the crew pull it in or you eventually have to align the positioning against the rocks while approaching back to shore. The result was you would always lose some of your fish catch. It was easier just to use another boat alongside at a specific distance.

This seemed to Mekkar to happen for months on end. Fill up the nets, come ashore, sell the fish, load the nets back onto the boat, and get paid. Not stay on shore too long and go back out to sea. The more trips out to sea usually meant more paydays for all. At first, Mekkar felt sick and he was very uncomfortable. There was no stillness even when he slept due to the constant rocking of the water.

It was a nuthouse during the day and Mekkar had to get used to the continual rocking of the boat at nighttime to finally get some shuteye. Early mornings, as Mekkar would later find out, were hard for him since Mekkar was not a morning person. He is more of a night owl and usually more productive at night also.

Late evenings while always trying to keep up with the others on the crew was hard for Mekkar. The physical labor was intense, especially for the little boy, the feeling was that maybe he would in time get used to it. The near freezing cold ocean was very dangerous, but he made good money.

Once on land, Mekkar would send most of the cash to his parents so they would put it into a bank account back home or at least save it somewhere for him. Later, he could get the stuff he wanted when he got back. In addition, Mekkar felt that he owed his parents something for taking care of him and even spoiling him a bit. He had this sense even though they both had good employment and each had their own money at their disposal.             

That was just the inducement of the rituals included in their culture. The thinking was you have to pull your own weight otherwise you are a burden and you are unproductive. This way of thinking was the reason, as like in other places at the turn of the twentieth century, for the institution of child labor laws and protections to prevent abuse. This was not an issue in Mekkar’s culture.

You were still part of the whole, not just an individual, and you have to produce and contribute in some way if you could. Otherwise the whole group could be affected in a negative manner. Thus, that is the way the thinking is. It sounds cruel, but certain people who do not pull their own weight are sent away. It does not matter whether the issue is a genetic reason, a physical handicap, or any similar type of thing. Sometimes older people, and if you are familiar with native people and tribes in general, many times those individuals go out themselves during wintertime to freeze to death. Many of those who go out to die already have an indicator that their time is up in this life or that it is almost over. Some see a vision, hear a voice, or have a dream, a premonition, or some similar experience.

It sounds very harsh according to viewpoint of the modern world. This is a society that relies on a majority of pure people and animal power to keep them alive, along with the whole tribe, in the harshest of environments. It was even more true in a time and area where not a lot of machines are used.

It was a necessary thing. They natives there must have been doing something right as they have been living in the same manner for thousands of years and still survive. No matter who has tried to wipe out the people and their culture many times in the past. Even though Mekkar didn’t understand these things at that time he later would and ponder about them in a deeper way. There were many things racing through his mind.

When his time was finished working on the boat, the operation had been slightly modernized. All of the boats received motorized cranks to pull in the nets from the water. Mekkar also had made a fair amount of cash and there weren’t a great number of choices or opportunities to blow his money. Of course he didn’t understand and consider yet what he would spend it on or even what to do it. He left it for his parents to help him decide on that later.

Mekkar was not grown up enough at this point to fully understand the worth and value of money, but he soon would! His parents were pretty smart, so he turned to them for their advice. They both had college degrees and were wise in the ways of the world.

Mekkar’s parents were not in the business of reindeer herding for the money because they both didn’t think it was sustainable as a full time occupation for the family in this time and age. The herding was done more as a hobby and to keep the option of reindeer herding in the eyes of the national government, where they resided. The natives who herd these animals and their direct family members would forever lose their reindeer herding rights if they stop and fail to have their offspring continue the occupation.

The boy heard from adults that laws like these are just other ways to curb, and in the future, eliminate the native customs and culture that have been there for thousands of years. This is done through what some have called strict legal maneuvers, in other words trickery by using law statutes. Regrettably, tactics such as these have been used against native living and cultures since the beginning of time.

His papa once again started working his own two jobs while Mekkar was still young. His mama was also working; it seemed to Mekkar, all of the time. They both were workaholics and enjoyed that euphoria rush that came with the constant activity around them. Mekkar would also help out at the small family restaurant and he felt that he should to do his part to contribute some of his efforts toward the family, tribe, and village. It is still part of the mental makeup of his native culture instilled into him.

Mekkar eventually would be weaned off of just participating in tasks restricted to the village and would move on to greater horizons. When he was done with this period of experience in his young life, Mekkar parents felt that he was grown up enough to expose him to other things and gather other work experience.

Sometimes his mama would take him along with her to one of her jobs. When she did a little modeling and similar tasks once in awhile others would give him goodies and pat him on the head. Mekkar did not care too much of the head patting because he felt that is what you do to a dog. Others would tell him what a wonderful little boy he was.

He did his best to behave but it was a hard thing to always be on his very best behavior. However, what probably kept him in line was the fact that he did like being spoiled and once again being the center of attention. This is another aspect of Mekkar’s character whether he wanted to admit it or not. Mekkar didn’t always want to accompany his mama on some of the trips because he thought he might get bored. Sirga had other plans however. On a few of the journeys she would take him to her work with her and he would be assigned responsibilities also.

They would get up early on these occasions to travel and get on an airplane. The destination flight, to Mekkar, would seem to take forever sometimes. On the other hand, Mekkar like these new experiences and it made him feel free in a different way from being on a nomadic trail or reindeer trek. But still when they finally got to where they were going cold hard reality stuck him.

Mekkar encountered lots of different people and foreign tongues speaking in phrases that he didn’t understand. This is probably, in his mind, the maximum languages in existence at that time and place. There were quite a few people there that were very different from him. While he was helping his mama, a couple of rude individuals would yell at him. He would think to himself, why? I didn’t do anything bad to you; I am trying to help you and my mama. Do you understand what I am saying? 

Mekkar, while working at the airport with his mama, would have contests and races between them. She would try to make it interesting but the boy always lost and had to pay up, treat his mama special in some manner, or meet one of her requests. Sirga was always working hard and thus expected Mekkar to do so also. She had a no loafing policy around her and did not tolerate it from anybody.

He felt that this is time he was able to spend with his mama, rare that it was, even if he had to go to do work alongside her. Mekkar would also go to work with his papa too. Mekkar now understood because they work so much this might be the only quality interaction he could have with each of his parents.

In an odd way they all needed to enjoy each other in their family and if this was the only way to do it so be it. This was however, not a normal thing in the native cultural environment Mekkar grew up in. Plus, Henrik was not a native, he just married into it.

Mekkar, of all people would always accept her challenges and he would race against his mama. He thought it was great. He would see if he could tag his bags, actually they were passenger check in luggage he was working with that came onto the conveyer belt, quicker than his mama could check the airline passengers in at the ticket counter.

Sirga could type extremely fast and a bad day for her was typing at a rapid pace. At least one hundred eighty five words per minute. This was one of those bad days. Well the thing with Mekkar is that he always tried to do the best he could, no matter what he did. He had this standard of himself. Mekkar’s own work ethic was instilled into him through the observation of his workaholic parents and family as a whole.

In that vein, Mekkar started to think more highly of himself. His mind was telling him that I’m special and that I better do things in the special way. That is better than the norm. It was an internal conflict trend that began to grow right there. The attitude of standing out due to his own pride and hyper individualism perspective that was in contrast to his native belief system and upbringing and even the national country culture at large.

The modern society had taken root in Mekkar even though he did not see it as a shaping source upon his personality. He was starting to analyze more and more like this. This trend would in time become the force to question everything you had previously learned before. He had heard of the saying that ninety five percent of a person’s personality is created by the time they are five years old. Now, that belief was being formed in him.

Mekkar was not far from that. Still some aspects of his personality and why he thought the way that he did, react the way he did was beyond his understanding. He would not be able to grasp it for awhile. On top of that, there are certain aspects he still has not figured out to this day. Mekkar referred to it as unknown mysteries of our inner being.

Mekkar knew he was special, in which way he still had no idea, but he figured there had to be a reason why he had survived so far up to this point. With this belief, he always tried to perform everything he did in a special way, a thorough way that would fit a special person. Maybe that was the stimulus for the many things he been exposed to and had learned in his young life.

He felt like I am doing stuff that nobody else, especially at his age, does. In his still developing mind he also thought that none of my friends do these kinds of things and have these adventures. I am getting to see things that they only dream about. Of course, he would tell his brother and friends the stories when he would go back. He tried to hold back and didn’t want to brag, but he had the great urge to share the details with them. So, they could have a little taste of what he had seen and heard.

When Mekkar came back home he would hang out a lot with his best friend Lasse. Lasse was also in the same culture as Mekkar. However, Mekkar considered his best friend was not as much of a native as himself because Lasse’s family raised him in a more non-native manner unlike Mekkar despite the physical location. Lasse never went on a reindeer trek along with his best friend. Mekkar’s opinion was that Lasse’s parents might have already decided he would eventually move away from the area on a permanent basis, but how did they know the future?

Lasse’s papa was not native as Mekkar’s was not either. But, both of their mama’s were fully native and their papa’s joined their families up here in the far north through marriage. Lasse spoke the language of the indigenous people just as good as Mekkar, yet it was not his primary one in his own house. Make no mistake, Lasse was still very familiar and exposed to the fundamental ways through contacts like Mekkar.

Lasse was no dummy and could be a great teacher Mekkar thought. After all, even though he is a one and a half years older, he still teaches Mekkar some things once in awhile. Lasse is a little obnoxious sometimes and rowdy at others. Mekkar thought he was a little crazy, but so was Mekkar. Adults would comment that Lasse was still a good boy and not as blunt as Mekkar. They both still grew up in the same environment with different viewpoints, perspectives, and a few varied influences.

Lasse would share aspects and features from the non-local dominant culture with their group that some individuals might not have exposed to. Lasse liked to tell stories just like his buddy. This is how they shared their special bond as they grew up together. Parents are familiar with how little boys are in their mischievous moods. At other times, the boys would go play army or games like that, at least it is good training for when they get older and have to do it for real.

The boys would participate in many things together with their friends in the village. This would include jokes, tricks, and pranks too. There were not many people in general populating this area, so it was a good idea to get along due to a lack of choices. The amount of people would increase greatly, even sometimes doubling the local population when tourist season hit. This was also true when reindeer trekking was in full swing and on their migrations to whatever destination. On occasion they would stop for supplies and rest.

Mekkar and Lasse would take on everyone else even during activities on the ice. It was at times like them against the world. This is how Mekkar thought of the relationship with his best friend and was of the opinion that they were a like minded pair. Even if that was far from reality.

There are two facets of living in a small town or village. Everyone pretty much knows everyone else, even if no one is all up in your business in a nosy sense. The second is a kid, especially during childhood, makes a few very close friends that you do almost everything with. The reason is because the selection is limited and in fact is that it is a numbers game, otherwise the alternative is a very lonely existence.

People in Mekkar’s area have a different philosophy, attitude, and outlook on true friendship. It is harder to pierce the steadfast guardedness, but once past that you have a friend for life. You don’t lose your friendship as easily as in other places just because the two of you have a disagreement or piss one another off. It is much deeper than that. Even the language has a better description of the level of interaction between people who know one another better.

At times, Lasse would just be overwhelmed by the stories that Mekkar told. Sometimes he believed him, sometimes he didn’t or until he could confirm their validity with one of Mekkar’s family members. He thought that Mekkar exaggerated a bit regarding some of the tales told by his best friend. But, isn’t that commonly used for effect when boys are that age? Lasse would even approach Sirga and ask her about the truth in Mekkar’s stories.

After awhile he gave up because he found it to be the case that Mekkar was telling the truth and not totally full of falsehood. Mekkar would just spit it out and try to be fascinating at the same time. Mekkar liked to tell various tales of what happened during the most recent trip. Sometimes he would go into too much detail or get sidetracked easily. But, you know it is just exploration of your surroundings and how one describes them. Everyone has their own biases. Of course, he would mention the bad stuff that went on too! So, there was kind of a sense of balance there.

That it, life and living, is not all easy and rosy, not all fun and games. There are negative aspects also. But, Mekkar didn’t think of those categories when reciting the accounts of his adventures, he would just let it all fly. Well, everything that he could recall like a boy his age could. Lasse eventually grew up to be a big physical specimen, much larger than Mekkar.

Even though Mekkar was born so much earlier than expected, they both grew about the same rate in their early years. Mekkar was for a time there was a little bigger on the more husky side of the two. Mekkar was more physically developed when they were younger but Lasse surpassed him at approximately eleven years old. Mekkar never grew any taller after that age.

Now with this, Mekkar would go on different trips with his papa also. Besides that, every so often he would work in the family restaurant as a waiter serving guests.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

MAIN CHARACTER DESCRIPTIONS

The main characters in his life:

Sirga – Mekkar’s mama. A beautiful six-foot two-inch dark haired woman with a slightly darker Arctic native complexion. She was a part time professional model, ran the family businesses, worked at the main government building, and also for an airline. She was a fiercely independent woman who spoke twenty four languages and forty eight dialects. A very take charge person and definitely not a procrastinator. Sirga was a workaholic, highly educated with an advanced degree in business. She had a feisty disposition; was very outspoken, and extremely blunt. She was not afraid to say anything to anyone. Sirga acquired these traits from her mother’s side of the family. Also, she could curse worse than a sailor and had a few close friends that were pretty much like her.

Henrik – Mekkar’s papa. A handsome six-foot seven-inch two hundred and fifty pound muscular outdoor type. He was a former athlete and a logger. At first glance he looked intimidating, but he had a mellow disposition. Henrik was a workaholic and had an advanced degree in business. Later on he became an international marketing and sales executive with a multinational conglomerate company.

Alf – Mekkar’s brother, but not the youngest sibling. He grew up to be a six-foot seven-inch lanky very light blond haired athlete. He was big into the martial arts, ninja, and samurai disciplines. Alf was like his papa with an easy going disposition, but he was quieter. He was quite different at his work where he started as a teenager and now gets to travel around the globe. He is fluent in at least seventeen languages and a workaholic also.

Lasse – Mekkar’s best friend. They grew up together except that Lasse is about a year older than Mekkar. He stands six-foot four-inches tall and averages about two hundred forty pounds of solid muscle with blond hair and blue eyes. Lasse is an athlete with a nasty disposition toward strangers. If he doesn’t know you, he doesn’t like you. He has a photographic memory and later became an accountant. He is well educated and smart as a tack. He has a penchant for making trouble when he gets together with Mekkar and later on Alf. Lasse’s mother is good friends with Sirga.

Mekkar – The oldest sibling of the three boys in his immediate family. He is about three and a half years older than Alf and approximately seven years older than the youngest Niillas. Since he was born a little more than three months early, he is unlike the other members of his family in size. Mekkar is five-foot seven-inches in height with brown colored hair and blue-gray eyes. He also inherited the feisty disposition from his mama. Initially raised as a reindeer herder, he became educated and has two Bachelor of Arts degrees. He is tough as nails, athletic, and gives the impression of a real fierce individual. He is a person who doesn’t take any mistreatment from anyone and will fight to the death if he has to.

DIFFERENCES IN CULTURE

Mekkar's thought about Driving in the good ol' USA. What many Americans call driving is not that in his mind, but merely what he refers to as "playing or play driving". Probably, like most people he especially thinks about this when he is easily frustrated. There are added factors such as the lack of driving ability of the typical driver as well as a slow rate of speed. Due to the normally low speed limits. Don't forget the great number ready to ticket you power-happy officers. Remember, Mekkar is comparing these driving experiences with some of his experiences in other places of the world. Where Mekkar is from there is basically no speed limit away from the towns. Many people there also operate their motor vehicles much faster than it is safe to do so. In other areas nearby there is some posted speed limits but few to no police, so no one to enforce them. Everyone knows about the German autobahn highways. However, road-rage in America is like child's play compared with any daily driving in Moscow, Russia. Dealing with the madhouse bus drivers, who try to run you off the road, in parts of Italy are no picnic either.

Also, Mekkar's people have a very different view of death than many cultures such as the United States. Therefore, the attitude of how death is celebrated, and not mourned is foreign to many and contrary to most conventional wisdom. In many places in the world, family members and friends wear black or dark clothing and express their grieving in an outward manner. It is obvious to all observers what the procession is all about. On the contrary in Mekkar's culture, those close to the deceased are happy for that person and have a big party. It is a pleasant experience except for the "hangover" the next morning. The thinking is that person who died is leaving this life of hardship and pain and going to a better place.

Mekkar's relatives conduct some activities that would shake some beliefs and shock most Westerners in their concepts regarding dying and death. Crippled or maimed individuals are many times sent away from the tribe. There is the thought process of "if they can't pull their weight, there is no use for them". The alternative is they would instead become a "drag" and non-contributors of the local society. Another instance is when older people know they are going to pass from this life. They go out into the frozen tundra to freeze to death. Once again, the thinking is that "if they can't pull their weight ...". Everything is looked at from the viewpoint of how it will affect group survival.

It is all a matter of perspective. These beliefs are based on old nomadic contribution thinking. There is very much a sadness and somberness involved in the process, but it is considered just a part of life.

FORWARD

Names of people, teams, and places have been changed to protect the innocent [Dragnet TV show 1951-1970]. I want to avoid any legal hassles in the litigious society that is all around us and appears to be getting worse each day.

These stories are based on a real person and different experiences of the main character. The fortunate thing is the author is one of the few people who can converse with the person behind the premier character and in his native language. There is not any interest on his part to put his experiences in print, but he is fine with me doing so. There is still his strong belief in old fashioned traditions of passing down stories by oral means alone. Neither one has the desire to present any of his heroes in a negative or embarrassing light while still getting the story across. Meanings and interpretations can be made any way the reader would like, that is up to you.

The original premise of this collection of stories was to be a partial semi-autobiography of the main character. However, while writing it the intent changed to a theme of hope of possibility, adventure, & opportunity. The idea was aimed at anyone, especially young people, who could dream of participating in various and exciting life events. It could be applied to people anywhere whether one is from the Andes, Northwest Territories in Canada, Siberia, the Himalayas, and even to the remotest regions of the earth. Individuals do not have to just accept a routine and ordinary life nor be stuck in a rut no matter where they are located.

Many thanks to Thesaurus.com, OnlineConversion.com, online spell correction, and a few others. This is always a tolerance of a lot of distractions during this whole process. A process that included turning incoherent concepts, scribblings, and notes converted into written form to become accessible to read. Written English is contrary to many other languages in that it is very different from the spoken words used in interpersonal interaction. Also, writing a novel or creative non-fiction is a far cry from composing and constructing a college paper on any subject, which to me is 95% B.S. and 5% filler. Hope you like it because there is more to come as I have many more stories to complete.

Any input and writing helps, suggestions is appreciated, but please be merciful as I am attempting to improve my writing skills in a language that is not native to me. I know that I am not a great writer, but just a beginner. Specifics and examples are most beneficial for me. One that has a hard time grasping the practical aspect of the concept of how to write to show, not just tell a story. It is much easier said than done.

I am in a fight against increasing age, concussion related brain injury, and forgetfulness of some stories that might be lost if no action is taken now. There are even many more past events that have been lost to the sands of time that I will probably never remember again. I have no control of the writing “flow” as I call it, along with what presents itself in my conscious mind to be written down. It can arrive at any time and disappear just as suddenly as it showed up.

I have also had a very difficult time finding a quality, reliable co-author, editor, etc. over a period of years. Plus, I am too broke to have any of my stories published; So, I chose to put them out on the internet.

Thanks for reading,

Saavo

TITLE

Survival From the Start – The Misadventures of Mekk├ór