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Estonian Embassy party
Ian Mitchell

On Thursday 9 December, the Estonian Embassy hosted its normal Christmas Party for friends of the tiny, ex-Soviet republic. The Ambassador, Simmu Tiik, welcomed the guests, emphasising that the building we were being entertained in had been the home of the Estonian Embassy for ninety years. This was a reminder that from 1940 to 1991 the country was not legitimately part of the Soviet Union but only occupied by it. None of this was to imply any anti- Russian feeling. The Ambassador spoke alternately in English and Russian—not in the language of the Estonians, who all seem to be bi-lingual. The evening featured a concert by a modern six-piece jazz band from Tallinn, called Ajavares. The music was wonderful, but the CD on display illustrated the language difficulties. The only worlds in the sleeve notes that I could understand were “Paul Daniel”. He is the one who plays the “mängib kitarre”, while Ahto Abner plays “lööb trummi”. Of course! Later, at the sumptuous buffet, Mingo Rajandi told me that her Russian was actually very poor, and she regretted that fact. In perfect English she said that she was one of the “lost generation” who were discouraged from learning the language of the oppressor, and that now they are no longer oppressing Estonia she wishes she spoke their rich and interesting language. As it is, she can only communicate across the frontier by means of her mängib kontrabassi, and by selling the group’s CD, which is called Armastuslaul Rändinnule. Конечно!

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