Oulu was our last stop in Lapland. We decided to follow Tripadvisor’s advice and check out the market hall. Most of the stalls were selling food products and local crafts with the exception of an anomaly – a Chinese stall selling dumplings and noodles. The dumplings looked really tempting and we decided to have our lunch at this little Chinese stall. The stall was manned by a Chinese couple in their thirties.
After we ordered the highly recommended noodles (which was cooked authentically unlike most noodles you get in Europe), the lady boss came towards us and started chatting with us. She asked us where we came from, what we did in Lapland and what we thought about the Finnish people. She also shared some information about herself. Some years ago, the couple used to shuttle quite a bit between China and Finland as they were involved in the China-Finland cultural exchange programme. They were quite active at promoting the Chinese culture and tradition to Finnish. After they had a baby, they decided to settle down in Oulu. Like many other Chinese who chose to stay overseas, they chose to start a family in Finland over China because of the better air quality. To this couple, this stall is not just a profit-making venture; this stall is a “window” for their child to learn about the society. Just like how she put it, “The society is made up of both good and bad people. We don’t live in a fairy tale.” She believes that it is important for her child to know that.
She also told us that she tried to build a community here by getting to know her customers. That was when she shared a little love story with us.
“You see, the middle-aged Chinese guy over there? He has been staying in Oulu for about 20 years. He was one of our first few customers. He would come on his own and order a bowl of noodles. One day, he met this Chinese lady who was about the same age as him in our stall. Funnily, she also has been staying in Oulu for a very long time but they have never met before. He started talking to her. They started going out ever since.”
We had such a good time chatting that we lost track of the time and we had to run to catch our flight. But that’s all part of being human, isn’t it? Being human is about having good conversations with others, seeing things from a different perspective and learning to have a bigger heart and become a better person from the people around us. Sometimes all we need is a “window” to meet one another, to learn from one another and to really listen to one another.