Tag Archive: observation


-She was wearing yellow shoes. Brogues, they’re called. It wasn’t the fact that brogues are basically men’s shoes what made them different. It was that they were bright yellow.

-So she likes colours…What’s the big deal?

-Everybody knows that Estonians do not wear bright clothes, let alone yellow shoes. I mean, the brightest colour in our closets should be beige, right? Right?

-Well, I guess…

-Or am I wrong?

-Nah, come to think of it. You’re probably right.

-What if every stereotype turned out to be a blatant lie, an outright fabrication? What if everything we know about Estonians or any nationality turned out to be…wrong? What if the English actually had nice teeth and Americans weren’t fat at all and Russians didn’t like vodka and the French were bad cooks? And what if Estonians wore colours and turned out to be really nice and open people?

-What on Earth are you on about?! Have you been drinking?

-Take the clothes and colours thing. Name one person you know who wears only black, grey and white. Go ahead.

-Ermm….

-Not that easy, right? Now name one person you know who only wears plain clothes with no pictures or decorations or thing like that on them.

-Why?! Umm…

-You’re struggling again, aren’t you? Think about your own wardrobe – name all the colours of your clothes.

-Well, I do have coloured t-shirts… And stuff….

– Aha, you see. You could make a decent rainbow out of your clothes. Or a double rainbow.

-You’re right! All the way….

-And now, name one plain, boring  and emotionless Estonian. Go on. Think. Think harder. Go on. There is at least one… Or is there?

-I can’t…I mean, there must be… I just…. I don’t know any…

-Again, you’re stuck! You can’t name on, because there isn’t one! The stereotype doesn’t fit! There is no such thing as a boring, colour-hating, emotionless Estonian! And I’ll tell you why.

-Why ?

-Because the nation, we, Estonians, are constantly changing. We go with the times.  We kissed the Soviet Union good-bye, and suddenly – the colours! The freedom! We can still be Estonian while clad in every colour imaginable. And look at our national dress! The vivid colours, the patterns. And look at us at Laulupidu… The emotions! And look at me. Emotions! Look at my litte speech now – the emotions… The sheer emotions. I’m smiling. I am Estonian and I’m smiling!

-You’re right! You are right, so very absolutely right!

-Can you believe it?

-The points you made were impressive, my friend. You are right, absolutly right. But tell me this: the European Union, will it let us stay Estonians?

-Yes, it will. Because although we go with the times and accept changes, the national identity, that undescribable feeling that makes us Estonians, is just so deep inside us, so inherent.

Observation

I haven’t before done that task. I couldn’t imagine that observing people when they are acting normally is so interesting. It was a totally new experience for me.
The first idea when I had that task was the question that where can I see lots of different people. My answer was McDonald’s. I went there on Monday. The first emotion was given to me by the crowd who occupied most of the restaurant. There were only few vacant seats left. So there I sat down in a place where I could observe as many people as possible and I took out my old notebook and a pen that didn’t write at first and I started my observation.
People were speaking so loudly, I hardly heard my own thoughts. It was emotionally frustrating to see fat Finnish-speaking ladies sitting at the next table and eating loads of junk food. A burger was very small in their hands. I thought if I were them, I would start a diet immediately. I know which consequences eating like that have. Who doesn’t know, I recommend to watch the film “Super Size Me”. I am sorry for their attitude towards their eating habits.
Although it is a place for eating, there were many youngsters who were just sitting, chatting and laughing and yelling. They were all foreigners. I didn’t understand their language, but I didn’t feel uncomfortable because they didn’t speak with me. It would have been very inconvenient situation if they had talked with me in a language that I don’t understand. Maybe they were joking about Estonians, who knows. I wondered why they were sitting in McDonald’s when they are in a foreign culture. There is a large variety of sites for them in Tallinn. I would have understood their presence there if they were eating, but they were not. It was confusing to me.
It was funny to observe people who went to the toilet rooms because there were so many of them. In about 25 minutes only I counted 67 persons going in and out. Also when people have paid for their meal they turned around with their trays full of food. It reminded me of a butler serving tea with milk in an old English manor house.
Suddenly a man sat to the opposite table. He was alone, eating his burger and he saw me taking notes and so he started observing me. I assumed he wasn’t an Estonian. I didn’t know why he was looking at me. I felt really uncomfortable; I wanted to leave at first. But I thought what an MI6 agent does when he faces that kind of situation and so I observed him back, I looked into his eyes and after about ten seconds he found his tray more interesting to observe than me.
Finally it was time for me to leave. I packed my belongings and I went back to school. On my way I thought that what I have learned now. The answer was that you may never know who might observe you, so when you eat, do not munch and watch your behaviour in public places.

As Mr. Wilkins walked out of his detective office, he noticed a man, who looked as if he was in a hurry. After a moment of thinking, Mr. Wilkins decided to do something unusual – observe the man and write down everything he thought about him. Why did he do that, you may want to ask? It was due to the fact that the man looked almost like his friend, Matthias Burghardt – a twin, he would say. It wasn’t him though – the face was a bit different and the mans actions were also different. Apart from that, the clothes were the same (or very similar), the glasses were the same, and even the face looked alike. After writing it down, Wilkins went to the shopping centre to sit down on a bench and relax.

As he sat down, he once again got the unexplainable wish to write down what people around him did, so he took out his pen and started observing. First thing that he noticed was that most of the people were walking around without a real objective, just looking at different things that were sold and they probably didn’t even know what they wanted to buy. It seemed quite ordinary for the detective, so he didn’t write down many of such people. Another thing that he noticed was that there were many young women with their little children. All of the children looked around with pure excitement and a wish to explore the world. Their mothers didn’t allow them to do so, though, and instead dragged the kids to the shops that were definitely boring for the children. Typical actions of a parent, Mr. Wilkins thought. Just like he thought, there weren’t many people smiling. Many people looked even too serious for such a lovely day. There was also something unusual that day – in the city center there were many people of asian ethnicity. Most of them looked like tourists.

After an hour of writing, came the hunger. Without a moment of doubt, Mr. Wilkins decided to go to the Lido. There he took some food and sat down to eat. While eating, he once again observed the people around him. Actually there weren’t many visitors at that time – next to him there was a couple – man and woman – who didn’t talk much. It must be a really awkward situation for both of them, the detective thought. Two men sat in another table. The were chatting sometimes, but also quite rarely. They looked like colleagues. Another table, which was behind the detective’s back was occupied by 5 young men. They seemed like older school students or even college students. Laughter, jokes and loud voices came from that table – quite usual for young people. Out of a window, Wilkins saw an eldery woman with three big bags, certainly having trouble carrying them. A man with a phone walked past her and didn’t even notice the woman. In the last table sat another 5 students. They were also eating and laughing. Some of them kept looking around and writing down some observations. It seemed as if they were doing the same thing that Mr. Wilkins was doing. One of the students had a broken hand and was having trouble eating. His friend helped him by cutting his food and everyone started laughing. After everyone had finished eating, the waitress brought salt and pepper – “Why would they need them anymore?”, thought the detective.

It was quite late already and Mr. Wilkins knew that some clients were supposed to come by that afternoon, so he stood up, put away his pen and notebook and started walking towards the detective office. The day was sunny and he was happy – he learned many new things about the people around him, that he usually never noticed.

Observation

Tim Dawson entered the cafe. On that day he wore his usual suit, but with a green shirt, really GREEN. He believed in that green shirt – he wore that only on important business meetings. His female colleague was already waiting for him in excitement. She welcomed him with a warm smile and a hearty handshake. It was not a business meeting, more like a regular lunch. For starters they talked about weather – how nice it was for a change and so on. But Tim seemed quite troubled – he was looking around constantly like he did not want to be seen. Their table was in the middle of the cafe, so people were looking at them, though. I bet the nervousness was due to a business meeting coming up soon. As his colleague was friendly and her smile was calming, he relaxed a bit, so they had a great lunch together, a few laughs now and then. Soon they were finished, he helped the lady with her coat, and so they left.

There was another lunch taking place also. At first there were just two men, but later a woman joined them. That woman seemed to me like she was named Judy. I do not know any Judys myself, but she just looked like one. She was a natural redhead, ginger as some say. Judy and the two guys made up a perfect team. They arranged this meeting to discuss some design matters. Judy brought the first drafts of some posters, so they had to put together the final version. All of them wore glasses, had a bohemian look and seemed really into their work. As they were concentrated, there were a lot of silent moments in their conversation. I felt the intensive brain activity vibe passing the room. I must say that Judy, Spencer and George were like hard-working bees. Overall they met there for lunch, so Judy ordered herself a fish dish, flounder I think. I do not have anything against flounders, but the smell of that particular dish deterred me out of the cafe and my observation was over.

We all sat in Reval Cafe. I actually felt weird watching people’s every move, it was so stalkerish and harassing and totally made me wish no-one would ever secretly observe me.
Anyway, what I did notice about people was that very few of them spent, what probably was, their lunchbreak alone. There was one, a particularly young man, seemed like a young upper-coming businessman or a yuppie. He came in, ordered lunch, ate and read the daily newspaper at the same time and then rushed out. His quick meal left an impression of a man that is very dedicated to his carreer. I automatically began to think of him as the type of person who only has time for work and therefore finds no time for family.
Briefly after the yuppie left, I saw women in a group of four walking in the street. The first thing I noticed that one of them was walking in the front with the other three following her. That reminded me of the American school clicks, the movie “Mean girls” and the “queen bees”. Which is funny because I believe that these queen bees loose their importance as soon as they finish high school. Buy I guess there may be some exceptions. The group entered, the “leader” chose the table and also ordered first. Watching that weird hierarchical group of women only gave me a negative impression, I felt sad for the three women who followed their friend, just as if they had no opinions of their own.
Also what is worth mentioning was a weird couple sitting in the corner of the cafe. The woman was hysterically laughing at everything the man said, and it looked so unnatural and strained just as if she was desperately trying to boost the man’s ego. And the guy wasn’t even handsome-.-
In general the stalking task was pretty fun and definitely brought something fresh into our school days, yet I would prefer to never feel myself like a crazy stalker at a cafe again. Hopefully I was good enough that it didn’t show too much and the people don’t think of me as a lunatic.

People bustling
staff hustling,
some are fighting
others underwriting.

Everyone’s heading somewhere
tonnes of excitement in the air.

Children are playing
occasionally yelling,
parents softly laying
they are also yelling.

Excitement goes, peace comes
noise stops, quietness stuns.

Couples start talking
after that touching,
suddenly smooching
finally laughing.

Life has finally settled down
like indigenous people wearing a gown.

People eating
forever drinking,
some go shopping
others just walking.

As some of us continue to stare
the rest very rarely care.

They are sleeping
I am writing,
they are talking
I’m still writing,
they are walking
I begin ogling.

We are all here together, side by side
and yet so alone that we need a guide.

The clock is ticking
sometimes it sticks me,
time is running out
everyone’s kicking about.

As if this place was a zoo, compulsory
like you couldn’t even go to the loo, contemporary.

One goes right
two go left,
three go straight
no one stays behind.

And so we are apart once more
walking out towards the fore
never together again.

Thursday i went eating with some of my classmates. We sat down, started chatting and i looked around in different places to see interesting people, who to observe. I just could not find anyone interesting as it unfortunately is when you observe Estonians. Well then i started eating and looked around the table and i saw my classmate emotionally moving hands and telling a joke with a very loud voice and then we are laughing on that one other classmate is feeding another classmate with a broken hand and then i realized, why were i looking elsewhere! So i took my textbook and started observing my classmates and i saw things what i would not normally spot at all. For example if someone left, then the topic of what we spoke about changed instantly or when we finished eating then we had fever things to talk about. I know it seems really weird, but i really surprised myself by finding out what i can actually spot if I pay attention.

Observing people made me feel like being an intruder. Usually sitting in a cafe I don`t really watch people I see them but don`t watch, don`t think why are they there, how, what is going on with them, don`t think who they are. Sitting there in the cafe feeling like an intruder I started thinking what has their identity do with their behaviour. The biggest thing I saw was the huge difference between men and women. Women came in groups of two or three or more. They where chatting vividly, rattling. Probably telling gossip or just having fun. Men on the other hand were quite quiet. There were very few of them.   There was one eating alone while reading a newspaper tring to get the most of his break, to be sufficient. Others were with women but one seemed very eager to leave while the woman had all the time in the world. So  identity differs greatly between sexes. That was my conclusion that afternoon in the cafe.

“Oh fudgemonkey!” he yelled upon realising that he had slept in and was late. When he got to the dining area, all the others had already finished eating, and had left only scraps for him. Hungry and miserable, he scraped the remnants of a banana off a banana peel and tried to find a few peanuts to fill his belly. Joey, a sad monkey on a Monday morning, scraping for food at the Tallinn Zoo, noticed a pair of unordinary tourists, namely two men, who he found to have a slight resemblance to the other monkeys in his cage. These men were rather tall, in suits, with a slightly darker tone of skin. They met, rubbed each other, and seemingly made lip to cheek contact with one another, which was all followed by the waving of their arms, shouting at each other and laughing. After exchanging suitcases they shook each other’s hand and departed. Joey thought this kind of behaviour from humans to be rather weird, but then he carried on to find some more food.

Just like everybody else

I am standing in the bus station, waiting for a bus, ready to go to lunch. I see quite many  people, also  waiting for their bus.  They all look the same. They seem gloomy and bored of life, even if the sun is shining and it is a beautiful day, about  10.30 in the morning. I see many lonely, mostly middle-age people calmly waiting. But when I start to think about that, I realise, that I am just like everybody else. Standing alone in the station and probably looking others with my angry impression. I don’t like or want to belong in the gray mass, but we all do. I have arrived at the cafe. I order food. I see a lot of people around me. They all are so busy. Waitresses are running around to serve food as quickly as possible. Many, many  business men and women are working with their laptops. They seem worried.  Then I see two friends chatting and laughing while eating. Their laugh is fake and it feels like they are not feeling very comfortable with each other. I think no one wants to be like those people around us, we see every day- angry, worried, busy. We just don’t realise that we  are just like everybody else…