TMW Quarantine Stories: Natalie Mets and Tiit Pruuli

27 March 2020

The next guests of our new interview series Quarantine Stories are the head of TMW conference and city festival Natalie Mets and Board Member of Go Group Tiit Pruuli. Go Travel, Go Bus and Go Hotel Shnellihave all been fantastic partners of TMW, we wouldn’t know what to do without them. From the bottom of our hearts, we wish all the best to our partners in tourism sector. Warm greetings to Nordic Hotel Forum as well! ?

Read how Natalie and Tiit spend their days in physical isolation – what do they listen, read, feel and think and what do they expect from the future.

What are you listening, watching, reading etc?

Natalie: 1. My daily musical commute is between Bandcamp, the two channels of IDA Radio, NTS and the records I have at home. Bandcamp is a really great platform for discovering new music and supporting the artists and labels. They did a campaign on March 20th without taking any commission on sales that day and fans bought music and merch for $4.3 million. My favourite finding from last week is Shabaka and the Ancestors’ album “We Are Sent Here By History”.

Besides music I also listen to different podcasts and shows. Some of my recent favourite episodes come from the Time Sensitive series.
I’m consciously reading less news right now, preferring to look for in-depth science articles that explain the situation and cut the panic. I started my sociology master’s studies at Tallinn University last fall and have a lot to read for school. Currently I’m reading about narrative ethnography. During the quarantine I have also read more fiction than before – I have finished 350 pages of Murakami’s “The wind-up bird chronicles”, which is a lot for me!
I stare out the window a lot, go for long walks and check what is on offer in the archives of Estonian Public Broadcasting channels and Netflix. I have watched all the musical documentaries from Miles Davis to Lady Gaga on Netflix.

Tiit: I am strictly at the home office right now. That means I am: a) working with my 800 colleagues, of whom many physically have to be at work; b) going to fourth grade with my son; c) in the evenings, with my family we watch either a movie or an online concert. Thank you, musicians, for this initiative! Since my wife and I are trying to write a book about our expedition to Antarctica, we’re going through a lot of polar literature and films. Just recently, we watched George Butler’s “The Endurance: Shackleton’s Legendary Antarctic Expedition”, which gives an epic overview of the dramatic quest taken by Ernest Shackleton. Other than my son’s bedtime stories, I haven’t had much chance to read fiction over the past few weeks. Kivirähk is our favourite in any case, especially at a time like this.

What are you feeling and thinking about in this situation?

Natalie:  I really feel a lot of mixed emotions regarding the priorities in my life. I am absolutely positive that arts & culture affect the rest of the world and the economy a lot, and I do think that everyone should support their local clubs, record stores, musicians, book stores, cafés, etc.,  as much as they can right now. But at the same time, all I wish is that the information reaching the wider public would be well-presented, correct and to the point. At the same time, I think a lot about the people who suffer from domestic violence or live below the poverty line. So yes, there are so many feelings. All that is accompanied by a new routine where my daily tempo has gone   from 100 to 10. This feels kind of good and healthy compared to my previous pace.

Tiit: It’s hard to focus. You keep going back online, seeing what’s happened around the world and in Estonia in the meantime. At first, I very adamantly supported our government’s decision to declare the emergency situation, but now I see how much time is being lost in the fight against the virus. An emergency situation government has to be a decisive government, not one that watches and shrugs, as the minimal orders put in place are not being followed – people are still hanging out in shopping centres that are open, children play on playgrounds in troves. For all of us – for our health and our economy – the best thing would be to put very strict restrictions on movement for 3-4 weeks and then we can recover from the crisis as quickly as possible. The current half-boiled measures only prolong the agony and can end up putting enormous pressure on our healthcare system.

What kind of future are you dreaming of?

Natalie: Exactly one year ago, a huge number of Estonians were upset about the new government and we saw more public demonstrations attended by tens of thousands of people than ever before. We were also imagining what Brexit will bring to us. No one could have imagined that a year later we would find ourselves in a global crisis caused by a virus with all its scope and causes. I really wish that in the future people would always remember their past and analyse the results of their actions before they do something, not only in the short but also in the long term.

Tiit: I think that after we have survived this crisis, hopefully with minimal pain, but warning – we’ll still be getting hurt quite a lot –, we will be able to glean joy from the smallest of things as well.