TMW Quarantine Stories: Tiia Falk and Asko Astmäe

16 April 2020

Today’s Quarantine Stories are brought to us by TMW communication team members Tiia Falk and Asko Astmäe. Professional conference interpreter Tiia joined us this year to coordinate  international marketing and communications. She has previously worked as genetic reseach coordinator and is currently concentrating on her M.A. in media and communication, raising kids and rooting for her hubbie’s fermenting projects. Asko who is currently working on his new media masters degree, manages the TMW web and social media content. He has also been a co-writer at Hooligan Hamlet and performed as emcee Patriarh in the rap-crew 1teist. Read what they do, feel, think and read during this peculiar time.

What are you listening, watching, reading etc?

Tiia: At the beginning of all this, I couldn’t tear myself out of the news loop, but that wasn’t doing my mental health any favours, so now I’ve taken that down to a minimum, social media too. At the same time, I also have a thesis to finish, which is why I’m reading a lot about climate communication, listening to podcasts on the topic, etc. Classical music is a great soundtrack for working on the thesis, but instrumental albums like those of Badbadnotgood are also excellent for keeping up the pace. I watch a lot of Japanese animated films on Netflix – for example, “The Tale of Princess Kaguya” most recently, which was just stunningly beautiful and good. There are a lot of them available right now, so we’re working our way through them – the calming melodies of their soundtracks and the utterly pleasing visuals are soul-soothing. The topic of travel is also somehow attractive right now – bald and bankrupt on YouTube, for example. And if you want to forget all about the crisis for a little while, then watch Tiger King on Netflix! If all else fails, RZA’s doing some awesome “meditation sessions” – Guided Exploration on Spotify, check it out!

Asko:  It’s a fitting time to acquaint oneself with various works. My musical forays include rediscovering the world of jazz and classical music (such as the works of recently-departed McCoy Tyner, and the gargantuan symphonies of Anton Bruckner, which demand too much time and attention to be effectively listened to during the usual hustle and bustle. A new project of note is the debut album of Jay Electronica, a vagabond of a rapper from New Orleans. The album had been due for such a long time that it only makes sense that once it finally dropped, it was not to be in normal circumstances. My reading selection is based on what I had borrowed before the things that happened, happened (thankfully, it’s a versatile enough selection ranging from Madis Kõiv to Huysmans). I also try to catch up with documentaries or classic movies from here and there, either via ERR or other platforms.

What are you feeling and thinking about in this situation?

Tiia: Everything seems amplified right now – feelings too, they’re all over the place. I’m sad about all the things that were supposed to happen this spring, but then did not – the festival, luckily, could be moved, but we’ll never get back that last semester at school together with a bunch of awesome people I’ve come to know and love. I’m happy about being at home and I’ve discovered that it’s been a good idea all these years to work on making my home a place of rest, so I wouldn’t have to escape for a vacation. My kids have proven to be an enormous source of joy, even more than usually. I feel scared for my parents and grandparents, but then again we’re communicating more than usual and that is great. There are just so many feelings all at once right now and working through all of them is a big challenge. To my huge surprise, I found out that I really, really miss people I haven’t even thought about that much in the past – the lunch ladies at my kids’ kindergarten and school!!!

Asko: The main motifs are connection and responsibility. The current situation is indicative of how our planet is, in a way, smaller than ever and thus every single one of your deeds can have far-ranging reverberations. Some reports have led me with the regrettable impression that privileges often exist without responsibility, perhaps even at the expense of the latter.

What kind of future are you dreaming of?

Tiia: It’s such a shame that the climate topic got caught in the same trap as the last time, during the financial crisis. Before that time, climate was the hottest topic and everything was developing fast, but then the 2008 crisis came and the economy pushed climate discussions to the background. I sincerely hope that this will not be the case this time and that once it’s all over and we’re in retrospection mode, as inhabitants of planet Earth, we all find that developments in the meantime have shown us a better way to develop resiliently. By the way, have you noticed how much cleaner the air is in the city? In any case, this would be an excellent time for us to make that big green leap, but we’re still going back to our fossil fuel crutches… There’s still time to change that though.

Asko: Hopefully, the Chinese ban on wildlife trade and consumption is more than something done for optics and scoring diplomatic points. I’ve been acquainted with the terrible situation of pangolins – likely the most trafficked animal in the world as an Asian delicacy and for use in “traditional medicine” despite their scales being made up of keratin just like our fingernails and not having any proved medicinal value – for a while now, as well as other similar incidents (animals and rangers killed in Kruger and Virunga, the vaquita being driven to the brink of extinction despite not even being hunted itself, but as bycatch for gillnets targetting the totoaba, another illegal delicacy with huge price tags, and the massive killing of songbirds in Southern Europe and the Levant). Stem it from a trophy itch or pseudoscience, I would be glad if these events were to end. Without demand, many of these species would not be (so) prone to extinction.

Also, with tourism, cruises and what not in mind, I recommend a healthy dose of asceticism to all.