Club Soda and Salt

No more stains

Estonia is not the melting pot you think it is

Posted by clubsodaandsalt on October 4, 2009

I happen to be of the opinion that being black can make time in Europe more interesting. Sometimes, it’s the bad type of interesting – the (very occasional) dirty look, the certainty that the polizei boarding the train at the border will want to see your passport – but sometimes it makes for a pretty good story.

Take, for example, my visit to the fairly small and definitely very white city of Tallinn, Estonia. While there, I had the good fortune to pop into a place called “Vale Bar” on the edge of the medieval old town, a cozy establishment whose main attraction was that it seemed to have a higher proportion of locals and a lower proportion of prostitutes than your average Tallinn pub. We had just settled into some free spots at the bar and were happily talking to some German air force pilots*about Bavaria when we (well, I) caught the eye of an Estonian who had clearly had a lot to drink. At first, his particular interest in me wasn’t obvious – he asked the usual questions about where we were from, etc. My response (California**), however, made him noticeably more animated. “You?! California? You?!” Well, yes. I mean, I’m not from there originally, but it’s where I live now and besides – there are plenty of people in California who look like me.

Hopes of not having to converse with the deeply inebriated quickly faded, and the following happened:

– After being informed that I was drinking Jameson whiskey, he responded that Scottish whiskey (nb: Jameson is Irish) was “shit”, and that I should be drinking Jim Beam or Jack Daniels, or, and this was confusing, something Irish (?!).

– He then followed through on this request/demand by buying me multiple glasses of Jack Daniels. While free alcohol is always nice, this meant I needed to continue intermittently answering his shouts. Now I know how women feel when they have drinks bought for them.

– It also meant that I felt obliged to indulge his request for a photo with the two of us. The photo request has happened before, and though I think it is really very very rude unless you have just given me directions or we have been chatting happily for a while, I usually don’t mind doing it. In this case, though, I might have refused if not for the drinks, since I was seriously worried about being vomited on given his state.

– I’m glad I indulged him though, because once the photo was taken, he announced excitedly that he had “another one”, and proceeded to show me a picture of him with some other random black person. Because he is apparently a collector, which is of course awesome.

– Then he gave me an incredibly disgusting shot involving tabasco and ouzo, and also spent a lot of time informing a nearby Englishman that one of his (the Brit’s) body parts was quite tiny and flaccid. He also grabbed the breasts of a neighbouring woman whom he did not seem to know, but who also had literally no reaction (??), so… there was that. As far as I was concerned, this series of events absolved me of any obligation to purchase drinks in return – not only was he clearly already far too drunk, but he was also being a total asshole.

Soon after all this, we left the bar and headed to a different pub, satisfied that we had gotten a good dose of Tallinn flavour. And that’s what travel’s all about.

* – One of whom we would later see heading out of a different bar with one of the aforementioned prostitutes.

** – When I’m not in the Anglosphere, I generally answer the “where are you from” question with where I live, as explaining Trinidad’s existence/location over and over again is exhausting, especially to non-English speakers. One exception is with people from India, who are generally familiar with Trinidad due to cricket.

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One Response to “Estonia is not the melting pot you think it is”

  1. ahmet said

    In estonia they may not be used to black people yet, but immigration from arabia and africa is HUGE into western europe, and its spreading to east europe to. So they may be ignorant white/racist/nazi people now in estonia but give it 10 years and that city will probably be 50% muslim atleast. Whenever I go to east europe [I am arab-muslim] and get stares from locals i just grin to myself knowing that Islam will be dominant in europe whether they like or not lol

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