A Sales Conference in Finnish Lapland is quite out of this world ! We had quite a few outstanding experiences particularly for folks like us who rarely get to see so much snow fall or winter sports. Almost every time I encountered snow I was disappointed that the snow was mostly crystals of ice and not the soft flaky snow we keep imagining .This time around I got to see piles and piles of snow and at times we sunk up to our knees in soft snow !! Finally I could say !!
The Conference was in a winter sports resort in Ruka ,Finland ,very near I am told to the Arctic Lapland .Our first experience was at the Pohjanseita Camp where we had dinner which included Reindeer meat , some thing I was to find a near stable dish along with salmon ,red wine and a shot of Finnish vodka taken neat off a small glass .We first kitted up for the out doors at the Mosquito Kitting station at the Kuusamo airport and then went on a unique transfer to the Camp on sledges pulled by Snow Mobiles , six of us to a sledge.Our snow mobile driver took a tumble and had to be righted ; the sledge remained upright so we didnt take a spill .At the camp we huddled around a camp fire and were served a mug of a hot brew that warmed us up .It was sweet to taste and slightly alcoholic.
While we were around the fire an Arctic "Medicine Man" came up to us . The Laplanders call them Sharmaans ( or some such thing … I think I got the name wrong!) He gave us the rules of fine living in the Arctic region which included preservation of the environment among other things. He then carried out a small initiation ritual were I was one of the three choosen ;post which we were said to be accepted and protected !!! In this part of the world while people owned land , every one was free to walk around un mindful of whose land it was .Like wise reindeer are mostly owned by some one or the other but they roam around freely in winter .
At the Ruka Resort we had the thrilling experience of driving around a 30 km course on a snow mobile .It was quite an experience although I took a tumble but remained unhurt and also ran into a pile of snow and had to be baled out . I didnt opt for a skiing experience as one clearly had to be a skiier to go on these professional courses. A 13 km ride on sledges pulled by Hushkies to Kammi for diner was another highlight.
We got to see some outstanding snow laden scenery which I have captured in photographs as we drove down to the beautiful Chalet Ruka Peak Restaurant.
The three days we spent at Ruka & the Pohjanseita Camp was an unforgetable experience. The Sales Conference too was run in a precise and apt manner with a fair mix of networking time ; time to discuss business with the Business Area Heads and even a dedicated three hour meeting to discuss India Operations and the way forward to take the business to a new peak .
We rounded off the visit with an afternoon in Helsinki were I reviewed all the lovely memories of my visit with Deepa last summer. I still remembered all the old haunts and took the 615 bus as before from the airport to the city railway station .Helsinki in winter was a very different place from what we saw last summer.The floating market was deserted , the Esplanade Park was desolate and so too was the Cafe Kappili .Nevertheless it was fun visiting these places again.