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Eestikeelsed artiklid



August Künnapu


Vilen Künnapu


Harry Pye

Mehis Heinsaar

Vilen Künnapu


To see Naples and die...

I do not like to venture outside of Estonia much. Firstly, I find trips quite exhausting, and secondly, I am not a fan of foreign countries. I am afraid that I would get lost somehow. Not in the sense that someone would kidnap me to steal my kidneys or that I would disappear while hitchhiking on the highway, but in a way, I feel like I am not awake.

I happened into Naples recently. And believe it or not, everything was just like I had imagined being in southern countries. I found it quite interesting actually. It was like opening a door to a jolly dreamland. People gesticulate a lot there and argue as much as they can, and everybody goes to work early in the morning, but nobody does any work really. Every man stands on the doorway of his shop, smokes, observes the weather, chats with the neighbouring businessman, and both feel good. The same goes for construction guys. There are four men for every hammer and nail, and each of the four is simultaneously explaining the others that it is his turn to have a break and go to have an espresso at the corner shop. The only person who is truly busy the whole day is the coffee seller. Everybody in Naples drinks coffee, from babies to oldies; and they have at least three lunch breaks in an hour. Yes, they truly know how to appreciate the simple joy of living. Coming back to the coffee, I must say it is amazing. If you stay in Naples for an extended period you can become a true coffee-maniac. I bought coffee on every corner – once a regular, which in Naples means a shot of extra-strong espresso, once a latte, or a cappuccino, or some cold coffee with sweet cream, and so on and on.

At the same time, the wives of those businessmen arguing in the cafeterias are at home doing laundry. They are screaming something in Italian. Freshly washed wet laundry hangs over the narrow streets and drips onto the moped-driving engineers. And lawyers and little girls – and of course the old men, who are the fastest drivers in town.

Traffic culture is turned fascinatingly upside-down in Naples. It is true that every other car is dented, and nobody cares about the traffic-lights, and if you hope that you can get across the street when the green is on and the cars will stop, you might stand there waiting for a long time. You just have to start crossing and it is noteworthy that they will stop – on the last moment with a loud screeching of the brakes, only three inches from your ankle. Always. Even when it is red light for you. But still, every other car is dented, so you must be careful.

When you are visiting Naples, make sure you do not start looking for the modern art museum. First of all, because it is quite a trick to find it hidden in the web of dirty suburban streets, and even if you find it by mere blind luck, you will be in for a rather inverted art experience. There are four or five guards for every hall and once you bend over to an Andy Warhol painting to indulge in an intimate contemplation, you can be sure that at least two guards will do the same on your both sides, one of them accidentally stepping on your toes and the other humming a happy tune in Italian, while the third one deems it absolutely necessary to walk at least four times between you and Andy Warhol, each time looking at you as if saying: “I know you, you are the master thief, who can quietly steal one fifth of the painting by simply looking at it. But beware, you cannot escape us!” At the same time, all the modern art museum guards are very friendly and open, discussing their family issues with each other, or where to have dinner. Naturally, they also discuss what you and your girlfriend are wearing and whether you will get married or not.

“Oh, to see Naples and die!”, I have an urge to say.

But the dream continues. On the Jesus Square in Naples old town, there is suddenly a gallant drunk landing next to you and your girlfriend, kissing her hand, asking her age and proposing at the spot. And it all happens so charmingly and effortlessly that your girl is almost ready to say yes, only the wedding day needs to be fixed. A small shove of an elbow helps to bring her back to earth...

Or looking at the palms and mandarin trees, blooming tulips and narcisses in the middle of February, breathing in winter air that is warm as in May, drinking cheap but excellent wine, observing the blue-blue Mediterranean Sea and the island of Capri visible through the milk-white fog in a distance... the same island, where Maksim Gorki once lived with his bohemian crowd, and that is the source of the saddest and most beautiful song in the world...

“Yes, yes, to see Naples and die...”

But then a day comes, when I have to step out of this dream and get on an air-plane that takes me back to Estonia, flying across central-Europe that makes me want to yawn. And it is best this way. Because, to tell you the truth, I do not like to venture outside of Estonia much. Colourful and surreal dreams are available here for me every night and they cost nothing, really. And it is incomparably the best thing to sit in your heated room in the middle of February frost, sipping bitter lichen tea, looking out of the window, where bull-finches are gathering on the birch branches, and chuckling at the thought that spring is not far. In a couple of months crocuses and snow-drops will be blossoming, and heavy coats can be changed to jackets, and you can go wandering on the muddy field roads, listening to the cold-defeating brave little lark. And what is Naples compared to a lark...

Photo: Vilen Künnapu

Mehis Heinsaar

Mehis Heinsaar is a writer living in Tartu. He is the author of four books. See also his other writings: “Traveller’s Happiness” (Epifanio 4/2006), “Artist and Age” (Epifanio 5/2006), “Live again in peace” (Epifanio 6/2007) and “Continuation of a Dream” (Epifanio 7/2007).