The Viru Keskuse Bussiterminal is a little bus station underneath my nearest shopping centre.
I was setting the scene to tell you about something odd that I saw there, but actually, I suppose my opening sentence was maybe a little odd in itself. I have gradually stopped questioning the location of places here. Restaurants, for example, can be lost down a maze of lanes, down in a dungeon or cellar, or at the top of a spiral staircase. To get to the supermarket from the old apartment, I had to take the path that ran underneath the nearby hotel. Linnahall, the Soviet sports venue, is accessed from the roof. There is a nightclub inside a hill in the Old Town, and a theatre inside a wall.
So I suppose it seems perfectly normal that if I want to catch a bus I have to head over to the shopping mall and make my way underground to the bus station. There’s a whole community down there, anyway. Internet café, Kiosk shop, Pharmacy, Coffee shop… plenty to do when you’re waiting for the bus. There’s even a shortcut to the supermarket: and it was taking this shortcut the other day that gave me reason to pause for a moment.
It appears, I said thoughtfully to myself, as I so often do when trying to make sense of a new situation, that there are new light fittings in the bus station, and that they have been decorated with hundreds of plastic bottles. And so they had.
There were whole chandeliers constructed out of multiple drinks bottles; many dangled in their original state, while others were decoratively cut, shredded, painted, and drawn on.
It was, of course, part of the Valgusfestival, or “Festival of Lights”, which runs every year in the city throughout January. It’s designed to encourage people by creating as much light as possible at a time when there is generally not much in the way of sunlight. They set up light installations and light arrangements, they burn things (like Christmas trees and fire sculptures), they come up with creative ways of banishing the constant darkness, presumably for the sake of their own sanity. In this article, SAD expert Dr. Rosenthal says of the Light Festival: “We stand outside and shake our fists at winter. It’s a way of saying, we’re going to get through this.”. Which seems a tad melodramatic, but, as I sit here by my giant Light Therapy lamp, I completely understand the sentiment.
Oh, and the bus station lights were in fact the Northern Lights, recreated in plastic bottle form by kindergarten pupils. And why not?