Colorful Thai massage parlour window brings light to the street view in Kallio, Helsinki. 64-years old owner Riina welcomes customers with her perky and open-hearted essence. She loves using her creativity by decorating and crafting new decorations to the window. Not only the window but also the whole parlour is full of colors. Everything in the shop is either thrifted or crafted by Riina and every piece is for sale. She works with another thai masseuse and there is two rooms for massaging.
Tell me about thai massage?
-It is normal massage. Sometimes somebody has pain, we can do something for it. We massage with oil or without it.
How did you learn to massage?
-I learn it by myself.
How long is your day?
-12 hours is regular day. Saturday and sunday we can open long time. Because sometimes people go out and want massage after. Also sometimes somebody calls and I come here, if we are not open.
What kind of customers do you have?
-Women and men. Only Suomi people. Because I’m scared of some other man.
Do you have same people coming?
-I have same people. They come all the time for massage. Under 18 can not come, because we don’t know if they come for what? If they are joking…
What do you enjoy the most in this job?
-Somebody can come here for being happy. Don’t have friend, don’t want to be alone. For being happy. They want to talk. Sometimes somebody not feel good, come here and say : I want dancing! We have music, massage and after he want dance. That’s best thing. I was teacher in school Thailand, more than 20 year. I know, I can read somebody from eye.
So you are like a psychologist?
-Yes! I can read somebody from eye!
Do you have some other education?
-I have work hieronta and many thing. With flowers and also I have machine for sewing. I can do everything, I can do hair, I have second hand here. I can sell everything you see here. What I put here, I can sell.
Do you picture yourself doing this in the future as well? Do you want to do something else?
-I like second hand. One time I opened second hand shop 2014 in Kallio but money, not good. I stop second hand and start massage.
Can you tell me something about coming to Finland?
-In Thailand my husband died and I have three children. Need money for school. I went Italy for work siivous. And after I married my husband. 2007 I came Finland and I like here very much.
Do you want to get your husband here from Italy?
– No, husband don’t like here. Because cold.
Do you like cold?
Riina, tell me about your dream.
-I like second hand really much. I want to stay here long time. If I earn more, if I can stay here, I can stop work and get eläke. But I like really much stay here, take easy in Finland.
Interview & photos: Liisa Hietanen